If you use a Flash animation or Flash movie on your website that is bigger than 40kb, it is generally recommended that you add a preloader to the Flash file.
This article explains:
- what a Flash preloader is;
- what the benefits are of using a preloader for your Flash movie; and
- how you can easily make Flash preloaders yourself without using Adobe Flash.
What is a Flash Preloader?
A Flash preloader is a graphic indicator that tells the viewer that a Flash animation is being loaded and shows the progress of the download, usually in percentages. This gives the visitor an idea of how long they have to wait before they get to see the animated content.
Flash preloaders can display the progress of the download in percentages, or the number of bytes/kilobytes loaded, or a combination of both.
They can simply be a number on the screen that goes up until it reaches 100%, but most often, Flash preloaders are graphic images that give a visual indication of the progress.
Examples are a horizontal percentage bar or progress bar that’s being filled in with a color, or a circle to which little pieces of the ‘pie’ are added until the process has literally come ‘full circle’, and many more.
Why should you use a Flash Preloader?
Anyone who spends any time on the Internet will know that people – that’s you, me and everyone else – are impatient. We don’t like to wait. And what’s worse than waiting is not knowing how long we’ll be kept to wait. In which case we won’t wait. We leave!
Internet users will quickly abandon a website that has large Flash files on them that take time to load. Especially if there’s no preloader that shows the visitor –
1. that something is being loaded, and
2. how long to go until the Flash movie will start to play.
Are you aware that broadband penetration is actually still pretty low in some countries? This includes the largest English speaking online target market, the United States, where only about 30% of people have a broadband (DSL or cable) connection (according to 2008 OECD statistics).
It all boils down to two things: communication and expectation. By telling people via your Flash preloader that you’re working on something and where you’re at with that, they know what to expect. That puts their mind at ease. They could spend those couple of seconds looking at other stuff on your web page. But it’s likely your visitors will stick around to see you awesome Flash effect or impressive Flash movie.
Having more than a few seconds delay and NOT telling your visitor anything will surely have most of them clicking the ‘Back’ button and possibly running to your competitor. And because you’ve given them a negative experience, many of them will never EVER come back to your website.
If you can afford to lose visitors, clients and potential customers – fine. But you could so easily add an attractive Flash preloader to your animation and keep those people on your site. So the question is not: why would you use a Flash preloader, but the real question is: why in the world would you not?
How to add a Flash Preloader to your Flash file?
Creating a Flash preloader in Adobe Flash can be a little tricky. If you’re an expert user, you should be able to find plenty of tutorials online to create all kinds of preloaders in Flash.
However, if you just want a quick and easy way to add a preloader to your Flash animation, there are some great solutions out there for you. Special Flash Preloader Software tools come with lots of different preloader templates that you can quickly customize to make it suit the colors and style of your website.
You simply import your Flash animation into the program, select a preloader template and make some changes to make it look the way you want it to look, and the program will give you the preloader either as an embedded file in one SWF file or as an external Flash preloader, whichever you prefer. Curious what Flash preloaders my look like and how they work? See a number of different Flash preloader samples here.