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Flash Magazine gets a new look

Flash Magazine gets a new look

After 3 years with the current design it was time for an update. So much has happened in terms of computer screens so the new design is a much wider one and features high resolution images, ratings, commenting, user profiles and more. We've also finally managed to integrate a little Flash into the design by using sIFR3 for all the titles.

It's been long overdue and finally we present the new look of Flashmagazine.com. The design was done by Digiguru and we really love how the new articles use big images. If you click them, you'll get even bigger images as a slideshow. One of the most requested features we've had is commenting. Now you'll be able to both comment, be notified of follow up comments as well as rate every article on the site. We're really looking forward to finally offering a way to get feedback from our readers!

With user contributed content comes the problem with spammers, so we've take a rather rigid response to this. After registering, you'll have to confirm your email until you''re able to post comments. After this, your profile and comments are put on hold until we verify that the registrant is a real person and not a spammer. After that, you can post directly on any article. We'll also integrate some more anti-spam features to make sure they never show up. Sorry about being so rigid, but it's better to moderate a few hundred readers than thousands of spam messages.

Once fully registered, you'll be able to update your profile with a profile picture, bio and more. You'll also be able to publish your blog/site RSS feed, so others can see what you're into. We'll add to this feature set as we go along.

We'd love some feedback on the new design, so feel free to register and leave your comments on this article. If you notice errors or have problems registering, send an email to "jens" at flashmag and I'll do my best to help you out. Not everything is fully implemented just now and we'll do minor tweaks. There is an issue with the rating script not showing the current rating, but any ratings submitted are stored and will be displayed later. We also know that some of the older articles don't have images that resize very well, but finding and changing images for maybe 1000 of our 1400 articles isn't an option...

Getting retro

When Flashmagazine was started in March 2000 it was done entirely in Flash. It looked like this:

 

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It was a single, scalable SWF file that contained all the articles. A year later, we switched this to a PHP based backend and dynamically loaded content. Every article had a HTML page for SEO purposes that redirected into the SWF and opened the corresponding article there. This worked pretty well and even Google seemed to like it. We had just above 140.000 unique readers that first year. For comparison, last month, we had just below 200.000 unique visitors (according to Google's Urchin software) so it's picked up over time.

A flash based site really wasn't the best solution for such a content heavy site and in May 2002, we switched the design to HTML. There was many reasons for doing this back then, most notably the fact that the text features in the Flash Player was well below par. It really was impossible to make even the simplest layouts because of this. Flash Player 10 solved this, so it only took Adobe (and Macromedia) six years to crack this nut...

 

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Switching the design to HTML made the site easier to search and enabled all our content to be grabbed by sites such as The Wayback Machine. The first two designs were done by Norwegian designer Gaute Fleisje but when we redesigned again in May 2005, South African designer Craig Jamieson (aka DigiGuru) got the job an we're very thankful for his patience with us.

 

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This design has stayed with us for the last 3 years. Since then, the average screen resolution has increased a lot so we're finally able to use a wider layout. This makes the articles easier on the eye and opens some new possibilities. Flashmagazine covers the entire Flash Platform, so we've chosen a color theme similar to the Flash Player.

Some have nagged us about not using Flash on a site with Flash as the subject. We won't go back to a full Flash layout anytime soon, but we're now using sIFR3 for showing custom fonts with HTML fallback. The latest beta versions appear to be ready for commercial use, but please alert us to any problems you may see.

Some tech details

The new design is coded as XHTML 1.0 strict and should validate nicely. Since device based browsers have become more and more powerful and now ignore the device stylesheets, we've skipped this for now. We do however have a Print stylesheets so if you're printing out articles for use in schools or something similar, that'll look alright.

Some time back, we switched from a custom CMS to ExpressionEngine (EE) and we cannot praise it enough. It's not free, but not exactly expensive either and you're really getting your moneys worth back in the form of support and features. It's not bug-free, but it's wise to use a CMS that somebody is paid to fix if things break. Building the new user features would be a massive effort if it wasn't for EE and some of the plugins for it. Other Flash community sites such as Ultrashock is also using EE for their entire site. Thanks for making this redesign easy EE!

 

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Comments


Posted by Julian NoGrids on 11/07 at 03:50 PM

Great design !!!


Posted by gmurnock on 11/12 at 04:40 PM

Very nice look!  Nice job!

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