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The Smashing Book #5

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65 Excellent Flash Designs


With Flash you can do more than just displaying videos. You can create stunning visual experience and offer your visitors incredible user interaction. Although Flash is definitely not the favourite medium for usability and accessibility advocates, it has its advantages and it empowers the Web with functionalities which make it an incredibly interactive medium. With Flash designers can achieve results which simply aren’t possible with (X)HTML and CSS.

The results can be creative, impressive, beautiful and fascinating. Under two conditions: 1) if designers find the right mixture between graphics, animation, video and sound and 2) if designers follow the guidelines of usability and user interaction.

However, since there is a number of things that can go wrong in Flash, it’s easy to get it wrong. In fact, there are thousands of examples where it is the case. In Flash any experiments with navigation and layouts are possible and in most cases it’s extremely hard to find a creative yet intuitive approach. Flash is commonly used by designers, agencies, advertisers and interactive web sites, and not on the sites where simplicity and quick access to information are important.

In this post we present 65 examples of outstanding Flash designs with excellent use of graphics, visual elements, interface design and graphics motion. This showcase (mostly) presents “pure” web designs; we’ve tried to avoid Flash-based games and advertising.

Mistake #1: Use Of Flash To Imitate (X)HTML/CSS Link

Flash shouldn’t be used if the designer tries to imitate (X)HTML/CSS-presentation. Long texts shouldn’t be embedded in Flash movies, because it’s harder (if possible at all) to work with the embedded text once you need to. Cubamoon1 is a perfect example of how this is done wrongly. The completeness of the design is enviable, its beauty irresistible, Flash-effects are stunning. However it’s really hard to work with the content of the site. Visitors can’t open links in new windows and the text can’t be selected and copied.


Flash’s strength lies in its ability to showcase unusual visual solutions, including graphic motion, videos and sound. Make use of them if you really want to achieve a stunning visual design, instead of imitating “conventional” web-presentation.

Mistake #2: Navigation Is Unintuitive Link

Whatever decisions developers make for the design of their navigation menus, the result has to fulfill three significant requirements: it has to be intuitive, easy-to-use and work properly. Whether the design is Flash-based or not is not that important.

Flash Screenshot3

The navigation is possible with the wheel which needs to be dragged. That looks easy, but it isn’t. Where is the grey zone between usability and creativity?

Using too creative approaches designers risk to confuse or even disturb visitors. The freedom for experiments with Flash may lead to unusual solutions which aren’t necessarily understood by all visitors.

Therefore designing in Flash never assume that the navigation can be arbitrarily complex and that visitors will take time to explore it. Users don’t like to wait. And if they don’t understand how the site works they leave. This is simple. And may cost you your money and your efforts. Be willing to compromise. Use creative approaches, but always take your visitors into consideration.

Mistake #3: Pop-Ups Are Still Used Link

Flash Screenshot4

That’s just wrong. Flash designers need to understand that pop-ups shouldn’t be used any longer. Almost every browser blocks opening windows. Tricks and convincing arguments don’t help any more. Use the screen size your visitors use. In most cases you don’t need more.

What is your favorite?

3D-Experience, Video-Effects Link

Flash Screenshot5

3D, motion.


Visiting the agency’s web-site you actually visit their agency. Clean images, great use of video features.

Flash Screenshot7

Video motion, Multimedia, Navigation. Tell your visitors your story. Excellent portfolio site. Excellent use of Flash.

Flash Screenshot8

Open up the containers to navigate. Beautiful.

Flash Screenshot9

Impressive visual experience.

Flash Screenshot10

Would you like a guided tour through this building?

Flash Screenshot

Outstanding effects with videos and camera lenses.

Flash Screenshot11

Listen to what the suitcase says.

Flash Screenshot12

OK, this is a shop. But what is happening here, the models are interacting.


Flip the book to navigate. Impressive 3D-effects.

Visual Elements Link

Flash Screenshot14

Learn how to make a good first impression.

Flash Screenshot15

Crazy, interactive, unusual – creative!

Flash Screenshot16

Clean and interactive presentation at its best.

Flash Screenshot17

The portfolio is presented as a box of chocolates; every item can be picked, previewed and added to the lightbox for later.

Flash Screenshot18

Follow the infinite red line (click on the screen first).

Flash Screenshot19

An agency’s web-site doesn’t have to be boring. These guys seem to be hilarious.

Flash Screenshot20

Portfolio designed as a… bus.

Flash Screenshot21

Excellent photography and visual elements.

Flash Screenshot22

The dropping down heaven. Every block is a single drop-down menu.

Flash Screenshot23

The Funnel Design Group. A classic.

Clean, Clear and Simple Link

Flash Screenshot24

Calm, peaceful, beautiful.

Flash Screenshot25

Silent, but so clean and elegant.

Flash Screenshot26

Calm and so beautiful. 3D-interaction in the Chromazone universe.

Flash Screenshot27

Minimalistic and beautiful, a portfolio.

User Interface, Navigation Link

Flash Screenshot28

Navigation with colored stickers.

Flash Screenshot29

Tremendous graphic design, and beautiful navigation – flashy!

Flash Screenshot30

d’strict uses some kind of a bubble-lupe as site’s primary navigation. To navigate you have to drag the bubble upon the layout. And no, the design is based neither upon grids nor upon columns. Explore.

Flash Screenshot31

A circular navigation.

Flash Screenshot32

Click on the ribbon and it flashes right to you preloading the content you’d like to see.

Flash Screenshot33

Drag & Drop navigation

Flash Screenshot34

So beautiful, so elegant, so clean and interactive.

Flash Screenshot35

What could it be? Well, this is an image gallery. Unusual navigation – you need to be really desperate about your navigation to come up with this method.

Flash Screenshot36

Where is the navigation? On the right side at the top of the layout. To browse through categories you need to “switch a channel” like you would do it in your radio set. Nice idea from Switzerland.

Flash Screenshot37

Moon Palace offers a quite imaginative navigation.

Flash Screenshot

Pick the category from a set of discs. Interesting navigation, and also beautiful.

Flash Screenshot38

Yammat: Navigation with elastic bands.

Flash Screenshot39

Another interesting concept by Limbus from France.

Flash Screenshot40

Flash Screenshot

Beautiful navigation and interesting presentation. And we really love big typography.

Flash Screenshot41

…we also love lemons by the way.

Experimental Link

Flash Screenshot42

Kashiwa Sato loves color palettes. Do your eyes too?

Flash Screenshot43

This damn pencil can make you nervous.

Flash Screenshot44

OK, this is scary. And not beautiful. But the use of visual elements on Marilyn Manson’s official web-site is… well, unusual.

Flash Screenshot45

Self-portrait of a quite different art.

Flash Screenshot

HiFi Rack.

Flash Screenshot46

Pixel-based Flash design created with the attention to smallest details. Unfortunately, there are sometimes too many pixels. Flash keeps the pixels alive – nice approach.

Flash Screenshot47

He doesn’t exist. Monoface’s face shuffle. We simply couldn’t resist.

Flash Screenshot48

Mohamed Yosry uses Flash in his own way. Not stunning, but unusual.

Flash Screenshot49

Kimm Saatveldt presents his portfolio in a rather unusual way. Place the mouse in the middle of the page to navigate.

Flash Screenshot

HBO Voyeur. A classic you really need to have seen — at least once in your life.

Flash Screenshot50

Why not? Web-site as a newspaper.

Flash Screenshot51

Flash design from the 90s. Old, but still impressive. This text editor software is actually still in use.

Footnotes Link

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Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy and publishing — all in German.

  1. 1

    great list …

  2. 2

    Awesome list. Me love you guys! Lot’s off inspiration.

  3. 3

    Thanks! Great list as usual. Will have to give more time to this later, because as usual, Smashing articles do require more time to explore and read!

  4. 4

    Using Flash is a good thing to display interactive elements – BUT (and this is a very big but!) I would not recommend it to design whole web sites with it, as long as Gooogle and other search engines are not able to scan the content.

  5. 5

    Chris Papadopoulos

    October 31, 2007 1:01 am

    Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these sites are stunningly beautiful and Flash does provide some advantages like the ability to embed typefaces, but usability issues with these pure Flash sites are a real concern. (also I’m sure there are some SEO issues as well)

    If your customers have difficulty using your website, does it really matter how pretty it is?

    Some of these sites’ navigation structure makes it impossible to give another person a link to a specific page. Or some of these sites actually have to give instructions on how to navigate the site. Thats a huge design failure.

    A website is different from a magazine cover. Links on the internet are just text. A site doesn’t have to be gorgeous to attract users. It just needs to have good content so that others will link to it and easy to use so that people will want to come back.

    It is still an interesting list to check out regardless of the above points I made because as mentioned, a lot of these sites are very pretty.

  6. 6

    I am actually a little disappointed with this one. the navigations on most of the “good” sites were awful. The pages were super slow loading. A few were knockouts but the rest were pretty poor examples of what a good flash site should be.

  7. 7

    Unbelievably difficult navigation + very, very long load times (on my superfast T1) = no thank you.

    Also, anyone with sense uses Flashblock. People come to your site for information, not to see pretty pictures. Save the flash for necessary video & audio embedding.

  8. 8

    Excellent list!!! I’m thrilled!

  9. 9

    Excellent showcase of Flash sites. I especially liked cafesonique and the WM Team. I think Flash designs can be a very good choice for design-related websites.

  10. 11

    as always, very nice read!

  11. 12

    Indeed, using Flash is very intersting in the case of doing a website with original navigation, but like in your first example, it’s not usefull at all, it’s better to do something in html/css and integrate some flash in div.

    Like all your post, this one is great and very dense.

  12. 13

    great pages, I would like to have one of them :P
    Flash is great if we want to make beautifull and attractive webpage, but it’s no good for search engine optimizers :(

    I like visit :) there’s the best page about webdesign on whole internet :)

  13. 14

    I would also suggest adding 2Advanced Studios to your list.

    Great job, as always.

  14. 15

    Damn …. some designers are really good !!!!!!!

  15. 16

    One of the most interesting articles from you guys yet!

    All are undeniably visually stunning, but your critique really makes us second guess a 100% flash site altogether!

  16. 17

    Agust Gudbjornsson

    October 31, 2007 6:11 am

    Well, these are all very very cool ofcourse.

    What about search engines and easy information access ?

    I would rather see some of these sites on a touch display in-store where I gain the experience along with the company structure (if that makes sense).

    Then again, great post, I must say that I´m not a huge flash fan, but some of those surprise me allot.


  17. 18

    some of the 65 are good…but you list some that do exactly what you say not to do.

    the deadline site, as example, is nice visually, but it’s impossible to read the actual content. sites that can combine these visual effects while also being “friendly” to whoever thieri audience is, seem to be a rare find. this doesn’t mean i am against flash at all, i love it, but it does seem to be abused still — flash designers: resizing my window and blasting me with your music, is still not ok, just like it wasn’t 8 years ago.

  18. 19

    Regarding SEO concerns and the ability to link to a page deep within your site’s structure, if your’e dealing with a designer who knows his stuff these are concerns left at the door.

    Our entire site is deep-linkable, and I’m assuming an award in the Navigation category at the Flash Forward awards means our site is fairly intuitive. Color us proud. :)

    It ain’t cheap, but when it’s done right it’s worth every penny.

  19. 20

    this hi-fi rack thing is pretty lame tho… Both the concept, the gfx, the music, the works…

  20. 21

    Apparently I can blabber on about Flash and our website but am incompentent at adding simple html links to a comment. Sorry guys… :)

  21. 22

    Love the newspaper idea, cool concept.

  22. 23

    About SEO: It’s very easy to create a Flash website with HTML fallback. Of course you have to separate data, style and behaviour, but that’s good practise anyway.

  23. 24
  24. 25

    I disagree with ‘Mistake #1’ – the mistake isn’t in trying to imitate (improve?) on (X)HTML / CSS – the mistake, as far as you see it, is not being able to select and copy text and open new windows. Both of these could be achieved with Flash.

    It’s not a mistake outright. But perhaps it’s a mistake to not provide the full plethora of capabilities that (X)HTML. Nevertheless, showing an awesome website and then poking holes in it is an awful lot like Jakob Nielsen’s whining about ‘Flash 99% Bad’… it annoys me so much.

  25. 26

    Hey Guys, you have to advise us… some site seriously damage my work time! ^_____^

    Btw I recently found this one:

  26. 27

    I have to admit that design level of almost every listed site is really impressive. But for me the problem is in fact that I don’t like to only watch websites. I like to use them and get information I am interested in. In many websites from the list you have to penetrate the screen blindly to find out what can be done at all. I call such vaner pages (visit and never return). cheers.

  27. 28

    awesome again.

  28. 29

    Excellent source of inspiration!

  29. 30

    I am so glad that made this list – I’ve admired the use of Flash in that site for years and still didn’t find the easter eggs!

  30. 31

    Keep going with this type of awesome work…


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