Flash intro or site templates - star, night sky

I've looked everywhere for flash template animations, intros or full flash sites.  Can’t find what I need.

My client has a financial adviser company that uses a star (lens flare) in the logo.  He wants a flash animation of some kind where a star (lens flare?) moves slowly across the page while a person looks up at it.  Or something along those lines.  He needs something very upscale and serious.  

I used to use Boxed Art and Template Monster.  Template Monster has gotten so expensive.  Boxed Art flash templates are way too "busy".

I love www.Themeforest.com , www.graphicriver.com  and www.ActiveDen.com  - that's the caliber of templates I’m looking for ... and the price range.  I’ve spent hundreds of dollars at Themeforest and GraphicRiver – worth every dime.  ¿  Are there other high quality sites like these?  

I love www.smashingmagazine.com , www.tutsplus.com , http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/, http://vandelaydesign.com, http://indeziner.com/, http://webdesignledger.com , http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/.  Any others you would like here?

I'm a web developer and dabble in Flash.  Starting a Flash from scratch would be daunting. I'm shocked I couldn't even find a flash background with some professionally looking twinkling stars

So I know this is a vague question.  I just thought you guys might provide some links where I can keep searching.  

I'm open to buying videos that can be imported to flash.

I'll ask a separate question (and more points) for non-flash template sites.

I've had such good luck with EE in the past - I thought it would be worth a shot to ask this question.

Again - I know it's a vague question.  It's just that I've got creative block.  I've been working on this for months and I'm on my third complete site - one HTML and one Word press.

Thanks for any ideas, help you can provide.
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Jason C. LevineConnect With a Mentor No oneCommented:
Hi aprillougheed,

Honestly, you've covered most of the high points already.  Any other sites you are likely to get from the Experts are going to be the result of hasty Google searches and not so much well-thought out or researched opinions.

However, this paragraph:

My client has a financial adviser company that uses a star (lens flare) in the logo.  He wants a flash animation of some kind where a star (lens flare?) moves slowly across the page while a person looks up at it.  Or something along those lines.  He needs something very upscale and serious.

Would send me running for the hills as far and as fast as I could.  First, there is almost no way to achieve this and not look cheesy on some level.  A lot of people have a visceral negative reaction to animation in web sites, especially animation that doesn't enhance the user experience.  Even the most well-produced animation you can think of is still nothing more than a huge distraction to the rest of the content on the page.  Second, I urge you to read clientsfromhell.net and http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell 

While those sites are mostly hyperbole and humor, there is an element of truth that underlies it all.  When the client comes to you with really firm ideas of what the web site should be and do and look like, you are less of a professional developer/designer and more of a human point-and-click interface.  Some people thrive on this, but the reality is most sites that are developed in this manner tend to be a mess of competing design elements and jury-rigged templating solutions to shoehorn a desired element into a page that otherwise shouldn't have that element.  

You say you only have two complete sites under your belt...I would suggest reading up a bit about user experience (UX) and how you build sites with it in mind.  There is a way to do anything and make it look good, but that doesn't mean you should do anything just because it looks good or because the client is in love with it.
Eric AKA NetminderConnect With a Mentor Commented:

Wow. Jason would have to beat me out the door.

There are a couple of ways to approach your question. One would be to start doing Google searches and looking for templates and simply answering your question... which would be fine for getting a few points I don't care about and don't need, but would be lousy for your ongoing development as a design professional.

Another is to do as Jason has done: suggest that you run -- don't walk -- away from this situation and save yourself the pain and agony of having to learn the lesson we have both learned several times over. You will work your fingers to the bone trying to get everything right... and five months from now, you won't get paid, the client will be having his sister's 14-year-old son redo the site, and you'll be considering a new career as a grocery clerk.

I'm going to echo Jason a little bit, and offer the following:

Rule No 1. Form follows function. Until your client figures out what his site is supposed to do, talking about what it is going to look like is like discussing the color of the bathroom tile before you've decided where the walls are going to be.

Rule No. 2. The customer isn't always right. I don't know what you charge, but there is a reason I always tell people that websites are EXPENSIVE: because I want to know they're serious about letting me do my job. The client may well be a great financial adviser, but based on what you've told us, he doesn't know much about convincing anyone else he's a great financial adviser.

Rule No. 3. Get a BIG deposit up front (I charge 50 per cent) that is non-refundable AND comes with a contract. In that contract, be VERY specific about your role, the specifics of the site, and what additional work and/or changes are going to cost him. The main reason you do this is to keep him from having "great ideas" when you've already done 90 per cent of the work that will involve redoing it... but the other reason is to get him to understand that you're the designer -- not him -- and just because he likes something doesn't mean (as Jason notes quite eloquently) that he knows s**t from apple butter about what websites are supposed to do.

Personally, I would avoid Flash and I don't like most animation anyway. I find it largely distracting and annoying -- even when I expect it (like on espn.com). I certainly wouldn't do anything that takes more than about three seconds to play, because if it's me, the longer I have to wait around to get to the actual content of the site, the less likely I am to wait around -- which means the website has lost a customer. I figure I'm not that much different from most people.

Finally... trust your own skills. There are times to use templates, and time to stand on your own two feet as an artist/designer. I'm sure you can find something at adobe.com that will use Flash and stars... or at least you'll find something that jumpstarts your own creativity.

aprillougheedAuthor Commented:
Wow.  I most certainly need to hear your words.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  Your comments are literally life changing.

I've already worked my fingers to the bone.  I'm 55 years old and now have arthritis.  And I just started Restasis because my eyes burn all the time.  

And get this … this client is my nephew.  :o  I tried to suggest the strategy is vague to say the least.  I need to improve my communication skills because the message didn’t hit home.  I realize I should be paid as Marketing Consultant in addition to Web Development.  

Then, last month, I spent three straight days making an entire sample site for another potential client.  I researched their industry, made a new logo, a few sample custom graphics, downloaded all the text from their old (FrontPage) site.  I gave them an extremely low proposal.  After two weeks, they emailed to say they had a friend that was going to do the site after all.  That’s the first time I’ve not been hired.

I guess it’s up to me to better position myself.

I thought I was just inefficient.  I thought I’d have to start another career.  Maybe I just need to change my perspective.

I have an MBA and worked in Marketing for a decade as a Brand Manager for Fortune 500 companies.

My clients always love my sites … but I know I’m barely making minimum wage for the hours.

I’ve been freelancing for ten years.  I had one large international client with a 500 plus page site.  I lost them when the housing market bottomed in California.  That spoiled me I guess.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.  But your answer made me realize there is hope.  I love making great websites.  That means visually pleasing, functional sites that truly communicate to clients and ultimately contribute to profitability.

I think I’ll print out your comments and re-read them every morning.

Best regards, aprillougheed
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
And this one too:


The point of having you read all of these is to get you to understand how to set yourself up as a consultant, charge appropriately, and be happy.  Above all, realize you are not alone in this and that there are people willing to listen and share the benefit of their experience with you.
First of all, thank you to Jason1178 for the compliment on my articles.

There are two exit strategies I would recommend (if I am not too late on this).

The comment here:
My client has a financial adviser company that uses a star (lens flare) in the logo.  He wants a flash animation of some kind where a star (lens flare?) moves slowly across the page while a person looks up at it.  Or something along those lines.  He needs something very upscale and serious.

Shows that this client does not understand marketing at all. Walt Disney always said that his movies needed a Weenie. This was  a central thing in the film, book, or other project that told the customer or client to "come this way" or" focus your attention here."

Your cilent is asking for a weenie that would seriously do him a disservice. #1, the weenie here is some random lens flare that says "look at my artsy crap that has everything to do with my ego and nothing to do with my business and also does not give you any reason to do business with me."

Therefore, to further allow him to go down this path means that ultimately his investment in the website WILL FAIL because all his other requests are going to be all about form and nothing about function. The only reason to build a website is to get more business and close more deals. Period. When you create a website that does that for a client, it results in repeat business. Over and over again.

Therefore, Jason1148 and ericpete's suggestion to run are completely in the ballpark.

You do have another option, but it depends entirely on your leadership ability.

You are being contracted as an expert in your field. Your job is to lead yoru customer to success on the web. Therefore, when you get presented with a ludicris request it tells you that they don't really know what they want or what is important. If you still have the opportunity, ask them this question:

"I understand that the lens flare effect is important to you. However, I would like to understand more about what your website's ultimate goal is. In my experience, a website serves a marketing purpose. By definition, marketing's goal is to get the word out about you, and then give customers a reason to do business with you, which includes building your credibility, a following, an audience, and producing demand for you that far exceeds the supply thereby driving up your fees and profits. With all due respect, distracting visitors to your website with a fancy lens flare effect that both distracts the visitor from the point of the website (doing business with you) and fails to build any credibility or reasons to do business with you, I would like to suggest a different route:

Let's build a site that takes a visitor down a very specific path that concentrates on your expertise, your ability to plan their financial future and stability. And let's focus on making YOU the star of the show rather than a lens flare.

How does that sound?"

This "speach" will give you one of two things:

1. It will give you complete control over the relationship, which will kill the stupid request by revealing that it does not serve his best interest while simultaneously demonstrating that you are an expert in your field who is also their advocate that wants them to succeed wildly. When you accomplish this, the client should become putty in your hands.

2. If the above does not result, the client is hard headed. Either run, or charge a nuisance fee. Make it SO EXPENSIVE that it will be worth putting up with their crap or that they will decline to use your service.

PS... as ericpete said: get money upfront with a contract. I would only add one thing: when the retainer runs out, stop working until you get another check. Make them pay for being high-maintenance.

PPS... it is a lot easier to get a client who you do not have to train to be a good client than it is to convert one into a good client. But conversion is ALWAYS worth a shot. The single greatest cost in business is client acquisition. By all means see if you can convert before you fire, but do not hesitate to fire.

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
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