A great review from 1st Web Designer…
Flash templates are getting more and more popular these days and though beautiful outside, they can be a real disaster inside. While most of the template companies state that their templates are easy to manage and update, customizing the ready-made template can be a tough task for you. How to ensure that you won’t have to dive into the flash code, Action Script or spend hundreds of dollars on a web developer to customize the template for you? This post is meant to give you a helping hand in the world of various flash templates and flash systems so if you consider creating your website from the flash template and want it to be real easy and affordable this post is for you.
First of all and if you have never seen Adobe Flash, do not try to convince yourself that you can manage it. Yes, you can probably learn some simple things from YouTube tutorials, but the flash templates of the new generation are much more than just a number or links, images and text blocks. So what’s the solution if you are a flash fan and dream of an awesome interactive flash template?
Flash Content Management System.
What’s a flash content management system or simply flash CMS? That’s a system that helps you manage your flash website without actual source files editing. The CMS based flash template usually consists of the 3 main sections: the design skin- that works like the shell for the content, the core- the codes and programmed functions, and the website content- that can be stored in the database or external txt/xml files. The content management system in simple words is an administrative interface where you can enter the content in a convenient, intuitive, friendly manner without going into any codes and this content will show up on the website in the real time.
So Flash CMS seems to be a really cool solution but can you build your website using its functionality if you are not a flash developer? The answer is obviously no. There have been lots of Flash CMS solutions reviews recently but they are useless for the regular users as most of us simply don’t know where and how to implement them. That’s why I have decided to create a review of Flash CMS templates solutions presently available on the market, the solutions that will allow you build your new flash website quickly, easily at without additional costs.
FlashMint is a leading provider of Flash CMS Templates. They have CMS v1, CMS v2 and CMS v3 templates presented in their collection. While the first two versions of FlashMint content management system where pretty primitive, version 3 looks cool. There’s a nice intuitive admin area and the administration interface allows to perform the following basic actions:
- Upload your logo; add company name;
- Upload website background image;
- Change company name and menu colors.
As every content management system FlashMint CMS v3 allows:
- Create unlimited number of text pages;
- Rearrange the order of the menu tabs.
FlashMint CMS v3 was developed mainly as the content management system for portfolios and photography websites hence the following features:
- Unlimited number of photo galleries;
- Photo controls for the website visitors;
- Photo search;
- Unlimited number of video galleries;
- Slideshow creator.
Other modules presented in FlashMint CMS v3 include news editor, events editor, mp3 track editor, meta tags section. There are 30 beautiful flash templates to choose from, no special server requirements and no complicated installation. The system is not skin based, so every template is developed separately.
Template price: $204-215
Initially developed for photographers community, ReadyPhotoSite CMS can be used to create any type of website, from business to entertainment sites. The product is available in 4 packages:
- Basic- for business websites;
- Creative- for photography websites and personal portfolios;
- Ecommerce- for online flash stores;
- Premium- includes the design .fla files allowing to make modifications not available from the admin area.
The modules presented in ReadyPhotoSite CMS include:
- General website settings (logo, menu, copyright etc);
- Meta-data manager;
- Photo gallery (unlimited number of photo galleries);
- Video gallery (unlimited number of video galleries);
- Slideshow creator;
- Mp3 tracks editor;
- News section;
- Events editor;
- Password protected galleries;
- Shopping cart and online store.
The pricing for ReadyPhotoSite websites depends on functionality. The basic package is $149, creative $159, ecommerce- $199 and premium package is $250.
The collection presently includes 10 templates and several new templates are added monthly. The templates do not require database to store info. All the texts, paths to the files and parameters are stored in the external XML files used by the system. The system is skin based but there are certain design restrictions applied for every template and thus changing one design to the other might be not a good idea. Deep linking technology makes ReadyPhotoSite websites search engine friendly and lets your reference the difference sections of your flash website as if it was simple clean HTML.
Fancy CMS is a new promising flash content management system that seems to be still in development. They have triumphantly launched their first template and promise more to come shortly. As a fresh developing product Fancy CMS might also be interesting for flash developers as there’s a beta version of Fancy Flash CMS Core available for free. One oops- the admin area is not available yet so if you decide to download the templates be ready to edit the info directly in the xml files.
Among the interesting features of Fancy Flash CMS are:
- Rich content pages with 2-level menus;
- Flash blog;
- e-commerce shopping cart,
- Option to change the pages design and layout;
- Video, Image & Sound Galleries.
The system is skin based so you can easily change skins to newer design versions. At the moment the system is free.
Loved by flash developers the FlashMoto CMS has the widest range of functionality possible. There’s an option to edit the core of the system, add new modules and widgets and create separate projects based on the FlashMoto CMS. However when it comes to website management it gets complicated for most of us… since there are too many options available. Certain functionality limitations would guarantee that design look and feel remains stylish and professional but this in not the case when you can play around with almost every element and then can’t set it back to default position. Yet, we have to admit that FlashMoto CMS is a powerful engine, though (and in the consent of our theme today) oriented more on developers than end users. What’s really cool about this CMS is the Multilingual Control Panel supporting 12 languages.
Among the features of the FlashMoto CMS you will find:
- Interface to update general settings like logo, menu, company name etc;
- Ability to add unlimited number of pages in a rich WYSIWYG editing environment;
- Media Library & Preload Item option;
- News module, Video & Image Gallery ;
- Video and MP3 player.
While the admin area works smooth I can’t call it intuitive though this can be a matter of time and getting used to things. People logging in for the first time to WordPress or Oscommerce admin area might be feeling kinda lost as well
The templates cost around $250 and are all designed in the up-to-date clean style which makes the offer even more attractive.
There’s an interesting fact that FlashMint and FlashMoto which are supposed to be competitors have recently signed an agreement where FlashMint will be developing templates based on FlashMoto CMS.
Mint editor is another flash website management product created by www.flashmint.com. This is not a standalone product or system but rather a management interface allowing to easily update info on the flash templates via simple admin area. While opened in Mint Editor, the template is represented as a structured combination of various flash components, with a separate set of configuration settings for each of them. The list of components include:
- Audio gallery;
- Image gallery;
- Video gallery;
- Dynamic news;
- Dynamic text page;
- Contact section.
Mint Editor is probably the cheapest solution of that kind presented on the market. Mint Editor templates cost $50 and are hand-coded for a certain appropriate design.
In simple words AuroraFlash site builder is your desktop flash WYSIWYG editor allowing to build fantastic flash websites without any special skills and within 30 minutes. The concept is very simple and the editor works as a candy. All you have to do is download the editor and auto install it on your computer in several simple clicks. After that the program will offer you choose the template to work with from the number of default designs and the interface will load.
The components presented in default free templates include:
- Text pages;
- Photo gallery;
- Contact section.
There’s a set of flash templates you can download directly from the website absolutely for free and use it for creating of your personal website, however if you plan creating a project for your customer based on AuroraFlash website builder be sure to read the licensing terms.
Yooba Flash CMS is a tool for creating simple flash animated websites in the Yooba environment. That’s a hosted solution so in order to manage your website you have to login to the membership area on the Yooba website. Before starting on the project you’ll have to prepare the design of your new web page and save all the elements as separate images that then will be uploaded to your Yooba interface. The nice feature about Yooba is that they offer simple website visitors stats.
The price of Yooba is somewhat high- €40 per slot a month and you have to build the design on your own. Yooba is not a CMS in the usual understanding however it allows to create animated websites with easy and without flash or any other special knowledge.
If you have ever been looking for a free flash website you might have been on a Wix site and even considered using their builder to create your free flash website. Guys at Wix have a huge number of nicely designed templates and working with the Wix system is a real pleasure. It takes just a few minutes to sign up with them, choose the template and proceed to the editing interface. Editing the template reminds more of a fun game with big iconed tools You can change texts and fonts, you can add photos, videos and music and create nice galleries. You can also view your website online on the link like this one http://www.wix.com/adzyasan/anastasia and it’s also for free.
If you want more features than the free version of Wix allows you can sign up for a premium account (starting from $4.95/month) and use your own domain name, remove Wix ads and logo from your website.
According to TemplateAction team, TemplateAction website templates are fully customizable and editable via an extensive control panel. The admin area allows:
- Rename pages, edit and format texts;
- Add links, add/remove/change images;
- Change the video background.
Compared to other Flash CMS system reviewed above, TemplateAction CMS doesn’t have an advanced functionality but it’s quite enough for a simple flash business or personal website. There are 17 nice templates presently available and the price is fair- $89 only. There’s a admin panel demo available on YouTube so you have a good chance to review the functionality before making your choice of the CMS based flash template and placing the order.
In conclusion I’d like to say that it’s only up to you what system to choose for creating and managing your flash website but let me give you some advice.
- Check the admin panel demo before making the purchase and make sure that it’s convenient for you. Don’t trust the words, test it.
- Think what features you need and what you don’t- you don’t have to pay for the stuff that you don’t need.
- Make your decision based on your template type. If you are a photographer- you’ll need photo and video galleries as well as your own domain name for brand recognition. Wix templates will work for a personal hobby website but you have to be more thoughtful when choosing a flash solution for your company business website.
- Avoid all the templates with huge/complex animations. This websites will not only work slowly but can make the browser and computer freeze.