Artlines Media Blog

In Flash Replacement - Controlling fonts and text-smoothing (anti-aliasing)


I’m coming across more and more websites using this technique, buzzwordly-named IFR (Inman Flash Replacement)

IFR is displaying text through flash – dynamically feeding a text string into a SWF file, which in turn displays the string in a font style specified by the SWF. Doing this ensures text is always displayed in a smooth anti-aliased fashion, and allows for non-web fonts to be used on web pages.

The most desirable application of the IFR technique is for text in header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc), but these tags are very important to search engine spiders and contribute quite heavily to how the page is read, so replacing them with flash files is a big no-no. Search engine’s don’t read text within flash (or images for that matter).

The solution is a clever mix of javascript and css:

  1. h1, h2, h3, etc. tags are set to display: none by default.
  2. Once the DOM (document object model) has loaded, a javascript function is triggered which reads the text in these tags, and inserts the SWF file into the tag with the text as a parameter.
  3. The original text is then wrapped in a span tag.
  4. The h1, h2, h3, etc tags are set to display: block, and span tags within these tags are set to display: none;

Thats how I think I’d do it anyway… although setting h1 tags to display: none by default scares me a little, perhaps visibility: hidden would be better. There would also need to be flash detection at stage 2…

Example – - Uses IFR quite extensively on the homepage, but select ‘no styles’ and you’ll see the text as normal web text – readable to us and search engines.

Personally, I’m not too keen on this technique although I can see its purpose. I’d prefer to use PHP’s GD library and the freetype library because I feel dynamic content should be handled and processed at the server, not the client. Doing this eliminates the need to test the client machine environment for flash, activeX, browser, etc…

Design a key factor for company stability


As I have said many times on this blog, the use of design can have a dramatic impact on a business and how well it fairs in its market place. The design council have published research that only enforces that argument:

 When times are tough and revenues are falling there may be a temptation for business to cut ‘discretionary’ budgets – money allocated to activities such as design, perhaps.

But design is a powerful tool in a downturn.
Our research shows that more than half of the UK’s businesses:

…. are looking to design their way out of downturn

Over half (54%) of the firms in our survey thought design would contribute to a large or great extent in helping maintain their competitive edge in the current economic climate.

…. think design is more important now
Similarly, 53% thought that design had become more important in helping the firm to achieve its business objectives over the last three years.

…. think design is integral to the economic performance of the UK
The same number agreed or strongly agreed that design is integral to the country’s future economic performance.

read the full article here

The use of design can be critical in giving you the edge over your competitors.

A community project with real kick


Work has already begun on the strategy, design concepts and user requirements. We are enjoying working together on this great project and can't wait for the launch of the website in early February.

SEO injection required for new client in 2009


Artlines Media have been commissioned to totally overhaul a service management software company's online marketing strategy for 2009. Phase one includes delivering a full project overview, to include, On Page SEO, Off Page SEO, Keyword Efficiency Indexing (KEI) & Link Building Campaign.

We look forward to our client receiving new levels of enquiries and getting the ROI they should expect from there online presence.

Design linked to growth


Growing companies are using design to drive their businesses forward. The link between success and design has never been clearer, and the performance gap between design-aware businesses and the rest has never been wider.

"Design Council research suggests strongly that, compared to the broad mass of businesses, successful companies are more likely to value design as a strategic business tool, use it in important areas of their operation and recognise its impact on their performance.

Nine out of ten businesses which had experienced rapid growth in the preceding 12 months regarded design as being integral to the firm’s operation or said it had a significant role to play. Only 40% of moderately growing businesses and 26% of static or shrinking ones said the same."

This should ring alarm bells for under-performing businesses, anybody, in fact, who has an interest in fostering increased competitiveness and prosperity. Those who fully exploit design and innovation are reaping clear rewards, too many organisations are failing to harness that power to help achieve their full potential.

Whatever size your business may be and whatever sector it may operate in, growth and the use of design go hand in hand.

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