Add Some Emphasis to Your Site

By sgrosvenor
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There are some days when an interesting technology just makes you sit up and think ‘Thats a really good idea!’, and today is one of those days.

Working with TelSim Software, to test their new ‘Noah’ technology which is essentially a web site enhancement device driven in Flash, I was astounded at how easy it is to create a more usable and emphasized experience of a series of pages within a site.

Take for example, the home page, there are many links and options, and after you’ve been there a few times, it’s easy to navigate around, but for the first time visitors who may not know what they are looking for, then why not have a friendly avatar that directs you around the screen pointing out the major sections / offers that you may have on.

I’ve noticed since the phireworx avatar has been present on the front page of the site for the past couple of days, that the amount of users who visit the home page of the site and click through from the links rather than clicking off to another site increased by 37%, no mean feat!

It certainly grabs your attention, and TelSim are looking for shopping cart sites to test the before and after results with whom they will work a discount!

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  • Jonathan Snook –

    The idea to implement an avatar using Flash is a decent idea. It’s definitely a step above the Microsoft avatar technology which is IE/Win only.

    It has some downfalls, though. 1. the site only worked for me in IE. Firefox and Opera didn’t work. If I clicked Play, it looked like he just shakes his head at me… In IE, I noticed another bug: when in ‘text’ mode and I clicked on About, the text didn’t match the sound.

  • duagne

    The avatar thing’s an interesting idea, but won’t most people find it as annoying as the paper clip on Microsoft Word? Besides that, it doesn’t even work properly in Firefox.

  • Seth

    I would find it very annoying. If you have to be taught to use a website, then you have usability issues from the star. And do you really want to have an avatar talking to you even after you have already been to the site and know how it works?

  • I agree with duagne, it’s like clippy all over again, nobody likes that guy.

  • willthiswork

    The little Noah on your site does less funky transformation than the one on Telsim but it seems to do a better job in briefly introducing the contents. Or perhaps I did not like the strong american accent of the other Noah.

  • OK, how’d you get a trasparent background in flash? Is that new as of MX ’04?

  • Sergeant

    you can do it in your html code…

    put this inside your flash tags

    beware, this does not work in Opera, it does work in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

    This is not new as of mx ’04, it existed before

  • Thanks Sergeant! :-)

  • We’re the developers of NOAH and it’s great to see discussions. First, we fixed the issue with Firefox. Let us know if you still have issues.

    Second, there are three modes to NOAH at startup: play every time, play first time then not for X hours, and sit there until clicked on. It’s configurable by the designer.

    Sorry about the American accent, but NOAH uses any voice file you create. Go to to see some different voices.

    Keep the comments coming!

  • Nathan Pitman

    I agree with Seth, inclusion of an avatar in this manner is nothing short of an admission of poor usability design. A simple, clear and well implemented site should negate the need for such ‘technology’. Sorry, doesn’t get my vote at all. :/

  • Carl B

    The login box looks busted in Opera. And that dancing candy corn thing is just staring at me, not doing anything. But, even though it’s kind of cheesy and IMO out of place on a design oriented site, I’m sure there are target markets where this sort of thing would be more appropriate and well received. And you can’t really ignore that it appears to be keeping people from leaving the site.

  • I think one of the main issues is making the user feel like they are in control.

    I felt like I’d walked in to the lobby of a hotel, stepped to the side to take the scene in, and some guy in a uniform had grabbed me by the lapels and started drilling me with “HELLO!! You are in the LOBBY!.. Over to the left you will see our reception!.. Should you desire a gift you will find our gift shop to right next to the stairs!!.. Drinks may be obt…”

    ShuduuuUUUp, alright?!!!

    Like a perfect waiter, I think the avatar needs a way to acknowledge he/she will be there any instant she/he’s needed, but won’t get in the way otherwise.

  • jenny_sparks

    The little avatar was great on phireworx. It was quick, painless and helpful. But if he yapped on for longer, then he would have gotten annoying.

    I think he would be perfect for the site