BannerZest Pro

11 years ago in Neat & Nifty, Reviews by Spencer Scott | 1 Comment

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In my “spare” time I like to work on websites, and since time is limited I like to use tools that help me along the way, but still provide great looking results. One area that has always troubled me was designing Flash banners, navigation, etc. For Mac users, there really didn’t seem a decent solution to creating Flash content with anything other than using Flash. Now Flash is a fine application, but not everyone needs the full functionality of Flash or the expense either. In my search for an easier way I was recommended to give BannerZest a shot, and so I did.

2497279718_84eb6bf329.jpgBannerZest is a way to introduce Flash-based animations to your website, blog, or social network site. Customizable themes are what BannerZest is based on, and the included themes are quite impressive. Creating your first banner doesn’t require a book to be read first, and it’s really as easy as dragging and dropping your images. The Pro version includes a media browser which makes sorting and navigating easy, especially if you have a large image collection. Integration with Aperture and Lightroom are also supported.

2496453463_50ddb7f4f0.jpgAnother thing I really like about BannerZest is its straightforward interface. The layout is easy to understand and configuring the included themes isn’t hard at all. Once the images are dragged into the BannerZest window, the Inspector box pops up and presents you with a list of options to customize the theme to your needs. Pretty much anything you would want to change in the theme is an option.

The Pro version of BannerZest includes over 20 themes, with the standard version including the basic theme set. Clicking each theme in the Inspector window will immediately change the animation, so you don’t have to wait to see what your design will look like. The developer, Aquafadas, says that a themes SDK will soon be available to where Pro users can create their own themes. This is great news, but I would like to see more themes made available for download for both the Standard and Pro versions.

Changing the size of the banner was just a matter of moving the sliders to the desired size. Other options will let you change the borders, titles, backgrounds, animations rates, and much more. I was afraid that customizing the banner to my needs would be confusing or overwhelming, but BannerZest seems to take that fear head on and wins by a long shot.

2497280074_7de263d43c.jpgNow that the banner is created, getting it posted on your site is the obvious next step. BannerZest has a complete publishing section where you can choose to publish either locally or remote, and publishing via FTP and .Mac is also supported. I chose to publish locally to my desktop, and after publishing is finished, BannerZest gives you several code snippets for posting to various sites like Facebook and MySpace, and other snippets for pasting into applications like RapidWeaver and iWeb.

The ease of use and quality of the banners it creates makes the decision to purchase BannerZest almost too easy. If you need to create high-quality banners, at a fraction of the cost of other solutions, give BannerZest a try. BannerZest comes in two versions, Standard and Pro, and a free trial is available for each. For most people the Standard version ($49) will suffice, but if you need more themes and options like media view integration, the Pro version ($129) is still a great value.

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