Eyetracking Heatmaps Show Banners Don’t Work

The spartan looking www.useit.com certainly does a better job than I do in web design. Ultimately the only benchmark that matters is if people visit your site and I’m sure it’s getting a LOT more hits than the Knetwork. I’ll be doing some more reading and I’ll try to translate what I read into better sites for here, MonksMovieCorner, and Polled. The biggest shocker for me is just how little people look at banner ads or anything that even remotely resembles an ad. The author, Jacob Nielsen, refers to this as “Banner Blindness” and in his article on the subject he has some convincing heatmaps produced with eyetracking technology.

The article certainly isn’t all negative, Neilsen lists the 3 design elements that DO work…

  • Plain text
  • Faces
  • Cleavage and other “private” body parts

And the unethical elements that work:

  • The more an ad looks like a native site component, the more users will look at it.
  • Not only should the ad look like the site’s other design elements, it should appear to be part of the specific page section in which it’s displayed.

If you disguise your ads as content you better have really great content or users will leave out of frustration. There are lots of other great tips at UseIt so surf around, I know I will be!

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