If there was ever a fad that we're all guilty of, it's jumping on the rotating banner bandwagon. We at CommonPlaces are just as guilty, but a bit of studying gave us some insight that we're more than happy to share.
For the last few years nearly every site you'd visit would welcome you with an abundance of information sliding across the screen, quickly replaced by something new. Why wouldn't you want a rotating banner on your site? They only make your site better by:
- Allowing you to have more information visible on the home page above the fold.
- Creating movement on your site, making it more interesting so to catch the visitor's eye.
- Allowing for a more one-size-fits-all option by appealing to multiple groups through different calls to action
This all sounds great, right? As it turns out, a rotating banner may be nothing but a quick fix. As web development has evolved over the years, research has grown tremendously right along with it. Many analytics studies and programs have brought some common misconceptions to the light. Two of these results include:
1. Rotating banners have no proof of increasing conversion rates, and may confuse visitors instead.
2. Contrary to popular belief, most internet users are not afraid of scrolling.
Now what does this mean for website builders and owners?
One study, from http://conversionxl.com, shows that many rotating banners appear too similar to advertisements.
Naturally, many internet users have grown to recognize typical ads and have learned to avoid them subconsciously. Unfortunately this means that even if you have good intentions of grabbing someone's attention with something that may actually be of interest, because it is a typical space and style of ads, users may scan right over them without even knowing it.
Another problem that many banners have is that they simply rotate too quickly.
A user may catch a glimpse of something they find interesting on the banner, but by the time they are able to see the entire message, the banner is gone and has been replaced by another image which most likely is not related.
This also is not good by user-experience standards, which means that the user should be in control. If a banner is automatically rotating and a user wishes to see a specific message, many times they not only struggle to find the controls, but end up frustrated because they're not even entirely sure of what they saw in the first place.
If a rotating banner isn't the answer, then what could be?
Of course there is never a perfect answer for every site in existence, but the simple answer is to not use a banner at all if you can help it. Focus more on what you believe to be the most important message and stick with that. Hierarchy is very important with websites, just as it is with any other media. Every site should always have one main message to show, just as a newspaper or magazine would have on the cover.
If you feel that you want to showcase more than one message, fear not. We are quickly entering an age where long home pages are the norm, welcoming large graphics with very little text, which keeps your message short and to the point. This will keep visitors interested without getting bored, and will be excited to scroll down to see the next experience.
Another option if you feel that the banner is a must is turning off the animation. By handing over the reigns to the user and having navigation buttons clearly available, your visitors will be much happier to see what you offer in their own time.
A few of our favorite examples that show just what we mean include:
Our very own partner, Hubspot: http://www.hubspot.com/
Google Maps: http://www.google.com/maps/about/explore/
FitBit '- an alternative banner solution: http://www.fitbit.com/
Chartbeat - https://chartbeat.com/
Rezdy - http://www.rezdy.com/
We know that this is a highly debated topic, and welcome all views on the subject. Tell us what you think about the value of rotating banners.