How To Screw Up Banner
Lots of people think that designing a
banner ad for a website is simply a matter of dumping a few thousand pixels
into a rectangle on a web page. Nothing could be further from the truth,
and if you don't believe me, try clicking on almost any web site that
didn't cost a hundred thousand bucks. You'll find plenty of 'em. But trashing
tacky banner ads is a fairly easy task. It doesn't take a genius to list
the worst mistakes that banner ad-creators make. And since I'm no genius,
let's make ourselves a little list, shall we?
1. OVERWEIGHT. Stop me if you've heard
this before. Too many colors. Too slow to load. Too hard to read. Nobody
wants to grow old waiting for your banner ad to load. In fact, most of
the webheads I know will deliberately AVOID clicking on your banner because
it made them late for a body-piercing. So stick to Frankel's Rule of Net
Safety and design banners that will load and view easily with LAST YEAR'S
technology. Personally, I design pages for people running no more than
Netscape 2.0 on the equivalent of a 486 running at 66 Mhz and 256 colors.
That means your art should still be no deeper than 8 bits. Unless you're
a true minimalist and can bring it in at no more than four.
2. UGLY. Hey, I said keep it light, not
light on looks. Face it, people like good looking stuff. What works for
Cindy Crawford can work for you, too. So if you're not a digital Da Vinci,
find someone who is and pay them a few bucks to make you look fabulous.
We do this all the time for clients, and it's not only effective, but
helps send my kids to better schools.
3. ITCHY. Maybe it's me, but I don't like
to use banner ads for target practice. Sure, the technology is there to
make little ducks swim across the screen, but after a while they make
me want to pull lout the old shotgun and take target practice. Frankel's
Corollary to Internet Safety specifically states that just because technology
offers you bells and whistles doesn't mean you have to use every one of
them. Chances are that the average webhead has been through several sites
before he gets to your banner. Give him a break. More importantly, give
him some time to digest what you're displaying.
4. ILLITERATE. No, not you. The banner
ad. These are the ads that make you squitch up your face and twist your
head trying to make some sense out of the illegible scrawls that some
knucklehead thinks is cool. Let me tell you, pal, I don't care how cool
you think it looks, if I can't read it, you've lost any chance of me clicking
on it. And so far in my legendary career, I have yet to run across one
client who slapped me on the back and said, "Hey, Rob, nice way you
took all my money for that cool-looking banner ad that nobody clicked
5. MISSING LINK. Your banner looks great,
but isn't linked to anything. That's a mistake that any moron should be
able to detect and prevent with a simple check. If you don't have any
morons on staff, call me and I'll send you one.
6. STUPID LINK. Your banner looks great.
The link works...directly to a 404 message. Okay, so maybe this one isn't
your fault. Maybe your client inadvertently forgot to tell you he switched
servers. But even if it was his fault, who do you think he's going to
blame? Wise up. Keep checking those banner links every few days.
7. DUMB MESSAGE. The same things that
make good ads make good banners. Unfortunately, the same things that make
bad ads make horrible banners. If you don't know how to write and design
a clever, compelling message, for gosh sake, hire someone who does. Nothing
turns off potential prospects more than a really stupid attempt at being
clever, an offense usually committed with the aid of a bad pun. Remember
that your ad is a representative of you, containing a smattering of your
personality and ability. If it looks dopey to a viewer, guess what they're
going to think about you? Frankel's Theory of Advertising Clarity states:
I'd rather be clear than clever.
8. CODED MESSAGE: Your banner looks pretty,
but nobody understands what the heck you're talking about. This is the
numero uno mistake made by do-it-yourselfers. See #7 above.
9. YAWNING: Your banner doesn't compel
your recipients to respond within a certain time frame. Without a deadline,
there is no immediacy to act, which means they scroll away until they
remember it -- like never.