Web Strategy

How Big Is Your Banner?

Seriously, how big is your banner? You know, that thing at the top of your website. You’ve got your logo up there, probably with your site’s main navigation. Perhaps there’s a pretty picture for people to see.

Banner design is one of the most crucial design elements of your site. And that’s not to mention the design of the menu system itself, which I won’t go into in this post (no pun intended).

  • Banners are often the first thing people look at
  • Banners accent the site’s functionality and overall aesthetic
  • Banner design should not distract from the site’s content

Big Banner Compensation Syndrome (BBCS)

BBCS happens when your website has very little, or poor, content. The general synopsis is this: Design a huge banner for your website so the page doesn’t look empty. It may work for a short season, but it’s not a good, long-term strategy. Ultimately it just accentuates the fact that there is nothing worthwhile on your site. If there were, it would be more prominent.

They Call Him The Streak

Streaking happens when a website uses Flash in their banner to create the coolest thing on earth since sliced bacon: animation. Using a big animated Flash banner is the equivalent of a streaker at a football game, running through the field and stealing all of the attention. This isn’t just limited to Flash animation anymore. Other technologies can accomplish the same thing. The problem with this banner is that it is an attention hungry juvenile that distracts the visitor from their mission.

Hyperactive Click Disorder (HCD)

HCD can be caused by 3rd party banner ads, large or small. Think about it. What’s the first thing you want someone to do when they visit your site? If the answer is “leave”, then a banner ad for some other website is for you! Otherwise, think about incorporating key functions of your site there instead. Perhaps something like a login form, or search form, anything but giant button encouraging someone to leave.

Help! I’ve Fallen & Can’t Get Up (Mobile Accessibility)

Mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and the slew of Android based products are revolutionizing personal computing. A big banner is one of the best ways to encourage visitors to hit the back button. Mostly because it’s all they can see. This brings up another topic: multi-device design, or responsive design. This is a topic for another post as well.

Sum of the Whole

Ultimately, the biggest issue with a huge website banner is that it pushes your site’s content further down the page. People don’t visit a website to look at the banner, or your logo for that matter. They visit because they need something. See that they find it easily, quickly, and without scrolling if at all possible.

At the same time, your banner can’t be so tiny that it serves no purpose. Ensure that every portion of your banner serves a purpose that benefits your site. And don’t be afraid to try some A/B testing with your header. Let the numbers speak for themselves. If your analytics point to higher conversions or page views after a change, you’ve found something that works better than what you had!

So what do you think? What reasons can you come up with to support shrinking banner sizes or to defend your own big banner?

By Tim Bunch

Tim Bunch is a Web Developer from Rockaway Beach, Oregon. As a web standards fanatic, he passionately pursues best practices. He also actively engages people on a wide range of topics in a variety of social media networks. Tim is also an avid Wordpress developer, music maker, coffee drinker, and child raiser. @timbunch

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