4 Truly Awful Banners, And What We Can Learn From Them
Ian Lurie May 21 2009
First, I apologize. If you are the person who designed any of these, I know full well you created something great. Then your client came and said “It needs more text” or “I need to explain the entire history of my company in a 730 x 90 space”. And your dream project was ruined.
I am not being sarcastic. We’ve all been there. So, if you designed any of these banners, please don’t take this personally.
The Tiny Print
For some reason, financial companies seem to think they need to cram essays into their banners:
If your lawyer is making you add all that small print to your banner, you have four options:
- Throw your lawyer in a closet;
- Modify your banner so you don’t need the small print;
- Put the small print (larger) in an interstitial between the banner and your landing page;
- Skip the banner, keep your money and buy yourself something nice. ‘Cause that banner just ain’t going to get it done.
If adding that tiny, unreadable print actually satisfies some obscure legal requirement, then don’t worry about redesigning anything, because clearly our society has failed, and we’re a few weeks from a Terminator-style Judgement Day anyway.
Lesson learned: Type used on a banner must be big enough to be easily read in 3-4 seconds. It’s hard enough to get someone to actually notice a banner. Don’t kill yourself by making your banner look like it’s written in Sanskrit.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
Of course, once you persuade your boss to let you use big type and fewer words, she’ll want to put every product on the banner. That leads to our next phenomenon:
The Kitchen Sink Banner:
And of course, the ever present hosting service banner, that lists every single promise you’ll use to drive them crazy after you sign a 1-year contract:
I am not going to read that. In fact, I just wrote down your company name on my “avoid like the plague” list.
Lesson learned: Banners are one of the few places where you need to place branding and design ahead of content. Gasp. There, I said it.
Understand a banner’s purpose
A banner ad is 80% branding, 20% direct marketing. That’s all you can hope for.
Banners really don’t get clicked much. So they need to look good enough to be a positive reflection on your brand. Treat them like a billboard. What would you put on a billboard that folks will drive by at 60 miles an hour? That’s what you should put on the banner, too.
That way, when folks glance quickly at a banner and forget about it, the 1% they remember – their impression of your brand – will be positive.
You’ll probably see a truly awful banner below, too. What’s up with that?
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More