Fancy visuals can serve a purpose, but it’s far more important to focus on what really matters to your customers.
Since the beginning of websites, visual trends have come and gone. Animated GIFs. Flash animated elements which eventually morphed into full-on Flash websites. First, light backgrounds. Then for a couple of years, every site had to have a dark background. Now you even see sites that have full screen video backgrounds. Over the course of time, some of these trends became best practices, while others were discarded to the Recycle Bin of time…usually for the better.
Sometimes, during a consultation, a business owner will lay out their wish list for a new or redesigned site, and usually each point is followed up with “I really like this, so I want it on my site”. Upon hearing that, I wish I could grab them and shout, “Are you the target audience? No. So what do your personal preferences have to do with making your website usable for your visitors?”
Too many business owners focus on the wrong priorities, incorrectly thinking that trying to impress visitors with “cutting edge” flashy bells and whistles is more important than actual substance. The website owner wants them solely because he or she thinks they’re cool – not because they work to serve any actual important business goal. At these times it’s important to step back and think like a target visitor. When when planning a website, some business owners seem to take the Homer Simpson approach, focusing too much on their own likes and preferences while completely failing to give potential customers what they need.
Ask yourself; If the visual or animated element wasn’t there, would it be detrimental to the user experience? Most of the time, the answer is no. And in fact, many times less is more – especially considering load times, browser compatibility issues and data caps. Could a simpler solution be just as successful at accomplishing the intended outcome? Most of the time, the answer is yes. In other words, you don’t need five different rotating background images, when one good one will get the same idea across just as well.
Think of it another way. Do you think your users would prefer a streamlined experience that gets them the information they’re looking for quickly, or to wait for another large image to load? The answer should be simple. Someone coming to your construction business website isn’t going to choose to business with your company because you have an animated bulldozer repeatedly moving across the page.