The word from Jakob Nielsen this week is on “Making Web Advertisements Work (Alertbox May 2003).” In summary, he asserts:
Web users are highly goal-driven, and ads that interfere with their goals will be ignored. To succeed, ads must work with the medium, as well as with the user’s aims and mindset.
There are many reasons why advertisements don’t work well on the Web, but it is most unsettling when an ad actually portrays something relevant to users and still fails. Why would this occur? Well, to start, we must consider why text ads work so well on search engines.
Each user has a goal — perhaps it is to learn about digital cameras, perhaps to purchase a book. In either case, users’ attention is focused on whatever gets them to their goal; they ignore everything else. When users enter search queries, the targeted ads that the engine returns relate directly to what users are after. Hence, they look at and follow the ads. Indeed, such advertisements probably have an advantage over the plain search results because they show both that the advertiser is competent and has a direct interest in serving consumers.
Okay, so what does this mean for the webmaster of a church or charity web site? Well, hopefully you’re not running advertisements on your page … or are you? Check out the comment someone left last week regarding my June 20, 2002 review of Ocean State Baptist Church:
Once again, we run into someone who mistakes constructive criticism of the web design as a personal attack on the church. Of course I do no such thing in the article.
What I do suggest is that just as flashing banner ads are annoying and pop-up ads are the spawn of satan, so too are Flash-based “splash pages” that deny your purpose-driven visitors from reaching their goals. In the case of Ocean State Baptist Church, one is compelled to a “maybe its cool once” ballet of churchy-terms that have little relevance to an individual seeking the location, nor a search engine indexing the Church’s personality and purpose.
Remember, the Internet is not TV, it is not Film, it is a media entity all unto itself where content is king, and simple, [human] scannable, well-organized text content gives users what they want without having to wait for it.