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Web Advertising – Irritating, In-Your-Face Marketing  
by William Szczepanek

Article 22: May 5, 2009

New school.  Old school.  What school?  I don’t know where they learn these techniques.  As a conscientious Web developer, I try to convince my clients that they need to attract customers with design that informs and converts.  Get the customer interested.  Inform them of how your product or service is better, and then get them to call, or visit or buy on the spot, but, above all, do not irritate them or they will leave your site.

A few days ago, I was on a site that will remain nameless and was very puzzled by the fact that as I tried to read the page it kept jumping around, as variously-sized graphics were rotated in and out, expanding and contracting the area.  The different-sized pictures were a little bothersome, but it was particularly aggravating that the text and links on the page also jumped around.  Clicking on something was akin to skeet shooting.

All of these issues are aggravating and will cause me to NOT visit these sites because they cause my brain to swell and my eyes to hurt.  Advertisers and Web owners please listen.  “I will not click on these ads because they are so irritating, and I will find other sites to go to if you continue running these ads.”

I just chalked this up to poor design and then went on my way vowing never to return.  I have been bothered in the past by some sites that had lead-in video commercials, but you could click these off if you didn’t want to watch.  Other sites, particularly sports sites, had large banners that exploded on the page, but in a few seconds, they were confined to a reasonable space.  Even some of the ads that appear on my Web sites can be a little bothersome, but I try to position them so as not to make it difficult for the reader. Now, as I mentioned, I consider these sites to be designed poorly based on my old-fashioned way of thinking - Don’t cause me pain, or I will fight back or go away.

I was particularly startled the other day when my MSN home page loaded.  Why I continue to use the MSN home page I’m really not sure, but I have gotten somewhat used to it.  The page loaded with a black background and a dark banner ad at the top.  I like dark backgrounds for design purposes and the graphics for the ad were stunning.  My first thought was, “Wow!  Very cool.” The page of a thousand miniature links has finally gone artistic with their graphics.  Within a few seconds I was checking the usual blurbs on sports and finance and suddenly my screen jumped.  The artistic ad (I will not give credit to the advertiser) had morphed into a bigger, though very artistic commercial.  The page ratcheted downward sending information and links bouncing down. My first thought was of the unprofessional website I had visited the other day.  But, this was MSN.  Shouldn’t they know better?  Are they doing this on purpose?  I thought that they must have because their usual black-to-gray gradient background was replaced with a solid black background just to accommodate this commercial.

I urge all Web site owners NOT to follow this example.  I urge all ad makers to be more considerate of your potential buyers.  I like well designed graphics.  I think that video on the Web is great.  I enjoy well written text.  I do not like in-your-face marketing that destroys all of the above.

I cannot be alone in this way of thinking.