In the first part of our interview with Deirdre Zahl, Sparxoo’s Senior Designer, we outlined the basics of web design. We discussed the functionality of a web site, while touching upon the importance of aesthetic appeal. We also discussed the role of web designers in meeting the digital needs of customers and businesses.
In this second part of the interview, we will do a deep dive on splash pages, the future of advertising and the next frontier of design.
Several years ago, there was a lot of buzz about splash pages. What happened?
There was a magical element about the internet and splash pages. When the internet was in its infancy, there was a lot of mystery and expanding of boundaries. In many ways, splash pages encapsulated that magic. In today’s digital world, that magic is nearly gone as internet users want information faster and faster.
While it used to be “blow people away” with your amazing website, now it’s more “offer them a reason to return” with news on your company, personalized features, and areas they can really interact with. When each second is valued, splash pages are a huge barrier that can impede browsing. More and more, people are looking for information when they browse. In a age where information is everywhere, splash pages can deter return usage.
Advertising works a lot like splash pages. It’s about distracting users from their browsing. So how do you incorporate advertising in design?
Advertising is very much a double-edged sword. It is functional (webmasters need revenue), yet many users find excessive advertising obtrusive and annoying. There is also a lot less space and time to advertise. As information is one of the key drivers of internet browsing, it’s increasingly difficult for advertisers to wedge themselves into the page space.
What are the alternatives?
It’s about not being obtrusive. No one likes to be bombarded with advertising. So it’s helpful to be more subtle, such as cross-promotions with other brands or interacting with audiences. Lucky magazine had a very successful campaign called “Bag-a-day Giveaway” where they gave away a luxury handbag each day for a month. Every day you’d get an email and have to go play an interactive game for your chance to win the bag. If you “shared” the game with your friends you got another chance to play that day. It was very clever, and excellent exposure for both the brands involved and the magazine, plus it created a very valuable email database.
What is the new frontier for web designers?
Mobile will definitely play a large role. More and more people are relying on their mobile devices to find information. Smart phones are more popular than ever and with every generation of phone, graphics are getting better. There is an increasing need to optimize the mobile browser . There is even less space on mobile devices, necessitating an even greater need for tailored design layouts. In that same vein, there is also a need for mobile app design. Consider the eBay application. The site is so simplistic, stripped-down and easy to use. The auction giant is very thoughtful of their use of space and design.
Webmasters should also understand that web design on desktop or laptop computers does not always translate to mobile devices. For example if you utilize a lot of Flash, your website will not be available for mobile browsers. Though Flash will likely be available for the smart phone platform in the future, it does not give you any short term advantage.
As smart phones become more pervasive, web designers and webmasters will need to consider mobile and computer platforms. It’s about utilizing your space in a way your audiences will enjoy. Sites like Merrell.com, HookUSA.com and Chanel.com utilize every square inch of their page to create atmosphere.
At the end of the day, it’s about creating the best user experience–whether you’re on a mobile or computer browser. If you take actionable steps to meet your user’s needs, you can stay on top for every evolution of design.
Image by Dez Pain from Stock.Xchng