Textbook Example of Ads Gone Wild

As a web designer and online marketer you have 1 goal when you create websites: get your users to convert.

Creating conversions can include a newsletter signup, subscribing to an RSS feed, filling out a contact form, or making a purchase. Any of these actions would me a mark of success to a diligent search engine optimization team.

When users don’t complete any actionable steps that lead to a conversion the visit has no value.

In an example of the US Census website, users ignored a key area because it resembled a promotion. Data was placed in a prominent position in the top right of the page but only 14% of visitors read and comprehended it even though nearly 100% of the users scanned this text!

us census website

Can you see the population data in the top right corner? Doesn’t it look like an advertisement? If so, you’re not alone, as 86% of people performed a search on the government site to look for this data that was staring them in the face.

us census heatmap

In the above heatmap of the U.S. census bureau we see the population data was scanned but overlooked.

Moral of this story to web designers: make sure your page elements do not resemble an advertisement or your users will ignore it. This is especially relevant to contextual advertising such as Google Adsense as many users are developing banner blindness to in site text ads.

If your website resembles an advertisement it will be ignored. Web design should not use gimmicks, unrecognizable text elements, or non standard fancy formatting.

read on


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One Response

  1. What superb piece of text! I have no clue how you wrote this report..it’d take me long hours. Well worth it though, I’d assume. Have you considered selling ads on your website?

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