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Janet Roberts

Feedback: 'In Your Face' Works, So Far
By Janet Roberts

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Last month I wrote about a Web site that uses a standing banner ad to promote subscriptions to its email newsletter. Many readers headed over to the site and shared their opinions, positive and negative.

I mentioned at the time that I had not gotten a response when I emailed the site owners to ask how well the promo worked, but I did hear from Thomas Krafft, who designed the site:

"My thinking on the subject was based on some basic Web usability principles: The most important thing to ChronWatch right now is building and expanding their email subscriber list, and so I used the most important area and/or the most noticeable element on every page to do exactly that. If you revisit the site now, you'll notice the banner also switches 40% of the time, and links to another new feature on the site (related to supporting ChronWatch's efforts).

"Has it worked? Well, we have received a decent number of subscribers in just the couple of weeks this new design and option has been available to the public... At the same time, I also know I took a chance using this type of element, because there are some usability studies indicating online users are increasingly ignoring most banner ads on any pages they're viewing.

"Based on my own experience, I would *partly* agree with this, but I also believe *internal* referencing banners are still quite effective, because users who at least read the message know they're not being led somewhere else they don't want to go. They're on the site for a reason, and as long as the banner relates to another of *that* site's features, they're more likely to click than not. (Jakob Nielsen might disagree, but then again, I sent him a message a few months back, with a list of reasons why *his* site is failing most of the usability principles he currently espouses.)"

I think Thomas makes a good case for using a standing banner to build subscribers, although it probably would change as the site matures. The bold artwork is consistent with the site's tone and message, a no-punches-pulled critique of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. A tippy-toes approach might well get lost in all the hubbub on the site.

Ezine-Tips for April 25, 2002

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