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Banner design tips

| by David Callan

Banner advertising is by far the most popular and widespread form of advertising on the Internet, almost every website has some form of banner advertising on it. There's just no escaping the banner on the net.

Even though we've all read the news about the declining effectiveness of banners on the web I still believe that with the right 'ingredients' banners can be a good source of visitors and income for most webmasters.

There are five of these ingredients that I'd consider the most important, using all or most of them will always enable you to get a higher click through rate for your various banners. I'll list each of these banner design tips and then continue to discuss each one in a bit more detail.

1. Small file.
2. Call to action.
3. Animation.
4. Good ad copy.
5. Fake factor.

Small file


This is one of the most important things you've to get right when designing a banner, if the .GIF or .JPG file is large it will take a few seconds to download and by then the visitor might have scrolled down the page meaning he or she doesn't even get to see your banner. If people don't see your banner they definitely aren't going to click on it. Therefore make sure your file stays below 10K, 15K at the absolute most, it's sometimes hard to do but if the others can do it, we can do it too.

Call to action


This is one of the easiest ways to increase the CTR (click through rate) of a banner, on this all the experts agree. Using a call to action simply involves having the words 'click here' or some other words such as 'sign up now' or something similar which urges to viewer to do something.

My thoughts on why using a call to action increases the CTR so much include the fact that there is so much advertising off-line such as TV, Radio, billboards etc, etc. With advertising on these off-line mediums target audiences are generally just required to watch or read the ad. All ads online have a link and the purpose is to get people to click on the ad and visit the advertisers website, however with the world being so used to off-line advertising many people just see banners and think that's it, they don't realize that they're actually meant to click on it to find out more. That's way having click here or another call to action improves the effectiveness of a banner.

Animation


Banners with moving elements attract the eye a lot more than static banners do. The whole idea of designing banners is to grab the attention of website visitors, using small animation helps to do this. I say small because I don't want you to go overboard and fill a banner with lots of animation as this is a bad idea because one it increases file size and two it's generally annoying to people after a while especially when they're trying to read an article or tutorial. If your banner annoys them they'll most likely just leave without clicking on it.

Good ad copy


This one is kind of a given but you should always include good ad copy in your banner, lots of fancy animation and pictures won't entice them to click, elements such as these only look after grabbing the attention of the visitors. It's the actual text that will get people wanting to check out your product. Try to emphasis the benefits not features of your product or service. Tell people how your product will make their life easier. Keep your wording short and concise, if you can use words that have been proven to attract people such as 'free', 'proven' and 'secret' do.

Fake factor


Many of the very successful banner ads of late have incorporated some kind of fake elements in them. There are various fake elements banner designers can use such as fake scroll bars, fake text links, fake selection boxes, fake text boxes and fake submit buttons to mention just a few. Banners with fake elements perform so well because people think they're clicking on a link to go to another page on the current site or they think they're clicking on a button but in fact they're actually clicking on a banner with a picture of a button and text link.

These fake banners are made using the Print Screen button usually found on the right side of any standard keyboard. Simply open a webpage or application and press 'Print Scrn' then crop the image around the button or scroll bar area (the area you want to fake) and then paste it into your banner and that's it you have fake elements in your banner. Alternatively designers simply draw buttons, scroll bars etc. using their graphics program.

Banner design conclusion


Well there you have it, the five most important banner design tips to remember when designing banners. I'd normally end an article like this now but before we end I want to talk about targeting your banner.

Always always place your banner on sites that cater for your target audience (ie - the people most likely to buy your product). There's no point putting a banner for a new golf club you sell on a site dedicated to software, visitors to the site simply aren't going to be interested and you're just wasting your money. You should be aiming to place the golf banner on golf related websites, this way you're much more likely to make money. If you're not exposing your banner to your target audience none of the above tips and tricks can save you.

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