Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Simple question: Does it enhance the experience?, part of User Experience for Web Designers.
- However cute you think might think it is to look at animated dancing gifs of dancing hamsters all day long, it's unlikely that the hamsters are doing much to make your site useful to your visitors. In comparison, although it initially seems frivolous, a video of an iPhone being shredded in the blender might be totally acceptable. If your site is the one selling the blender, it demonstrates just how strong the motor is. Graphics, videos, and such can be entertaining and definitely, the entertainment value adds to their capacity to go viral. But the big question is, "Does the multimedia element you're adding enhance the experience for your visitors?" Splash screens might well set a mood, but the typical mood they set is impatience.
There aren't many messages that can be put better on a splash screen than on your site's homepage. They aren't doing anything to enhance the experience for your visitors. Instead, they're just telling people how much the site cares about its own looks rather than about providing useful information. Think about times when you've been on sites and the media has done anything but enhance the experience. I'm talking about when you navigate to a site and music starts playing in the background or a video autoplays. Not only is this shocking to us, it can also be embarrassing if we're in an office with other people who now automatically think we're goofing off.
It's even worse when the video that plays is an advertisement on the site rather than the content that's even produced by the site itself. Apart from the obvious frustration issues, there are other reasons not to autoplay the content on your site. If the media isn't at the top of the page, then it might be halfway through playing before people get to see it. Instead, have a clear play button and a clear mute button. Another issue is when you use media formats that require special plug-ins or need the latest and greatest version. When you do this, you're immediately limiting the number of people who'll be able to use the media. Everyone else sees a really ugly space in the page and maybe an error message from their browser.
In my experience, users tend to associate these plug-in requests with broken sites. In other words, they'll think that the problem lies with your site, rather than with their computer. And in some ways they're right. The problem is that you didn't anticipate the technical environment your users would have available. Sometimes it's hard to be objective about a piece of multimedia content. You love it and you want to share it with the world. However, remember that your site visitors may not share your tastes. Think carefully about your visitors goals on the site, and ask yourself, "Does this content really enhance their experience?"
User experience expert Chris Nodder teaches
- What people want from websites, how they search for information, how they read online, and how to structure your content to take advantage of this research
- How to use graphics to help rather than hinder visitors, how to integrate video, audio, and other media, and when to consider interactive rather than static content
- How to look at your site's homepage, forms, product pages, and content through the eyes of users to build a site that better meets their needs
- How to balance site content with advertising
There are never enough great interfaces in the world. Take this easy introduction to start making wonderful online experiences for your own users.
- Building a site visitors will like
- Using single, consistent, and standard design principles
- Creating good menus
- Working with site maps
- Adding search to a site
- Arranging content in a layout
- Writing for the web
- Creating category pages and landing pages
- Designing product pages and forms
- Using media and interactive content
- Balancing ads and content