If you push me I’ll do it, but here are my reasons why these web design trends are a bad idea:
That Vile Autoplay
Let’s start off with the big one. It’s going to be a hard truth for some of you, but it has to be said: the only person who wants your video to start the second your page loads is you. Nobody wants to see it, not me, not your customers, not even your Mom. If your goal was to find the quickest way to alienate the most potential customers at once, then congrats, you’ve succeeded. Even websites with the sole purpose of sharing videos – YouTube, for example – avoid autoplay.
But, you argue, you’ve invested a lot – time or money – into your video. If you could just get people to watch it, you know they’d be sold on your product, instantly, guaranteed. So you think, if I make it play for them, they’ll have no choice but to sit and stare in awe. At the very least, they’ll have to pay attention when they pause it, won’t they? I’ll be blunt; no, no they won’t. If I open a webpage for the first time and come face to face with unwelcome sound, I’m not pausing that video; I’m closing that tab.
See, and this is key, it’s not the motion part that’s causing the problem: it’s the audio. This issue is in truth another website no-no – one that’s thankfully fallen out of favour – in disguise: the autoplay music. Your average user is fine with motion, so long as it’s not too intrusive, but unasked for audio simply does not fly. You have no way of knowing what sort of platform your user is viewing your site on. Maybe they’re at home, with plenty of time to sit and watch. Or, maybe they’re on the bus, having just passed one of your ads, and decide to check you out. Make all your information available to the customer, put your video front and center of your front page if you like. But please, let them choose when and where to play it.
Whitespace in Distress
For those not in the know, “whitespace” is not necessarily white, but rather the space between areas of content on a page. Think of it like the gutters between panels of a comic: the shape, size, and placing of whitespace guides readers around your page, highlighting key areas and maintaining a flow of information. Whitespace and composition are the secret weapons of any artistic discipline; including Web Design. If they’re being done right, most people will never even notice they’re there. Do it wrong, on the other hand, and expect complaints. Most designers, once they get the hang of it, aren’t going to have a problem using it correctly. The issue comes with the clients.
A client is, for the first time ever, really looking at a website. Their website, the one you are building for them. Suddenly, they start noticing all the things they never had a reason to pay attention to before. They notice the whitespace, but it’s not whitespace to them; it’s empty space. Space you’re wasting, space that could be holding information about their brand! Or pictures! Anything really, just, why are you wasting valuable space?
Dear client, your website is like a song. I know you can’t hear it, but trust me, a song is much better to listen to with a rhythm to the notes and spaces between them. As opposed to playing all the notes at once. Ouch.
Please Stop Talking
You’ve poured your heart out, provided every tiny tidbit of information, cited all your sources, and quoted the greatest thinkers, now finally your content is ready. Unfortunately you’ve just given your web designer six pages of text to fit into a space meant for three paragraphs. Your designer will do their best, fiddle around with the phrasing and grammar, and maybe squeeze the most important page and a half in there. You want it all though, really? And it all has to be on the front page? This isn’t even open for debate?
Sigh. Alright then. You apparently haven’t heard the phrase “tl;dr” short for “too long; didn’t read.” It’s a little rude, but it speaks the truth. People don’t like to read huge chunks of text. They’ll skim it, and miss all the work you put all that effort into. Just as you probably did with this article.
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