It is not something we would like to admit, but a lot of modern websites are simply terrible. The level of intrusive advertisements, pop-ups, and interruptions to the user’s browsing experience has reached ridiculous levels.
All this for what purpose? Some believe that digital ads are not even worth the hype. An analysis of Facebook ads showed that their effectiveness was estimated to be 4,000% higher than what it actually is. It wouldn’t be surprising if other forms of marketing were similarly overhyped.
From one perspective, you cannot blame website owners for having an ad obsession. They do what they do because it generates revenue for them. As much as we would like to see it, finding an altruistic website owner is like going on a unicorn hunt. They might exist, but we still haven’t found them yet.
If you run a website in 2023, you likely want to turn it into a revenue stream. Achieving that without ruining the user experience is sadly not as easy as it should be.
Let’s explore how a balance between advertising and enjoyable user experience is a worthy goal to aim for.
Engagement Overload: The Modern Internet User Experience
To understand why user experience is important, we need to look at modern websites.
The moment a user clicks a link, they are blasted with notifications that beg them for engagement.
“XYZ wants to show notifications”
Allow | Block?
The user clicks block, but before they can continue, they get another pop-up.
A large half-page banner takes up half the screen.
“WE VALUE YOUR PRIVACY!”
*HERE’S A LONG PARAGRAPH ASKING YOU TO CONSENT TO OUR COOKIES*
Fine! The user accepts your cookies and tries to continue. But wait!
The screen dims.
“PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO NEVER MISS AN UPDATE FROM US!”
Does this ever end?
Bad Web Design Makes the Internet Stale and Boring
We might be exaggerating a tad with the previous examples, but anyone who has used the internet in recent few years understands what we’re trying to say.
Incessant ads and engagement-seeking techniques are making users change the very way they use the internet. People would rather go to places like Reddit where they can find to-the-point information.
This is also because the content on most websites suffers from a similar issue; generic articles written just to sponsor or plug a product or service. It makes the internet feel like a soulless, marketing gimmick.
Your website should feel like an oasis in this digital desert.
Achieving this may likely require an entire web design overhaul. Depending on how your website was created, that may sound scary. A significant portion of websites are built on WordPress.
To check if your website is based on WordPress, you can right-click anywhere on your website and click “view source.” If you see the “wp-” tags in the source code, then it’s built on WordPress. WordPress development is fairly straightforward for optimizing your website.
According to corePHP, you may not even need to hire a web designer to adjust basic features on WordPress. However, if you want to tinker with elements, plugins, widgets, and other details, hiring a developer may be helpful.
Ads and Hyper Engagement Seeking is Going to Hurt Your Website in the Longrun
A survey from Hubspot showed that 73% of online users hate pop-up ads.
But how come people still click on them, you ask?
The same survey found that 34% of people clicked on the ad by mistake, and another 15% claimed that the ad tricked them into clicking it.
Look, we understand that websites need to make money. However, there’s a line beyond which, engagement-seeking techniques become counterproductive.
What can you do then?
Keep the pop-ups to a bare minimum if you can’t get rid of them completely.
Find other ways to collect email addresses instead of newsletter spamming, which likely advertises yet another course or service.
You need to remember that the modern user is highly ad-conscious. If they feel like the information they are getting is tainted with paid sponsorship, you lose their trust immediately.
What Actionable Steps Can You Take to Improve My Website?
1. Analyze your current ad placements: Think about whether you really need as many ads as you are currently running. How are they affecting site load times? Are there any ads that are overwhelming or intrusive?
2. Optimize ad placements: Even if you need to run ads, it is possible to do so without making it an eye sore. Try and experiment with different positioning, placing ads within content rather than separately.
3. Offer your visitors an alternative to ads: Many websites have started allowing visitors to donate a sum to stop seeing ads. When you give people an option like this, it makes ads more palatable. They are more understanding of the fact that you require an income to keep the site running and pay for server and hosting costs.
4. Pivot toward relevant ads: A lot of people don’t have any issue with good advertising. It is primarily the out-of-context, in-your-face ones that are triggering. If your website is about mental health, try to show ads related to that content.
Look for online therapists who would like to plug their services. You don’t want to be showing online casino ads on an article about coping with addictions.
Website owners need to ask themselves what they value more. Building a community of long-term, periodic visitors or farming clicks, focusing on ad money, and using dubious SEO techniques.
There is such a thing as tasteful advertising that countless websites are capable of. With so many free resources on web design, you don’t really have an excuse to not even try to work on the user experience.
Bad web design is symptomatic of a deep rift between what website owners want and what users are looking for.
To a visitor, a website is supposed to be a source of information, entertainment, and yes, a place to find products and services.
To a website owner, it is almost always, a platform to make money.
To make the internet a better place, both parties need to be willing to meet in the middle.
Users need to acknowledge that website owners need to make a living. Similarly, website owners need to understand that they can’t think of money alone. They need to find a balance that makes their websites enjoyable to browse if they want to have any chance of long-term success.