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Site Graphics and Multimedia Design Forum

Great banner techniques
What makes an effective banner?

 2:22 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hello all,

I was looking for a little advice on the creation of great banners. My company is about to pay a large sum of money to have a button ad placed on a popular site.

Now, here is the thing.. the button ad is only 50 x 50 pixels. Ever made a meaningful ad that small? It’s a pain. You have to play around and make sure what you end up with is not a blob of colors that only makes sense to you.

So, anyways, I am asking for a little advice. What really makes a banner stand out? (This banner can not be animated). What colors do the human eye see better? What would get people to click on it? Ive read that simply putting the words ‘click here’ will actually cause more people to click it. Would making the ad look more like a ‘button’ work?

Any advice? And good websites relating to this topic out there?



 2:33 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

The best way I have found to use banners like that is to impersonate the content of the page. Make it text with the same background color. Come up with a great blurb like there is a story beyond the click.

new widgets are they really better?
Widgets seem to be getting smaller and smaller, but...
(underlined like text link)read more

People will be more inclined to click and see what is there. Point the banner to a page with the article. Then sell it like crazy in the article content.


 2:35 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

They say the real test of a business card is whether it stands out in a pile of random cards.

Using the same idea, and assuming you know which page/s the ad is going to be placed on, why not copy the page to you computer and play around with different things until you get one that stands out.

Of course,that is only the first step, getting your message across once you have their attention is another matter.

I seem to remember a site that had tutorials and examples of banner tests, can't remember the name though. I'll have a think.



 3:04 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here is another thought concerning this...

Which font comes up looking the most legible when it is really really small?


 3:04 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I actually opened up a 50 x 50 canvas and your not kidding that is small. I would consider making it look like a text link. Another option is just your company logo for banding purposes. Whatever it will be won't have much impact. I would reconsider this type of banner or get them to charge pay per click. It is not worth any sort of impression value. You could always try the flashing kind. I would think that the site would not want you to do this though.

<added>I believe non-serifed fonts are the most ledgible small.</added>


 3:13 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

yeah, 50x50 is small, but the site we are putting it on is one of the highest traffic sites on the internet. So even trickle traffic alone would bring in a good amount of clicks.

At least i hope it will. it's what i told muh boss. (yikes.)

Our company logo is longer than it is high, so it actually will not fit into that square.

I am thinking of shaving off 4 pixels to the right and the bottom, making 2 pixels long and high the background color of the page, and the other 2 pixels a shade of grey and black to make it look 'elivated'. Then I am going to have a tiny pic of our company product and the words CLICK HERE around it.

If it was longer i would make it look like a text link, but text in that little square doesent look so good.


 9:08 pm on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I generally use Verdana with no anti-aliasing for really small text. It often looks like regular page type, or at least more like a "real" link as opposed to a graphic ad.


 1:20 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

50x50 isn't that small- I once had to do a 35x35 banner...

The one thing I will say is, rather than branding, if it is appropriate try to get a price on it. If peoples first impression is a picture of what you sell and a good price for it then thats your job done.


 1:29 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

A problem with tiny type is Mac browsers have a hard time with it. Turns it into runny oatmeal. Be sure to QA it on a Mac before setting it loose.


 1:41 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Use verdana font for really small text.


p.s. you have the added bonus of it being an image, so, you don't have to worry about cross-system font support :). If that doesn't brighten up your day I don't know what will ........ Sunshine or a lightbulb I guess.


 3:43 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

The best way I have found to use banners like that is to impersonate the content of the page.

Korkus, you're giving away some great advice, which almost no one follows because they all want a print-slick look.

I once did a split run test between a page impersonation banner and full graphic look. The dull and boring all-text banner won by a landslide. I mean, really, no contest at all. Across many different ad campaigns, the all-text version got more than a 2X CTR over the graphic.

People really do tune out graphic ads to a large degree. And yet the client was not buying the results we got. The next time they wanted a banner, they forced another split run, which had the same results.

If I were designing a small ad, I would look to find one really stand-out word - along the lines I discussed in this post about "Flavah Words" [webmasterworld.com].

As I mention in that post, you can get a lot of good ideas by studying magazine covers for techniques. They've got to grab you with very short headlines.


 3:49 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

I once had to do a 35x35 banner...

That's not a banner, edit_g, that's an icon! ;)


 4:01 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

One caution I'd like to add about making a banner look too much like the rest of the site:

Your target users might completely gloss over it and not even see it.

I've had varying successes with this method, and after some user testing found that if a particular ad blended too well, users thought it was "site noise" and didn't bother even looking at it.

Here's another weirdie:

We just ran an interactive ad, and one of the partners didn't upload the background image ... so it was just a blank form on a page. And this ad ended up with a higher click-through percentage than we've ever seen on this kind of ad. Made our graphics guy want to curl up in a ball and die. :)


 4:02 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

lol- I know- I should have called it a button really. Or a pinprick! :)


 5:12 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

You want somemore strange human behavor. I had ads that had no picture just the outline with the x, because it could find the source. I had more click throughs and conversion from them. People wanted to see what it was, like it was forbidden.


 6:46 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just put this text in the ad:


You wont believe the click throughs.

I tried this on a homepage once and it is amazing how curiosity gets the better of people.


 3:28 am on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

ROFL... That's ten times better than those awful fake alert window banners (which are just awful on a Mac, because they don't even look like an alert to me!).

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