Designing a website with the audience in mind

My group is looking at IGN.com for our final project.  Specifically, we see that the navigation of the website is utterly cluttered and is in dire need of a new design.  The problem we see with the navigation of the website is that it’s poor because of the layout of the website itself.  IGN.com gets most of its money by advertisements, so these ads have to be in specific places for people to see them.  Companies will pay more money for the bigger ads that are placed in areas of the website that are easily seen, giving them more exposure.  These ads make the website look cramped, and at times it can look cheap (with all of the moving ads and flashing colors).  It can really take away the feeling of the website.

When we were viewing our options for changing the navigation of the website (which included the ads and the space they take up) and we started wondering what the audience (users who visit the website) would think of a new layout.  Assuming that the general population of visitors do not realize that the ads are necessary (or the placement of the ads is important) for the website to continue operation, how would the audience respond to having better navigation, but a little more ads?  If there are more ads on the website, the website itself can make more money, and perhaps dump some more resources into making the website run a little smoother (faster loading times, more effort spent to improve navigation, improved features throughout the website) or add new tools to help improve the usability (besides navigation).  On the other hand, less ads mean that the website is most likely going to improve visually.  Navigation could be much easier to follow without the ads cluttering the website.  The downside is that you could lose money by not having as many ads supported.  Without the money you may not be able to update the website as frequently, or maybe you can’t have as many high definition picture and video features because of the increased storage space they require.

So what is the perfect solution here?  Does the audience just want the functionality of a working website that has maybe not so many updates, but a clean look and an easy to use navigation?  Do they want more content and a fancier design with more bandwidth-consuming flash menus (paid for by the money increased ads would give the website developers)?  Is there a happy middle ground where there is balance?  Another question to ask is “Do some of the users actually like the ads?”  Maybe they like the ads because they find them informative.  After all, this is another reason the ads are there (they are relevant to the information featured in the website).  Perhaps there is a way to forgo the ads entirely (maybe one sponsor that gives money to the website to promote only their products).  Does anyone have any ideas?

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3 Responses to “Designing a website with the audience in mind”

  1. Michael Says:

    Websites not only need to attract the user, they need to keep the user involved. Less ads are nice, or actually the small presence of notifability of them — look at why google is such a great engine compared to yahoo. It enhances the users experience by making them find what they want to with less distractions.

    Ads are necessary, it’s the driving force of why people can make money on the internet — but they shouldn’t be a key factor in determing how a user will or will not like a website. Having discussion boards, different rss feeds that have things in common with the site, so that the user knows the site is a good source of information always helps.

  2. jmochal Says:

    The main problem with ads is that many people see them as a distraction for what they are really trying to do. When people get navigated to ads inside a website or have pop-ups appear on the screen, many get annoyed and often do not pay attention to what the add is even offering (or at least thats what happens in my case). Ads can also be very distracting in the sense that they flash and try to grab your attention. When a person is focused on trying to find something but keeps seeing this blinking light telling them they are the one millionth viewer and they just won something, I know I get annoyed because not only do I know it to be a scam but it is also distracting me from my original objective. If it were me, I would vote for a site that has a real easy navigation with very little advertising. Google Adsense is not that bad and can be placed out of the way where most people won’t be bothered by it. The main consideration with me is that advertisements should not pull people away from the intention of the site. They should be a secondary item that people can follow AFTER finishing their business with the site they originally went to.

  3. nwade Says:

    I understand your points, both of you. Now, what about if the ads are very relevant? Like a game ad on a game page.
    Say you are looking at a review for a racing game, and there is an ad on the page for another competing racing game that you may also be interested in. Is this a “good ad” or a “bad ad?” I mean it may take you away from your original objective, but what if it’s close enough to be relevant to that original objective as well?


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