Avoid distracting elements

Don’t distract your visitors with animated GIFs, blinking or scrolling text, or auto-loading sound.

Conventional wisdom is that people will be drawn to an animated ad on a website, but it’s actually the opposite. Readers who are assaulted by blinking ads are more likely to leave the site immediately without clicking on anything, and are far less likely to bookmark the site, return to it, link to it, and recommend it. It’s like trying to read a newspaper when someone’s poking you in the shoulder repeatedly.

By now, I think most people “get it” when it comes to blinking animation, but auto-loading music files or scrolling text are equally distracting. How can anyone concentrate on reading what’s on your site when music is constantly blasting into their ears? Also, visitors who have slow connections may resent that you wasted their time by forcing them to load sound files against their will. Or they may be at work and the last thing they expect or want is music blaring from their laptop. At the very least, always provide an option for the visitor to turn off the music.

Always keep your visitors’ interests in mind. Make sure you try to please them, not yourself. Scrolling text, auto-playing music files does nothing to serve your visitors. Most of the time these distracting elements are on a site because the site owner (or designer) was trying to look cool or creative. Bottom line — don’t design the site for yourself, design it for the people who will actually use it.

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