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Online advertising has become a major source of revenue for a lot of businesses over the last few years. There was a time when people saw ads as intrusive and vendors questioned their effectiveness. As the internet has evolved, ads have become as important to the online commercial website as they are for magazines and newspapers. People now expect to be served up relevant and exciting ads when they visit certain sites.

Advertising is not only the concern of the web site owner, but also of the website designer or information architect. As web professionals, we have to design and build sites that make money for the owners, sites that need to also be well-structured and pleasant for the end user. Advertisers themselves need to know that their ads will be properly placed and shown to the reader at keys moments.

If you are designing a site that will have ads, you have to make sure the layout serves the needs of users, the owners and lastly the advertisers. You will need to take the advertising space into account throughout the design process or you will end up with a site that will have awkward spacing and placement of its ads, detracting from the entire experience.

Advertisers pay for ad placement, and designers can have impact by designing various spaces for ads, depending on the site’s content and the price the advertisers pays. One way to determine where to place ads is to keep the desires of advertisers in mind throughout the design process. Some advertisers are hoping to place banner ads in prime real estate, others are hoping to place text ads in less strategic but still useful places.

Website owners bring ads into their sites to monetize their sites, pure and simple. It is one of the few ways you can make your site make money without much additional work, such as developing a product or providing a service. In most cases, ad revenue is crucial to the success of the business, so it has to be a priority in the design process. If you don’t take it into consideration, your design may end up having to be modified after the fact, creating awkward spacing. Also, ads are a crucial part of the design because of their impact on visitors. You have to incorporate ads  in a way that does not impact negatively on the end user’s experience.

You have to strike a delicate balance: the website needs to send a portion of its visitors away in order to make money, but has to retain a number of visitors in order to grow itself. Keeping all the visitors means no ad revenue, losing all the visitors means no growth. Print ads don’t cause the same consternation: a newspaper can run a full-page ad that the reader is not interested in. The reader just skips over it, she doesn’t put the paper down altogether. Clicking on an ad on a website has a more dire possible outcome: it could result in that user never coming back to the site at all.

Ways ads impact the layout of a website:

  1. Layout and spacing: the strategy each site uses can be differnt, but basically, try to place ads within the flow of the site without completely derailing the user experience.
  2. Colors: You will not be able to predict the colors of the ads coming in for the most part, so be sure the ad area is in neutral tones. You can also give a site that will have lots of banner ads a muted color scheme so it will not clash with the ads.
  3. Flow: As a designer, you will eant to direct the user’s eye to the most important content. Website owners hoping to really maximize ad content will ask to have ads placed to locations the eye is drawn to. These spots tend to produce the best click-through rates. Other site owners will want there to be minimal interference with the content, and will ask that the ads be placed off the main site line

Your responsibility with advertisements:

  • Understand how much the site owner values and expects of ad revenue
  • Design a website that meets the needs of the client
  • Design an attractive, usable site that includes ad space.
  • Consider the impact on visitors


Articles used to write this lesson:
Online Advertising And Its Impact On Web Design

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