For a diverse and global community, the web can sometimes appear startlingly homogeneous. Design and marketing techniques proliferate quickly on the backs of those eager to get in on the next big thing, and once a trend builds momentum, it can become almost impossible to kill. Clients begin asking for the bells and whistles that they’ve seen elsewhere on the web and readers come to expect it. Eventually some trends overstay their welcome and simply have to go.
The Waste Your Time Infinite Scrolling Design
It may be time for us to call it quits on the parallax — at least, other than some very specific applications. Sure, parallax design looks fantastic, but now that it’s been scattered across half of the web, it’s lost much of its initial impact. Worse, it’s encouraging infinite scrolling and one page designs. One page site designs were at first promoted for allowing full control over the chronology of the company’s story, unfolding a tale in front of the eyes of the consumer. While it does achieve that, there are many technical problems holding it back from being a truly effective technique.
- It obfuscates the UX. While a user can scroll down to slowly reveal the company’s messaging, it makes it very difficult for the user to actually browse through the site and control their own user experience. If the user simply has a direct question or needs specific information, they won’t be able to find it. This can leads to user frustration and site abandonment.
- It makes analytics difficult to track. With a parallax, infinite scrolling design, you can’t determine where the user is bouncing off of your site or what content the user is revealing beforehand. You also can’t see which areas of your site are more popular because they are all on a single, slowly revealed page.
- It’s bad for SEO. Having all of your relevant information on a single page is the last thing you want for the purposes of search engine optimization. Infinite scrolling websites also put a premium on concise copy, which is simultaneously more readable but less easily optimized.
Modal Madness: The Pop-Up Advertising of Today
I don’t think I’m alone in this: a modal window is very likely to get me to leave a site entirely. The rest of the website goes dark and a prompt appears at the center of the screen: Buy Our Product! Sign Up for Our Newsletter! Do Something, Anything, to Get Rid of This Ad! Modal windows are very popular today as an aggressive method of capturing leads. But the web already rejected pop-ups –what makes advertisers believe that today’s consumer will be any more forgiving?
- It breaks the user experience. Whatever the user intended to do — whether it be find more information about your product or just read an article — has now been interrupted and there’s a good chance the user might just leave entirely. The fact that many modal windows can’t be easily closed only adds to this frustration.
- When it fails, it fails spectacularly. Modal windows do two things: present you with an ad and black out the rest of the site. So when they malfunction — which happens a good 10% of the time — the site often remains blacked out and inaccessible. Sometimes the site may not even come back after the modal window has been closed.
- It’s too aggressive. When you market things correctly, the consumer wants to get more information from you. A modal window is the sales equivalent of cornering a customer in a store. The dialog will be completely different than it would be if the customer themselves had come up with a question.
The inherent difficulty involved in measuring the effectiveness of social media marketing has led many digital marketers to adopt quantity-based metrics. In other words, the effectiveness of campaigns is often measured simply by the quantity of followers. While this is one important metric, it’s not always the best metric; depending on a content marketing campaign, additional traffic may not actually lead to any actual increase in revenue. Aggressively obtaining followers (such as, say, through modal windows) may lead to followers who were not initially invested in the company’s messaging and who will not become invested later on. Worse yet, it may alienate followers by appearing both desperate and pushy.
- Traffic doesn’t mean conversions. Marketers learned this lesson years ago, but may need to relearn it in the social media context. A local business followed by a tremendous amount of global followers won’t necessarily make any more revenue than another business with a smaller amount of local followers.
- People don’t take social media that seriously. They may follow you with no real intent to ever interact with your brand or make a purchase from you; being interested in what you have to say by no means guarantees a sale. While more exposure is still good, it shouldn’t be used as the only end goal.
- Users that don’t engage can actually be harmful. Many online communities gauge the success of your posts based on how many of your followers actually engage with it. If you have a large amount of followers and none of them are paying attention to your posts, your posts won’t gain any traction.
Most digital marketing trends don’t last long; the industry simply moves too fast. New trends are constantly on the horizon and marketers need to remain agile and be willing to abandon old techniques should they become ineffective. Tactics such as infinite scrolling (jazzed up in all that lovely parallax) were effective and marketers were right to use them — but that doesn’t mean they will remain effective forever. Marketers have to be constantly in the process of analyzing and improving if they are to avoid played out and now ineffective conventions.