No UUA banners, please

I got this comment at the Best website in the UUA posting. I thought it deserved a full reply.

Hi, I was reading your comments and wondered why you suggested that the Harrisonburg church lose the UUA banner. I ask because it’s a resource that was highly requested from us by Congregational webmasters and I’m wondering what about it turned you off. Thanks!

Website Manager
UUA Office of Electronic Communication

Here are my top reasons.

  • Web designers need to have design control, and imported banners usually clash. This might be mitigated by variety of single-purpose (“visit the UUA website” for example) banners and buttons in different formats. (I chose the World Food Program button from this selection.)
  • A “shiney, pretty” link — the part that draws the eye the fastest — shouldn’t pull the reader away from one’s own site. At least not without a desired effect for the first site. (I’m willing to risk a surf-out if you give money to the World Food Programme, but not just so you can browse the UUA — or any other — website. That said, go ahead and give money to the WFP.) A congregational web designer’s first loyalties shoud be with the congregation; a link to the UUA has its place but not as a conspicuous banner.
  • The rectangle banner scans “advertisement.” Very 1999.
  • That said, I think a lot of the banners are unattractive, and the square banners with UU World covers look squished.

Put positively, I might welcome — for a discrete period — a small button, from a variety of styles, hosted locally but gotten from, that directs the visitor to a particular action, like reading the newest UU World or registering for GA. But I still advise people not to use UUA banners on their congregational websites.

3 Replies to “No UUA banners, please”

  1. You sort of contradict yourself with the second and third point. Studies have shown that web surfers are very adept at ignoring advertisements and honing in on content. If the banner visually scans as an advertisement it will likely be ignored. This is why so many sites have tried to develop techniques to move ads in front of the content (pop-ups, flash ads, multiple page content with ads interspersed in the content, etc.).

    Along those lines you have to consider you will have multiple target audiences (Potential new members, current members, etc). For sites that have fairly static content it can effectively create dynamic content, which might help encourage repeat visitors. Or if you have repeat visitors it might be another point of interest for them. So, potential new members may ignore the banner, but a member of the congregation checking the calendar might find it interesting.

    In agreement with you though, I would probably not put the banner prominently on the site, or in a typical “advertisements go here” location. My general reaction when I see a site that looks like it has a bunch of advertisements is to think they were too cheap to pay for hosting and are using a “paid for by advertising service”. At which point I think that if they are that cheap they probably have not put a lot of effort into the design and content, making me more likely to abandon the site quickly. But putting it on pages that current members are likely to repeat visit is probably not a bad idea.

  2. While a web director is entitled to link to the UUA from the congregational site, I rather question the value of a changing banner seeing as the front-page content doesn’t change that much. I’m still holding out for RSS, when individuals can choose to get feeds directly and not was prompted from the congregational site.

    That said, I hardly think points two and three are contradictory. Any rubbernecker knows something can draw ones attention — with little profit — and still be neither desired nor compelling. The web real estate is too valuable to add extraneous features. That’s why I’m willing to admit a focused, invariable button/”bannerette” but unwilling to accept a large target that changes twice a month.

  3. Thanks for the reply – I appreciate it!! I don’t disagree with you – although I do like our banners 🙂 So many congregations use them currently I’d be hard pressed to pull the plug and leave them with a blank space. I think they were so highly requested a few years back because novice websters were itching for ready-made graphics.

    By the way – the UUA will be offering RSS feeds soon! We are in the process of a major redesign as well as finally implementing a content management system…hopefully we’ll go live in a few months and soon after be offering various types of feeds to our diverse audience.

    Thanks again for the reply!

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