how websites train you to ignore the ads

02Apr08

I usually like to muse on content here, not ads or marketing, but hey, this is the internet… on some (most?) days the distinction feels downright meaningless.

Anyway, my buddy has a brilliant post which touches on the visual design-conventions of websites, and how they (to put it bluntly) teach you what to ignore.

Example: “clean” design — e.g., a prominent rectilinear “main space” flanked by ad-boxes that don’t break its lines — has one obvious benefit: being easy on the eyes. But those principles of good design that neatly “hierarchize” the stuff also make it super-simple to visually (and ergo, mentally) screen out all those ad-boxes. It’s only natural: our brains constantly (and unconsciously) “throw out” scads of raw visual information, pre-editing so that we only “see” what’s important and relevant.

So whaddya do? Churn everything into Myspace-like chaos, so your readers’ ad-awareness never has the opportunity to attenuate? Thank god that’s not the case… I guess we know what that would probably lead to.



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