November 17, 2003
If your site has a Flash intro, or a client is asking you to put a Flash intro on their site, definitely check out this quick article. 579 consumers spoke out and their comments are fascinating.
Also includes general advice for consumer packaged goods firms on how to avoid home page mistakes that all too many of them make.
Time to face facts: consumers hate Flash.
"If you must offer a 'skip intro' option, shouldn't your better judgment kick in?" asked Anna Murray, President e*media inc., during a panel on Marketing to Women at the recent AD:TECH conference.
On October 29th, Murray ran a poll garnering responses from 579 consumers voting for their favorite of two home page variations for "Acme Haircare". One version started with a Flash intro, the other was static HTML. (Link to original poll below.)
80% of respondents voted for the site *without* a Flash intro.
So, why do so many consumer packaged goods firms -- including Coke, 7 Up, Lipton, General Mills, and Clairol -- not to mention many advertising agencies, love to plaster Flash intros on their sites? (Perhaps it reminds them of good old television?)
Here's more data from Murray's poll, plus the top three other homepage design mistakes she sees Fortune 500s make.
-> Flash intros & Flash navigation
70% of those who took Murray's survey have jobs that do not include marketing or advertising. Of that number, 80% chose the site without Flash. (Those within the industry disliked the Flash site even more at just over 80%.)
Respondents' comments revealed how deeply anti-Flash feelings run these days. "People really waxed poetic about how much they hated Flash," Murray says.
A few sample comments:
o "Flash sucks. If I want a movie, I'll go to the theater. I just want quick information,"
o "Flash should be banned from the face of the earth - such a pain."
o "If I'm going to a Web site, I want information. I want information quickly. It could be written in 10 point pica for all I care. I'm already interested in what might be there, why turn me off?"
o "When searching the Web, my most immediate concern is generally time, how quick can I find/do it. This leaves little room for animation."
Murray concedes that Flash may have its place, such as with user-initiated requests to see something "rich." For example, one respondent said that animation in the corner of the screen is okay if you have the option to turn it on or off, and a few mentioned that Flash can be useful when demo-ing products.
But, don't fool yourself into thinking it's slow Internet connections that causes people to hate Flash. In fact, the respondents who had cable or DSL disliked the Flash intro by more than 80%.
More interesting stats:
o 75% of non-marketing professional women said no Flash.
o 81% of non-marketing professional men said no Flash.
o The youngsters of those polled (ages 18-24) also chose the non-Flash intro, at over 65%.
-> Three More CPG Home Page Design Mistakes
Mistake #1. The Who-Is-My-Visitor syndrome
This happens with companies that are corporate-centric rather than being focused on the consumer, Murray explains. Don't try to be everything to everybody. Gear your main site toward your main constituency, she recommends.
Unfortunately many of the biggest brands don't do this.
For example, on the L'Oreal site, the buttons on the nav bar include Human Resources, Research, Press Room, Finance & Resources. You have to search to find any mention of the company's brands.
"Is it too much of a stretch to guess that someone who visits the L'Oreal Web site wants to find a lipstick?" Murray asks.
Mistake #2. Look At My Print Ad!
Do you really want to devote the majority of your homepage real estate to a single picture? Murray asks.
For example, with the Olay site, "80% of the page is turned over to a picture that has no functionality," she says. Visitors to a site like Olay want information, "and you're making them click."
And extra clicks, says Murray, are "the biggest sin on the Web."
Mistake #3. What Country Are You From?
"Why is this so important?" Murray asks. "Why, God, why?"
Seriously, many companies look at which division's site gets the most traffic (Germany, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, the US -- you get the picture) and divide the budget that way, she explains.
So putting a map of the world and making visitors click to get into the site is a corporate need, not a consumer need.
"Get out your spreadsheet and figure out where your consumers are coming from, then put a nice little drop-down menu for your misdirected Germany visitor," she says. In other words, put consumers' needs in front of corporate needs.
-> Useful links related to this article:
Response to this article from Macromedia's recommended expert, Jared Spool: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2529
You can view Murray's original Flash vote form here:
The next AD:TECH show will be in San Francisco, May 24-26th. http://www.ad-tech.com/