EXPOSED: The dirty little secrets of Amazing Parallax Websites!
Let me tell you about someone I met recently, called Harry. Harry is just like many other people with small businesses. While he was no design or development expert, he had a website which was happily chugging away so well that he could thank it for most of his customers. Just like many of us, he would have liked to make a bit more money. So he took to browsing the Net and looking at competitor’s sites, hoping to uncover something which he could use increase his own sales.
One day he found his biggest competitor had splashed out, and now had an amazing landing page. It had stunning graphics which included an awesome parallax design which was incredibly innovative. Never having seen parallax before, Harry was truly amazed.
“That’s amazing,!” he said to himself. “This is the answer! Stunning graphics that really stand out will treble my business!” (Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but that’s how you think when you’re excited.) So he sped off and got his friendly web designer to create an even more stunning landing page for his own website. Ht wanted it to ring all the bells and blow all the whistles.
In due time everything was implemented, and Harry sat back, waiting confidently for money to roll in by the bucketful. However, right from the beginning, while he got the same number of visitors and they were spending more time on his site, his conversion rate was well down. He found this disturbing, as he depended on the money from his online sales his brickandmortar profits were inadequate for all but the bare necessities.
After a fortnight the situation was no better, although the number of visitors was up quite sharply. He tried changing his conversion funnel and added clickable banners, but nothing seemed to work. Harry was getting desperate and tried many different tweaks, without result. Eventually, Harry turned to a web marketing expert, and told him his sad story. This guru was very pragmatic, and had a good idea where the problem lay. A quick look at the website, and the diagnosis was complete.
Just what was going wrong? Much of what that guru told harry has now become common knowledge., Once all the evidence was in, heatmapping and multivariate testing showed that rotators, sliders, parallax designs and all the other innovative graphics are largely a waste of space on a web page. Let me say it another way: these special designs are really fascinating, but they can lower your conversion rate. Any web designers who try to convince you otherwise are doing you no favours.
In fact, if people visit your website because of your awesome graphics, you’re in deep trouble. They should come to you because the know you will give them a fantastic deal or provide quality service. Topclass service is Amazon’s secret success formula despite a very mundane page design and ordinary conversion funnel and it can also work for you. Harry now knows that a hohum design that does its job is better than a beautiful landing page which doesn’t convert.
He has also learnt the hard way not to implement a new design without testing the results. there are many tools out there which can be used to test changes and the efficiency of a website. There are also experts who know how to use them. In both cases, good ones will easily pay for themselves. What Harry also hadn’t realized is that his bounce rate had skyrocketed because his new site took a while to load. Slowloading sites scare off large numbers of visitors. He also didn’t know that his extra visitor flow was coming from the social media (mainly Twitter and Pinterest) and weren’t potential customers, but just people curious about the graphics. His natural SEO rankings declined because Parallax designs are inherently SEOunfriendly.
Changing the URL structure also meant that many former customers, visitors from the search engines, and referrals from backlinks were 404′d and sent to the competition instead. The new design was also unfamiliar to his old customers, and he lost a bit of their trust. After all, was this still the same person they had been used to doing business with? The dazzling design seemed a bit tricky to customers accustomed to a much more straightforward approach.
Lastly, his website had become very unfriendly to mobiles. While it is possible to make a parallax design relatively more mobilefriendly, Harry had not realized the importance of this factor.
The good news is that Harry was able to revert to his old design. It took a while, as many repeat customers were lost in this period of change, but eventually sales returned to their previous levels. He realized that any changes need to be tested before making a switch, and major changes involve major risks. Tread carefully, especially if a change could alter the focus of your web pages.
Looking back, it is easy to see that this type of design distracts from the message. Your conscious mind focuses on one thing at a time, just like a computer. It is best If a web page offers a visitor a solution to a problem without distractions.
What can you take away from this sad story? You must give visitors what they are looking for and need, not just wow them with incredible graphics. While there are some amazing techniques out there, it is important to stay in touch with the little voice of common sense which quietly asks, “Wonderful! But does it sell?” It may be possible to overcome the disadvantages if you make a huge effort, but why handicap yourself from the start?