Google’s Layout Algorithm Update
Earlier this year in January, Google announced a page layout algorithm improvement. Sites that were mainly penalized had a high percentage of ads placed on crucial places on their pages. The goal was to improve site experience so that users could quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, without running into problems… like having to scroll past ads.
The Importance of “the Fold”
Ads aside, this is where an interesting design element comes into play – the header. The header takes up most of the space on your website and is above the “fold”. This is the point where users would have to scroll to find more information. A good amount of the designated information on a certain topic/web page should be located near or above the fold. But, a recent design trend has popularized gigantic headers and while they’re fun to look at, it’s important to understand their role in search friendly web design.
The Downside of Hugeness
Having a huge header can make or break your website. Remember that having a big image (or using Flash) will dramatically slow down the page load time of your site, which is also an important factor in search engine rankings. Next, when not executed right, it’s easy for a gigantic header to look like a spammy landing page or pop up ad, which will having visitors quickly bouncing away. Take a look at these examples of some sites that have done it the right way. Overall, having a huge header means that users will have to scroll and click more to find what they’re looking for and as we all know, they’re not very patient.
Go Big or Go Home
With certain creative industries, like entertainment, a big header can be used creative and actually keep visitors on the site. But in other industries, such as the health field, it’s not likely that a giant picture of a smiling doctor is helpful when people are looking for specific medical information or help. It all depends on what business you are in and there are different tests that can help determine the effectiveness of your web site. So, the next time you want to go for a certain design element because it looks “nice”, remember to do some research before hand! Let us know what you think about using big headers and what specific industries they work in or where they don’t work.
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.