Dojo (HowTo)







  Easter Eggs




  Martial Arts

Banner Tips
Tips for improving your Banners

Promotion is the name of the game. If you weren't convinced your site demanded a wider audience, you wouldn't be out there fishing for that audience. And that's what banner exchanges are all about.

Banner Design

The first step is designing your banners. (Yes, plural.)

Too many sites make the mistake of taking their site's header, modifying it to fit the size requirements of the banner exchange, and then uploading it, assuming the job is done. While that's a legitimate way to get started, that is not all there is to it. No matter how attractive, this banner doesn't invite a response. It says there's a site called Mac Webmasters, and that you can get there by clicking the banner, but gives you no reason to do so.

With that in mind, lets create ten "rules" to make your banners more effective:

  1. Ask the viewer to do something. "Visit Mac Webmasters" invites the viewer to your site. "Click here" asks for a response. "Surf to Mac Webmasters" is a friendly request for a click. Be brazen if that's what it takes.
  2. Get the viewer's attention. Studies show that an animated banner gets about 25% more clicks than a static one. Good use of color and bold type also help. Look at what paying sponsors do with animated GIFs -- they pay good money for these ads and want to make sure they work. Be willing to break the rules if it brings people to your site.
  3. Speed counts. Mac Web Network will not let you upload a banner over 7K in size because it takes longer to load bigger files. Learn how to minimize colors, or play with compression settings to get your banners as small (fast) as possible.
  4. One is not enough. Macseek allows you to have three separate banners. Mac Web Network defaults to two (a recent development). Not only should you have several banners, but you should rotate them and create new ones regularly. (Another lesson from the world of advertising.)
  5. Display it everywhere. After all, not everyone visits your home page. People will bookmark other pages to visit regularly. Make sure they'll see a banner so you'll get another credit toward another exposure.
  6. Get the credit due you. When I first used Mac Web Network, I simply copied the same banner display code to every page on my site. Since then I've leared that you can customize the "codes" and get credit for each page viewed -- after that my hit rates tripled!
  7. Choose your focus. You may want to pick one banner exchange and stick with it. Or you might want to choose two or more. That's fine, but know the strengths and weaknesses of each exchange.
  8. Don't overdo it. This is a corollary to Rule 7. Even if you decide you should be on Mac Web Network, Macseek, Link Exchange, and others, don't display all the banners on all your pages -- or even on your home page. For one, it clutters things up. For another, it really slows load time for your page. (Same rule applies to rings, but that's another subject.) For the most part, I design pages with one ad banner, on exchange banner, and a handful of other graphics. Very few pages have two banner exchanges displayed, even though I often use both MWN and Macseek on my sites. (This site is an obvious exception.)
  9. Track your statistics.Track pages viewed, banners displayed, and click-throughs in a database or spreadsheet. Make notes each time you change your banner, then see if the click rate rises or falls. You can also use this information to see if one banner exchange is serving your needs better than another.
  10. Do evangelism. Correspond with the webmaster of any exchange you participate in. If you have pathetic click-throughs, ask for some advice. After all, the better you do, the better it reflects on their exchange. And tell fellow Mac webmasters about your success with the exchange(s) you use. The more participants, the broader your exposure.

Become an informed consumer. Learn how things work and why. If your site is worth the time you spend on it, it's worth promoting so others will benefit from it. Remember, growing your site 1% per day doubles your hits in three months -- using two banner exchanges may double that rate of growth.

For more tips on banner design:

Created: 07/30/98
Updated: 11/09/02

Top of page

Top of Section