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Animated background headers

by  David Dwyer on  06/02/2015    1421 Reads

Do they add real value to your website or do they drive people away?

If you're not from a graphic or web design background you could be forgiven for asking "animated what?  Surely 'background header' is a contradiction in terms?"  And yet we now see them appearing on the coolest, most graphics-driven websites and the trend is spreading fast.

First there were animated headers that lived where you'd expect: at the head of the page.  Now the trend is to go full-page with them.  Animated background headers are moving pictures that go either behind the words on the page or before you even reach the words.  Quite often a website's front page is an animation and you then click on something (the company name, for example) to get into the main site.

Animated headers don't work well with some mobile devices as mobiles don't have very good Canvas performance (Canvas is the software).  Far more expensively, animations use a lot more of your data allowance than static images.  For these reasons static images are probably a better bet for mobile sites.

However, it's not just for the sake of mobile devices that you should think twice before installing twinkling lights or flying ducks on your site.  It's worth considering the needs of your site visitors, not all of whom have super-speed broadband yet.  Most of them have probably not come to your site to see how cool it is and admire your graphics - unless they're looking for a graphic designer.  They've come to discover information or buy a product.  Keeping them away from that information or product, even for the seconds it takes to click through from your animation to your home page, could be enough to make them leave your site altogether and go to your rivals to transact their business.  (Our average attention span is now reckoned* as 8 seconds.)  

So probably the best advice to give you is: it depends what business you're in whether animated background headers are going to work on your site and for your customers.  If you want to show off your cool credentials with a groovy site, and your customers are the sort of people who'll respond to that, go for it.  If you're in the business of selling goods or services, think at least twice - more, if your site has to function well on mobile devices too.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David's academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

* http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/sales-marketing/thanks-social-media-average-attention-span-now-shorter-goldfish-01251966

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