Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)
“In addition to the three main design elements that occasionally attract fixations in online ads, we discovered a fourth approach that breaks one of publishing’s main ethical principles by making the ad look like content:
* The more an ad looks like a native site component, the more users will look at it.
* Not only should the ad look like the site’s other design elements, it should appear to be part of the specific page section in which it’s displayed.
This overtly violates publishing’s principle of separating “church and state” — that is, the distinction between editorial content and paid advertisements should always be clear.
I think this has been known for some time, though it’s always nice to get a third party with data to support it.
What I find more interesting is how few designers are able to absorb the opposite lesson: i.e. if you make something look different than the rest of the page, it becomes invisible, not noticeable.
Let’s say you have a search result, and you want to make the message that the user has misspelled a word visibile. Do you
Those of use who use google/yahoo search know the answer already. Make the message you want people to see look like the thing they are looking for, and they will notice it.