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03 November 2005

Adsense Positioning vs Useability

If your planning to redesign your website, have you given any consideration to Adsense positioning? According to Inside Adsense - Engineeringtalk embarked on a process of redesign and soon learnt that ad placement should be integral to your early thinking. A wise observation I think. However, Chris Rand of Engineeringtalk goes on to say "Why are we prioritizing helping visitors find their way around the site when they've already come straight in to what they're looking for?"
It's an interesting observation but one I feel is fatally floored. Looking at my own experiences and at traffic logs it is amazing how many readers landing on a site for the first time navigate elsewhere to explore what else there is to offer. By making navigation less obvious you are reducing the possibility of a new arrival reaching the "comfort zone" with your site i.e a state where they feel relaxed with your content and what you have to offer. The further they move into the comfort zone the more likely they are to return.
Take a look at Engineeringtalk's old design and compare it to the new design here. You'll notice that they have relocated site navigation from the "heatmap" hot spots and inserted Ads at the expense of useability in my opinion. The application of heat map theory to the letter is probably something that should be avoided, particularly if you start losing touch with what makes a good site in the first place!
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Anonymous Chris Rand said...

If you're selling a product, sure, it's a good thing to encourage users who visit your site to stay a while and navigate around. And making it easy for them to do so is most certainly a good thing.

But Engineeringtalk is a news site, and specifically, a news site about an area of professional (not consumer) interest. People don't visit Engineeringtalk for entertainment, they visit it because it helps them track down manufacturers and suppliers of products they're after. So we have to ask ourselves "what is its elementary function?". My answer, as Editor, is to bring people news from manufacturers and point them towards even more focused information (which will be on the manufacturers' sites). That's it. Our pages do just that. Intercepting visitors and encouraging them to wander around our site is great for our our page view statistics, but we're not here to promote ourselves, we're here to report on manufacturers.

If the visitors are going to be diverted, I'd rather it was to our banner advertisers or to the AdSense ads. Too many websites see their primary function to grab eyeballs and keep them there as long as possible, just for the sake of it (or some sort of "I got more page views than you" one-upmanship).

Thursday, November 03, 2005  
Blogger Peter Brady said...

Thanks Chris. You make some interesting points, but I think it is considered a fact that building a repeat readership is a good thing for long term ad revenues. Your changes risk impeding this process for what might turn out to be only a short term gain in revenues.

Thursday, November 03, 2005  

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