64

I had a discussion with my client about a website revamp (it's an agency website). He’s a business strategist and not a web / UX designer. In the meeting, we showed him several websites (from different industries and reputable companies) but he wasn’t too delighted. To him, everything seemed static, boring, and typical. He wants the agency website to have that ‘wow’ factor.

Then he gave us some direction for the website and wanted the ‘homepage’ (or more like the splash page) to be animated. I won’t go into detail about how the homepage is to be animated but it’s very ‘flash-like’ it its approach.

I’m also considered a junior however I have a good knowledge about UX (especially what not to do in a website). I don’t know how to tell him that this is not good approach and that some creativity may need to be stifled because of the constraints of the web / usability concerns. And that this is okay.

  • 4
    This is an extremely broad question. We don't know the context and what is your animation about, and animation is actually a great tool to achieve a wow effect, increase engagement, improve CTR and many useful purposes. Or it could be a disaster if badly used, like anything. Either way, your question seems to be more oriented to communication in your workplace rather than an UX question, so I suggest you rewrite your question so it is not off topic as it is now – Devin Oct 12 '15 at 3:21
  • 75
    Some users, such as myself, won't even stick around to see what happens after the animation. The animation sends the following message to the user: "This website has either been designed by a twelve year old, or has not been updated since Altavista was king". I come for content, not shiny. My time is too valuable to watch an animation. – dotancohen Oct 12 '15 at 9:46
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    If possible, please tell us what kind of website/business this is. A website meant to capture kids' attention might do well with animations everywhere. A website trying to sell insurance...won't. A gaming website, maybe. – DrZ214 Oct 12 '15 at 13:09
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    @MrLister To be fair, Google puts an animation on its homepage (replacing its logo) on a regular basis. And yet I've read articles about how many people (myself included) are really annoyed by it, but Google won't give an option to turn it off. There was even a 3rd party website made to look just like google, that sent your search words to Google and returned the real Google site results, that always had the static logo 24/7/365 until Google sued them and shut it down. The irony is inescapable. – DrZ214 Oct 13 '15 at 3:02
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    I discussed web UX on Usenet before animations were even supported, and my conclusion at the time was that such discussions often arise from print creatives (as you call them) failing to consider the difference in purpose between printed ads and websites. Websites are not ads, they do not serve to attract attention - the user has already chosen to go there and what they want is service, that is why any glitz distracting from that gets in the way and creates a bad UX. – reinierpost Oct 16 '15 at 10:27

13 Answers 13

49

To me, the most crucial problem here is that your client wants to see the site as HE wants it, not as users want it. He finds his perspective more important than the users' perspective. It doesn't matter why he likes animated sites, it doesn't matter that you don't. What matters is that he doesn't see that it's users who decide. He doesn't make conversions, users do. Him not realizing this simple truth is fatal for the business.

If you can persuade him to conduct a user testing (a bunch of flashlike animatied sites VS a bunch of good UX/UI sites) and take the results into his account, then you will have your case.

  • 14
    This is the only real answer, from a UX perspective. You need some sort of data to decide whether your users will/won't appreciate a particular animation. The way OP frames it, the conversation has been about which designer's opinion is right—this is not really the kind of conversation UX pros should engage in. – Phillip Quintero Oct 12 '15 at 17:32
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    I disagree that you need data. It helps and is great when you have it but let's not discount the value of experience and educated opinions. In fact data sans proper context can be damaging. – DA01 Oct 12 '15 at 19:58
  • @DA01: you kind of need data when you are in the position of proving your point to someone (which position we, UX people, find ourselves in way too often, and I see it as one of the UX fallacies). Data transfers your decision from the plane of private opinions (subjective) to the plane of objective solution to an existing problem. …that is, when it actually works as a justification, because in too many cases it doesn't. – Zoe K Oct 14 '15 at 7:21
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    @ZoeKulsariyeva I actually agree with you on that...I've found that larger companies tend to use data for all the wrong UX reasons, and ignore data for the right ones. Usually it's "If management wants it, ignore the data. If UX wants it, management insists on data" :) – DA01 Oct 14 '15 at 15:09
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    @DA01 "If management wants it, ignore the data. If UX wants it, management insists on data" so THIS! :D – Zoe K Oct 14 '15 at 15:36
110

Don't be so arrogant as to call yourself "right" and your client "wrong." Concentrate on the problem the client has given you, not the solution. The problem is that everything seems static, boring, and typical. He wants more wow. Your job is to give him more wow. How you do that is up to you.

Forget about convincing the client that he is wrong. He is not wrong. The client knows what he wants. His problem is that he has a limited vocabulary. He's trying to tell you what he wants, but he can only communicate one solution. You are getting fixated on his solution and not really listening to his problem.

Figure out how to give him the "wow" he wants in a modern way. That's your job.

  • 50
    There is a big difference between a clients percieved problem and a real problem. As professionals, our job is to try and give clients what they need rather than what they think they need. – DA01 Oct 12 '15 at 17:57
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    This isn't just limited to the web development industry, any time one is working with clients, it's necessary to listen beyond their vocabulary and solve their actual problem rather than supplying their perceived solution verbatim. – user56701 Oct 12 '15 at 20:19
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    -1 Although it's absolutely correct that the OP can and probably should concentrate more on how to add that 'wow-factor' differently, whilst presenting any found alternatives he still will need an actual answer to his question and telling him just to concentrate on other stuff does not answer the question nor provide a solution (despite being based on an important piece of wisdom). – David Mulder Oct 12 '15 at 22:46
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    The client wants customers. They think that wow factor will help them get or retain customers. Why couldn't they be wrong about that? – Max Nanasy Oct 13 '15 at 19:22
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81

Wow factor is not always helpful

Wow factor is not always helpful

Without the specifics it's hard to tell whether animation is going to be suitable for your site, but here are some common arguments for not using animation:

  1. Animations can distract users from their core task. Human perception is highly sensitive to movement, so animations can instantly rivet a user's attention in an unproductive way. For example, if most users arrive at the site seeking basic information about the company but there is an interesting video playing on the cover page, users may forget what they came for.

  2. Animations can pose some challenges for responsive design. Users may arrive at the site with portrait, landscape, or mobile clients with different network bandwidth and client processing power, so animations can get janky and frustrating to look at with mobile browsers. For a business site where your primary goal is to win business rather than entertain clients, it's often better just to keep things simple so that clients can easily find what they need.

  3. Animations can make it hard to read meaningful content. For example, marquees/tickers and carousels can be very frustrating to users because they obscure or animate information that users struggle to keep up with.

  • 18
    love the car comparison – Sam Pierce Lolla Oct 12 '15 at 4:58
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    I actually disagree with the car comparison. The pictures you took make it look 'obvious', but I think the picture on the right is pretty boring. Imagine the picture on the left as another sports car instead of some ugly bus, but still with vivid color and an action shot, instead of a parked car practically in grayscale. I would much rather take that. I also think you shouldn't write off animation as a whole. IE animation can distract users, but its also great for guiding users. As always, its all about the balance. – David Grinberg Oct 12 '15 at 13:18
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    I agree on @DavidGrinberg's disagreement. I often think that there's almost no car commercial that I remember the next day. They all strive for streamlined, noble looking ads. So much that they are all boringly the same. However, some few commercials that are made the cheap way (Germans: I am referring the Seitenbacher one) are so laughably cheap, they do stand out. In fact, some internet marketers/product promoters make more money by delivering cheap looking ads, instead of Ogilvy et al-style commercials. Beautyful != Money, and Ugly != !Money. – phresnel Oct 12 '15 at 13:39
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    I think animations can be incredibly effective. However, the OP asked a question about how to convince a client not to use animation...there are many situations where the gaudy, meretricious photo on the left would be more effective. One thing to note is, ads that entertain are not always effective. That boring Mercedes ad may not be memorable, but it may still be a lot more effective in terms of conversion than another ad which is more striking but dilutes the brand message. – tohster Oct 12 '15 at 15:34
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    It's certainly easier to tell what the picture on the right shows, as compared to the picture on the left. IMO "content first" really is a good design strategy in a large majority of cases, and the picture on the right says "content first" a lot more than the one on the left. – a CVn Oct 13 '15 at 7:21
17

What are you trying to solve?

From a UX point of view, your heart is in the right place: any animation that solves a problem is welcome. For example, if you press one of the icons on iOS they will start shaking: that’s an animation that means something to the user. It delivers a message and solves a problem (how to show the user that he is about to delete applications).

iOS shaking icons

On the other hand, an animation that will move for the sake of moving, or for a wow effect, might leave the user confused.

Also, when everything is highlighted, nothing is highlighted.

  • 10
    I highly recommend you bold that last sentence :) – DrZ214 Oct 12 '15 at 13:06
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    @DRZ214 WHY ONLY THE LAST SENTENCE? WHEN YOU COULD UPPERCASE AND BOLD THE WHOLE MESSAGE INSTEAD. – CodesInChaos Oct 12 '15 at 14:22
  • 1
    Many of the icons in your screenshot have so many little details that in the end the ones that do stand out are those with a simple shape in only two colors. – kasperd Oct 13 '15 at 11:02
  • Is highlighting a style shaping force, meaning by color and shape? – Jedi Commymullah Oct 13 '15 at 23:44
  • @DrZ214 you are a genius! – Eran Bar Oct 14 '15 at 7:19
13

A web site is not like a magazine cover or print ad which may be what your client is thinking. It doesn't need to draw the user's attention because if someone is at your website, they came there intentionally with some particular reason. If they can see the site, you've already sold them on visiting it.

The goal then is to impart the best impression on the user who has decided to visit rather than to draw in visitors. The absolute most importing thing here is to not waste their time. Get users to whatever whatever it is they want as quickly and easily as possible.

Instead of a magazine with a cover, a better metaphor is a catalogue, that the reader has already sought out and opened. There's plenty of scope for creative design, but it needs to be in the service of getting the reader to the catalogue entries that they want.

7

It depends on what kind of animation you mean by "Flash-like" animations.

If you mean "a lot of spinning doodads and scrolling marquees that do nothing," then your client is almost objectively wrong (insofar as any answer in a creative field can be "wrong"), for the reasons mentioned in the answer contrasting the images of a gaudy bus and a Porsche.

However, if your client is referring instead to jQuery/HTML5-type animations that indicate events on a page (e.g., when a user proceeds to the next step in a process, the screen visibly scrolls to the next step), then consider that your client's perception could be right on the money, at least for some users (e.g., mobile users are probably more used to interaction animations, and might even expect them). Your job in this case would be to explore which animations are important (i.e., which animations convey information to the user) versus which animations are superfluous.

Let's say that your client wants the first type of animation, the gaudy and useless ones. Persuade the client to revise his ideas by rephrasing your objections. Instead of "this animation thing is a bad idea because XYZ," instead say something like "I've reconsidered your animation ideas, and you're actually right that the site would be boring if it isn't animated - we can incorporate animations in such and such a way." Then reinterpret the spec so that the animations are the user-friendly usability-enhancing type of animations (sliding transitions and the like), instead of useless idle animations. If necessary, stress or exaggerate the limited screen space and system resources of some smartphones and tablets to cut down as far as possible on the useless animations. When you have finally succeeded, be prepared to laugh off the client's inevitable "I told you so" when you do manage to make a sensible site out of their overly flashy spec. The more the client feels like they got what they wanted, the better, regardless of the consequences for your patience and/or pride.

4

'Perception is reality'

Your client's perception is that the website is 'static, boring and typical'. It may be hard, especially if your team has spent a long time on this design, but in order to move on you will need to accept this perception as your reality.

They have lost a bit of confidence in you and may be wondering if you can reach a shared understanding. On the plus side, you now have is a better understanding of what they do not want.

The most important thing to do in this situation is to regain your client's trust

  • Restate the problem back to them, in a way that invites their agreement and puts you both in a forward-looking position http://www.barbaraminto.com/concept.html
  • Analyse the design they have given you, looking past the animation and features to understand what the benefits are that your client wants to capture in their site
  • Find examples of other sites that encapsulate these benefits and write an example vision statement for the client to critique, allowing them to help refine the vision of the website based on what you have learned
  • Manage their expectations and pass the problem back to them if necessary. It may be that you were missing some vital pieces of information in the first place, and you need to work with them to refine the brief.

Don't be afraid to use your expertise to help the client tell you what they want.

2

All the answers have great ideas; one thing I have not seen mentioned in the answers (at least not when skimming the answers) is most web sites I've seen where the home page is a flash animation or other huge image, is that the site is poorly suited for accessibility issues for people with vision limitations. And related to that, is search engine optimization -- most web sites like these have no text or meta data to gather.

My personal experience with sites like these, is I either search like mad for a "enter site" link, both with my eyes and mouse, and then usually give up going any further.

1

Mohair makes a good point about the limited vocabulary of the client. Here are some things that the client might really mean. Of course, I don't know which, if any, might be true -- you will have to ask them:

  • We write new content every day, but the site gives the impression that the content rarely changes (what the client is calling "static"). We want users to know that they should check back often for updates.

  • There are many ways that the user can interact with the site, but some of them are easy to miss. We need to do a better job guiding users to the site's features.

  • The site's appearance is out of pace with current trends / fads. It might make users worry that it hasn't been updated recently.

Don't be thrown off by the word "animation" -- they're just using that word because an animation is something they can see. They're reaching for ways to describe what they want to see on the site. I think you should sit down with your client and try to understand their real desires. It will make you feel better about your client's competence and it will make the client feel better that you understand their needs.

0

How about using video? Video can sell better than text ever could. It shows

  • How easy the system is - do it anywhere with a laptop
  • Who the system is for - a range of age groups, anyone can do it
  • What you get in return - happy & luxurious lifestyle.

Full screen video background to give your client's client a video tour of the agency showing: happy staff working & collaborating; the agency process; results they are likely to see from finished projects etc.

  • 10
    No. No. No. No! If you're looking for information, as opposed to entertainment, there's nothing worse than a youtube tutorial that starts with an intro, tells a few fun facts about the life of its maker next, hides the useful information in 13 seconds from 5:18 to 5:31, and ends with greetings to everyone and their grandma. Noone will watch your happy employees for more than 5 seconds before proceeding to the next google search result entry. – Guntram Blohm Oct 13 '15 at 22:02
0

I would probably take a completely different approach and explain your design decision by the data of the website.

For example - do you have analytics? Can you show what is successful against what is failing on the website and therefore suggest making improvements that will help targets such as conversions or engagement.

You could also do some user research and video participants completing tasks on the website and show this to your boss and explain that the most important thing is that the user can achieve their tasks and goals?

You also have to ask from a business objective what goal the 'wow' factor achieves - does your website need to generate new leads? will your company be recruiting and needs to show company culture? This will give you a starting point on what the 'wow' factor needs to represent and you can discuss other ways this may be achieved keeping those goals in mind.

Failing all of that - show a static layout and an animated layout - and seek out typical visitors to the website and ask for their feedback - present the findings back to your boss.

Good luck!

0

Ask him to make a list of the most useful sites to him. Point out to him that there is a reason why none of them are animation driven.

-1

If your boss thinks it is a good idea to have a website that looks like a bad mistake from 1997, he is probably the sort of guy that actually thinks GeoCities was a great development and can't figure out why it no longer exists ...

You'll always be that "annoyying guy who would not build my website how I wanted it" and even if he agrees to a more modern, professional site, it will always irritate him that you would not put the animations he wanted on there.

My advice: begin looking for a company with a boss who is not stuck in a time-warp.

  • 5
    Though blunt, this is actually good advice. Being a UX designer in a company that doesn't actually get UX can be a rough gig. – DA01 Oct 12 '15 at 17:58
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    and how do we know his boss actually wants a Geocities like site? For what I get from teh OP's description, his boss is design savvy, so this answer is quite a reach. As a matter of fact not even an answer on the OP's question, just a pretty cocky statement. Also, last time I checked UX is about testing. The OP didn't test, didn't even describe the correct scenario. How is he right and his boss wrong? The idea would be if my boss don't like my wonderful world changing ideas I'll go out for another job? – Devin Oct 12 '15 at 18:53
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    @devin I'd say a design savvy person wouldn't ask for animations purely for "wow". UX includes testing but isn't solely about testing. – DA01 Oct 12 '15 at 19:56
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    GeoCities was a great development. It no longer exists because, like absolutely everything ever, it was surpassed. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 12 '15 at 21:57
  • Actually the OP states that they showed his boss some websites from other companies and industries so he has not tried to do a design as yet so I would suggest putting some actual work into a design for a UX for your particular agency before bemoaning the fact the Boss is out of date and does not like things. He is not seeing anything that matters to him - give him something he can like then he will start to see the WOW. So forget talking about resigning before even starting on a project! Perhaps he will become the guy 'Who improved on my vision for the site." – Magpie13 Oct 14 '15 at 12:38

protected by Benny Skogberg Oct 14 '15 at 8:07

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