UX for Adverts

28 Jun 2018 - Emily Allinson

Recent findings from Ofcom show that “one-third of internet users say they dislike all online advertising”. As regular users of the internet, we are becoming more desensitised to advertising, regularly blocking or ignoring adverts whenever we can. Even ‘personalised’ and ‘targeted’ ads bore us - with over a quarter of users reporting to have never even noticed specific ads tailored to them.

Despite our dislike for advertising, they’re an important tool in digital marketing and most businesses rely on ad traffic to make revenue. To create an effective ad, both design and placement need to be greatly considered so that there is no collision between the advert itself and the important content on the page.

How to make sure your adverts are seen

Coined by Benway and Lane, the term banner blindness has now been documented across 3 decades. The term describes people’s tendency to ignore page elements that they assume - correctly or incorrectly - to be an ad. It’s a strong and robust phenomenon, and, like ads themselves, is not likely to go away any time soon. This says a lot about how adaptable and clever humans are. We read online based on the task we’re trying to complete, and if your advert isn’t immediately helping us then we’ll skip it.

When creating ad content, it’s vital that you incorporate UX design into the process to ensure maximum usability. Due to the fact that “ads are a survival mechanism on the web” (NNg Group), it is important that your target audience don’t ignore them. With so many elements of a website competing for the users’ attention, placing an ad with typical ‘ad-like’ characteristics isn’t going to have the desired effect.

What makes users ignore your ad


Some of this comes down to the placement of the ad on the page. There are places where we expect to see an advert and so we scan over it and ignore it. This is usually found at the top banner or the right hand side rail of the page.


Most adverts look different to main content, with in-your-face graphics and animation used more often than not. If you design your content to look like an advert, people are likely to recognise this and ignore it. But, even text-only adverts aren’t immune - we’ve become attuned to skimming straight past the adverts at the top of search engine results pages.


Research shows that 31% of us have adopted ad-blocking software or plugins. On top of that, 9% of users admitted to giving out false information to services to ensure they avoid future spam.

What you should do

Make your ads relevant and useful

Ensure that any adverts that you are showing are really, truly relevant to the user at that precise point in their journey. They might still ignore the advert, but the overall experience will be improved if it feels in line with the page content. To encourage people to interact with them, start your advert design with user needs.

Don’t interrupt users

Make sure that people are able to do the thing they’ve come to your page to do, and that your ads aren’t getting in the way of them completing a task. After all, your main page content should be the priority on the page. Usability testing can help identify if your ads are breaking a user’s flow when trying to complete tasks.

Test your content from all perspectives

Don’t just test on desktop view, make sure you test on mobile and tablet view - as well as different browsers. This will help you work out where your adverts could get in the way of people completing these tasks.

Prioritise your main content

Don’t make your content look like adverts, or people could be tricked into ignoring it. Don’t put important content in a ‘banner blindness’ area next to adverts - it makes it harder for people to work out what’s not an advert.

The implementation of UX design is an integral part of the process when putting together a web page. Without this process, vital elements are likely to get forgotten about or ignored, as well as time and money wasted. Orange Bus’ UX team have a plethora of experience in ensuring usability of a website and improving design processes. Get in touch using the form below if you’d like to see how we can help you.

How can we help?
Get in touch with the innovators at Orange Bus

Thank you, your message has been submitted.