With rich media burgeoning on websites, one might think larger images, longer video and more animation is always better. It isn’t.
Instead, it is important that a corporation understands their site’s intended audience, and delivers an appropriate design. If the site is primarily to provide quick reference information, it should be designed to load quickly, and slow-loading features should be avoided. If it is to provide an leisurely and immersive branding experience, we can allow users to wait a few moments while the site loads.
Often, a corporate site serves multiple purposes; in which case, we can prioritize. If it is mainly for delivering information, but branding is also a consideration, a clean, attractive design with just a few high resolution images can serve best. A frustrating wait for a page to load in order to grab a phone number can tarnish a brand. But if branding is the priority, we can still put that 1-800 number in a quick loading header.
Sometimes there is more information to be readily available in an otherwise branding oriented site. Comprehensive contact information, with hours, locations etc., is frustrating to obtain from the footer of an extensive one page website. Instead, a contact us link can be added to a quick-loading navigation, designed to be clearly visible even in mobile devices, and have that link open a simple page.
A note specific to contact information: a well-formatted and maintained Google My Business listing can serve as the primary means for web users to obtain that information, which somewhat mitigates the need to make it readily available on a corporate site. But make sure the webmaster remembers to update the listing for holiday hours.
Over the last few years, one page websites have increased in popularity. This is largely for mobile devices, on which scrolling is easier than clicking. But, as mentioned above, it can be counter-productive for delivering reference information, especially way down in the footer. Instead, we can consider an only moderately rich home page, even on a branding site. Mobile users tend to be short-visit users, so a comprehensive website-in-a-page may not be optimal for them despite the convenience of scrolling. We can put inviting calls to action in the home page, and when a user chooses to engage, we then serve up a full interactive feast. This approach is even more useful when the site has purposes beyond the branding/information dichotomy discussed here. Repeat ecommerce visitors, for example, will also want to quickly get off the home page to start adding items to their shopping cart.
There’s no black and white answer to address the use of rich media. By following the principle of designing a site from the perspective of the primary user(s), we can go a long way toward effectively delivering the intended information and branding experience.