Which ad do you notice first?

Have a look at this noticeboard (as seen in my local supermarket). Which ad jumps out at you most?

Noticeboard

You might be interested to find out whether your answer is the same as other people. Here are the results from when I asked this question on Facebook:

  • 27 CAP money / green pig (top left)
  • 11 Helper
  • 3 Yellow (bottom centre)
  • 2 Post-its / Looking after / red circle
  • 1 Recovery course

This article explores what’s going on here.

If you produce a leaflet that’s going to appear on a noticeboard, its first job is to stand out and be noticed. If no-one notices it, no-one will read it, so there’s no point.

The top three designs that achieve this are different in some way to the rest. The green pig is a big bold image with lots of white space around it, ‘helper’ is a striking logo with plenty of space around it, while the yellow ad includes a big black-and-white illustration on differently coloured paper.

Lessons you can learn from this

In a world full of clutter, less is more. You don’t have to fill every inch of the page with content. The eye is drawn to clear, simple images that float in their own space.

Be brave and be different. You don’t have to do what everyone else does. To stand out, your design needs to zig while other zag. You need to be Uluru (Ayers Rock) – a dirty great red rock sticking out of a flat red landscape. Not Everest – it may be the world’s biggest mountain but it doesn’t make as much impact as Uluru because it’s surrounded by other mountains that all look the same.

Eye-tracking

As I learned at journalism college years ago, English-speaking humans read print in a Z-pattern (it’s different for Arabic or Japanese writing, for example). Eye-tracking surveys show that people first look at the top left of the page, cross to the top right, drop to the bottom left, and linger bottom right. It’s why the bottom right corner is prime placement for newspaper ads.

Print ads are designed the same way. It’s why you should put an attention-grabbing headline at the top that answers ‘what’s in it for me’ from the reader’s point of view, and end with your logo or call to action at the bottom.

Many small businesses make the mistake of designing print ads upsidedown, with their logo at the top. But no-one cares who you are until they know what you can do for them. That’s so important I’ll say it again. No-one cares who you are until they know what you can do for them. In print, your logo should therefore go at the bottom.

On screen, people typically read text in an F-pattern. They first look at the top left of the screen, cross to the top right, then skim-read the left edge, perhaps glancing across the middle of the page. They rarely look in the bottom right corner on screen. This tells you not to put your most important information there.

It has become standard in web design to put your logo top left (as a clickable link to your home page), and your contact details, search box and/or newsletter signup top right. That means your most wanted response goes in the place where people are most likely to see it.

(Note that clever designers can make the eye move differently around the page.)Kermit

So the other reason that the green pig design is the out-and-out winner could be that it’s positioned top left of the noticeboard, where most people start scanning.

Kermit would be pleased.

One Response to Which ad do you notice first?

  1. Jackie February 22, 2019 at 7:02 pm #

    Facebook message received after this article was sent to my mailing list:

    “Hi Jackie, so grateful for your newsletter today!
    I was literally sitting down this afternoon trying to design a new flyer when your email arrived.
    I made myself a cup of coffee and read through it.
    You covered everything I had been struggling with and you made it so simple.
    I had the new flyer designed in minutes and it was so much better.
    Such a blessing!
    Many thanks.”
    Martin Court

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