How to optimize your website alert banners and keep users in the know

How to optimize your website alert banners and keep users in the know

People are overwhelmed with information daily. When your business has important content that needs to be quickly put out to your audience, how do you present it in a way to guarantee your users will notice? One fix is to use website alert banners.

Alert banners are referred to by various names—such as notification bars, announcement banners, and sticky bars—but these terms all refer to the same thing: any prominent alert on a web page designed to capture user attention.

Having an effective website alert system in place is crucial if you run a website. If you wait until you need a way to communicate pressing information to your users to create this functionality, you might find yourself scrambling to find the right solution under pressure. Using an existing element on your website is not typically the best approach because you want something that stands apart from other content.

Read on to find out more about the different types of content for which you might use an alert banner, learn best practices for their design and implementation, and check out real-life examples.

Types of website alert banners

Alert banners are best used for various kinds of temporary page content. Below are some of the most popular types of alerts.

  • Business alerts: You can use an alert banner to display timely information about your business, such as temporary changes in hours, outages, and delays.
  • Emergency alerts: We’ve all seen endless COVID-19 notifications over the past year, which is a great example of emergency content that is well-suited to website alert banners. This could also include information such as breaking news, ongoing incidents, or weather emergencies.
  • Informative alerts: These notifications might not be as urgent but still include information that you’d like to call out for your users, such as policy changes, new products, or upcoming events.
  • Marketing alerts: Some websites use alert banners for more marketing-focused content like content offers, discounts, or subscription forms.

All of these types of content need careful consideration to get noticed by your target audiences. Let’s look at some of the best practices for creating a website alert banner that is effective and attractive.

Best practices for website alert design and implementation

Follow these tips and best practices for placement, content, style, and functionality to create the best alert banner for your website.

Placement

You’ll need to decide where on your website you want your alert to display. For most alerts, the homepage is the most obvious choice. However, not every user will be coming into your website through your homepage, so a sitewide alert is typically a better option for urgent information. If you have an alert that is only relevant to a smaller subset of your audience, such as information for a single location or a discount for a specific product, you might decide to only include it on specific pages. Make an informed decision based on the type of alert and your audience.

In addition to what pages to display your alert on, you’ll need to decide where on the page it should be. The best place for alerts is somewhere easily accessible to users that doesn’t require scrolling. For example, the very top of your page, just under a global header, or a sticky element in the corner.

Another decision to make for placement is whether your alert will overlap other content. A sticky alert is the most common example of this, where it covers up some content on the page and is persistent as you scroll. However, covering content can interfere with a user’s ability to browse your site, especially on smaller screens. Therefore, placing within the content of your page is often the better choice, but— either way—you should carefully consider the user experience.

When choosing placement, you should also be thinking about the longevity of your alert. If you leave an alert banner on your website for an extended period of time, returning users will likely start to ignore it, which can be an issue when you have updated information to share. If you have alert-type content that needs to be up indefinitely, it might be better to use a different type of element or another dedicated space on your website communicating this information.

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