BHP Billiton : Delayed reaction

A slow-to-appear design feature at the top of every page is irritating and bad for usability.

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The feature

BHP Billiton, the Australia-based mining giant, relaunched its corporate website earlier this week, with a new feature across all of its page headings.

Click on most of the primary, secondary or deeper links within the new site, and the title – a large solid orange box with white text – appears one to two seconds after the rest of the page. When the heading emerges, taking up about a third of the space on standard desktop screen, it pushes the rest of the content down the page. On a smartphone screen, the late-to-appear headings take up more than half the space, pushing most content off the screen.

The takeaway

Maybe BHP Billiton’s delayed page headings were meant to give the static template a ‘dynamic’ feel as visitors land on the page, but the effect is more like over-using the animations on PowerPoint.

They are just about acceptable when the first page loads, but quickly become exasperating as visitors explore the site, and the reading and scanning of pages is constantly interrupted.

For very little benefit design-wise, the feature risks annoying visitors that spend any time exploring the site, as well as repeat visitors seeking specific information. At worst, this textbook example of ‘form over function’ could drive people away entirely.
First published 21 December, 2016
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