People are annoyed by blinking or moving text on Web sites because it distracts them from what they are trying to do. They also associate dynamic text with advertising and are likely to ignore it. Ironically, moving text is one of the tactics intended to grab people's attention that actually ends up driving them away because they think it is promotional and untrustworthy.
People are annoyed by blinking or moving text. They want to control their own reading pace, and dynamic text takes that control away.
As we saw in our studies in Japan, moving text is particularly problematic for international users, who sometimes have to look up foreign words in a dictionary as they read. But it is really not good for anyone. People want to control their own reading pace, and dynamic text takes that control away. Text that moves too slowly is also irksome. People typically can read static text much faster than dynamic text, and they hate having to wait for missed text to reappear. People with impaired vision or conditions that cause lack of head control, such as cerebral palsy, may not be able to focus on and maintain continuous eye contact with displays that constantly move or change.
Very few people in our study even noticed the moving text at the top of the U.S. Social Security homepage. Those that did could see only a little text at a time in the miniscule content area, and if they couldn't read it fast enough, they had to wait for it to recirculate. Scrolling text may be effective on specialized venues such as news sites to create a feeling of excitement and breaking news. But it is inappropriate for the Social Security Administration's target audience, who wants direct content and isn't looking to be entertained.
We asked people to use Pergo.com to figure out what supplies they would need to install a new kitchen floor. The site included a big animated graphic with flying phrases such as "room planner," "set up room size," "length," and "width" that were supposed to draw users' attention to a feature to help them calculate their room size. But no one saw it. One poor user was cursing as he tried to calculate his kitchen floor size by hand. To test the usability of the Room Planner application, we actually had to direct people to it