September 11, 2014

How to Smack Down Floating Web Design Elements Before They Breed

How to Smack Down Floating Web Design Elements Before They Breed

Remember books and magazines? Of course you don’t (what were we thinking?). Anyway, back in the olden days of late 20th and early 21st century, when we wanted to glean information from a published source, we had to turn to books and periodicals. Anyway, sometimes, these books and periodicals were printed cheaply and shoddily, with much of the text having been buried in the margins where the materials were bound. We would have to crack the binding by bending the book backwards in order to read the hidden content, and risk being fined by our school libraries for damaging their precious literature. Not that we’re bitter.

You’d think that, with most of our reading material being published online, such inconveniences would be a thing of the past. Of course, in thinking this, you’d be stratospherically overestimating human beings’ desire and ability to do things in a competent fashion. Thanks to the floating design element, we can now enjoy the same annoyances from a digital platform that our ancestors did from paper materials.

Why has the floating horizontal bar become such a popular feature? Can’t we trust the general public to realize that things such as Facebook and Twitter exist? No — of course we can’t. We don’t even trust viewers to be able to glance to the left or right of a Web page; if your public needs to actually scroll to find a call to action, you might as well just put fistfuls of money directly into a cross-cut shredder. Nevertheless, you can incorporate a floating social media bars or advertisements or subscription forms into your design without sacrificing your content or design. Here are a few floating design element-related tips for good Web design.

Weigh the Value of Extraneous Elements

Well, if you rely upon ad revenue for survival, we understand that you might have to fill your website with grotesque advertisements. It’s funny that Web users who have grown up with television have zero problem grousing about advertising on their favorite websites. How on earth did they think television worked?

Anyway, we get that advertisements are a necessary evil. So, if you have to have a certain amount of ads on your website, you have to consider how many other elements you can reasonably fit without causing the viewer eye fatigue. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google + logos are right at home in the header and footer; they don’t necessarily need to follow the viewer’s every move. If the amount of extraneous design elements obscure your users’ ability to view your content, your users will disappear forever.

Make Content the Priority

Only the most dubious websites allow their content to be compromised by unnecessary design features. After all, your content is the reason viewers visit your website — not your ability to promote yourself via social media solicitations. When your content is crowded by requests to “share” and “like,” it makes your website look poorly designed, and you in turn look like an amateur with valueless content.

Increase Margin Size

If your website has the dreaded floating bar, you can at least make sure that your margin space can accommodate it. It is actually a really easy fix, so any website that hasn’t bothered with it has been designed by a complete hack. Yeah — we said it.

Although they ceased being cool in 2009, floating design elements aren’t inherently evil; they are only evil when they are used stupidly and obstructively. A web or graphic design company worth its salt will help you to marry sharing elements with content-highlighting features and ease of use in a harmonious union that will impress your current and future viewers. Please, do not sacrifice your brand’s reputation at the altar of an unnecessary and poorly realized floating Web design trend. We don’t have to tell you what else floats, do we?


by Michael Keplinger
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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