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Your fancy-pants website is making people violently ill (literally)

Your fancy, self-animating website might be making people violently ill, even if it is insanely beautiful. Sorry…

person looking at website

Interactive websites with dynamic content take time to build, but — when properly created — such websites can hook a potential customer before they’ve even seen your product pitch. Unfortunately, that same website may be making some of your customers violently ill. Literally.

You’re probably familiar with current website design trends: self-animating content, vivacious pop-ups, infographics that populate as you scroll down, and videos (oh my God, so many videos) dominate the landing page.

While this is a fantastic design choice in and of itself, having such a large number of moving parts also means that you may be excluding people who suffer from motion sickness or migraines from your content.

Virtually any unsettling or unexpected movement can trigger vertigo or a splitting headache for people with these conditions, so they’re liable to skip your website entirely. Forever.

Dynamic web elements are a huge problem in this regard, but you should also be on the lookout for things like optical illusions, complex backgrounds, and other trippy aspects of your website. Even things like 360-degree videos which move slightly as you scroll or a black-and-white pinstripe background can be enough to cause problems for people with motion sickness — if it’s complicated enough to strain your eyes, it’s probably alienating people, and they’ll never say a thing about becoming ill, they’re just gone.

Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the damage caused by your website, the first being a disclaimer. Just like some websites include epilepsy warnings, your site might benefit from a “dynamic content” warning which targets would-be users who have anything from mild vertigo to full-blown inner ear issues.

Like any other physical impediment, web-triggered motion sickness deserves an accessibility feature.

Your first step should be to simplify your website’s landing page, making sure to minimize the fancy animations and cut back on things like scrolling text, pop-ups, and flashing lights (in other words, keep it as static as possible).

You should also consider including a simplified version of your website — even if it’s just a basic (ugly) HTML version — for people with photosensitivity or motion sickness.

Migraines, light sensitivity, and motion sickness are common enough issues that optimizing your website may be the step you need to begin converting a significant portion of your intended audience.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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