Trends in most digital spaces tend to change quite rapidly and once popular design styles become outdated pretty quickly. Unfortunately these bad practices are perpetuated unwittingly by designers and clients that equate their popularity with effectiveness.
Just because all of your competitors have a slider doesn’t mean that this delivers a good user experience and/or high conversions. And if you decide to auto play a video or music on page load do you think this encourages your visitors to stick around? There are few things that will put off customers quicker than an outdated website.
Some web design trends need to die. Here’s a list of examples and why we think they are way past their expiry date.
Fortunately the days of having to negotiate a splash screen before arriving on a website are nearly to a close, however some businesses still put their users through this torture and we often get requests to implement them.
All that splash screens do is prevent your visitors from accessing what they are seeking for a few seconds. Why would you want to stop users from engaging with your brand? Often a visitor is just as likely to leave your site as they are to continue through.
As well as being terrible for usability, splash screens are also a big no-no when it comes to SEO. Search engines need to understand your relevancy, industry and location and to do this they analyse, amongst many things, your website content. Even if your splash page has a fancy graphic, how can search engines establish who you are if the most important page of your website lacks any text at all?
Probably the best example of a web design trend that should have been left in the past is the humble image slider or carousel. Why did we think it was a good idea to hide content behind a module that can cause motion sickness and generally a poor user experience?
Despite having demonstrably terrible efficacy – no body clicks past the first slider meaning any calls to action past the first are NEVER seen by ANYBODY – sliders are still pretty common on many websites. As well as being distracting, confusing and ineffectual, sliders actively hide information from users. Good design is about presenting information in a clear, obvious and visually pleasing way and sliders miss the mark on all of these points.
Obvious stock photos
You’ve probably seen the cheerful hipster working away in all sorts of settings across the internet. It’s amazing how he has the time to work in so many roles at so many companies at the same time.
There’s nothing more off putting than a website chock full of obvious stock images. The lady with the phone headset, the business people shaking hands and the spotless desk with all devices placed in perfect parallel do nothing to build trust and credibility with your visitors. At best you’ll look a little bland and lazy.
Ditch the free stock photos and come up with something original to really stand out.
Over use of Parallax
Since it’s so easy to access parallax effects in web design (pretty much every WordPress theme is capable of producing them), what was once a little engaging and original is now overused.
Studies have shown that overuse of parallax causes significant usability issues as well as motion sickness. Users probably won’t stick around when your website is causing them physically uncomfortable.
We’re not advocating that parallax is completely abolished – it’s still great for making content a bit more interactive and serves a useful purpose to break up sections. We just feel that it should be used with a significant dose of restraint.
You can’t expect anybody to hand over any of their personal information to you the second they hit your website so why are popups so common on page load? Despite this so many websites present a popup requesting an email address as soon as visitors arrive.
If you absolutely have to show a popup to your website visitors, make sure that it happens after they’ve had a moment to engage with your brand. Exit intent popups are still annoying but you’ll probably do less damage to your bounce rate.
It’s become really popular over the past few years to hide a website menu behind a hamburger menu even on desktop. Menu or hamburger icons are really useful for mobile users where space is limited but utilising them on wider screens for the sake of minimalism just creates friction.
We’re all fickle beasts on the internet and small obstacles where we are forced to think accrue as mental fatigue. We only tolerate so much of this before we decide to leave. When you add a barrier in front of the most important aspect of your website you’re creating this friction before a visitor has a chance to read any of your content.
Auto play media
If you’re of a certain age you’ll remember the days of MySpace where every profile you visited was set up to auto play any number of songs. What a special kind of mayhem that was.
Fortunately media that is set to auto play is less prolific, however some ad platforms and websites still persist with this terrible trend.
When ever you take an action without consent from a user (e.g. playing music without a visitor clicking a button) you are intruding into their space and this is uncomfortable. Music or videos that auto play are often startling and unwelcome. Rather than scrambling around trying to find the mute or stop button, users are far more likely to leave your website instead.
Not a good outcome.
With the ease and availability of Google fonts and royalty free font websites, there’s really no excuse to use outdated fonts on your website.
Where Times New Roman and Arial were extremely common in the early years of the internet, these fonts now make a website look broken. You really can’t underestimate the power of a well chosen font on the overall feel and design of a website.
If your website is not ageing gracefully, give us a call – we’ll be happy to advise, free of obligation. As always, if you have any questions please let us know!
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent many years working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.