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February 11, 2015 // 11:00 AM

5 Tired Web Design Trends Marketers Should Retire

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Beware… bad web design can happen to good web pages. Compelling design is an imperative aspect to your website. Your visitors will spend an average of .05 seconds before they form an opinion of your site once your page loads. 

Make sure your design aids the user experience to ensure they stay on your site. Learn from these tiresome design flubs so your website doesn’t fall for them.

1) Sliders

I know what you’re thinking, “how did this make it on the list?” The truth is, sliders aren’t working for you; they’re actually working against you. As a marketing company, you want to direct your viewer’s attention to how you can solve their pain points. Don’t give them a chance to lose track of this by distracting them with multiple images.

Even though all your messages may be relevant, you need your target audience to hone in on the main value proposition. When someone lands on your page, they’re on the hunt for information pertinent to what they’re looking for. It’s very unlikely that a visitor will sit idle and view all images in a slider. The only reason they’re usually being utilized is because a client asked for it.

Sliders are made using JavaScript and multiple large images. This can be detrimental to your website’s loading time. On mobile devices, these images tend to slow down your page load speeds to a crawl. As more people today access content from a smartphone, rather than a computer, this is especially important (Convince&Convert). It takes just three seconds of load time until you lose your precious visitors (Econsultancy). Slow your website down with sliders, and your website will start to look like a ghost town.

2) Snarky Pop-ups

Pop ups that offer you the option to subscribe to a blog, or engage in another action on your website, aren’t a bad practice, so long as they don’t hijack the user experience and subvert marketing efforts. A message that pops up after an appropriate time with an option for you to easily opt out of the box is effective. When pop-ups become mean - now that’s a problem.

When the pop-up is labeled something snarky, such as “no, thanks. I like missing out on leads….” it can be offensive, or annoying, to your audience. Never use wording on your pop-up that tries to get your viewer to feel bad that they’re not doing something. People are savvy; they will easily see how you’re trying to trick them... and they won’t like it.

3) Auto-play Videos

No one wants to be ambushed by sound and video.  The goal is to get viewers to stay on your page, not drive them away. In an effort to get away from the noise, in many cases, your visitor will just leave your site. Respect your viewers and give them the ability to opt-in to watching your video.

4) Separate Mobile Sites

What Google says goes. If you feature a responsive, smart design, Google will give you a better rank and prefer your website over another that doesn’t use responsive design. A “mobile only” version of your site doesn’t give you a high quality user experience like having a responsive site does. Also, Google doesn’t recommend them; you’ll actually get penalized due to the duplicate content issue.

Many people who visit websites on a mobile device expect to see similar functionality to the desktop website. Mobile-only versions of websites tend to differ widely from the desktop counterpart, and thus only confuse the user.

5) Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism: this trend had a long life span, and I’m happy to say that it’s finally on it’s way out. It’s the design principle that makes digital images look lifelike-- and it's been used far too much.

At first, it was a functional design technique. It eased the transition of doing something the old way by cuing you into how it’s done the new way. This just makes design on websites, for lack of a better word, look cheesy. People have already realized what to do with a notebook, or how to use a calculator on their phone. The iOS7 dropped the trend, and so should you.

There are instances where a specific group of your users may not be as tech-savvy as others on your site, and flat design tends to confuse this group; think Windows 8. With these users, skeuomorphism can prove to be helpful. You can subtly use this design technique with buttons and other interactive features on your website to gently guide this user group in the direction you want them to take.

No matter what design trend you’re utilizing, always put yourself in the mind of the visitor. Do your design efforts hurt or improve the overall user experience? Diversity in web design is what makes design fascinating... just make sure that diversity supports the overall goal of your website. It’s a big world out there: if you don’t captivate your visitors, someone else will.

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