Technology is never static. Every new technology – hardware, software, the cloud – can become obsolete in as short as 3-6 years. This holds true even for web design trends.
So, when you’re designing a new website for your business or revamping your existing one, you need to make sure that you skip the outdated design trends. But how do you know which web design trends to avoid in the first place? In this article, we explore the top 7 website design trends that no designer is worth their salt uses anymore.
7 web design trends that don’t make the cut today
1. Using Flash
While it was quite popular at one time, Flash is old school, not to mention just downright restrictive in its functionality. Studies have shown that Flash websites rank very poorly on the search engine. But when you do find a flash website and explore it, the site just looks clunky and inaccessible.
Additionally, flash doesn’t have the latest security features, making it very vulnerable to being hacked or misused. Websites with flash also suffer from the problem of crashing quite frequently. These websites drain device battery. Plus, they aren’t compatible on all devices – especially mobile.
This is probably why so many new browsers don’t support flash anymore. So, this is a web design trend that companies need to stop using – if they haven’t already kept it at bay.
2. Inserting stock photos in content
Stock photos were a godsend, especially when the world wasn’t this interconnected and we didn’t have as much graphics technology. We’ll admit as much. But they’re not so anymore.
These days, site visitors want to see a brand that has its own distinct personality. They don’t want to engage with a website that uses a stock image that’s also been used in thousands of other websites.
Apart from lending your brand personality, images let people know what they can expect when they purchase from the brand. The lighting, color saturation, dimensions, and background of the image also affect a viewer’s mood – essentially either pulling them towards or pushing them away from the brand.
Stock photos don’t have any personality and thus cannot achieve any of the above results. Real photos that you take, help you engage and convert website visitors more easily.
3. Site popups
Okay, so there’s nothing terribly wrong about site popups – in fact, they can be very helpful in deriving qualified leads. But they need to be set up in the correct way to work.
The site popups we’re talking about are the ones that appear all of a sudden as you’re perusing the page and splatter across the page, preventing you from reading on. Plus, these popups tend to have really tiny exit/close buttons at the top corner, making them very hard to see and use.
In particular, people with larger hands and individuals with disabilities can find such site popups very cumbersome to deal with. They ruin the site perusal experience and can trigger a visitor exiting the site. In fact, in his article titled “How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate: 19 Steps to Reduce Bounces by 29%”, Marcus Taylor, the CEO of Venture Harbour stressed how bad popups were for site engagement and conversion. “Don’t use pop-ups… unless they’re exit-intent pop-ups” were his exact words.
4. Auto-playing videos
Auto-playing videos are another website design trend that is extremely inaccessible to many audiences. For one, can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to have a video randomly start playing as the viewer struggles to find comfortable footing in crowded public transport? Plus, the task of having to reduce the volume or reload the video to its start can be just too much work and not the trouble for many people when all they want is an easy-to-watch video.
Apart from such practical issues, there is also the problem of health. Auto-playing videos can be triggering for people who are photosensitive or prone to seizures due to other medical conditions. It’s important for web designers to disable their auto-playing videos to make them safer to consume for all types of people.
Another step to take after disabling auto-play on videos – give a disclaimer if any of the stills in the video can trigger seizures or photosensitivity.
5. Carousels on the homepage
Carousels can be pretty effective if you use them on social media advertisements. But website homepage carousels aren’t that effective. Research shows that rather than engage site visitors, carousels on homepages actually result in very poor engagement.
In 2013, when homepage carousels were used very often on websites, a study showed that only 1% of the site visitors ever clicked on the carousel, and those who did only got through the first slide. That's enough to say that going through an entire carousel was just too much effort.
The problem here is that carousels on the homepage were taking up too much valuable website real estate. Web designers and marketers can work wonders by using that space for something else. Such as an above-the-fold CTA, for example.
Additionally, carousels also take a lot of time to load, slowing down website load speeds. Since load time affects a site’s SEO ranking and rate of visitor drop-outs, companies started to slowly phase-out homepage carousels.
6. Scroll hijacking
Scroll hijacking or scrolljacking is a term that refers to how the scroll motion was modified to behave differently than it conventionally does. From creating a subtly layered site aesthetic to transforming the entire website to trigger actions while scrolling (we’re looking at you Apple), you’ll find different types of scroll hijacking online. This was an absolute usability and readability nightmare for web designers, brands, and customers, a few years ago.
The problem with this web design trend is that – although it creates a surreal visual environment – is just challenging in terms of utility. Consider the parallax effect, which shows different backgrounds, each of which moves at a different speed, as the viewer scrolls through the site. The optical experience it creates can be quite jarring for some viewers.
Other scroll hijacking features, such as scroll-triggered animations, can make people miss viewing, appreciating, and understanding the animation because they’re too busy scrolling past it. Then there’s the horizontal scrolling – which is clumsy and inconvenient. There was also the ridiculous scroll jack feature where viewers were just forced onto another page as they were scrolling. Sometimes people didn’t even realize how they ended up on a page they didn’t even want to see in the first place.
Suffice to say, these scroll hijacking elements did not gain brownie points for brands. Rather, they resulted in people exiting the sites out of sheer frustration.
7. Implementing hamburger menus on desktop sites
Hamburger menus were initially designed as a way to maximize the screen space on mobile devices. Since the real estate on smartphones was already so small, web designers wanted to optimize what was visible front-and-center on the screen versus what could take a step back.
Viola, the hamburger menu. It took very little space and allowed the brand to focus on the key app features and content. It was non-obstructive in its placement, which allowed site visitors to access it whenever they needed it while ignoring it when they didn’t.
But as the popularity of the hamburger menu grew on mobile, some designers started using it on websites too. This became problematic because now, the very advantages of this menu style became its disadvantages.
Since desktop sites have such large real estate, hamburger menus made the sites look empty. Your navigation settings and page options to visit were now practically invisible. If people wanted to go elsewhere on the site, they needed to take the extra step of clicking on the hamburger, scrolling to find the relevant option, and further navigating to any tiered menus. Speaking of tiered menus, the hamburger does not look aesthetically attractive or user-friendly, when you have many sub-pages and categories involved. It creates a downright mess.
By 2014, brands were fed up with this digital hamburger. Tech Crunch went so far as to call it “The Devil” in their article, “Kill the Hamburger Button”. Following this, a 2016 research showed that only 27% of desktop site visitors used the hamburger menu to navigate through the site. This fall in engagement also affected leads and conversions. After that, companies started to slowly reinvent their menu design.
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Pick the best web design ideas with Thrust, FL
So, if you’re using the hamburger menu on your website, we recommend you revise your web design. At Thrust, we can help you with this. Our team is well-versed in the latest web design trends and we can help you create a current and compelling website in no time. So, contact us today, and let’s get started. You and your visitors will love your new website crafted by Thrust.Learn more