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[Web Design Mauvais Ton] 10+ Techniques to Avoid in 2018

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How often do you visit websites and immediately feel that it was created by someone with poor taste or an obsolete design approach?

We've asked some experts to name things web designers should stop doing right now. Here we’ve got more than 20 interesting insights, including comments by Laith Wallace, Jesse Showalter, and Vitaly Friedman.

Go check out if you are designing it right in 2018.


Here are 10 (but not all) most frequently used web design mauvais ton techniques:

№1. Using sliders / carousels.

№2. Overusing patterns.

№3. Pop-up windows that have to be shut to view the site.

№4. No content hierarchy.

№5. Autoplay audio or video content on the main page.

№6. Copying trends that prioritize UI over UX.

№7. Using stock photos.

№8. Giant fonts.

№9. Parallax overuse.

№10. Long scrolling pages.


Discover all arguments and thoughts about it, that were shared by our experts. These pieces of advice will be useful for you if you are a designer, business owner, SEO specialist or a person, who monitors trends and anti-trends.

Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below no matter if you agree or disagree with some statements. You may also share examples of websites designed by people with good or bad taste.

Let's roll!



3 things web designers should stop doing.

  • Stop using images when there should be text.
  • Stop designing for specific device breakpoints and start making designs work as much as possible from the get-go on all device sizes.
  • Stop making navigation more complex that it needs to be.

Jesse Showalter, Full Stack Designer, YouTuber


Three things web designers should stop doing are.

Stop designing website and start designing funnels

The term funnels is more used amongst marketers instead of web designers but the best way to think of this is by looking at the customer journey. Designing funnels is about taking users down a specific pathway rather than allowing users to browse through pages you’ve designed hoping they will visit. It’s best to design specific pages that connect together that leads to a action like booking a consultation or purchasing a product.

Stop coding and learn strategy 

The value of coding will start to become more commoditized so it’s essential for the designer to learn strategy to truly know how to define business problems.

Start web design for the user

Web Designers need to learn UX Design as it’s becoming more essential in a customer-centric world. We are in a place now where customers have much higher expectations about what brands should be delivering with their services online. To increase conversion on websites designers need to find interesting ways to integrate contact with the brand. You’re 7 times more likely to win a deal if you respond to prospects in less than an hour versus responding in two hours (HBR, 2011). Consumers are 53% more likely to shop with a business they can message (Facebook Nielsen report, 2016).

Laith Wallace, the UX/UI Designer, runs YouTube Channel


Things web designers should stop doing right now:

  • Replicate shiny cool things from the web (e.g. from Dribbble) — it’s great to know what others are doing, but it’s way more important to develop your own style and know how to emphasize it without going over the top.
  • Stay safe with predictable and well-known patterns. Experiment more, and try out things that are different and crazy!
  • Rely on A/B testing alone to “polish” the design and come up with a “perfect variant” of it. Always include A/Z testing, too, studying two very different layouts and designs.

Vitaly Friedman, Co-Founder at Smashing Magazine


  • Scroll hijacking.
  • Architecture/layouts that are too creative and take too long to figure out.
  • Crazily animated intros.

Ryan Paonessa, Graphic Designer, Visual Artist, Co-Founder of R&Co Design


  • Relying on templates.
  • Using large bloated front-end frameworks.
  • Copying trends that prioritize UI over UX.

Ryan Gittings, Digital Designer & Developer, Founder of Made By Kingfisher


Bad manners of web design and development 2018 - stop it right now! 😉

Not commenting the code

To be fair any developer who uses web standards and follows best practice guidelines for their language of choice (whether HTML, PHP or python), the code should be easy to understand. I’ve picked up many strange WordPress themes when the question is ‘why did they do that?’ - if you comment the code you can explain why! and make it much quicker for a web professional to pick up and run with. Review how your code is commented!

Using non-productive techniques

Automation/compilation is such a time-saving production method. Once you’ve got over the learning curve, it’s a beautiful thing - save file and voila, the website is automatically compiled and updated. Great for ongoing testing and great for getting the code delivered quicker. Do it!

Using random obsolete closed source web technologies

Back the right horse, and embrace the open source tools that developers like you and me are contributing too. Back in the 90’s devs used to lock clients into websites only that dev could use, and with an expensive license. Future-proof your website by using technology that will go the distance, like WordPress or an open source web format.

Jim Callender, Freelance WordPress Designer, UK


I have touched close to 500 websites in the past 2 decades. Here are the things I wish designers would stop doing.

Designing a PSD for presentation

Clients can’t make their full decision based on one static image. We now have a TON of tech out there that can help a designer prototype the full interactive experience of an intended website’s design.

Not doing research

A website is a marketing tool. In the absence of a marketer to drive the vision of a website’s goals, the designer needs to take the time to research things like users of the site and what the client wants the website to produce.

Not listening

The majority of the time websites are not created as art pieces. You are being hired to deliver on what your client needs and not to infuse your personal artistic desires.

Nicole Pereira, Marketing Automation Consultant at Chief Martech Officer


Homepage carousels. I beg you... please stop. They are everywhere. They are ubiquitous. And the data came in a long time ago... THEY DON'T WORK. In nearly every controlled study, the first slide got 99% of the clicks. The second got 1%. Everything from there on, 0%. Why is no one getting the message?

Giant fonts. Please... no more

When the trend of mobile-first design first set in, designers jumped at the chance to set type styles optimized for mobile that are then GIGANTIC on the desktop. For a hot minute, it was cool. But being able to see 3 lines of text on a 1920x1200 monitor is definitely not cool. They're called media queries people: start using them.

Auto-play video and audio... shoot me now

Please do not trot out a little-silhouetted person to tell me about your company. Or auto-play mood music. If you have some rich media to add to your site, that's great. Point it out, let me know it exists... but if you play it to me against my will, I am leaving. Like, immediately.

Stephan Roussan, Founder, and President of ICVM Group


 

One element that designers should stop incorporating in websites is slider or a carousel. Most studies (study 1, study 2, CXL post) show that sliders are, at best, ignored by users due to ‘banner blindness’. However, they can actually even negatively impact conversion rates as they can slow down a website’s load speed or transition poorly on mobile. In the majority of use cases, sliders are just bad for user experience and unnecessary.

Another element to stop using are full-screen interstitials or popups before a visitor has had a chance to access your main content. It used to be a very common place to try to capture user emails the second that people landed on a website, however, this is an outdated practice that’s bad for user experience. While there’s nothing wrong with pop-ups, it’s important to use them sparingly, at the right time, and with the right offer.

One final element to stop using are stock photos which is something that a lot of B2B businesses are guilty of. The majority of stock photos are easy to spot and come off as insincere and devoid of any personality at a time when consumers are seeking authenticity and are interested in the team behind the business (which makes sense as there are more choices than ever for business solutions).

Josh Brown, Marketing at Sales & Orders


I think web designers should tone down on using parallax everywhere like it's the holy grail of web design. I've seen some websites where literally every section had a parallax background. While I think parallax can look good when used sporadically, using it too much makes the whole website look bad because it takes away from the content itself and brings the visitor's focus to the backgrounds which is bad for conversion rates.

Amine Rahal, Founder, and CEO of Little Dragon Media


CSS floats

There are so many better, not hacky ways to create a floating effect. For example, relative positioning with negative margins. Can also be responsive with media queries.

Carousels for hero areas and animations on home pages

They increase load times, and usually users will scroll past them before they finish.

Blair McKee, Web Designer, and Developer for Constellix


My top tip that web designers should stop doing is creating hidden content elements that visitors have to reveal. Such as tabs, accordions, etc. I despise hidden content that forces a user to take an action just to see the content. There are some studies that helped lower bounce rate in the earlier days of these techniques, but now as attention span is shrinking, as well as time on site, visitors are not even accessing that content anymore. Thus possibly losing that visitor and them not understanding what your business or service is about.

Jason Brietstein, Founder and Brand Elevater at Brandamos


Here are 3 things I still see that should be avoided.

Sliders

Even though it's proven that users don't interact with them, I still see them used all over.

Huge, unoptimized images that take forever to load

Visitors don't like to wait, and there's no reason to load a 4 MB image right away.

Lack of contrast that makes reading text difficult

Some designers seem to like light text on a light background or dark text on a dark background, but anything that makes the page harder to read should be avoided.

Chris Powell, Owner of Actify Media


Using sliders on the homepage with over 4-5 slides in them

Sliders are meant to repeat quickly. If you overload them with images, it's too much information at once, and your audience is likely to miss something important. Prioritize your slider images for the most relevant information that is beneficial to the audience.

Overusing patterns

Nobody likes a cookie-cutter format for long. You need to keep your website theme continuous throughout the site, yes, but mix it up a little bit. Make separate pages feel unique while still relevant to your other design choices.

Too many font styles used (Comic Sans!)

People often don't realize that fonts are a part of your branding. Make sure always to use the same fonts for titles, sub-headers, and content. There's no need for 10 different fonts. Two, or three in some cases, is more than enough. And of course, always avoid Comic Sans.

Not having contrast text over images (color, clashing texture)

It's critical that your text is legible over the background image. If you have to squint to see the letters, try again.  If the background image features a lot of colors making this a difficult task, consider adding a text box by lowering the opacity of the image where the text appears or by adding overlays for images.

Images are not relevant to the topic of the website

It's hard to use imagery for some topics, I know, but it's critical that the images are related to the page in some way. Visuals are great, but they're meant to be complementary to the webpage's content.

The website has no content hierarchy and it looks like clutter

Content hierarchy is critical for UX. It's essential to have headers and sub-headers to organize the webpage's ideas to make any information the user needs easy to find, and it helps keep things from looking cluttered. Think of the user and put what information would be more beneficial to them at the top of the page and work your way down.

Iuliia Shchilnyk, Web & Graphic Designer at seoplus+


The classic rules of web design still apply. Don't use pop-ups or pop-overs that force people to shut the pop-up window to view your site. If you want people to subscribe to your email list (as an example), don't be pushy about it. It's OK to provide an easy to find signup form for your newsletter, but don't push it into people's faces.

Don't autoplay audio or video content. People don't want unexpected media forced on them. Again, the theme is don't force users to do anything. If you try, many will simply leave your website with a bad taste in their mouths.

If you have a text-heavy page, typically it is much better to have dark text, over a light colored background. It is simply easier to read. The only exception to the rule is if your website's subject, demands a dark background. For example a nightclub website.

Stefan Mischook, Killervideostore.com


Web designers should stop making websites consisting of just a few really long scrolling pages. Pages that are never-ending in length, where you can continue to scroll down for seemingly ever lose visitors and do not lead users the same way as a dynamic site with multiple tabs and pages does.

Also, the never ending scroll page does not take advantage of SEO potential; if it is just one long page you can not delineate different sections of keywords/phrases, search engines do not have an index of as many pages under your domain, and you do not pass link-juice through a comprehensive website.

The one page website, or even two or three page website should be done away with.

David Barbour, сo-founder of Vivio Life Sciences


Not having the right mobile keyboard show for the website's form fields

Having the same keyboard show for email, phone, name, address can be very annoying to people and gives them a bad user experience. When you ask for email be sure the keyboard shows up with the @ symbol. When you ask for the phone number you should show the number pad and ideally format the phone number automatically.

Slow loading website due to large images and videos

Major websites still have slow loading websites especially if you are on your phone and not connected to wifi. This is usually caused by large images that take forever to load or custom video players still trying get started. Google uses a mobile-first index now to that version of your website needs to be in top shape.

Steve Page, VP of Digital Strategy at Giant Partners


GoodFirms conducted a survey among listed Top Web Development Companies and published Web Design Research report. The research addressed web design stats and trends, among which some of the biggest web design mistakes have been explored, listed and given solutions for. Top 3 common mistakes are as follows.

Crowded Web Design

Crowded web design acts like a plague for your visitors and keeps them away from it. Too much use of content like text, images, ads confuse the users and with no further due, they move onto the next website to solve their purpose.

No or Inappropriate Call-to-action

An effective CTA is a key to a business’s digital success, summoning the users to accomplish something that would result in progress for both the visitor and the business. Often Web designers put a CTA in inappropriate places or without offering neet and sufficient information about what they would get for clicking the button.

Hidden or Improper Navigation

Navigability issues will murder a site's prevalence quickly. A hidden navigation layout results into inaccessibility of your web content, while a confusing and messed navigation irritates the user by misleading them.

Kim Smith, Content Marketing Manager with GoodFirms


Stop using sliders

Sliders are ineffective, negatively impacting both SEO and website conversion rates (the percentage of people who visit a website vs those who fill in a form or call you). Marketing experts have known this for years now and yet the internet is inundated with nasty siders. Often designers and customers perceive them as attractive; remember that your website is not for you but for your customer. As a designer, remember that websites are lead generating machines and need to be functional. ROI always wins and for 95% of customers, that's what they are looking for with their website.

Where are your CTAs?

It is hard to believe that everyday websites are being designed without clear CTAs. As a conversion rate optimization consultant, some designers will look at me and say, "Can't you see it? Here it is." What many fail to realize is, your users will only provide you with about 3 seconds to find their first visual indicator so they think they might be in the right place. As soon as any page of a website loads, the who, what, why, how, and sometimes where need to be clearly answered.

Structure Content

SEOs and designers need to work better together. They often butt heads instead of appreciating the incredible value of the other person. My advice to designers is to understand the value of well-structured content. My advice to SEOs is, have a proper content strategy. Together, you need to work together to ensure your wireframes are optimized for users first! NOT search engines, that will come organically.

Ryan Meghdies, founder of Tastic Marketing


I thing web designers should stop doing right now.

Code bloat and non-optimized content

Designers must pay attention to page speed in 2018. Use PageSpeed Insights and Think With Google's Mobile Speed to test websites during and after development.

Slow loading websites lead directly to visitor loss

70% of cellular network connections globally will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2020. So all those bloated scripts, stylesheets, non-optimized images? Viewers are closing your site before it even loads.

In 2018, you can't just make a website that works on a mobile phone. You need to make a website that excels on a mobile phone, including lightning-fast loading. Or else no one will stick around to see it. As an added benefit, faster loading websites rank better on Google!

Alex Wright, Web Design and SEO specialist


Undercharging clients

There are too many web designers undercharging clients and allowing scope creep, leaving freelancers out of pocket and bringing the rest of the industry down. Most clients actually understand the quality involved in paying that little bit more for freelancers.

Spend some time away from your screen

As a designer, this gives you chance to re-influence your mind and think of new ideas.

Stop ignoring SEO

SEO is key to the success of the website your building and should be addressed as standard, even if it’s the basic points.

James Dowen, Web Designer, UI Designer, Web Developer


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2 Responses

  1. I think keeping pages light and speedy is the most important aspect of web design in 2018. It is important now more than ever, with Google granting sites with a ‘mobile friendly’ ranking. It is not just important for SEO reasons – but also user experience. Nowadays users can barely wait 2 seconds before their attention moves away from your site.

    1. You are right, James! Thanks for sharing your opinion. Today Google really prioritizes light and speedy pages with good content

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