Believe it or not, the website design industry and the dodo bird have a lot in common. The dodo bird is the poster child for extinction, as it disappeared from our planet more than 300 years ago. In the website design world, a “trend” is here one day and gone the next.
Website design is a versatile and ever-changing field. Website designers must keep up with industry news, brush up on their skills, and evolve their style to execute the latest design trends.
However, unless you’re a professional website designer, your WordPress website may have an outdated design. Your old WordPress theme might also contain components which negatively affect your online marketing efforts.
In Website Design, Appearances are Key
First impressions are everything. On the Internet, you only have a few seconds to capture a user’s attention. It is the responsibility of your website design, along with the website copy, to convince visitors to interact further with your site.
In fact, Adobe reported that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.
Google also found that 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another.
The appearance and functionality of your website are crucial to the performance of your marketing strategy. To improve your digital marketing strategy and website user experience, make sure these 7 website design trends aren’t part of your site.
1. Flash Websites
Way back in the day, everyone had a Flash website. It was not uncommon to see businesses and brands boasting animated websites using Flash. However, incorporating Flash into a website is no longer an industry standard. In fact, it is considered quite the faux pas.
With the introduction of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, Flash began to be more of a nuisance than an advantage online. As mobile device usage skyrocketed beginning in 2007, Flash websites began to see a decline in traffic due to limited functionality on these devices.
Even Steve Jobs was not a fan of Flash. He made the radical decision to block flash websites from Apple products, and later, Google Chrome followed suit. Some of Steve’s reasons for the block included performance, battery life, and the “touch” nature of smartphones, which Flash did not support.
For those of you who want better search rankings, Flash is not the way to go. Back in 2008, Rand Fishkin reported on the inability of Flash websites to perform well in search engines. One of his main points was that Flash websites do not include many SEO basics such as headlines and image alt tags.
If your website still relies on Flash to function, it’s time to make the switch to a new website design.
2. Stock Photos
Have you ever seen the same stock photo used on multiple websites? As avid Internet users, we are able to identify if a photo is authentic or from a stock website. While stock photos are not a terrible asset for websites, your website design should not be stuffed with them.
Instead, capture high-quality images of your products, services, employees, or projects to use as part of your website design. If this is not an option, make sure you choose stock photos that are not commonly used. A quick Google photo search can help determine how often a stock image is used online.
3. Homepage Carousels
Once a popular website design trend, homepage image carousels have also gone the way of the dodo bird. The initial reasoning behind using carousels was to catch and maintain a user’s attention. However, research shows that the complete opposite happens. In a 2013 report, Erik Runyon found that out of 3,755,297 homepage visits during a 6-month time span, only 1% of visitors clicked on the carousel. Of those visitors, 89.1% clicked the first slider.
With such a dismal click-through-rate, it is easy to see why website designers and online marketers alike abandoned the trend. This space could be better used for other marketing purposes, since this area of the website filled the majority of the homepage. Plus, many website developers found these carousels would slow down website load times.
If your WordPress website still uses a homepage carousel, make the switch to a new theme before your website conversion rate goes the way of the dodo bird, too.
4. Mobile-Friendly Website Design
Back when smartphones were introduced, websites had to adjust their display to fit the small screen sizes. Thus, the introduction of mobile-friendly website design. While these website designs were created for desktop users, they could also be viewed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.
However, to properly view and navigate these sites, mobile users had to pinch, drag, and scroll. To remedy this, mobile-specific or mobile-optimized websites were developed. While ideal at the time, these websites quickly had their fair share of problems including a lack of information and website management issues.
In an effort to fix all of this, responsive website design was born. In short, responsive website designs react to the screen size of the device being used to access the website. The site and information will look appealing on a laptop, phone, and/or tablet.
If you still don’t have a responsive website design in 2017, your website is far behind the curve. MobiForge found that as of March 2017, 82% of top Alexa websites were mobile responsive. Fortunately, many of the WordPress themes available today are fully mobile-responsive.
5. Keeping Content above the Fold
Derived from an old newspaper term about placing the most important information above the fold of a newspaper, old websites would cram vital info “above the fold.” Meaning the top half of websites, before you had to scroll, were jam-packed with buttons, copy, menu navigation, and more.
Today, users understand the need to scroll through a website for information. With this in mind, design your website with a logical flow and space information out accordingly.
6. AutoPlay Video
Have you ever visited a website only to be frightened by the loud and sudden autoplay video? This irritating function is used for ads on news websites, on landing pages as part of the sales process, and even as a website retention gimmick.
As you might have guessed, users do not enjoy it. In fact, Google noticed users’ disdain for such tactics and announced that Google Chrome will not autoplay videos with sound starting in January 2018. If video is a large part of your marketing strategy, give users the choice of whether or not to watch your video.
7. Hamburger Menus on Desktop Websites
Considering the small amount of screen space available on smartphones, mobile responsive websites use a “hamburger” style menu. This allows the website design to focus on vital content rather than be crowded by a website navigation.
However, somewhere along the line, desktop websites also began to utilize this trend. While it may look minimalistic or aesthetically appealing, it’s a bit confusing to desktop users. Utilizing hamburger menus on desktop websites forces users to take an extra step to access the menu. On top of the visual element, the Nielsen Norman Group reported that hamburger menus can hurt content discoverability and user experience metrics on a website.
When deciding on a menu for your WordPress website, don’t order the hamburger.
Over to you! What website design trends have you seen go the way of the dodo bird?