We have been inundated with articles telling us the latest trends for 2013 and what we should be doing for the rest of the year, but what about the trends that we really shouldn’t be following? Our web design arm HarperJames takes a look at the web design ‘do nots’ that should be left behind in 2012.
1. Over-the-top Design
“Less is more,” some say. “The bigger, the better!” others exclaim. While it’s certainly nice to have variety, it can be tempting to get carried away and fill the site with unnecessary graphics and videos within an eye-watering layout.
In an attempt to stand out, designers will often shun web design conventions; compromising functionality for appearance. The result? The site drives visitors away, as well as the sales that could have been converted from those customers.
The design of your site needs to ride the balance between innovative, eye-catching design and functionality. Having an over the top design will distract the visitor from the customer journey that you want them to go on, and ultimately impact on conversation rates too.
2. Stock Pictures
They say that the camera never lies, but when it comes to using stock pictures, it’s obvious that such images are quite clearly fake (since when did every website ever have you ever such a glamorous-looking call centre department? Even the headset doesn’t detract from their startling attractiveness).
Instead, add some authenticity to your site by taking natural pictures of your staff and workplace. With social media encouraging absolutely anyone to be a star in their own right, the web in general is more accepting of the ‘au naturel’ trend. Remember, if you want your customers to trust you, then use trustworthy imagery and content.
3. Interstitial Messaging
So you’ve landed on a web page and become engrossed in the content when suddenly a floating head/excited-looking headline interrupts your web experience and sits itself slap-bang in the middle of the page: “Interested in our shiny new product? Click ‘like’ now!”
This unwelcome interference puts visitors off as interstitial ads pop up usually within the first few seconds of the page loading. By pressuring the customer into making a rushed decision, visitors are unable to assess the value of the website – often clicking the ‘back’ button instead.
4. Using Flash Intros
Flash intros are bad for several reasons, as not only are they an outdated gimmick but also slow down the time it takes the page to load. A waste of time and bandwidth, the majority of visitors accessing a site want instant gratification not a visual obstacle. Not even the most successful sites such as Macromedia use a Flash intro, so take a digital leaf out of the established popular sites and leave Flash intros at the door.
5. Avoid Elaborate Fonts
So you’ve succeeded contextually, now time to win your users over with your content! Which font looks the most aesthetically pleasing? And just what size should it be?
Typography is key to communicating effectively – if a font is too fancy or too small it may be rendered unreadable. Strike a balance with your users and choose a font that aligns with the theme of your website.
It’s easy to take web design for granted, given the eclectic range of tools readily available – but this is where the problem lies: the website is for the visitors, not the designer.
The sooner you stop cluttering the website with additional features and scrape it back to reveal its pure simplicity; the sooner visitors will feel at ease with the website.
By focussing on the customer journey, the essential information and brand identity you can tap into the conversion potential of your site.
In the words of pioneering writer and designer Brenda Laurel, “a design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.”