Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should

 

Four design trends that can harm your website

Posted on July 20, 2016

 

Each year, new trends in web design emerge. Most of these trends have a positive effect on websites but, embracing a trend without thoughtful consideration, can end up harming a website. Here are 4 design trends you can employ but you should be wary of.

As Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park:

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

1. Beautiful looking but complex home pages

Many years ago website visitors were often faced with a complex Flash driven home page. On slow internet connections these could take minutes to fully load. Whilst Flash generated pages were often artistically brilliant with their clever animations and interactive elements, they turned off many visitors who left the page before it was fully loaded.

Such Flash heavy websites are rare today, thankfully, but with video backgrounds, image carousels, and animated elements, complex pages still exist. Like their Flash counterparts they look great and their developers using super-fast fibre optic broadband connections find that they load in a just a few seconds. Out in the real world of the slow internet (and mobile internet), visitors are frustrated at the length of time these pages take to load. Frustration is not the emotion you want your visitors to experience when visiting your website.

Not only will complex pages encourage visitors to leave, Google will penalise your website in its rankings as its algorithms take loading speed into account.

2. Carousels

Carousels or image slide systems add visual impact and reduce clutter but they can be problematical for SEO. Many carousel systems contain headers contained in H1 tags. These headers change according to which slide is being displayed. This means that the keywords contained in the headers are devalued.

carousel

Carousels can put the main content below the fold so that users need to scroll down to see the content. This is not a problem for most people, but this is not recommended by Google and they are the organisation responsible for ranking websites.

A study in 2013 found that only 1% of visitors click on carousels. This research questions their effectiveness.

None of the above issues say that your website should not have a carousel, but that they need to be used with care and optimised to avoid slow loading times.

You’ll find that, on retail websites, carousels are often used to appease marketing departments who want to place products or brands within the carousel, often through paid placements. These placements are just lip service to the suppliers, as they won’t convert. They’re not intended to. Whether or not the suppliers know this is another matter. They get their carrousel placement, so they’re happy.

3. Parallax scrolling

Parallax scrolling, where the foreground and background scroll at different speeds, is a way of creating a feeling of depth on a web page. The Journal of Usability Studies researched parallax scrolling use. On the positive side they found that many users perceived these pages as fun, but two out of the 86 who took part in the study suffered from motion sickness when viewing parallax pages. The study also found that increased loading times for parallax scrolling pages was an issue.

We’re not saying don’t use parallax scrolling, we use ourselves on our homepage, but use it sparingly.

4. Typography

Website fonts used to be restricted to just a handful of fonts. Now, with Google Fonts and other initiatives, web designers can use a variety of fonts in creative ways. This is both a good thing, and a curse.

Using more than two typefaces on a page can create a cluttered look. This is not a strict rule. Adding more than two typefaces from the same font family can work and, with creative use of space, a designer can get away with multi font pages.

Fonts can invoke feelings. Choosing the wrong font can create the wrong feeling about a business. More formal, traditional businesses should use serif fonts. Sans serif implies reliability and are suitable for businesses that want to be seen as reliable.

There are many unusual and wacky fonts available which can be used by companies appealing to users who think differently.

There are many great design trends that can be used on websites. Simply incorporating a trend because it is trendy is not wise. Before incorporating any of the above design elements, consider them carefully before proceeding and think why you want to use them. What do you wish to achieve?

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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