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5 Web Design Trends You Should Ditch Right Now

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How is it possible that trends — be they fashion, digital or food — can be simultaneously intriguing and status-enhancing and yet so, so… stupid? We’ve all been guilty of wearing acid-washed jeans, owning laser disc players or ordering a Zima with a straight face.

Eventually, we came to realize that our dedication to yesterday’s fads had to come to an end, and we moved on with our lives. Unfortunately for many Web design companies, no one has bothered gently but firmly let them know that many of their amenities and funny graphic design mistakes are making them look ridiculous. So, here we are, doing yet another public service. You’re welcome.

Auto-forwarding Carousel Sliders

When did this start happening? Carousel sliders are those constantly rotating pictures that, when you aren’t looking directly at them, make you feel as though you’re having a stroke. That’s the main problem with the carousel — if you’re reading content and not focusing directly on the slider it is quite jarring. If you are actually interested in looking at the slider images and/or reading the content, you have to negotiate the rotation speed in order to comfortably view the slide.

For viewers with slower motor capabilities or with reading difficulties, the auto-forwarding slider is intensely annoying. A study conducted by the Neilson Norman Group determined that auto-forwarding carousel sliders are roundly ignored by viewers, not only because they’re optically irritating, but also because the movement causes the user to assume that it is an advertisement and doesn’t contain relevant content.

Flash Introductions

These are definitely on the wane, but not fast enough, in our opinion. The glacially-paced loading; the irrelevant video/animation footage; the pointless and showoff-y production value all add up to a pointless waste of time. Instead of wasting resources on developing Flash intros, designs should be shepherding their clients into the age of responsive design. Mobile is only getting bigger, and it’s pointless to pretend that it doesn’t exist and that every client will for some reason decide to plunk down in front of a desktop in order to view your site.

Yes, we know that 13 years ago having a Flash intro made your website seem like a total hotshot. We hated them then, too, but we were just too ashamed to admit that we didn’t have the loading capabilities to make them run smoothly. Now that we’ve grown up a bit, we realize that the problem wasn’t us —it was them.

Sound Effects

Quite possibly more irritating than Flash intros; at least Flash intros can be skipped and actually end. Sound effects add absolutely zero value to a website — they don’t enhance user experience and they don’t give the impression of sound Web design judgment. This isespecially true of sound effects that aren’t music related, but just random collections of noises that erupt when you sweep the cursor across an icon. Unless your website is specifically for 4-year-olds, do not use them. No one needs whimsy that desperately.

Stock Photos

“Wow, this organization employs a team of attractive, fit and ethnically diverse people in a cheery and sunlit office! Let’s give them our business immediately! Let’s also help this nice gentleman from Nigeria access $50 million from a mysterious overseas account!”

In case you haven’t noticed, almost every quasi official-looking business website has photographs of young-ish people in a bright office space, occasionally shaking hands and holding official-looking briefs. Not only has this become incredibly clichéd, but the stock photos that are in constant circulation are… well, in constant circulation, so one of your competitors could easily have the exact same image, or an image featuring the same models… [ahem] “employees.”  People connect so much better if you really let them look at who your company is, not generic stock photography.

Confusing Your Site for a Social Network

A few sites began forcing users to login to their social media accounts before allowing access to their sites, which was a remarkably intrusive request. No, not everyone wants to automatically login with their Facebook or Google+ account, nor do we want to be constantly engaged with other users. Sometimes, we just want to read restaurant reviews, or know where a theater is, or find a reasonably priced and well-constructed hand held belt sander.

It is every Web design company’s job to keep on top of the latest trends, as well as the trends that are rapidly morphing into absurd jokes. If you’re guilty of one of the above offenses, don’t hang your head too low; we’re pretty sure we still have a pair of acid washed jeans in our closet.