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5 Dead Web Design Trends (That We’re Glad Aren’t around Anymore!)

9 Sep

Many of us take good web design for granted nowadays. Properly laid-out, visual appeal and responsiveness provide an effortless browsing experience, and make your site easier to use for visitors.

However, it wasn’t always this way!

Back in the distant 1990’s and early 2000’s (has it really been that long?), the internet was a vastly different place:

  • Dial-up was king (as were slow loading times and ear-splitting connection sounds)
  • Adobe Flash was still the go-to for multimedia content
  • Mobile internet didn’t exist (the horror!)

Needless to say, our idea of what passed for a “good” website back then was a tad different from today!

But with 90’s nostalgia in full swing, we felt it was time to take a step back in time to see how far we’ve come…

1) Flash

Whether it was a video, sound clip, or slideshow, Flash was the only game in town if you wanted to go beyond static images and text.

Technology has moved on however, and since the mid-2000’s, Flash has seen decreased use, replaced by newer platforms that offer the same functionality minus the problems:

Nowadays, each of the major browsers now disables Flash content by default. Instead of seeing that cool video, product showcase or quiz you had on your site, visitors are going to see a blank space.

Needless to say, this isn’t going to help your site make conversions!

Just as important is the fact that Flash isn’t mobile-friendly. And with mobile playing an increasingly important part of your SEO strategy, any Flash content needs to be dumped, ASAP.

Learn more about life, times and slow death of Adobe Flash.

2) Hit counters

“You are visitor 24601” the counter at the bottom of the site would proclaim.

On top of providing an ego boost, these counters also served a practical purpose: namely, they helped website operators figure out how much traffic their website was generating. While crude when compared to today’s metrics and analytics, they got the job done.

And that’s the problem: we have much, much better tools for that nowadays.

On top of tracking visits, tools like Google Analytics provide a wealth of useful metrics which help inform your SEO strategy, including:

  • Bounce rates
  • Return visits
  • Landing and exit pages
  • Visitor location
  • Visitor device
  • Most popular pages

3) Separate mobile sites

Designing web pages for mobile phones has always been different from their desktop siblings. It’s just an unavoidable, thanks to the smaller screen.

Up until recently, the method of choice was to maintain a separate mobile website, with its very own URL and code.

Nowadays, many digital agencies have turned towards what we call responsive design. In layman’s terms, we build you a website that is able to detect screen size and adjust its layout accordingly.

Just to be clear, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with maintaining a separate mobile site from an SEO standpoint – however, it certainly does make things significantly harder maintenance-wise!

While this trend isn’t quite “dead” yet (many high-profile sites like Wikipedia have yet to adopt responsive design), we believe that separate mobile sites aren’t long for this world – watch this space.

4) Frames

Way back when everybody was still on dial-up, many digital agencies used frames to build quick-loading sites.

Simply put, frames sectioned off different chunks of your website into independent parts. Essentially, each frame was its very own HTML file, and would load content independently.

The idea was that users would experience shorter load times. When clicking something in the navigation bar, instead of having to load a new page from scratch, other “pages” were loaded in the background in different frames.

It’s a little hard to visualise, so here’s an example. Here’s the 1997 website for Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

Opinions about the movie aside (it was pretty awful), try clicking something in the navigation bar. You’ll notice that the URL stays the same regardless.

That’s because it is the same page, just with content split into different frames, and with the relevant frame displayed depending on which button you clicked!

The idea was that it would speed up loading times in an era of dial-up internet. Not to mention, it also made site maintenance easy (or at least, easy for the time).

There were a couple of problems, however.

For starters, frames break the bookmarks function. Not to mention, separate frames also wreak havoc with your SEO – search engines have a hard time crawling sites which use frames.

And finally, faster internet connections and better web tools simply mean that frames simply aren’t necessary anymore.

Yay, progress!

5) Garish colours, annoying sound effects and out-of-place GIFs

Simply put, these just don’t look very good!

In addition to being well-optimised, a good website should also convey credibility. This goes beyond written copy, product descriptions and fact sheets – even the colours and design come into the picture.

And frankly, things like contrasting colours and annoying sound-effects just aren’t a good look anymore. Worse, they can be distracting or annoying, and can actually push people away from your website.

Just take a look at the website for 1996 movie Space Jam (yes, we’re surprised it’s still up too!)

It’s a time capsule full of 90’s web design trends. It’s all bold colours, high-contrast and animated gifs – all of which are big no-nos for today’s modern internet user!

Bring your website into the 21st century

Call a digital agency in Melbourne

At iformat, we specialise in creating comprehensive digital marketing strategies. That goes beyond creating a tailored SEO strategy – we’ll also ensure that your website is:

  • Well-optimised
  • Full of compelling content
  • Follows the latest in web design trends

If you want to bring your website into the 21st century (and get a digital marketing strategy that works while you’re at it), we can help. Give us a call today on 1300 886 450 or click here to touch base.