Most companies want their website to impress potential customers and stand out from the crowd. Unknowingly, some web design trends intended to make a site unique actually hurt the customer’s experience. This decreased user experience in turn reduces traffic and engagement on your website.
Here are 5 web design trends that you should avoid and why!
Using Stock Imagery
A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? If you choose to add stock imagery to your website, those 1,000 words are saying: lame, boring, unoriginal, uninspired, trite, worn. Those are probably not the thoughts you want associated with your company. That’s why it’s important to include original images on your website.
Studies have shown that decorative, generic images are often ignored by your users. So replace them with original and real photos that represent your brand’s content and personality. Many smartphones take high resolution images of your office, staff, and products/services that can look great on your site. Be sure those fresh images are optimized properly for SEO, which you can learn about on our blog.
Replacing Text with Images
Replacing the text on your website with an image that includes the text already on it (but not a stock image, as discussed above) will hurt your SEO. Google’s spiders crawl text on a website and returns the result that has the most relevant text to that search query. If your text is said in image format, Google will not recognize your site as talking about that topic, and serve up your competition instead.
If you have a whitepaper with useful facts about your industry knowledge, instead of including it as only a .pdf file, create a blog or service page to complement the whitepaper. The content can then be crawled by Google and help your ranking.
Including Welcome or Loading Screens
When you click on a link, you immediately want to be brought right to the content. You do not want to see a welcome to our site or loading screen that takes up your time, or that you have to click past to see your result. Sites that have too much content or a lot of large images have started moving in this direction, not realizing the extra page added to the customer’s viewing experience may be hurting them.
A very well known website with this issue is Forbes.com. When you visit their site, you are first taken to a Quote of the Day screen for 10 seconds, and then it will load the information you searched for. In those 10 seconds, how many users hit the back button and choose another site for the information they are looking for?
Pop Ups to View Content
Like loading screens, pop ups that show immediately when you visit a website also annoy users. Some sites give you an instant pop up asking you to create a free account to view their content. This drives many users away, where they then seek their content from another website.
If you’re asking for a customer’s email address or other information to access your content, be sure the content is worth something to them. If you’re trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter, know that getting the newsletter may not be incentive enough. Offer them a discount on a product, an instructional guide, a free ebooklet, or something to create value for the user.
Non Standard Icons
If your site’s navigation is represented with icons, be sure to use one that users recognize. For the smartphone view, the stack of three lines (referred to as the Hamburger) is commonly used for navigating the menu. While you might have fun coming up with a different look for your mobile navigation, it will hurt your user experience if you stray too far from the norms.
If you’re displaying social media icons on your site, use the standardized look for those as well. The social media sites have branding guidelines so you can be sure to include the proper one in your design. For example, Facebook’s icon is a lowercase f with a blue background. Creating your own with an uppercase F that is pink could make it hard for your users to recognize the branding. Twitter and Tumblr both use a lowercase t, so having the correct color and having the period after the t for Tumblr is also important for brand recognition.