Web Design Trends That Suck

Some web design trends just make no sense to me.

Despite the fact that they inhibit usability and cause conversion rates to drop like a rock, somehow, they still get popular, and every website out there wants to use those designs.

It’s like spicy ice cream, or #hashtags #on #facebook.

But just because a design technique is amazingly popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s effective.

If you’ve used or thought of using any of these web design trends for your website, you might want to think again:

1. Business porn 


I could call it “stock photos”, which is what they actually are, but damn I like that alternate description.

How many times have you visited a website and seen these cheesy, overused stock images – you know the ones. The overly happy phone operator with a headset and a saccharine-sweet smile. The businessmen and women gathered around a meeting table. Smiling men and women who are supposedly “experts” in their fields.

Using contrived images can often do more harm than good. It will take less than a second for the majority of your website visitors to spot the fake-looking pictures on your page.

There’s also a good chance people will have seen the exact same images on some other website in their travels through the web.

There’s a reason they’re called “business porn”. It’s because these photos are cheap and readily available. But use them sparingly, if at all.

2. Super complicated design

Some web designers seem to think that every site should be a creative masterpiece that overcomplicates things and spoils the user experience.

Why would you make your website more difficult to browse through, even if it looks like a million dollars?

Like Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

The most successful websites are the ones that manage to strike a balance between form and function, style and usability.

Remember K.I.S.S. when it comes to web design – Keep it simple.

3. Forms that never end.
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I don’t know about you, but even offline, if I see a form that is as long as my arm and has a lot of stuff to fill in, I’m out of there. I’d rather look elsewhere for what I need, preferably some place that doesn’t need quite as much information.

Online, it’s even worse.

Long forms that seemingly never end are a major turn-off to site visitors.

The question you have to ask yourself if you’re offering people a form that’s longer than the Neverending Story:¬†Do you actually want people to fill it up, or not?

Because with long forms, you’re not likely to have the former happen.

4. Premature CTAs

Websites that put out their call to action too early are like those kids who try to get into a girl’s pants too soon.

You’ve got to pass first base before you can head for home, buddy.

Your call to action needs to be contextually relevant to your page content as well as to the part of the conversion funnel that the page resides in.

This means knowing when the site visitor wants to explore her options ( “Shop now!”), when she wants to “Add to Cart”, and when she’s ready to “Buy Now”.

Don’t throw in a “Buy Now” button when the user is only at the browsing stage. It’d be like asking for a customer’s credit card the moment they enter the store.

5. Pop-overs

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It doesn’t make much sense to me when some sites give you a pop-up the minute you enter the site that says: “Liked this article? Subscribe for more!”

It’s a bit like asking someone if they liked the food before they’ve even started eating.

Did I like the article? I wouldn’t know, I haven’t read it yet – because that annoying pop-up appeared as soon as I loaded the page. And most of the time, the pop-up also blocks the article or most of the screen in some way so I can’t even read anything until I’ve gotten rid of the pop-up.

And let’s not get started on the pop-ups that prompt you when you close them, asking you if you’re sure you want to leave the page.

There’s a time and place for pop-ups, if you must use them. If you’re not sure when the right timing is, you could always test.

Still, common sense should tell you that most web users would at least want to read the article first before you ask them to subscribe for more articles like it.

Also, if you can, try and think of a better, less intrusive way to advertise and collect leads than something that interrupts your visitor’s site experience.

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