Every year I see these lists of the great new trends that are taking place in the web design world. For the most part – I have found them to be potentially harmful for my own client base which is largely focused on nonprofit organizations and business to business groups.
But no matter what industry you are in some of these trends I believe are harmful as they affect user experience and can frustrate visitors!
If you are staring to consider a new website or redoing an existing website, be sure you are focusing largely on usability – over aesthetic!
I actually wrote a post about why we will never win a web design award —- and below are some great examples of why I would never win – because I prefer to focus on usability than “trends”!
I never jump on the latest fads and trends – not because I do not think they are cool or because my team and I cannot make them happen – I just find many of them confuse typical web users and can often do harmful things to client metrics from lowering conversions to decreasing on-site time.
I have asked clients and friends to visit some sites that have these trends to get their feedback and hands down, most found many of these concepts confusing.
Although it is important to keep your website fresh and modern – I actually recommend a minor update to the look and feel every couple of years – I do not encourage website owners to be running to jump on these trends!
Below are a some trends I have seen over the years with reasons I could not recommend them! If you have an extremely tech savvy visitor base then these may be OK but if you are a nonprofit, business or e-commerce then I could not recommend these and feel confident they are a good option!
Web Design Trends To Avoid
Hamburger Navigation Menus
This still seems to be a growing trend – and I personally think it is a horrible idea for most websites.
Take a look at the screenshot below of a website using a hamburger menu – (I removed the logo from the cans to protect the guilty!) – but if you are not a savvy internet shopper, how would you know what to click on?
The website is also only using product images to display the logo – which I also do not think is a good idea from a branding perspective.
So when you land on the home page all you see is what is below – again, I did remove the logos from the 2 can lids, but I still think a potential customer does not know what to do or where to go from here.
While I knew where to go – after all I build these things for a living, I am pretty sure many people will just leave and find a website that is less “cool” and that has a clearer hierarchy.
As a group that takes pride in usability – I do not find hamburger menus to be all that usable. A visitor should not have to “look” to find out how to get to the navigation or find specific areas of a website.
And they absolutely should not have to wonder what you do or sell!
Parallax scrolling has been a trend for a while and in the past I would receive a lot of requests for it. Thankfully, less and less people are asking about it these days so that makes me happy.
I am NOT against the use of parallax as an added element to give your website some life – but too much can do more harm than good.
If you have stunning imagery and want a unique way to promote a special project, product or announcement then a simple parallax background may be a nice design touch.
But there is such a thing as too much of a pretty thing.
When Can Parallax Be Too Much ?
Here is an example of a website that I find absolutely incredible from a creativity and design aspect – but would never create one or recommend the style for a client.
But What If I Really Like The Parallax Effect?
Then by all means DO IT!
But be sure that the demographic of your average web visitor can handle it! If you are appealing to a young demographic that is incredibly tech capable – then take this creative route – but if you are a business that is targeting baby-boomers or an older target market, this could literally kill any online business you may want to have.
I would also HIGHLY recommend testing!
Running an A/B test of a parallax page versus a more static page will give you the insight you need to know if your demographic would welcome this type of movement on a website.
This is an example of a simple parallax element to help accent some text! Simple is better in most cases!
I have a large dislike of carousels and sliders and try very VERY hard to steer clients away from using them.
Really, they are not sitting there going through them all, we will guarantee it!
The only possible exclusion to this would be artists and photographers where people are really interested in the imagery. But for those with businesses, nonprofits or blogs – not so much.
OK – don’t believe us – we get it who the heck are we to say sliders suck?
Then check out this study by Erik Runyon that pretty much sums up how bad carousels are. Basically the study done resulted in a rate of 1% of visitors clicking on any slides at all. ONE PERCENT! You can view the full study and get all the details, but this alone should have you rethinking utilizing a slider type functionality.
One of our favorite websites that talks about whether or not to use sliders is this one: http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ – sums up our thoughts nicely!
Here are a few other studies and thoughts from other experts on the issue:
Sliders also take more load time since you usually need a script to run it, more time to keep updated and all for little return.
This is just one of the reasons we are not fans of ThemeForest Themes and wrote an article about that issue as well. Just about every theme comes packed with sliders and code that you do not even need!
Who Does Not Use Sliders? Just About Any Web Optimization Company!
Think about that for a second – some of the biggest names in website testing optimization services do not use sliders or carousels on their websites.
That says a LOT about the value of them.
These are companies that spend their days and nights – optimizing websites. If they are not using them – there is a pretty large (ok 100%) chance you should not either.
So If Sliders Are A Bad Idea – Then What Should I Do?
This is where testing and knowing your statistics and market are key! There is no “one-fit” solution for every website.
A lot of websites are now using what is called a “Hero Image” on their home pages. The problem with hero images is that typical websites are using them to take up the whole home page – so there is basically just an image with some text – with no enticement to do anything else.
Here is an example of a Hero Image in action on a designers website. We love the image – but you can see it is not clear what kind of design the group does and then the menu is at the bottom of the page. There is no other information easily available – and with no other information on the page it can cause visitors to bounce off the website.
Here is a great example of a hero image used by one of the best bloggers around. It is clear about what the blog is about – links to critical areas of the website right from the hero image area and there is still plenty of room for more information and content below the hero image.
Did you notice — no slider or parallax? We bet there is a darn good reason for that. Darren is a professional – we are guessing he invests a lot of money in his website including testing.
If you do happen to have a website that has a lot of information that you want people to see, then this tabbed style content layout is an option.
Why do we think this is a better alternative than a typical slider or carousel?
- You can easily see what the next slide is about – this allows visitors to easily find if anything in the slider interests them.
- The slider does not auto-scroll or rotate
- Visitors can easily see where they are in terms of the content that is being provided
If you have a brand or service that can do well with a video on the home page – then DO IT! If it will describe or educate your visitors about your mission or brand, then it can actually improve your conversions and retention.
While I do not recommend stock videos that add no real personal value, branded videos that talk about your brand can be really beneficial.
But please – DO NOT AUTOPLAY your videos.
Many people do still work — so you do not want to get them in trouble do you? That is one of the fastest ways to lose a visitor.
Motion & Interactivity
Another trend I am starting to see – that is definitely cool, but not for everyone is the use of motion or interactive elements. If it is being used just as an “accent” I would try and deter a client from doing it.
If it actually added value to the client for their business – then I would definitely make it work.
Popular Website Trends For 2020
These are some popular trends happening in the web world that I actually like and encourage clients to consider.
1 | Whitespace
Whitespace in web design really allows your content and call to actions to pop. This is a trend we love and that has grown over the years as people consume more data and want it quick and easy.
Typically whitespace – (or negative space) – has create font use and lots of great imagery that can tell the story while still giving a clean appearance.
Simpla is a great example of a website using whitespace.
2 | Simplistic Contact Pages
I have been seeing more and more minimal contact pages out there and love this trend! It is a great way to keep your visitors focused on completing the form and not be distracted by any other elements on the page.
No images – no call to actions, just a simple form and the optional ways you can be contacted are all that you need on a great contact page.
3 | Color Blocks
Color blocks add some visual interest to pages and offer creative opportunity to call out content and actions you want a visitor to take.
Using images and coordinating color blocks gives this website visual interest without any area being overwhelming to the user.
What Website Trends Do You Love Or Hate?
So, are there things you love or hate about websites you have seen?
I would love to hear them!