The Siren Song of Flashy: Past Website Trends to Avoid in 2024

Some say that change is the only constant in life, and website design trends are no exception. What was cutting-edge a few years ago can quickly become clunky and outdated. Clinging to these trends can hurt your brand image and hinder user experience (UX). This comprehensive guide combines insights from several industry sources to shed light on website design and development features that should be avoided in 2024.

Sliders and Carousels are a UX Nightmare

Sliders and carousels might seem like a great way to showcase multiple pieces of content on your homepage, but research has found that only 1% of users click on the carousel feature on websites. Besides that, here are a few other drawbacks:

  • User impatience: Auto-playing sliders can be frustrating. Users may not see the content they’re interested in before it disappears, or they might click away altogether.
  • Conversion roadblocks: Sliders can distract users from your primary call to action (CTA).
  • Accessibility concerns: Sliders with short transition times can be difficult for users with disabilities to follow.

Better Alternatives:

  • Prioritize your most important content on the homepage.
  • Use static hero images or a single, clear CTA.
  • Consider using tabs or accordions to display additional content without overwhelming users.

If you find yourself designing for smaller screens (think phone or tablet) and need to display several things but don’t have space to display them all at once—we DO suggest using a carousel/slider feature. We recommend this for content such as customer reviews or images of different variations of a product (i.e. different colors/sizes).

Less is More with Movement

Animations can be a great tool to enhance user experience, but overuse can have the opposite effect. If overused, they can cause: 

  • Attention overload: Excessive animations can distract users from your website’s core message.
  • Performance issues: Complex animations can slow down loading times, frustrating users.

The Art of Animation:

If possible, try to incorporate motion features early on during your site build (if you want to add motion to your site). Doing this early on makes the motion more integrated into your site rather than adding them as an afterthought.

  • Use animations sparingly and strategically to highlight specific elements.
  • Ensure animations are smooth and unobtrusive.
  • Test animations on different devices to ensure they function correctly.

A Note on Micro-interactions:

Micro-interactions are subtle animations or effects that respond to user input, like a button changing color on hover. While they can add a touch of polish, too many micro-interactions can be confusing. Use them only when they clearly benefit the user experience, such as providing feedback on an action.

Popups can be a helpful marketing tool at times, boasting a conversion rate is over 10%, but intrusive popups that block content or appear too frequently will annoy users and drive them away.

  • Disruption: Popups interrupt the user’s browsing experience.
  • Negative impact on SEO: Google penalizes websites with intrusive pop-ups.

Smarter Popup Solutions:

  • Use popups sparingly and target them to specific user segments or actions.
  • Make popups easy to close and focus on offering value to the user, like a discount code.
  • Popups with context to the specific page a user is on convert even better than a random promotion on an unrelated page.

Infinite Scrolling, Finite Benefit

Infinite scrolling, where content loads automatically as the user scrolls down, is a convenient way to keep users engaged—especially on social media apps (think Facebook or Instagram) However, it has some downsides when used on regular websites:

  • Accessibility issues: Infinite scrolling can make it difficult for users with disabilities to access navigation elements located at the bottom of the page.
  • SEO drawbacks: Search engine crawlers may not index all content on a page with infinite scrolling, hurting your SEO efforts.
  • Lack of control: Users may need to find important information further down the page.

Alternatives to Infinite Scrolling:

  • Break down content into clear sections with pagination for more straightforward navigation.
  • Highlight important information at the top of the page.

Multiple Fonts is a Recipe for Failure

Consistency is vital to a successful site, as a good font choice can improve user experience by up to 40%. Additionally, using too many fonts can make your website load more slowly, not to mention look very cluttered. 

Font Fundamentals:

  • Select two fonts at most, one for headings and one for body text.
    • Consider using popular or system fonts. These fonts are standard on 80% of mobile apps and help improve compatibility and performance.
  • Choose fonts that complement each other and are easy to read on all screen sizes.

Negative Navigation Outcomes

Your website’s navigation menu should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Complex navigation structures can frustrate users, prevent them from finding the information they need, and ultimately lead them to leave your site.

  • Hidden menus: Don’t rely on hamburger menus (the three-line icon) on desktop websites. They can be confusing for new users.
  • Inconsistent layouts: Maintain a consistent navigation structure across all pages.
  • Unclear labels: Use clear and concise labels for menu items.

Overall, navigation should be predictable. Avoid overly creative layouts or non-standard header icons that users might need help understanding. The goal is to make it easy for users to find what they want, not force them to decode a puzzle.

Low-Quality Stock Image Letdown

Generic stock photos scream “low effort” and do little to set your brand apart. Whereas webpages with relevant images get 94% more views, on average.

  • Unique Visuals: Invest in high-quality, original images that match your site’s message, reflect your brand identity, and resonate with your target audience.
  • Custom Content: Consider using custom photography, illustrations, or user-generated content to create a unique visual experience.
  • AI Image Generation: If you’re familiar with using AI tools, we suggest trying out Midjourney, Adobe Firefly, or Dalle3 to create specific images tailored to your site.

Indiscriminate Use of Video

Large background videos can slow down loading times and distract users from your other site features. Here’s why you should avoid them:

  • Slow Loading Times: Large video files can take a long time to load, especially on slower internet connections. This can lead to a frustrating user experience and cause visitors to leave your website before seeing your content.
  • Distraction from CTAs: Background videos can be visually distracting, drawing attention away from your calls to action (CTAs). Users might not notice important buttons or links if they’re busy watching the video.

A Note on Auto-Play Media

Auto-playing videos or audio tracks upon visiting a website can significantly disrupt the user experience. Ever hear music or video noise coming from your computer and can’t find the tab to turn it off (bonus points if you are in a quiet room with other people trying to work silently)?

So, if you do use video on your site, keep it small, ensure it plays silently, and allow users to choose whether to watch it.

The Bottom Line

Web design trends should complement your website, not overshadow it. By prioritizing user experience (UX) and staying on top of current web technologies, you can create a website that is informative, engaging, and accessible to all. Remember, your website is a digital storefront; make sure it gives the right first impression. Regular user testing should be conducted to identify pain points and areas for improvement.

Incorporating the insights from this article will help you avoid outdated trends and create a website that is aesthetically pleasing and functionally sound in 2024 and beyond. Is your site doing one of these design no-nos? Need help updating it? We can help! Contact us to get started today. 

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