5 Website Design Practices To Leave Behind In 2013
As 2013 approaches, it’s time to forever say goodbye to some bad design practices.
I don’t mean the worst possible aesthetic decisions, but rather trends and fads that need to be put out of their misery. In this article we will be looking at some of the design trends and habits of yesteryear.
1. Elaborate Flash animations, load filters and splash pages
Flash has its place but in a world where we want information right away, Flash should be used sparingly for 2013 web design. Over the years, Flash has been abused.
Since Apple went to war with Flash, using it poses a very real threat of losing out on a good chunk of your target audience.
Load filters and splash pages are also barriers to quick access to information. Try to keep your site’s load time as low as possible and make it easy and quick for your visitors to find what they’re looking for. Don’t waste their time. Your visitors should be able to tell what your website is about and what you’re offering in a matter of seconds.
If you absolutely must have a nice intro, make sure it contains a little button that allows visitors to skip it if they wish to do so. There’s nothing more annoying than Flash animation, video or pop-up that you can’t skip.
2. Excessive Skeuomorphism
It goes without saying that all design rules (including the ones in this article) are subject to exceptions. Skeuomorphism, the design practice of making elements look like their real life counterparts, when used well, can still produce great results.
However the ubiquitous fad of giving the ‘leather bound’ and ‘stitching’ treatment to every web page is definitely over.
Skeuomorphism for the sake of skeuomorphism should be avoided.
If you think your website will benefit from natural looking elements, find ways to be fresh and creative. If that isn’t possible, a much better alternative is do away with skeuomorphism altogether.
The new Microsoft website, much like its Metro interface, eschews all skeuomorphism for a sleek, modern and highly intuitive user experience.
3. Lack of contrast
Unlike certain trends and fads that are just past their prime, lack of contrast has never gained acceptance and yet you see plenty of designers using white type on a light blue background and similar color combinations.
Make sure your typography uses plenty of contrast to stand out from the background and allow visitors to make sense of your information.
WeatherWise uses a striking black and white reverse-type approach to improve readability.
4. Certain typefaces
Comic Sans and Monotype Corsiva have become running jokes among designers but, believe it or not, they are still widely in use.
With the huge amount of great display fonts and body text beauties available to us today, do we really need to continue using certain typefaces that have started gaining a significant negative connotation?
The reason behind singling out certain fonts is more than a personal pet peeve: The current trend-and foreseeable future- in design is all about simple professionalism. From the Metro look to the need for readable typefaces across different screen devices, standard typefaces like Helvetica are here to stay- Comic sans and the bulk of cursive, not so much.
Thanks to Web fonts and services like TypeKit, web designers can now use rich typography to their hearts content.
Gone are the days when we were restricted to a set of widely available generic fonts or using graphics for beautiful typefaces.
Web fonts also allow for a high degree of scalability so you can do away with another bad typography practice: using fixed size fonts that restrict the usability and accessibility of your webpage.
The Coop uses a lot of different but contemporary typefaces to make for a visually pleasing web experience.
5. Unloading PDFs on unsuspecting visitors
Viewing PDF documents in browsers is not only possible these days but also much more convenient.
That being said, they still mean a break in the navigation process and require heavy loading, technical capability or some other resources on the visitors end.
Try to reproduce as much of your necessary information in the form of simple HTML. If a PDF document is required or necessary, make sure you let your visitor know what they are about to get before providing them with an innocent looking link that leads to wait times or, worse, a browser crash.
What other design mistakes and conventions are you tired of? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Babar Suleman is a freelance copywriter and graphics designer who also identifies himself as a ‘communication planner’. You can find out more about him and view his portfolio at his website. You can also reach him on Facebook, Twitter @B_Su and Google