It may be wise to avoid these design features when building your business website.
When the writer Daniel Mendelsohn recently suggested that “taste is a mystery”, he clearly wasn’t thinking about website design. Given their disagreements in most other areas of life, it can be surprising how often the general public agree on good and bad web page layouts and templates. Concepts that look stylish on a programmer’s twin screens can seem jarring when viewed on a smartphone, while the inevitable tug-of-war between aesthetics and functionality often leaves sites looking like a dog’s breakfast rather than a work of art.
Since websites often serve as a company’s public face, poor design or layout can damage everything from profitability to reputation. These are five design trends that are more likely to raise hackles than smiles among visitors:
- Hamburger menus. Not to be confused with the fast food sector, a hamburger menu is also known as a sidebar menu. Often deployed responsively to condense a website’s navigation menu into a smaller space for mobile screens, it manifests as three horizontal lines that summon a dropdown list of clickable tabs. There may also be an input field for search terms in an attempt to simplify the user experience. Even so, additional mouse clicks and the immediate lack of navigation can cost firms half their user engagement, according to some surveys.
- Single-page sites. Having one (seemingly) endlessly scrolling page can make site navigation challenging, particularly if links on a floating menu bar cause the page to jerk or rapidly scroll up and down. There is also a penalty in loading times, which is unfortunate since search engines now consider speed of display when ranking sites. This is very much a design-driven aspect, since few company directors or sales managers would ever request a one-page website, and it’s destined to go the same way as those aggravating “click here to enter” landing pages of yesteryear.
- Intrusive advertising. This is a contentious inclusion in the list, since it could be argued any advertising has to be intrusive to succeed. However, banner ads that scroll (usually jerkily) with the page are particularly likely to make visitors migrate elsewhere, as are hover ads with microscopic click-to-close buttons. Media sites are notorious for using these to try to maximise ad revenue, but popovers and their ilk rarely achieve enough click-throughs to justify the bile and opprobrium they generate.
- Autoplaying videos. If you’ve ever been browsing the ‘net in a public place and suddenly had an advert’s audio track begin blaring from your phone’s loudspeaker, you will appreciate the extreme embarrassment that autoplaying videos can cause. That’s quite apart from the bandwidth requirements that sometimes prevent them from playing until several moments after the page’s text content has loaded. Even worse, thumbnail-sized videos are often hidden away mid-page, where they’re hard to find and silence.
- Photography. It’s very tempting to splash out on a few generic images from providers like Getty or Shutterstock, but make sure they look relevant. Some British estate agents have been laughed out of town for using American images of clapboard houses and white-toothed square-jawed ‘salesmen’, while those clichéd photos of staged meetings in pristine boardrooms do nothing to enhance a site’s ambience. In fact, avoid photos of people altogether unless it’s essential for the products or services you provide.
With professional website design services from our trusted partners at Design Direct UK your website takes centre stage. The team will work with you to create a fully bespoke website that will please every one of your customers.