First impressions mean everything, especially online. Studies show that it takes users a fraction of a second (50 milliseconds, to be exact) to form an opinion about your website.
That’s enough time for users to decide whether they’ll stay or leave — and once they’re gone, they’re less likely to return.
Since websites are often the first line of communication between a potential customer and a business, many users place considerable stock in the way a website looks and performs as a measure of the company’s credibility. After all, if a website looks like it hasn’t been redone since Y2K, customers will wonder whether you've similarly neglected to evolve your products or business practices.
If your website suffers from any of the following outdated design trends, it might be time to think about a refresh.
AUTO-PLAY VIDEO OR AUDIO
The trend of putting auto-play audio and video on websites has officially died, driven in part by the rise of mobile web browsing. Nobody likes being bombarded with a loud ad or music soundtrack while in public.
Even if you’ve invested in a cool brand video and want to make sure people see it, auto-play isn’t the answer. A survey by Komarketing found that 33 percent of respondents find auto-play video or audio annoying or have left websites because of it.
Replace with: Embedded videos. Let your audience decide whether or not they want to engage with your content, instead of making the choice for them.
Set up the video with compelling copy that lets your audience know what they’re in for. Make sure the video is rich with captivating storytelling or product information that offers value — something that will keep viewers interested until the very end.
CORNY STOCK PHOTOS
Brand photography can be cost-prohibitive, especially for a small business. Since images are an important part of website building, many organizations turn to stock photos if they don’t have the time or resources to conduct a photo shoot.
However, stock photos should be used sparingly and judiciously. Overplayed stock photos — think “woman with a headset,” “cupped hands holding a seedling,” or “corporate execs shaking hands” —give your website a cookie-cutter appearance. And if you’re using the same images as your competitors, it can make you look almost indistinguishable.
The worst offenders are the stock photos that stand in for your own employees. You’re not fooling anyone by using obvious stock photography to represent your actual team. It makes you appear less authentic and less credible in the eyes of your audience.
Replace with: Actual images of your people and products. Plan a photo shoot to capture high-quality images of your products and your team — it’s worth it.
To make the most of your photography, think about your organization’s differentiators and how you can best represent them visually. Work with your photographer to create a shot list ahead of time so you can be sure to capture what you need.
A slider or image carousel can seem like the perfect solution when a company can’t decide what should get top billing on its website. After all, the more messages or offers you can put in front of your audience, the better…right?
Wrong. An often-cited statistic from Eric Runyon showed that carousels have a measly one percent click-through rate — and most of that is on the very first slide.
According to Yoast, sliders aren’t just ineffective, they also negatively impact SEO, don’t work well on mobile devices, and push down your content on Google. They’re just not worth the trouble.
Replace with: A single, strong call to action. Focus on what you want your audience to do once they reach your site. Create a strong message, anchored by a strong static image, to compel users to act.
BUSY, CROWDED DESIGN
Sites designed with a million different colors, fonts and images can tend to look dated — think of 90s-style Geocities webpages with galaxy backgrounds and neon-green text.
Adding to that, crowded sidebars and widgets make your design look cluttered and busy. You may think you’re giving your audience more to interact with, but you’re really making it more difficult for them to find essential information.
Replace with: Branded color palette and simple fonts. Today’s websites tend to have a more streamlined approach to design, employing just a handful of brand colors and one to three clean, properly matched fonts.
This is where a brand style guide with a defined color palette and typography scheme comes in handy. Your style guide will help ensure your website is consistent with the look and feel of your other branding efforts.
Remember, your website is a living, evolving marketing tool, not a set-it-and-forget-it piece of online real estate. Keep on top of design and content trends to ensure it continues to serve your organization effectively.
What are your biggest website blunders? What outdated design trends do you want to see retired?