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5 Website Design Practices To Leave Behind In 2013

by Babar Suleman

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.

Poor Contrast

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.



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Babar Suleman

Babar Suleman (MFA, Parsons School of Design; Fulbright Scholar) is a visual storyteller and an experience designer. He is interested in the interplay of words and visuals in the communication process and uses his diverse experience as a writer and designer to create meaningful user experiences and effective branding strategies.

Babar has also studied Business, worked extensively in Marketing and has recently moved into writing and directing for the screen and stage.

You can contact Babar at his official website or on the social media channels below.


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  1. Anonymous says:
    August 4, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for sharing this awsome tips with us!

  2. WebTek says:
    February 15, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Just stumbled across this post now (Feb. 2015) and look how relevant your advice was. It’s all about user experience these days.

    • February 16, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Agreed. And UX is a great way to differentiate yourself. Thanks for commenting, WebTek.

  3. D Thomas says:
    March 3, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Thanks enjoyed the read and I certainly agree with the section about Flash as I’ve never really been a big fan of it! Keep up the good work looking forward to reading more articles.

  4. Paresh says:
    January 29, 2014 at 3:25 am

    When it comes to web design every small things are important, to get great sales, inquiries, leads or whatever, call to action thins play’s big role. Now a days it is necessary to have good userfriendly website to beat your competition.

    Great tips, will keep these points in mind while developing my new website.


  5. November 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Great List. Add overly flat websites and apps and you are off to a good start!

  6. Shruti says:
    September 9, 2013 at 6:26 am

    All points are right. web designers in 2013 is not so easy without considering these points. I agree with your point on the strength of typography. Thanks for these info.


  7. June 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Great article and amazing tips on what not to do and to be aware of when outsourcing the work for Web Design.
    Local Web Design for small business is a very good choice for many of the reasons listed above in this article. The benefits of having a team that you can meet and work with in person instead of through emails and online conversations will make a very large difference. Also if updates and new ideas come to mind, having a local team of designers will put your thoughts to actions.

  8. Dan Brail says:
    May 15, 2013 at 8:48 am

    A great way to pick up design work is to find terrible sites and reach out. Pulling a few quick Google searches, I found these monstrosities:

    Are these people serious? Who represents their brand like that?

    • interachnid says:
      July 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      The problem with this idea is that, usually when the design is bad, the “inbox in the basement” (so to speak, i.e. the contact email supplied) is either seldomly checked, or in some cases, no longer monitored. Not that this approach is all together fruitless, just don’t expect overwhelming responses to your offers. I did freelance design for over three years and I used this approach when I had down time to try and garner new biz. On average, 3 in 50 inquiries even bothered to respond, and of that, I may have landed one client. The largest hurdle is that there is a reason they have a crap site. Someone “designed” it for free (or next to free), and they either have no budget, or are not willing to invest in professionalism.

  9. January 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Babar,
    Thank you for the article. Your article helps to web designer to improve their work.. Carry on and keep posting.

  10. Erika says:
    January 24, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing!
    it’s absolutely true: short loading time is really important to keep being read!

  11. Kristen says:
    January 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    It is a good idea to avoid using outdated website design practices like complex flash animations and unreadable fonts. This will increase the readability of the webpage and the number of page downloads as well. Moreover, the webpage will take lesser time to download on a browser.

  12. December 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks for the great article! I’ve been delving into changing the look of my site lately & your article certainly came in handy!

  13. Ian Said says:
    December 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    @Tyler: Do you have the link to the article “Peep from ConversionXL did an excellent post about why to avoid them (sliders)”.

    Thanks Ian.

  14. Marcel says:
    December 4, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I absolutely agree with point 2. It also reminded me of the quote “Why does an e-book reader need a page-turn effect? Like having a fake needle on a CD player. Or horse-shit coming from the back of a car” – Jer Thorp

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      December 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Crude but accurate analogy. 🙂

  15. November 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the list. I especially agree with having less Skeuomorphism.

  16. Vapor Paul says:
    November 28, 2012 at 7:28 am

    thanks sharing about design. this is very useful for our web designers…

  17. Tyler says:
    November 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Image sliders/header carousels are #6 for me. While it seems like every business site redesign now features one, Peep from ConversionXL did an excellent post about why to avoid them (yet to see a positive split test with one, causes visitors to miss important content, too many messages equals no messages).

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      November 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

      Tyler — I think you are right — and so many non-blog WordPress themes are based on having an image slider above the fold.

      • Nate says:
        November 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm

        When I read about the slider stuff, my first thought was, “Well still uses sliders.” Then I went to their site and realized they don’t. Instead, they use a modification: when I visit their home page it will show me one feature, then I go to a sub-page and come back to the home page and a new feature will be there.

        If I just keep clicking on the home page, those two focused products will rotate back and forth.

        Thoughts on this?

  18. November 26, 2012 at 10:16 am

    The more I study web useability and practical design, the more I see that being conservative is good for conversion. By conversion I don’t just mean selling. I mean persuasion and effectively sharing your ideas.

    I am gratified to discover that none of these practices you’ve listed are used on any of my websites. However it does reinforce that it needs to be primarily about understanding and connecting with my readers.

    Thanks for creating consistently great content and for helping keep us all focused on what’s important.

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