The web and the way people interact with it is constantly evolving. That means you must be at the top of your game in 2017. Start by ditching these old trends to usher in a year of fresh web design.
One of the main drawbacks to parallax scrolling is that it causes web pages to load much slower than their non-parallax counterparts. Of course, this leads to bigger problems. For one, slow websites are bad for SEO. Two, web visitors are generally turned off by them. A one-second delay in page speed results in seven percent fewer conversions, and 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from that site again.
Of course, there are numerous factors that play into your website’s speed. The best WordPress hosting services will be quicker than others, and the amount of content and type of content on the page will affect loading times. But if you have the choice between parallax scrolling or not, ditching it will help speed up your site.
The question is, is parallax scrolling worth it? In some cases, yes. It helps tell a story and can help convert on its own. In most cases, no. It’s just a fancy effect that leaves web visitors frustrated and with a touch of motion sickness.
Hamburger menus have been around long enough that most people know what they mean and how to use them. But does that mean they have a place on your website? Perhaps not.
Hamburger menus were designed to simplify websites and reduce clutter. That’s great for mobile devices, but as these menus moved to desktop sites, people saw higher bounce rates because navigation options weren’t as obvious.
The problem with hamburger menus is that they add another step to the process. Users must consciously decide to navigate the site. If they’ve clicked on the hamburger menu, they’re typically already looking for something.
And that works…sometimes.
Other times, it reduces discoverability, which is particularly detrimental to ecommerce sites where discoverability is what the experience is all about.
That said, you don’t have to ditch hamburger menus entirely. You might, for instance, create a hybrid navigation bar that features the most important navigation items prominently with the rest hidden under the hamburger menu. You might also choose to keep the hamburger menu enabled entirely for smartphone users.
Your best bet is to test where users are clicking to see if this tactic is working for you. In many cases, however, you’ll be sacrificing user-friendliness and discoverability for aesthetics, and that doesn’t translate into positive conversion rates or ROI.
Carousels—or slide shows—are a thing of the past. They were once used to highlight multiple pieces of content without cramming the page with too much information at once. Unfortunately, this design element comes with its fair share of drawbacks.
For one, carousels can slow your site, which doesn’t fare well with site visitors. You should always be looking to optimize for speed.
It’s also difficult to time carousels correctly. Each visitor will read or scroll through your site at a different pace. For some people, the carousel will be too slow. For others, it will be too fast. This makes it inefficient at getting your point across to readers. It’s another case of aesthetics versus user friendliness, and it doesn’t perform well with users. In most cases, carousels are simply a distraction.
Not only that, but carousels have been so overused that they give websites a cookie-cutter appeal. They’re not good for SEO, they’re oftentimes inaccessible, and thanks to banner blindness, many users simply ignore them.
Try displaying your content in grids instead. This mimics newspaper columns and social media newsfeeds. You can always display featured content in a larger grid module to draw attention to it.
One Page Design
The idea behind a single page design is simple, and it’s a good one. It helps deliver the content people need all in one place without having to navigate around the site. Plus, it puts you in control of the flow of information to guide users through a specific journey.
That said, one-page designs rely heavily on above-the-fold information to capture visitors. But what if that’s not enough? Visitors might assume that what they see is all there is. These sites can be difficult to navigate if you have other content for available, such as a blog. Plus, with all the content on one page, it can take the site longer to load. Finally, it’s not exactly good for SEO since you have fewer pages, which means fewer opportunities to target multiple keywords.
Cookie-Cutter Web Themes
Web themes have their advantages. They make it incredibly easy for someone with no design skills to lay out their website in a beautiful, user-friendly fashion. Unfortunately, this leads to many websites that look practically the same. What’s worse, while these themes may be built for user friendliness, they may not suit your brand message. If that’s the case, the user-friendliness matters little because you won’t be converting the people you want to draw to your brand most.
Optimize the user experience by making your site one-of-a-kind. Does that mean you have to start from scratch? Not necessarily. Is that a good idea for some businesses? Certainly. You might hire a web design company or freelancer to build your layout from scratch, giving it a completely unique look and layout.
But that’s not always needed. If you’re on a budget, cheap web hosting and a highly customizable WordPress theme can get you started for only a few hundred dollars, if that. A good web theme will allow you to build practically anything out of it with unlimited color options, hundreds of fonts to choose from, and multiple template layouts. Plus, you can always hire an agency or designer to make the tweaks to the theme for you to give it an original touch.
What you don’t want to do is use free web themes with little customization options. You’ll end up looking like everyone else out there using the same theme. Not only will that keep your site from expressing its individuality, but it can keep you from delivering the messages that could be better said through premium design elements. In many cases, these premium web themes that stray from the cookie-cutter approach will be more user-friendly anyway, helping improve the user experience and boost conversion rates.
The important thing to remember is that your website is for your users. You can always “break the rules” of web design as long as it’s a strategic move that will impact user-friendliness for the better. However, don’t assume a design tweak will be for the better; test it! Unfortunately, these abovementioned design trends have been tested time and time again and don’t prove as effective as initially imagined. In 2017, it’s time to ditch these trends in search of new ones that will take user experience and aesthetics to the next level.