You might have N’Sync on your iPod, hammer pants and a pair of high-tops in the closet, and you know what? They are still cool (for certain occasions and not combined). Similar to these fads of the past, there are retro and vintage style elements that still have their niche in web design. However, remember that your website is one of your business tools, and therefore should support your business goals. When certain website features serve no purpose, they not only take up valuable space, but could be distracting, hindering, or even repelling your site visitors. This was the case with most of the website designed in the 90s. Carefully examine this list of typical 90s website attributes, and if your website utilizes any of them, start thinking about redesigning it!
1. An all-flash website or an intro page
Does it look cool? Possibly… But for an average user it’s rather confusing than cool. Besides visual appeal, flash doesn’t have any significant benefits that would outweigh the drawbacks. Flash websites take longer to load, won’t let the user bookmark specific pages, and are not ADA-friendly. Being found by search engines is still the biggest issue with using flash. Even though search engines are continuously improving their indexing algorithms to include flash, your website won’t be as visible in organic search results, as it would if it was designed with HTML/CSS. The actions that can be done with flash can be partially replaced by JavaSctipt/jQuery and HTML 5, but if you must use Flash, here are a few techniques to help your flash website become more SEO-friendly.
2. Background music
At least this website lets you turn the music off, how thoughtful of them! Overall, any kind of background music on your website is unacceptable unless you’re a music artist. Your site visitors could be listening to their own music and startled by the unexpected burst of sound. Picture this: you are at work listening to a webinar on the importance of SEO. You decide to look up a local Baltimore SEO company, and the first site you open stuns you with a blast of sound. Your first reaction: exit this website IMMEDIATELY! It scared you; it made you miss a bit of a webinar; it embarrassed you in front of your coworkers. That’s not the impression you want to make on your website visitors. If your website contains any embedded audio, at least give your visitors the option to play it when they choose. Does your website greet customers with a song? Ditch it immediately!
3. 3D text, animated images and banners
Butterflies flying all over the page and a runaway text escaping your attention: how cool is that? The answer is: not cool at all! If you read what the crawling line says, you’ll see that the web designer also knew what a terrible job they did. The line reads “Find your way around the site by clicking on the page links at the top or the bottom of each page.” Why would you make a website so visually confusing and distracting, that you have to explain to users how to navigate it? Make sure your website catches visitors’ attention with neat design and quality offers; not with floating bubbles and glittering butterflies.
4. Animated background and poor contrast
Besides developing a headache, animated backgrounds make it more difficult for your visitors to concentrate on your content. The same rule applies to the contrast: whether it’s too low or too high, it causes readability issues. Your website should solve your visitor’s problems, not create new ones!
5. Visible hit counter
A hit counter is one of the worst ideas for your website! Website traffic data can be vital information to have but is it relevant for website visitors? The answer is NO. Showing off your website traffic isn’t going to help you “close the deal” with your potential customer. If your traffic is low, a counter is proof that you are not a popular choice among consumers. What a great way to ruin your credibility! Use your website space wisely. A call to action is much more beneficial than a dozen of hit counters. Tools like Google Analytics can provide invaluable data regarding your website traffic.
Did your website pass this checklist? Congratulations if it did! If it didn’t, get in touch for any help with evaluation or new design that would speak to your website visitors! Meanwhile, stay tuned for the part two!