Design Trends to Avoid and Why Your Website Is Not Converting
Items that may be causing bounce rate, terrible conversion rates and a bad user experience!
As fun as it is to be on the front lines of the latest web design trends, not all cutting edge web page ideas are ideal for every website. It’s important to understand the difference between popular, useful and web design trends that suck! It’s easy to pick web design elements simply because they appear on a lot of other website, without considering how they affect the user experience. Here are some of the top web design trends for 2016 that you need to be careful of incorporating. If done well they’re beautiful, but if they’re done badly, you will end up losing traffic as users have a hard time seeing and getting around your site.
Would you have seen that if we didn’t circle it and point to with BRIGHT RED?
Hamburger menus – those three little lines on the upper right or left corner of the page – are a fantastic way to clear up space while maintaining the full functionality of your site. They let you have a clean, clear, minimalistic site design while also enjoying the luxury of an extensive set of menu options.
- They can cause high bounce rates: However, hamburger menus can be trouble. Watch out for making your site too hard to navigate with this particular web design trend.
- Guiding your Readers Along? You need to guide your readers through your site to a certain extent. There is something in particular that you want them to do – otherwise you wouldn’t have a site up. This “call to action” link should be easily accessible, not hidden behind a hamburger menu. You may also have some other key options that your readers need to be able to get to. Go ahead and make these obvious.
- Hamburger Menu on Desktop: Another thing about hamburger menus to consider is what they look like on desktop screens. Hamburger menus are perfect for saving space and de cluttering on a small mobile screen, but they can make a site look confusingly bare on a desktop screen. Make sure you take the desktop view into account when you’re designing your menus and your top bar.
It’s fine to have a hamburger menu, but don’t let it keep your site from being easy to navigate. As a good rule of thumb, if you are having high traffic but low rates of conversion, or especially if you are having low rates of viewers making it off the front page, you have a problem with navigation and your hamburger menu might be to blame. You can also use hot spot analysis services to see where people are clicking on your pages to find where things are easy to see and where they are too hidden.
Your Front Page Carousel
As tempting as it is to put up a front page carousel to showcase what you have to offer, this is actually a trend that you should think long and hard about before jumping on the bandwagon.
- You’ll have SEO problems: Carousels are poor for Search Engine Optimization. This means that whatever you are showcasing for your viewers, search engines can’t tell. Google’s new algorithm focuses on text, not meta data, so unless you have page text that reflects the keywords you want people to use to find you, your carousel isn’t going to do anything for you – even if you have those key words in your carousel text.
- Your page will load slowly: There’s pretty much nothing more annoying than having to wait forever for a page to load. Carousels are notoriously clunky and heavy, and they get even worse when users put large images in them. Is the excitement of having a carousel really worth the decrease in performance that will go with it?
- It’s really not that easy to use: Carousels have links that point viewers to different parts of the page, but they’re quite a bit more difficult to navigate than a simple side bar or menu. If you are focused on creating an optimal user experience, carousels are not your friend.
- This isn’t to say that carousels are all terrible, or that you should never do them. Just make sure that you have a good reason to use them, and you’re not doing it just because “it’s cool.”
That Fancy Parallax Scrolling Effect
The first time any of us opened a website that had parallax scrolling, we were enthralled. There’s no point in denying it – that effect where the foreground scrolled fast but the background scrolled slowly was nifty. We’re used to backgrounds that scroll with the foreground, and we’re used to backgrounds that stay still while the foreground moves, but backgrounds that actually scroll at a different rate? The effect is decidedly trippy.
So why shouldn’t you use parallax scrolling?
- The first and biggest reason is because it’s trippy. Parallax scrolling has been known to give people motion sickness. The last thing you want is for your viewers to get nauseous just by coming to your site. Even if they don’t feel sick to their stomachs, they may feel vaguely uneasy. Again, this is not something you want to have happen to your visitors. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing, and they may not even realize that the parallax scrolling is what is making them feel that way – they will just want to click away from your site as soon as possible.
- Also, parallax scrolling makes your page load super slowly. If you are trying to get rid of any barriers to your viewers engaging your site, an unnecessarily long load time should be first on your list.
Parallax scrolling is bad for SEO. Most parallax scrolling sites are one page, which means the content is very limited. You need to make sure there are plenty of words for the little SEO bots to crawl around on, as it were, if you want your page to show up anywhere near the top of the rankings.
What’s going on with your load screen?
Don’t Finish your Coffee before our website loads!
If you have a site that takes a moment to load, then a load screen can be a good idea. On the other hand, it can be a really bad idea if it takes too much time to play the load screen (we’re talking about 10 seconds here) or if it builds up to an anticlimax.
- Make it obvious what the site is going to be about: A load screen is fine if it’s prepping your viewer for what your site is going to be. But if your load screen is confusing, well, your viewers are going to be confused. And confused viewers are viewers who are more likely to leave.
- Make it interesting: If you’re going to make your viewers sit there and wait for something, make it worth their while. You can have characters and motion, and you can even have an interactive load screen where elements move when the viewer hovers over them.
- Make it clear what the connection is between the load screen and the page: Ideally, have your load screen build up to specific elements in the page. Again, the goal is to keep your viewers from becoming confused.
- Make it SHORT. Users will quickly click away if they get bored with a load screen or feel like it is wasting their time. Keep it short, sweet, and entertaining, and your load screen will work in your favor – your viewers will come onto your page with the impression that your page is interesting and fun.
Too Many Fonts
You would be amazed at how many times we see stuff like this.. (Smiley Face – Gun!)
Complex typography is not good for your site, no matter how pretty it might be. The bottom line is legibility, and if your fonts are too complicated you reduce legibility.
- Use Two Fonts: A good general rule is just to use two fonts. You need a header font and you need a body font. Keep all your headers the same, keep all your body fonts the same, and don’t pick different fonts for different levels of headers.
- More than Two? Use the same Font Family: If you must have more than two fonts, choose fonts that are all in the same family. This will give you the variety you are looking for with the simple, unified look that your readers want.
To make the most of your recommended two fonts, pair a serif with a sans serif. Remember that it’s the body text that really communicates to your readers what your company is all about. So if you want to look formal, use a sans serif header with a serif body. If you want to look stable and down to earth, use a serif header with a sans serif body. There are many font pairing recommendations available online to help you determine what to use.
Don’t obsess over the design too much; instead, obsess over the user experience.
The design(er) isn’t the important one in this venture. The user is the important one and increasing your conversion rates for SEO is even more important. Look at everything from the perspective of the user. Only add a nifty feature if it is going to improve the user experience. No matter what the hot new web design trend is, one thing is always going to be constant: at the end of the day, your website is only going to be as successful as your user experience. When you focus on the user, you will never go wrong.