outdated websiteThe Web world moves fast, and sometimes it is hard to keep up. The best way of telling whether it’s time for an upgrade, though, is to check out your competitors’ sites—if yours isn’t better, it’s not good enough. Still, there comes a time when it is undeniably time for an upgrade, competition or no. Here are some of the obvious signs of a seriously outdated website.

  1. Flash Intro
    Web users have incredibly short attention spans, so you only have seconds to convince them that your site is worth sticking around for. Your Flash intro might have seemed really nifty back in the day, but now that sort of thing is generally seen as a waste of time. Your users have a specific purpose in mind when they visit your site, and a sitting through a intro video is just an obstacle to that goal. A good rule is that if it’s long enough to need a “skip intro” button, get rid of it.
  2. Using Frames
    Frames used to be cool because they allowed you to keep one part of your website still (say, a logo or a sidebar), while the rest of the page scrolled. Frames also allow your site to be ignored by search engines, have eyesore scroll bars all over the place, and be incompatible with most modern browsers. You can achieve the same fixed-position effect with CSS without all the problems, so frames are more or less obsolete now.
  3. Hit counters
    I’m not sure that hit counters were ever classy, but including one on your site now is definitely tacky, and a little sad—like telling everyone you meet: “Hi there! I have 54 Facebook friends…and counting!” Besides that, it is an inaccurate term, as most “hit counters” actually count visitors, not hits.
  4. Clipart/Animated Gif Overload
    These “design elements” just scream 1995, and will make it difficult for anyone to take you seriously. Animated GIFs are distracting and don’t add anything of value to your design. The same goes for blinking, marquee or sparkling text. Clipart shows that you didn’t go through the effort to develop graphics specific to your company.
  5. Using tables for layout
    Tables should be used to present data, not to lay out your website. A table-based layout is a sure sign that either you designed your site in the stone age, or you just don’t know what you’re doing. Yes, grid-based designs are wonderful, but you don’t need a table to make a grid. Don’t believe me? Check out the 960 grid system.
  6. “Website best rendered in [fill in the blank] browser”
    There are a lot of browsers out there, and they are all constantly being updated and improved. It is important keep up with current Web standards and make sure that your site is compatible with as many different browsers and versions as possible. Otherwise, you are alienating a portion of your potential audience. So, a note like this shouldn’t even be necessary. It can also betray how long it’s been since you updated your site—if you’re saying that your website is best viewed in IE6, that tells everyone just how behind the times you are.
  7. Inconsistent layout and/or navigation across pages
    As your business or organization has grown and changed over the years, you have probably added a few pages to your website. Maybe a few different people have worked on it. This is fine, but it is important to keep a consistent layout and look throughout your site, especially in the navigation. Otherwise, users will get lost and confused. Many sites now are built with dynamic programming languages like PHP that allow you to add and update pages without starting from scratch each time, leaving less room for inconsistency.
  8. Music begins to play when the site loads
    Automatically-playing music and videos used to be popular, but most users now find it annoying and unfriendly—especially when there is no easily-locatable mute or stop button. People browse the web in all sorts of settings these days, and not all of them are noise/music friendly. Bonus points if it’s a MIDI file (see #4: the part about 1995).
  9. Using default fonts and colors
    Don’t be afraid to have a little style. Nothing says “outdated website” like black Times font on a white background, with blue or purple underlined links.
  10. Click here
    Nobody uses the words “click here” to signify a link anymore, because it’s simply not necessary. Your users know what a link looks like, so you can use that link text for something more useful, like a description of where it leads. This will also help your copy flow more smoothly, and be less wordy. For example, instead of writing “To read more, click here“, just write “Read more“.

Did we miss any?

What would you consider old practices for website design and development?

Comments are closed.