If Your Site Contains these Features, Remove Them – Immediately

Web design and programming has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. However, the rapid pace of development means that older websites are increasingly being rendered obsolete – if they’re rendered at all. From Flash to interstitials, these are the design and coding elements that should be removed immediately if they’re still on your site…
Flash. Back in the days when you could smoke a cigarette indoors while a homepage loaded, Flash looked sophisticated and elegant. Today, it probably won’t display at all. Android and iOS devices don’t support Flash, and Google can’t index it so page contents won’t appear in search results.
Although Flash still has its uses, Flash elements shouldn’t include website content. Flash pages perform poorly in SEO, take ages to download and require proprietary software installation. Without this software, users are treated to a jigsaw piece logo and an error message. And that’s not how a website wins hearts and minds.
Interstitials. Marketing agency sites are particularly bad for multiple interstitials, which can appear a fraction of a second after primary content. Less conscientious firms camouflage the Close boxes, or supplant one pop-up with another.
Earlier this year, Google began clamping down on intrusive interstitials and pop-ups. And where Google leads, other search engines inevitably follow. While cookie notes and login dialogs are exempted, obscured or grayed-out content on handheld devices will cause significant downgrading of SEO rankings. The only exception is when exit intent can be proved, which certainly doesn’t apply if the homepage is still loading.
Autoplaying content. Now that search engines rank web pages on their estimated download times, it’s inadvisable to include autoplaying videos that hugely enlarge data transfers. Since 57 per cent of online shoppers abandon a page that hasn’t displayed within three seconds, even asynchronous embedded clips should be pre-paused. That’s particularly true for responsive templates.
Few things annoy site visitors more than their mobile device suddenly erupting with noise in a public environment, as the soundtrack to an advert or embedded clip begins. Their instinctive reaction will be to close the page, meaning that audience member is lost – probably forever.
Lengthy registration forms. Ecommerce web design should streamline and optimize the checkout process, so every user field needs to justify its presence. Requesting people’s age and marital status will deter them from completing a purchase, without adding much value to customer databases.
Successful ecommerce platforms permit guest checkouts, following up order confirmations with a CTA promising discounts or order tracking in exchange for registration. Every effort should be made to automate form-filling – including a tick-box to synchronize delivery and billing addresses. With two thirds of online baskets still being abandoned, speed is of the essence to maximize transaction levels.
Stock images. Generic stock photography contradicts any claims of exclusivity or uniqueness. A PR agency’s website should have bespoke photos of its premises, key staff or successful events. It should not include homogenous pictures of multicultural executives with Hollywood smiles gazing adoringly at a whiteboard.
Anyone can visit Wikimedia or freeimages.com, which increases the likelihood of a particular stock image already being ubiquitous. And how do you generate alt tags for something irrelevant to your specific brand? Some people even load stock images into a slider, whose automated transitions are more annoying than informative in 2017.
Tag clouds. Web 2.0 inspired many innovations, but one of its unwanted byproducts was the tag cloud. Flickr brought this concept into the mainstream, before apologizing for doing so.
The ubiquity of tag clouds caused a race to the bottom, which eventually led to more discreet blog tags being adopted. Tag clouds are damnably ugly, with variable font sizes and random word juxtapositions highlighting the absurdity of surrendering sidebar space to a jumbled list of keywords. Plus, aiming tags at crawlers rather than people is effectively an open admission of SEO gamesmanship.
Of course, there are many other web design trends that have fallen by the wayside. M.dot platforms and sub-200ppi graphics became unnecessary as connection speeds improved, while tables and landing pages gradually became inefficient and clumsy barriers to usability. By monitoring design and coding trends, designers and programmers can ensure contemporary sites don’t resemble throwbacks to a more primitive age of web design…