What makes a website look dated?

We’ve all looked at websites that seem a bit old-fashioned and out of date… because things change so quickly online, it doesn’t take long before what was once cutting edge becomes rather tired and dated. For most businesses, making sure your website looks modern and up-to-date will be important – creating a positive impression for visitors.

There are some websites around that are meant to look retro but no one visiting a ten-year-old website will be fooled into thinking that is part of the style!

The inspiration for this post came from an article on designfestival.com: (http://designfestival.com/what-makes-a-website-look-dated/). As well as recapping on some of the less technical points in the Design Festival blog post,  I have come up with some ‘dated website characteristics’ of my own.

If your website ticks any of the ‘boxes’ below, get in touch for more advice!

  • An overcrowded, busy web page: when websites were first created, people realised they could stuff more and more content in… and the page would just keep growing to fit.  More recently, people have come to realise that this is actually rather counter intuitive… (readers just get confused and hit the back button).  Responsive design has also helped to reverse this trend (there’s only so much that will fit on a tiny mobile screen)- and so we’re starting to see a turnaround.  Make sure your web pages don’t have too much on them!
  • Not having a responsive (mobile) design: responsive design is where your website changes when seen on a smaller (e.g. mobile) screen so it is still usable on smartphones and other mobile devices. (Yep, Hexagon Webworks is not yet responsive… but keep your eyes open, the new website is progressing fast and will be fully responsive when it is finally launched!)
  • Flashing or blinking effects: not only does this look dated, but usually flashing banners and the like just serve to distract a visitor from the actual content of your website.
  • Generic colours: this goes back to the days when monitors were limited in the colours they could display.  It also kind of says ‘I didn’t know how to find the colour I want so I’ll use whatever I can find!’  If your website uses ‘default’ colours it’s far more likely to look old-fashioned.
  • Bright fluorescent colours: Even worse than the above… these are painful to look at and are dated.
  • Using the Comic Sans font: unless you are a teacher, this is a definite no no!
  • ‘Logo in a box’: by this we mean your logo background not being transparent (when it’s supposed to be – e.g. a block of white around your logo, on top of a shaded background).  Save your logo as a transparent .gif or .png and then it can be used against a variety of backgrounds.
  • Website Counter: a box with ‘You are the … visitor to this site’ is definitely a thing of the past!
  • Word Art Logos: Pleeease… not just out of date but says ‘unprofessional’ too.  It’s definitely worth investing in a professional logo design.
  • Dark background and a bright coloured text: for example a black background with yellow text would look like something designed in 1998 (was the web around then?!)

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