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Web design changes all the time. New trends come and old trends go as quickly as the crowd catches up to them. Some of these trends can be long lasting and have a huge impact on how we interact with the internet like responsive design, others can be more fluid and fleeting like flat design. The design community has made its name by always pushing to create the most visually exciting and effective user experience the technology allows, but that means we also have to let go of bad habits as we grow.

As the new year draws closer, designers are reflecting on the changes web design has undergone in the past year. While many are using this reflection to predict what is going to be popular next year, Maryam Taheri looks at what we need to get rid of to improve looking forward.

Homepage Sliding Banners

Rotating Banners

The sliding banners have become a hallmark of news and culture websites across the web, as well as many retailers. But, the banners are becoming dangerously close to cliche and users seem to be mixed in their response. Many find them to be distracting and annoying. While there may be ways to make these sliding banners more enjoyable for users, it could very well be in our best interests to instead turn to more interactive design methods such as single-page scrolling.

Extensive Fill-Out Forms

While we will always have to fill out lengthy forms for legitimate purposes like online shopping (at least the first time!), there is no need to make users fill out a full length form for optional areas of your site. Chances are, they will just avoid that area of your site to avoid giving personal information, and it could severely hurt your trust with many of your online customers. Asking for an e-mail address is fine. Asking for their life story isn’t. Thankfully, the majority have already realized this.

Overuse of Fonts

Sketchbook Typography

It works in a sketchbook, not on your site.
Source: Carolyn Sewell

Typography is enjoying a new wave of interest in all areas of design, but it has its limits. A good designer can match a select number of fonts (no more than three) to create a pleasing website. But, it is far to common for less experienced designers to choose the “more is better” approach to diminishing returns. A mish-mash of fonts only makes a site look cluttered and schizophrenic. If you want to make your header or your copy pop but don’t know much about fonts and typfaces and kerning, it is wise to limit yourself to two fonts. If you can make two fonts compliment each other, you’re design won’t need any more.

Complicated Design

If there is one thing the favored trends of the past year have shown us, it is that users want their web experience simple. This seems like common sense for the large number of mobile users accessing the web while out and about, but it also stands true for desktop users. You don’t have to choose flat design or convert to the church of minimalism, but successful websites are increasingly focused on creating the best experience for users. If your website confuses or overwhelms, you’re doing it wrong.

Mandela 2008

Nelson Mandela in 2008
Source: WikiMedia Commons

Not to be outdone by Bing, Google published their top ten lists of the year, centered around their list of global trending searches of 2013 and their annual “Year-End Zeitgeist” page. The list is dominated by public figures and huge events, but it also features a few entries from popular electronics released this year. However, unlike many other lists, the public figures are exclusively male, and mostly associated with tragedy.

Both Paul Walker and Cory Monteith, two star actors who passed at young ages, are on the list, and the highest ranked trending search of the year was awarded to Nelson Mandela, the recently deceased South African leader who has made such a huge impact on his home country and around the world. As Google says:

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the #1 trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace: Nelson Mandela. Global search interest in the former President of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy.

Google’s Top 10 Trending Global Searches of 2013:

  • Nelson Mandela
  • Paul Walker
  • iPhone 5s
  • Cory Monteith
  • Harlem Shake
  • Boston Marathon
  • Royal Baby
  • Samsung Galaxy s4
  • PlayStation 4
  • North Korea

Along with their Trending Global Searches list, Google published their Year-End Zeitgeist page, which lists more than 1,000 top ten search lists from over 70 countries. It includes topics such as the most searched celebrity pregnancies (Kim Kardashian), most searched Fortune 500 (Google), most searched for movies (Man of Steel), and the most searched TV shows of the year (Breaking Bad).

Of course, Miley Cyrus made a serious impact in search after her notorious MTV VMA performance, by contributing to the most searched “What is…?” question, which was “What is twerking?” She also won the most searched person of the year, showing controversy always leads to a surge of interest.

To top it all of, Google released a video to spotlight all of the highlights of the year: