Do you have an outdated Website?

As we know there are many different types and kinds of website out there. Have you noticed there are many websites, but they haven’t been changed or kept up with the time? This is what this post is about.

My Background

One of the reasons why I haven’t been posting on this blog during times is because I’m currently a student studying Certificate IV in Web Based Technology at Chisholm TAFE in Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. One of the areas is in web design and what goes into web design. In fact, since I started this blog, I’ve actually redesigned our personal website twice and am looking at possibly a third. Why have you redesigned it so many times? This has good and bad sides to it. First, it was because of working long hours and because I didn’t know what to do as languages had evolved since I took over our website in 1997. Then when I lost my job in January 2013, I decided it was time – why not get acknowledgement for doing something I was already doing? This prompted me to go back and get the Certificate I mentioned above. I’ll finish this Certificate in June 2014, which is great.

Anyhow, during my studies I found out about the changes and requirements of the new languages. Thankfully one of the assignments was to redesign the website. I had to sit down and think about what we’ve used, what we hadn’t, what audiences we had, and oh so much more. I asked the husband, as its a family website, what he wanted from the webpage as well. Come to find out, we wanted the same thing from the website that I was going to create, and believe me in this household that is almost an impossible task so it shocked me. It also made me grateful as usually I’m always looking at ways to compromise. I created it and we liked – it contained our Social Media, photos, and was paired down substantially from 10 years ago where it was a place our families and friends could go check out pictures, and a small blurb about what’s going on in our life. Add to that a section on both of our countries (US and Australia) for those who didn’t know much, and a tiny section on our wedding. Over the years, I had taken away the section of our wedding, and then made the countries pages smaller until, they too, disappeared. Now it was a fresh start with just us on the website.

Our Website in 2005

Our Website in 2005

The redesign took me a bit as I had to learn to use Dreamweaver, code in the updated HTML 5, learn CSS and a few other tricky things like the up loader feature within Dreamweaver. However, within a month, the design went from paper to screen and then to upload and turn it in as part of my assignment. Needless to say, I got top marks. Then this past term, it was on again – I needed to redesign again for another 2 classes on how to upload using FTP and website development fundamentals – how to look at environments and to fit them to the site requirements, standards of the website and meeting all different types of standards,  SEO concepts and validating the website and webpages. I looked at the website and could see I could do things a bit different and I thought the About pages (as each person has an About page) were to wordy and needed more pictures. Off I went and created the website again, which is current as of April 2014. It meets all of our current requirements.

Our Website in 2014

Our Website in 2014

Then I got to thinking, designers and/or businesses out there – what if they didn’t know to the current features they shouldn’t be using for their websites? That is what prompted this current post.

Outdated Web Features that need to Disappear

I found this great article, in which I agree, is labeled the 12 Outdated Web Features that need to disappear. This article listed these features below, which I’ve put into my own words:

Flash Intros – These have been around for years now, and I found them then as I do now, annoying. Its not come about that it takes up users time and energy to sit there was wait for them to download only to have them do a small amount of flashing of information up. Further, they shouldn’t be used for some users health problems it may trigger. Whichever way, just don’t use them.

Animated GIF Flags – These were something we used back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Usually I used them to highlight when something new was added to the website to draw the users eye to the new addition. However, with the new cascading styles and other additions to web coding that are available now, you don’t need to use them. Back when we used them, it served a purpose, now? Not so much due to other ways you can draw a users eye to sections of the website.

Example of a gif picture we used on our website

Gif Flag Example

 

Reloading Pages – Back in the 1990’s and 2000’s, you had to keep reinventing the wheel because coding had to call upon new images, videos and other elements which made up your webpage. Now? Now you have HTML and CSS which helps you and keeps you from reinventing the wheel like you used to. You load something once and once only. If you need reloading pages,  it makes users wait. Users today do not like to wait, so your site has to seem like its instantaneous no matter what’s going on in the background.

The first Blog Post – or called the “Hello World” blog post. This used to be generated upon opening a blog back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Just to be sure, make sure this automatically generated post has been deleted because if it hasn’t it makes your blog look anything but professional. Today blogs are used as main websites for businesses, so make sure this post doesn’t show up.

Automated Popups – How many of us visit a website and get this box that pops up and it won’t go away? Back in the day, again, it was great to grab a users attention. However, now it doesn’t do anything other than annoy users. This is because we surf now more on our mobile devices than we do a proper PC and using a mobile device, these pop ups block the whole screen and a mobile user just can’t get rid of the box or doesn’t want to take the time to delete the box. We are an instant society now – we don’t want to wait for anything, so you need to give the user the info without things popping up at them.

Videos which Autoplay – These are just annoying as can be. I know when I go through reading my newspapers and other IT related articles, I open up all the stories I want to read. However, the automatically playing videos start up as I’m looking at other website and my office goes from quiet to having a group talking to me all at once (especially if more than one webpage video starts to load at once). It sounds I’m having a party for one and I then have to go searching for which tab/s are talking to me. Its very annoying. Further, if one of your readers has a medical problem, this could cause them to have a fit if there is video that is moving around, so please be aware and think of your users.

Stock Photos – Its nice to be able to have pictures around that you can use without having to go find something to take a picture of. However, users connect more with you if they can put faces to a name. This was one of the main reasons why I decided to put fresh pictures of my husband and I up on our website. Before this, we were also included in pictures together or with others. Since then, I’ve taken to use it for some of my social media accounts, so people could link the two images. However, I do recognize these will have to be changed from time to time, but its a small change.

Large Images – These are large images which take over most of the users screen. All the main content is pushed down, so the user has to go looking for what’s on the website. One of the rules I’ve been using, is the use of the website must be in the top 1/2 of the screen so the user, if they are lucky enough to find your website, can get on the page, read a small blurb about the website and can either stay to find out more or leave because its not like they thought. These large images will do nothing more than annoy users.

Irrelevant Elements – Just like with words, you must balance out other elements on your website and pages. They all must serve some purpose for the user. If they don’t, then don’t put them there. Pictures and videos are usually used within text to give our brains a rest and catchup to what is on the screen. Our About pages, used to have a bucket load of information about us, but it was boring too. With the new website, I used video, which doesn’t auto start, which also has narration and text on it along with pictures, video and maps. Further, the pictures for social media are labeled for the user to know that’s what they are there for, along with our hobbies which are on the bottom of the screen. I have used Pinterest to show our hobbies because this can be updated easily by pinning something to our board. They are all about us, but all labelled and balanced with text and picture elements.

Photo Carousel – Most website still use these today. However, like the large images, users want to be able to click through and find the image or information they are after. If you are going to use this, make sure there is an alternative for users to get to the picture when they want and not waiting around for it. My husband is an amateur photographer and likes to have his portfolio on his About page. Thankfully with his Flickr account this updates automatically but also has smaller pictures of other pictures coming up for people to look at and flip to.

Sidebars or Tables for menus – Do you really need this? According to the W3C, who make up the HTML standards, you should have your navigation bar at the top of all pages, easily assessable and easy to find. Besides why have a sidebar or a table when it takes away space for you to put your content? Most arguments I’ve heard about this is that all of the items won’t fit across the screen – have you thought about having a drop down menu for those? There are always alternatives. These just take up valuable space to put content.

Our website 1997

Our website in 1997

M.dot Sites – For me, this isn’t too much of a big one, but it does stem back from when the first smartphones accessed the web and they needed a special website coding to fit them on the phone. Now, there are special commands you can use within HTML and CSS to do this without having to rewrite the website. Easier to update as well as you only have to update the site once instead of multiple times.

Splash Screens – These were used back in the 1990’s and 2000’s. They were one screen where the user had to click on a button or image to get the door to open to the website. Don’t use it unless you have a reason to because it just slows the user using your website down. However, that being said, there is a time when you use them. For instance, I used one for a website for a customer when they wanted only people of a certain age to access their site. I had 2 boxes for age limits. One took the user to G side and another took them to the adult audience level. This is why knowing your audience and what you want on your website makes a big difference.

New things to consider for your Website

As website coding and other tools become available to us, we are finding there are somethings we can do better. Unfortunately, for those with design on our minds, we usually finish a project only to look at it and find that we could do things a bit differently. Usually I end up jotting these down in the file of the customer, so next time I can put those into use when they update.

Further, I found there is a new way of looking at websites which is called Desk Top View Design. What it is, is a picture of someone’s desktop and they use that as the background of the website and then put elements on or around the desktop which will take the user around the website. Interesting concept. Without knowing this, I used this concept somewhat in the new design – by having our pictures on either side of the writing of certain pages. This catches the users eye and at the same time gives them information.

I found a great article called Desk Top View Design by socialmedia today about this new design.

Desktop View Design from social media today article

Desktop View Design from social media today article

One thing I do know, as is life, as soon as I looked at the finished our website, I found I could probably do things a bit better. So a lesson I’ve found is no matter how finished you think a project is, it can continually grow and evolve. Please keep this in mind when you update yours.. Further, if you have a website, which you haven’t updated in ages, please do update it or else take it down and just leave a page that says that you decided to take it down. It would help us clear up the internet that little bit more.

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