Website design has made big strides since the days when everything was static and pictures took a month to load. Some design methods have been embraced, some have gone the way of the dinosaur, but still some bad design trends are far too prevalent on the web.

I think we all remember the 90’s: neon shorts, vanilla ice, and bad web design. Although these memories may get you feeling all sorts of nostalgia, let’s leave them all behind where they belong. Here’s a look at some of the worst trends in web design, which must be avoided at all cost.

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Worst Web Design Trends: What NOT to do?

Bevel and Emboss

If you want to make your website visitors the feel like they stepped into the Wayback Machine, nothing works faster than using bevel and emboss. Every letter, frame, and object must have those sharp beveled edges and deep, 3D depth that look that can only come from using the emboss tool. This may give your visitors a warm-fuzzy sentimental feeling, or it may send them to the other side of the internet to get away from it.

Avoid this design technique like the plague unless you are going for the 1990’s, pre-Flash look . The current trend is the minimalist approach, which means sharp, readable fonts and professional, simple graphics. If you are ever in a bind and don’t know if you are going overboard with your designs, remember this quote my mother always told me about questionable dairy: “When in doubt, THROW IT OUT.” End of story.

Fonts, Fonts, and more Fonts

Just because there are more fonts than humans doesn’t mean we have to use them frivolously or with wanton disregard for the wellbeing of our website visitors. Sorry kids, this also doesn’t mean that a myriad of fonts will add youth or reckless abandon to your boring page. This is a carryover from the ’90s when there were no real rules about what is and what is not a professional, appealing website design.

There’s a reason books, newspapers, magazines, use a consistent font face: readability. All the script, circus, wingding, tribal, and Olde English fonts need to be ignored. Instead, choose easy-to-read fonts like Ariel and Calibri. Remember that most visitors will be scanning the page quickly for the information they are looking for and will most likely skip over hard to read fonts completely. Just stick to the basics, they work exceptionally well and are a few of the most commonly used fonts today.


There are few experiences that surpass “auto play” in annoyance. There you are, just surfing around the web and you stumble upon a site that looks interesting. You launch the site and without any warning some ridiculous song is blaring from your speakers. Not only does this annoy other churchgoers when the iPad volume is mistakenly turned up to 11, it’s just bad web development. Let’s not even get into the “try-to-figure-out-which-tab-is-playing-that-horrible-song” predicament.

The same goes for queued news stories, infomercials, sales specials, and any other auto-play ambushes designed to make visitors leave your website in two-seconds flat. There is nothing that will get visitors to close your page more quickly than a auto-play commercial interrupting the song they were listening to. If you have to have audio and video elements on your website, allow your visitors to opt in. You’ll have a much happier crowd on your hands.

Website Intro Pages

The next worst thing in bad website development trends behind auto-play is the confusing intro page. It’s like the warm-up band. Sure, they might sound great but they’re not the reason you went to the show. Let’s face it, modern day internet users are very lazy and having an extra click in their browsing experience isn’t going to make them very happy.

Take your visitors directly to your home page and resist the urge to force them into clicking through something only you care about. They’ll appreciate and you’ll have one less thing to answer for when a V.P. calls you into his office.

One Final Thought

We hope you have learned a thing or two about what NOT to do for a modern, well designed website. If you would like to do more research on what NOT to do in 2012 web design, check out this list of possibly the 30 worst websites of all time.

What are some of your biggest web design pet peeves?

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