They used to be THE norm and to dictate web designers' decisions. No one questioned their usability or long-term efficiency. Or that they would soon grow into some outdated web design trends. Deprecated conventions that, when not mocked, are now regarded as mere haunting “ghost of the past”.

A “past” where glossy buttons, flashy design, and overly embellished page dividers used to steal the spotlight. 

Now, let us go against today's trend of talking about the biggest web trends in 2019” and, instead, dig out some old UI cliches. Just to determine the cause of death so that you:

  • don't risk falling into yesterday's pitfalls in terms of web design once again
  • leverage the lessons of the past to contribute to a better future of the web

1. The Flash Menu

Remember those “glory days” of the... flashy web? 

6 Outdated Web Design Trends to... Bury for Good: The Flash Menu

There was sound pretty much everywhere on a web page, animated buttons, interactive elements. And there were fancy flash menus, of course.

All web designers used to take “flashy” and “animated” for... “user engaging”.

The causes of death:

  • applying any changes to a flash menu was discouragingly challenging (you couldn't get away with just editing a text file)
  • it had a negative impact on the website's SEO; crawling those flash files was “mission impossible” for the search engines
  • it wasn't mobile-friendly
  • it had poor loading times
  • it had to be installed into the browser
  • plugins had to be updated constantly... frequently

2. The Frame, the Elder “Cousin” of Today's iFrame

Now, let's turn back the hands of time and “freeze” it right at those days before tables stepped into the spotlight. What did we use for basic layouts back then?

We used frames...

Which are now no more than another one of the outdated web design trends that, well, it's not worth resuscitating. Back then, we didn't have JavaScript to overtake the burden of loading data, so web browsers had to do all the heavy work. 

The causes of death:

  • they would compromise the browser history and break the back and forward buttons
  • copying and pasting links to web pages on the same website was a dread
  • they would enable the web browser to partly update a page instead of loading a brand new one
  • reloading a website would, more often than not, mean no more than guiding the user back to the exact front page

3. The Table Layout, One of Those Outdated Web Designs Trends to... Bury 

OK, maybe there's no need to “mourn” over this dead UI convention, but we can't just overlook its massive contribution to... the evolution of web design.

6 Outdated Web Design Trends to... Bury for Good: The Table Layout

Image source: Genealogy Web Creations

Back then, when the table-based layout trend emerged and stole the spotlight, it opened a whole world of possibilities:

It empowered us to structure our web content by breaking it into multiple columns and rows.

Surprisingly enough, that mix of GIF files and inline styles did manage to glue those layouts together.

The causes of death:

  • it wasn't responsive
  • <div> tags and classes came to... seal its faith
  • CSS, “tempting” us with floats, stepped on the stage of web design


4. The Border Ornament and Decorative Page Divider  

The overly embellished page separators are another “once a norm, now just one of the outdated web designed trends”.

6 Outdated Web Design Trends to... Bury for Good: The Decorative Page Divider

Image source: Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

In its “glory days,” it was our only option to split chunks of text on our web pages. And since the <hr> elements looked a bit too... dull, we went to the other extreme and started using these overly embroidered GIF separators to section our web pages.

Separators which, at first, were no more than some horizontal bars. Until web designers fell prey to the urge of gilding the lily.

The causes of death:

  • the heavily ornamented borders ended up diverting users' attention away from the essential: the text itself
  • CSS/CSS3 eventually stole our attention, as web designers
  • divs and classes made the segmentation of a web page much more... fluid, with no impact on the overall user experience

5. The Blinking Marquee

There was a time, way before image sliders gained their bad reputation when we would have text just... slide across web pages, from right to left.

What made this “sliding” possible? HTML's marquee tag, the equivalent of Internet Explorer's <blink> tag...

The causes of death:

  • it distracted website visitors from the core message
  • it affected SEO, since it only displayed partial information to search engines
  • it was an unnecessary artifice in most cases, for it carried minor information and it was the main “culprit” for a high cognitive load

6. The Image Button

Another one of those outdated web design trends dating back to early 2000, when “flashy”, “cluttered” and (most of all) “fancy” were the best adjectives to describe web designers' work.

6 Outdated Web Design Trends to... Bury for Good: The Image Button

And the glossy, 3D-looking image-based buttons created in Photoshop were fancy, alright! Where do you add that they paired with custom-made, animated cursors, as well.

The causes of death:

  • with text “carved” into the image, buttons were too difficult to manage, too difficult to apply changes to
  • they weren't responsive (they would get “partially responsive” and that only after a lot of hard work)
  • CSS3 came to... bury it for good

The END!

These are the 6 most representative UI conventions for the early 2000s that have gradually turned into some outdated web design trends.

Or, better said, into “learning materials” on the old/wrong ways of designing for the web and how they influenced today's UI design best practices.

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay  


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