5 Design Trends We Don’t Want to See Make a Comeback

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5 Design Trends We Don’t Want to See Make a Comeback

When you look at the grand scale of human achievements in the 20th century, it’s vast and impressive. We’ve landed on the moon, we’ve built massive cities, and we’ve developed a global economy so advanced that it’s occasionally difficult to comprehend. The human race achieved just about every possible milestone at some point in the […]

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When you look at the grand scale of human achievements in the 20th century, it’s vast and impressive. We’ve landed on the moon, we’ve built massive cities, and we’ve developed a global economy so advanced that it’s occasionally difficult to comprehend. The human race achieved just about every possible milestone at some point in the 20th century, but one simple goal eluded us.

The goal, of course, was designing a good website. Sure, the 1990s have some examples of good design and brilliant design innovation – anyone remember the original iMac? – but most of the online examples are, well, shall we just say “not quite brilliant”. Most websites from the 1990s look utterly terrible, even those that represented high profile companies and major global corporations.

These five trends were keys to web design in the 1990s. They were the driving force, the most important elements, and they were absolutely disgusting. If you’re a web designer that’s somehow been frozen for the last ten years, these page elements are forgivable. Otherwise, they’re grounds for a quick contract revision and a severe shortage of work from every web design client out there.


Image Source

Read ‘em, take note, and don’t let any of them ever make a comeback:

1. Animated gifs.

Animated gifs are great for forum fights and image board topics, but they’re beyond horrible on websites. Back in the mid-1990s just about every website imaginable was packed with these horrific blindness inducing gifs, and no one really seemed to mind. Today, things are quite clearly different. Very few websites use animated gifs at all, and the few that do generally use them for ironic humor and old school design style.

Here’s how you should deal with animated gifs: pretend they don’t exists. Seriously, just banish them from your internet knowledge. Any design with an animated gif included, especially a tacky one with clashing colors, is grounds for a permanent expulsion from the world of design.

2. The Flash introduction.

It’s the late 1990s, you’re 14 years old, and you’ve just mastered Macromedia Flash. What do you do? Go out and make a tacky animated intro for your website, of course, complete with annoying metal music and incredibly grating sound effects. The Flash introduction was a popular element of 90s and early 2000s web design, particularly amongst “hip” and “edgy” websites.

Now, it exists as a reminder of how good the future is. Stumbling across a website with a Flash introduction is like finding some money on the ground – it’s nice at first, but you can’t help but wonder how it got there. While a few Flash-powered online nuggets still exists, most web designers came to their senses in the early 2000s and ditched Flash as a development platform altogether.

3. Floating menus.

Does anyone remember those annoying navigational menus that followed your cursor everywhere? A favorite of, you guessed it, late 1990s personal websites, these Geocities-style navigational systems were quite possibly the most annoying element of the early internet. They obscured content from your view, annoyed you to no end with their constant movement, and made navigating a website more difficult than driving while blindfolded.

Unfortunately, blocking them was next to impossible. You see, website owners thought of these things as an “enhancement”, not a major negative point. Late 1990s delusion or merely horrible design, these things have now, fortunately, almost completely disappeared.

4. Custom mouse cursors.

It’s 1997. You’ve loaded up MSN Search (or Hotbot – remember, this is the Wild West internet, before Google even existed) and typed in something cute like “shitzu dog” or “kittens.” The results come up, you click on the first link, and something changes: your mouse cursor now looks like a baby cat.

Custom mouse cursors are now a thing of the past, primarily thanks to improved browsers and blocking scripts, but for a while they were the biggest thing on the ‘net. Just about every major website had its own custom browsing cursor script, giving users their own Pepsi can or smiley face instead of the traditional pointer icon.

If there’s anything that’s completely missed by no one, it’s custom cursors. While these digital annoyances still take over PCs as the result of spyware and malicious toolbars, they’re thankfully gone from almost all websites.

5. 100% Flash websites.

While still popular amongst third-world web designers, Flash websites are quite fortunately a rarity in developed countries, especially amongst tech-friendly crowds and online businesses. Back in the early 2000s, a Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash introduction was one of the coolest things your website could have. Then it turned into Flash navigation. Finally, you weren’t cool unless your entire website was developed in Flash, leading to a search-less and utterly horrible user experience.

Nowadays, web developers care a little more about SEO and keyword density, so 100% Flash websites are growing increasingly rare. Much like their less annoying counterpart, the Flash introduction video, these 100% Flash websites are still around, and are even stumbled onto once in a while.

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