CSS Inspire – 3 web design flaws that undermine your brand image | Articles


The internet, all things considered, is still new.

With how quickly everything changes, it can be hard to know whether your
website’s design is dated or not. What may have been normal 10 years ago
has very likely evolved into a faux pas by now. Some design elements we are
glad to see fall by the wayside, and others we may not have even realized
were gone.

Here are three design trends of yesteryear that just won’t cut it in
today’s high-speed world:

An infamous font-type

To be specific: Avoid Comic Sans.

The now reviled font was one of five released with Windows 95 and,
understandably, was seen a lot in the following years —too much in fact.
Comic Sans is, at its base, an easy-to-read, handwritten font. However, it
was designed to be casual, almost childlike, and not for professional use.

People began compiling lists of terrible scenarios where people used Comic
Sans, and the casual type swiftly became one of the most universally-hated
fonts ever.

Of course, while outing Comic Sans as a bad choice for advertisements or
company announcements, the internet did find a place for Comic Sans to fit
comfortably: tacky valentines.


While these internet memes are only the tip of the internet culture built
around this font, all you need to know is that if you use Comic Sans,
someone will notice and have an opinion on it.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a web designer today who would recommend the
use of Comic Sans. If you lobby for it, they’ll probably give you many
reasons why you shouldn’t do it. If for some reason the font has some
appeal for you, think about why you’re incorporating it. If your intention
is to strike a light-hearted or ironic tone, the font may be appropriate to
use sparingly. However, if the impression you want to make is credible and
professional, it would be best to stay far away from the likes of Comic
Sans (or Papyrus, but that’s another story).


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Moving elements

Figuring out how to make elements bounce, flash or otherwise move on your
website is always nifty—if your web designer is a beginner.

In the earlier days of the internet, you would find sites that made liberal
use of moving elements, likely just because they could.


In practice, moving elements usually aren’t beneficial for the people using
your site. Often websites that feature bouncing buttons or imagery are
viewed as juvenile or spam-ridden.

Your site should be designed to focus on important features without having
to animate them. Flashing sidebars to draw people’s attention away from the
main content of the page can be ineffective, as flashing or moving elements
are often assumed to be ads. You want to entice people to click, not drive
them to second-guess their decision.

More sophisticated animation can be created that only moves in response to
a user’s interaction, such as hovering over the element or scrolling. This
can be an effective way to make your site more interactive; however, if
taken too far, it can confuse the viewer, or make it seem like the site has
coding flaws.

Elements should only move if they are important and clickable—and that
movement should be subtle.

Not enough color contrast

Websites were different in the 90s. Even big brands, like McDonalds, had
websites that by today’s standards are garish (this design from 1996 was
competitive in its time). It was common to visit a site, and then squint to
find what you were looking for and it was assumed that if red and yellow
were your brand colors, you would just use them together on your site.


If you want your text to be readable, there are certain rules that a good
web designer should know. Yellow may be your company’s color, but that
doesn’t mean yellow is the best choice for your site’s text.

Text and background should contrast enough that it is easily readable. It
is recommended to have a color contrast of at least 4.5 to 1 on your site.
The contrast ratio between black and white, for example, is 21 to 1, while
yellow and white has a color contrast of 1.07 to 1.

This goes the opposite direction too. If your background is dark, have
light text. If your background is a medium color, make sure its text is
extremely light or dark to meet the color contrast ratio. Standard blue
against white would work fine, but blue against green would not.

While some of these faux pas are more arbitrary (like the hatred of Comic
Sans), and some are practical (like color contrast), time has proven them
all to negatively impact how people view your site.

What other web design elements do you remember which are now verboten, PR Daily readers? What do you think will become a faux pas in the

Kristine Krato is a Jr. Digital Accounts Coordinator at
Kolbeco, a brand media company. A version of this article originally ran on

the Kolbeco blog

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