Most Used and Abused Web Design Trends of All Time

By / Oct 5, 2009 / Tips

The year is 1999. You’ve just watched the Matrix, and it’s blown your mind. You sit down in front of your computer to work on a web design and then create or download an animated Matrix background for your Geocities website. You’re so cool. Fast forward 10 years, and you say to yourself, yikes, what was I thinking?! We’ve all been there. As a matter of fact, I’m personally guilty of copying many of following trends.

Trend isn’t a bad word in web design. In fact, the items on this list inspired an entire generation of web designers. All of these ideas were so huge that they created a mass following. That’s a good thing. The problem comes when we’re happy to create a clone of a great design and let it rest at that. Great designers push themselves to be ahead of the trends, or they twist the trend into something uniquely their own. The problem isn’t that you were inspired by the Matrix, it is that you didn’t re-imagine your inspiration into something different. As you look through this list, remember the reasons why you may have once loved these web design trends. It will help you understand why they were so popular, and what you can learn from them.

Reflective Text or Objects

web design trend

Mirrored objects are one of those web design trends that seem to constantly resurface. We love it for the sense of realism and dimension it brings to a static 2D image, but most of the time it’s done incorrectly. It takes more than simply flipping an object upside down to make a mirrored image.

Aqua Buttons

web design trend

There’s no way this list could exist without the prominent mentioning of aqua buttons. These shiny, glassy, light blue buttons gave the impression of 3D even though they took less than 10 minutes to make in Photoshop. Amazingly simple, aqua buttons were a ubiquitous trend that finally died down around 2005.

Flourishes

web design trend

Unfortunately this web design trend is still in its 14th minute of fame. These embellishments are often created to emphasize an artsy site, and can be done very well, especially if the designer is particularly gifted in graphic art. The problem is that this look has been seen in an obscene amount of sites, and is no longer fresh or unexpected. The flowers are dying.

Desktop Design with Coffee Cup

web design trend

Don’t forget the coffee stains somewhere in the design. I’ve never quite understood the perspective on this design. Is the viewer supposed to be standing up and looking directly down at the desk? That’s the only way this view makes sense. This trend must be stopped.

Animated Globe

web design trend

Fortunately, this web design trend has come to an end for most websites, but it died a long death. This popular “rotating” earth was usually attached to the site’s logo. Most businesses which displayed it weren’t even international. It was your local mom and pop shop showing they could have a fancy animated gif, too.

Comic Sans Font

web design trend

There was a time when Comic Sans was everywhere and, despite its name, it wasn’t funny. Comic Sans was the font many misguided designers used to convey a sense of playfulness on their websites. Comic Sans has stirred an unholy amount of hatred over the years, and yet it continues to exist as a font. Fortunately, every designer knows to steer clear of this font like the plague.

Overused Stock Images

web design trend

How many business sites have we visited where there’s one of these images on the front page? Of course, clients request these types of stock images all the time, but as designers, we have to show them what else is possible.

Torn Notebook Paper

web design trend

It’s nice to see realistic elements on websites, but the paper look lacks originality. The overwhelming amount of paper textures and tutorials make this a definite trend to avoid for a trend-setter.

Polaroids

web design trend

There was a time when everyone incorporated Polaroid-type objects into their design. This retro trend has outlived its usefulness. Polaroids may be a fun throwback, but it’s doubtful that anyone born after 1990 has ever seen one in person.

Oversized RSS or Twitter Icons

web design trend

We get it. You want us to subscribe and follow your random thoughts. We want to, but putting up a huge RSS icon that’s half the size of your web page is just obnoxious and insults your visitors. The same goes for Twitter. Keep these icons classy and non-obtrusive.

Auto-played Music

web design trend

Music is awesome, but it’s wrong to impose your music selection on your visitors. What if they’re listening to their own music? Unfortunately, there was a time on the internet when bored office workers had to surf on mute for fear that they may enter the wrong website. Fortunately, most designers have dropped this trend, but it still seems hot in Eastern Europe.

Counters

web design trend

Here we have the sad web design phenomenon of visitor counters. In the early days of the internet, web designers used counters as a way to (sadly) collect visitor data, but more often to impress visitors with an impossibly large amount of web traffic. These counters were notoriously inaccurate and everyone knew it, because no one believed you had over a million visitors into your Homestead account. Fortunately, the web counter trend is dead, and happily so.

Marquees

web design trend

Scrolling text across any part of a website is considered a marquee. Marquees were so cool in the late 90s, but soon lost its seem once designers realized that websites are not headline news networks. We all seen way too many marquees in Comic Sans font.

Frames

web design trend

Frames. Frames are probably the saddest trend on this list. The only thing that saved us from frames was the supreme importance of the search engine. Designers started realizing that it was no longer optimal to have five or six pages to incorporate one home page. Frames were ugly, difficult to deal with, and had way too many moving parts.

Splash Pages That Make You Choose

web design trend

Flash or HTML? Old site or new site? Full screen or normal screen? Your visitor does not need to face these crucial choices before entering into your website. This trend is still popular amongst designers who don’t realize how to effectively manage both old and new, html and Flash. By the way, no one likes full screen. Keep it simple. Don’t give your audience these types of choices or they may choose to leave.

Intro with No Skipping Option

web design trend

This design trend forced visitors to sit through an impossibly long (no matter the length) introduction to your site with no means of escape. The trend supposed that every visitor to your site was a first-time one, and never took into account the possibly of repeat visitors.

Black Backgrounds

web design trend

This is a delicate subject, but black backgrounds are an overused trend. Dark is nice, especially if you find surprising new colors to re-interpret a mood such as a deep blue or a hazy gray, but black is out.

What do you think this list is missing? We’d like to hear from you.

About the Author

Jacqueline is an award winning writer for hire and brand authority. Find her on her website, and follow her updates on Twitter and Google +.

  • http://enrique-ramirez.com Enrique Ramรญrez

    Awesome list. Made me remember the old days (p.s., those were definitely NOT THE days).

    Have to disagree on the dark background, though. White is most used at the moment. Not that that’s a bad thing, though. It just seems to be more popular than black.

    Also… http://www.missbellowsfallsdiner.com/ <– OMG!

  • http://www.penalba.info El desalmado

    hey, you can wear any tshirt you like as long is a black tshirt

    don’t mess with the darkness

    everything else is okay =D

  • http://lurki.com Chris

    “Let’s take the shake hands picture and show everyone that our business is trustworthy” LAME!

    Great list but I you forgot “animated Bart Simpson” in 1997 every website had those ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://rubiqube.com Adrian

    Hmmm… I clearly need to update my website! :)

  • http://www.empiricalbusinessservices.com.au Kate Allen

    Excellent list Jacqueline, I still see the mirror image and auto-playing music more thank I should.
    Look forward to seeing the next generation of web design abuses.

  • http://www.konspiredesign.com Vasily

    Excellent post Jacqueline! Enjoyed reading it a lot. Nostalgic and spot on. Looking forward to seeing more of your articles.

  • http://www.pragmaticdesign.co.uk Bones

    An excellent post. However, there is one glaring omission from the list of past crimes: the spinning logo! Far more common than the equally awful spinning globe. Thankfully rare these days, but still crops up occasionally.

  • http://iphone4ever.eu tobiCOM

    Very Nice Topic! Also enjoyed the Reading

  • http://www.77e.org ekrem

    great article :-) comic sans must be banned!

  • http://www.jirijerabek.net 2stGeorge

    I don’t think ie. black backgrounds or other elements are bad if they are used in appropriate way. It’s the unappropriate use os such “trend” (and overusing of course) which is bad.

    I’d add the “twitter bird” – you can see it all over the place now, especially on designers own websites. Maybe they don’t realize, that their target audience are NOT other designers and that their target audience has (well most of the time) no clue, what that bird is and what it means.

  • http://sistemakiwi.com/ @jrosell

    What’s wrong about Reflective Text or Objects, Aqua Buttons and Flourishes?

  • Carlos Zambrano

    Great post… a think the biggest ternd of our days its the right or left side Advertisement!!!!

  • Carlos Zambrano

    Another trend was the Gif’s animations… in the backgrounds, in the icons….

  • http://nymphont.blogspot.com Lauren

    On polaroids: “…itโ€™s doubtful that anyone born after 1990 has ever seen one in person,” -Great Scotts! You’re absolutely right! Shudder. Wow, I suddenly am a bit more aware of my age! I enjoyed reading this very much, hilarious and nostalgic look back on the web. Great job. Long live flourishes! lol

  • Vladimir

    Great post!! Like it a lot

  • http://www.tonibarrett.com Toni

    Great post! I’m a web design n00b but thankfully have only committed one crime on this list so far. Time for those Polaroids to go I think!

  • Marco

    Really useful… I Gotta go, Time to open PS and resize my Twitter/Rss icons! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://advent-media.net Adrian

    Ketchup or mustard. LOL!

  • http://www.bibox.fr bibox

    As the marquee one, I can see at this time some websites with the , still exist unfortunately.
    Great post !

  • http://selfconclusion.co.uk Stu Greenham

    haha awsome post! some classics right there!

  • http://www.seouxindianer.de/ SEOux Indianer

    Ah at the moment my most hated design component are the faceless white and glossy characters .. example here: http://suchmaschinenoptimierung.wingerter.be/ | I’m tired of them!

  • RK

    Another annoying trend I see all the time…

    On portfolio websites, in huge type, “Hi, I’m a web designer. I make high quality websites.” Or insert some other type of work..but it all begins with HI, I’M A…

  • http://www.bebop-cafe.com BebopDesigner

    What a brilliant article! A great way to look back a little (with better educated eye I guess)

    Thanks for posting

  • LLtooljay

    Curious…I don’t have anything (I can reach to) that references what I once learned of years ago – but isn’t a black background [with reversed sans serrif type, i.e. white text] deemed MOST READABLE in study after study of users? If more recent studies have shed light on more updated behaviors/outcomes – I would love to learn more.

  • http://www.d-lists.co.uk Michael Wilson

    I love it!

    I think the whole ‘iPhone app site’ is going to be a big trend in the coming months. Every site that is advertising an iPhone app at the moment looks exactly the same!

  • http://www.k-win.fr kevin

    Unfortunately huge rss and twitter icons are far from dead. Even on sites about webdesign! Good post, dont agree though with the last point.

  • si

    lol the only thing this list is missing is diagonal lines and fat slab serif typefaces.

  • http://www.hawkeward.com Hawke

    I’d say the handwritten titles or websites are an overly used trend. It was cool at first because people would draw sketches and put them online, which was a fun combination of media.

    Now, there are fonts and elements made directly on the computer to look sketch-like and artistic.

    It’s a great skill and style in moderation, but now it’s just everywhere.

  • http://matthewlyle.com Matt

    This was an excellent list. It made me laugh a few times. Funny how most of the bad trends were all popular around the same time, which happened to be when I was getting into web design haha.

  • http://www.thecomplexmedia.com/ theComplex

    Great post! The marquee and frames gave me a painful chill up my spine. Lol.

  • Kiley

    I have a comment about the stock photography.

    As designers it is our job to show clients the value of professional photography, but if they don’t have the budget what is the next best solution? You can’t help that some clients (80%) will not be able to afford a photographer.

  • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

    Nice list. I think many of these weren’t too overused, but would definitely fall into the category of “bad design”.

    However, you definitely should have included “rounded corners”!

  • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

    Nice list. I think many of these weren’t too overused, but would definitely fall into the category of “bad design”.

    However, you definitely should have included “rounded corners”!

  • Tom

    I think the marquee is going to be retro-coolness!! We have to wait till Apple is going to use the marquee-tag. Or maybe I’d need to use it first so I’ll have the most cool website on earth.

  • http://oreanarose.com Oreana

    Great list :)

    I think a trend that is newer but starting to get annoying is the huge radial gradients/ fuzzy lights effect in the background at the tops of pages.

    Another is pages that have a sky at the top, some stuff in the middle, and maybe a city or an underground view at the bottom. Or, sky then sea. Etc.

  • http://azzcatdesign.com Catherine Azzarello

    Love the Polaroids comment! I used Polaroid “frames” in a print piece back in 1989. Before that, Crate&Barrel (I did their ad and catalog production work) used Polaroid “frames”, circa 1983-4.

    My oldest was born in 1989…and maybe he remembers our Polaroid camera–or not. It’s truly a throwback to another generation!

  • Travis

    Another annoying trend:

    Static webpage footers!

    Narrow columns that make you have to scroll infinitely down to read an entire article!

    Yes, I’m looking at you!

  • http://www.1up-games.com retrogaming

    Good list, but what I like the best about this article is that Jacqueline plays the Super Nintendo. :)

  • Matt

    The whole ‘Mac look’ is starting to get a little played out…soft gradients, the letterpress effect.

    I can see that being as banal as some of the things on this list 5 years from now (or less).

  • http://www.corinspired.com Corinne

    Awww I actually like flourishes BUT they have appeared quite a lot in many websites. To be honest, I haven’t seen some of these (frames, marquee, comic sans, counters, splash pages) in a long time. Thank goodness!

    I think everybody else is finally catching up with the rest of us.

  • http://www.nickmattern.com Nick Mattern

    How this site is an authority on what NOT to do is a joke.

    Banner blindness anyone?

  • Jho

    uhmmmm, can you give me some advise?
    I’m using MS Expression Web, any advice for me?

  • http://mynameisjay.com Jay

    THANK YOU for mentioning the enormous RSS/Twitter icons. That trend has got to go.

    Another trend worth mentioning are “Superfooters”. Don’t get me wrong I like them, but I’m starting to see them get a bit out of control.

    It’s fine to have stuff like tags, sitemap, and new posts, but people have a tendency to put way too much down there. Nobody wants to see your last.fm station, flickr feed, last 5 tweets, current mood, and what you’re having for dinner on every page.

  • Balis Wendell

    Sites that break articles up into 5 or 6 pages with a paragraph or two on each page. It’s a pain, and a sleezy way to try and inflate page views.

    Sites designed by marketing professionals who know squat about the web. Typically they make brochure sites, any corporate web site that is little more than a web version of their generic company glossy brochure. It tells you the company has no clue regarding the Internet. Often these type of sites use colors and layout that is based on a print piece.

  • http://tr.im/mewC Rahul – Web Guru

    I remembers the yester-years when I just began web designing and were doing the most of them listed in the article.

    Nice compilation.

  • http://thenewstartmeup.wordpress.com/ Ron Graham

    Honestly, I’m surprised there’s no mention here of the Dreaded Lake Applet.

  • http://www.slideaway.ca/ jamEs

    This is a pretty mixed list. You start with new trends, then bag on trends that have generally been dead for 5+ years (frames, resolution choosing splash pages, counters). I was sure before I even reading the list you would mention rounded corners.

  • http://singularityconcepts.com existdissolve

    One word: SUNBURSTS.

  • devans00

    The only problem I have with this list is that most items are written as past tense. Unfortunately my biggest gripes, Auto Play Music and Flash Pages with no Escape, are still common and used a lot.

    I think you should include the unnecessarily narrow columns that make you scroll forever in your next list on this top.

  • http://www.squaregirl.com Squaregirl

    I love that this ad randomly loaded for me at the top of this post: http://bit.ly/k39SA

    That is “torn notebook paper”, no? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Sarah

    Great article, the marquee is especially annoying.
    However, as for the polaroids…I’m born in 1993 and I basically grew up with them. And I dare to say that most people have already seen one in actuality, they’re still around.
    Just wanted to mention it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • http://www.ellenschebor.com Ellen S.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so sick of coffee cups everywhere!

    We get it! People like coffee! Why does that make me want to hire you?

    Same thing with the flourishes… time to go!

  • Keiron

    Great list, I do disagree with the desktop design with coffee cup thought. I really like that style and if used correctly can really add a personal feel to a site.

  • yoyo

    I really got a kick out of the stock images example. I’ve seen that one all over the place! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • http://www.jadgraphics.net Jad Graphics

    I disagree with the Black Backgrounds. What is the basis for that?

  • http://www.cassigallagher.com Cassandra

    So wait…you’re telling me the scrolling animated gifs at the top of my web page should go? Shoot.

    This was a fun read ๐Ÿ˜€

  • http://www.vagrantradio.com Jason

    I would have to say the mac looking trend, soft gradients, letter press effect.

    Coincidentally, there is such a thing as too many advertisements on one page. That’s another one, I counted nearly 20 ads on this page alone…

  • http://www.jasonstanbery.com/photography/ jason

    Many of these are certainly bad taste, but all of them are certainly opinion. Giant footers? I love them, but putting all that information in the footer of a page is probably bad usability.

    Woodgrains? I don’t mind them, but definitely a big trend, and some people probably find them over used and abused.

    Any type of sidebar ad – huge annoyance, everybody hates them, nobody clicks them. Which brings me to my last one.

    Since no one clicks on said banner ads in the sidebar, they’ve gone from pay per click, to pay per a thousand impressions. Now we’ve got sites breaking up content into multiple pages in order to generate multiple impressions per visitor. I’d rather scroll then click next 5 times to read an article.

  • http://crossover.nl Jeroen

    Where are the animated gifs! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I mean, that rotating @ on every page!

    Sometimes… really really sometimes… I miss the good old times! ๐Ÿ˜›

  • phh

    I’m getting awfully tired of seeing cork bulletin boards with sticky notes, Polaroids, scotch tape and push pins.

  • http://twitter.com/crinkled Anna [crinkle]

    Back in my day, we WISHED we had frames! When they arrived they were groundbreaking and amazing and, for a few months there, completely changed the way we thought about web design.

    Thank goodness they’re gone.

    18-24 months from now, lists like this one will be very interesting indeed. Large text, textures, serif fonts..?

  • http://apmsolutions.ca APM Solutions

    Fantastic List. The overused stock photos made me laugh out loud because I see this done so many times….probably have myself.

    Do people still really use counters???

  • http://watchthisanime.com ShustOne

    How about a recent trend? I think the worse offender are ads being placed on the top or bottom of the page like a toolbar. You know, sort of like the one I’m seeing on this page right now. I hope developers knock that off.

  • http://www.signazon.com Signazon.com

    I’m So happy our website don’t have any of those!!

  • jarrito

    another thing i’ve never liked are repeating (tiled) backgrounds, as well as hard to read text over background images. you have both of these on your site, Jacqueline.

  • dieter glasses

    okay, how about having comments on every article? That surely is the biggest trend you missed, starting when web designers switched to being blog engine skinners. Coders won!

    Frames are useful, and super easy to use. Lazyness and the seo excuse (really?!) gave to sloppier, big headed banner design. Immediately after i started reading this i had no idea of where i am (what is this site called again?) or what else it had to offer (category links?) I could scroll to the top, but there are other places to go.

  • AR

    enjoyed they list and laugh.
    The black bg’s to me are ugly so i agree with this one… sorry dudes!

  • http://www.martiandesign.com dp

    Everything you said is right on except for black backgrounds. Black is beautiful. should not be included in this roundup.

  • miguel

    Oh, this huge bar on the bottom of your website looks a lot like a frame.

  • http://mperotica.com Webguy

    so true thank you for the tips.

  • John

    You ought to implement some of the items on your own list. Nobody gives a damn about how many subscribers you have, and that background color is horrible (meaning worse than black).

  • http://www.softwarecandy.com softwarecandy

    Nice article. Your feedback about our website would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • http://www.cursors-4u.com/cute/ Cute Cursors

    I 100% agree especially with the black designs. Black designs are just a waste of space IMO. The counter is still in it’s 13th minute of fame though. Atleast the visible ones are. The invisibles are on the rise though.

    One other thing…aqua buttons are just dumb. I have no idea why so many site incorporated them.

  • http://kempedmonds.com kemp

    I was so scared that I was using one or some of these, but alas I am safe. Woo Hoo! Totally agree with the list though.

  • http://garmahis.com Michael Garmahis
  • nx604

    great article :)
    some of the stuff on this list has to end now and I really mean it – especially XXXXL RSS icons!
    Weeee caan seee theeeeem!

  • http://www.junglejar.com Christopher Hennis

    hahaha, counters. Good article.

  • mair

    Oh this is hilarious! I’m definitely guilty of using 10 of those gawd aweful trends. You might have included some animated kao gifs, “gif dolls”, and graphic banners with quotes.

  • nx604

    my add on + for the list, I expect this to go down in near future!!!

    ADVERTIZE HERE IMAGE?
    Placeholder images exactly like on many design/dev/inspire/tutorial/trends blogs – with link to you_know_where_ads.com
    Whats the point of that besides obvious one? It sucks from user experience point of view – OK Ads here move on nothing to see :)

    That kind of information is simply aimed towards people who want to buy ads on visited sites.
    I think that number of visitors like those is in minor numbers compared to regular blog visitor. Let’s ban those AD placeholders!!!

    Some blogs do it right way and some wrong way. Some decide to make them very different and as a part of site branding. Others simply found their ways of dealing with it which made their visitors and advertisers more happy!

    I don’t think that this is just a design issue – it’s a business issue far more.

  • pwall5000

    i enjoyed and agreed with the list, which is why i feel bad saying this, but wood panel backgrounds are definitely overused and abused.

  • Rich

    A few I think will make this list in 2 years:

    – unecessary, overabundent flash. The only uses I can think of for flash still relevant today are video, games, and artsy/demo sites. *Any* font can be used (sparingly) via cufon or similar libraries; dhtml navigation via jquery or other js api’s works a lot better; even animated vector graphics can be done well with raphaeljs. The video and game thing will become irrelevant in a couple of years with html5 video, canvas, and later webgl or similar.

    – overuse of css flyout/suckerfish menus. They are unfriendly for sites with small type; I understand they can work, but please provide an alternate way to reach secondary links

    – Lightbox, or any box, used for everything. This is going to get old. I already stuff a lightbox on all of the sites I do currently because the clients love it, but all of the excellent alternatives are never used or preferred.

    In 7 years time:

    – fixed width!?! px – based fonts and layout?!? 960 pixels takes 1/6 of the width of my monitor, and the fonts are microscopic.
    – div tags everywhere!?! Not as bad as tables, but still. Why not use some html5?
    – flash!!!?! Wasn’t that used for video or something?

  • Sean

    You forgot the big wanky headline that says…

    My name is blah blah and I design websites

  • yoda

    You forgot to mention lens flare as something that hopefully has now died a miserable death and of course the recent over use of a burst of rays as background for anything that thinks its young and trendy!

  • http://www.marianomedia.com Mike Mariano

    Don’t forget em’ blinkies and animated gif madness! haha

  • http://photos.rickscheibner.net Rick

    I had a sudden wave of nostalgia when you mentioned Homestead. That was my first venture into any type of personal web page! It didn’t last long–ultimately they went bankrupt, I think–but it definitely whetted my appetite for wanting to learn how to do my own.

  • http://www.findawebsite.net/ shiyon

    I too disagree with your opinion about the coffeecup design. There are many sites which use this trend effectively.

    Please check the links below:
    http://www.productivedreams.com/trend-review-coffee-stains-webdesign/
    http://www.productivedreams.com/coffeecups/

    “Is the viewer supposed to be standing up and looking directly down at the desk?” -I think this statement is childish. How can you watch even a movie then?
    Please don’t challenge the imagination of others.

  • Jeep

    I love how you go on about stock images, and then for the polaroid section, you use a stock image from SXC :)

    Great post, all true!

  • salva

    Great post ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://www.agencja-mojito.pl mojitopl

    For me this is all bullshit. First of all – who are You to tell people what is trendy or what is not? PierreCardin of webdesign? Did You make a poll. And lots of You are reading it thoughtless and take it all for granted, without any second thought. Probably writer had no better idea for an article. Second, this is totaly useless, cause good website is about functionality, it’s a “tool” to achieve specific goals. Better think about and write what makes a website good for ceirtain purposes. Than – some of theese may be trendy again because people think they are not trendy – just use them wisely and in a creative way. Any of theese things mentioned here are used through out the Net, because they fit where thay are, they do its job. Splash screens? Watch some movie websites – almost every has a splash screen. Are all the webdesigners wrong?

    You know what is not trendy nowadays in blogging about design? Writing posts like: Most Used and Abused Web Design Trends of All Time

    thats my opinion.

  • http://www.mediasmoke.com Tom

    Ah, the time when i was 14…

  • http://twitter.com/Sofialine Sofialine

    Haha ! Great list… I dislike coffee cups, aqua buttons, auto-playing music (makes me leave some websites ^^) and flash introductions without skip button :/

    But I don’t agree with the black background !

    I also think that a good webdesigner can deal with all that “trends” and make a beutiful website… It depends on his capacities =)

    (Sorry for my bad english xD)

  • thedp

    Frames? Well yeah, when you can actually see it’s made of frames. But you need to understand that today’s web 2.0 apps are all made from iFrames!

  • http://bioshazard.com BIOS Hazard

    @ guy above me: cry more, this is a great list of things we thought were cool but wound up not cool. He is using his previous experience to write an interesting article.

    @ the author: Great article, I did every single one of these (minus the globe).

    Things you forgot:
    blink tag
    table layouts
    flash websites (these are acceptable for video game homepages and 2advanced.com ONLY)

    I’m sure I will think of like 3 more right when I submit this.

  • http://twitter.com/joaojoaquim Joao Joaquim

    I’ve got to say that having a static bar on the bottom of the page all the time also seems an annoying trend…

  • Two More Things

    Two things she forgot…

    1.) Lists, like the one I just read.

    2.) Rectangles: because frames, tables, or CSS, it is still all rectangles.

  • http://designthoughtfortheday.blogspot.com Ted Rex

    Nice wake-up call.

    I posted a link to this page on my daily design blog: http://designthoughtfortheday.blogspot.com/2009/10/abuse-and-then-more-abuse-by-tun.html

  • Rรบben

    What about inset fonts? I see them everywhere now! And every element seems to have some kind of inset effect. It has become a trend. I blame the iPhone! :)

  • http://ianglang.com Ian G. Lang

    — how about lack of originality in layout? I know usability standards need to be looked at, but come on.. the same things in the same spots site after site after site?

    This was a great article to read. Thank you!

    Trends are a horrible mistress.

  • http://www.sjlwebdesign.co.uk Shane

    Nice, interesting post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.FlyMediaProductions.com The FlyDuo

    A lot of good points but, I have to disagree with the black backgrounds. They definitely have there place – if done right!

  • http://samwhited.com/ Sam

    A great list; I’d definitely add using tables for layouts though. Tables have their place, and it is not in the layout of the site. They are bulky, difficult to manage, and destroy the idea of separation of concerns. Also I agree with “The FlyDuo”: Black backgrounds definitely still have a place in web design. I’ve seen a great many pages that utilize them exceptionally well, though I do tend to lean towards other colors for the most part. Now if you said “black backgrounds with bright neon text” I would definitely agree.

  • Ei

    I don’t agree with the Splash one much.
    If it’s a splash page for a flash website, it’s best to give the user the option of high/low quality.. over doing it with size choices and such is a bit silly though!

    and black backgrounds are not bad if it fits the theme. :O

  • Ei

    oh.. oh..
    Add annoying moving JQuery boxes to the list too.

  • Black Is OK

    Black is fine as long as the situation is right. Actually, any color is fine as long as it is appropriate in context. But definitely agree with you on the Comic Sans and Aqua buttons.

  • http://www.alexanderdickson.com Alex

    I like the flowers… I think they still have a little bit to go!

    You often see the same sort of thing, but not necessarily with flowers. Shapes and curves are often done in the same way. I think it looks cool, but don’t think I will in 5 years time!

    I wonder what will be trendy on the web in 5 years? Perhaps that’s an idea for your next article :)

  • http://www.clippingimages.com Clippingimages

    Its obviously one of the very best articles. I would love to share this with everyone.

  • http://webdesignledger.com stef

    omg ‘kidz corner’ in comic sans! http://www.vimeo.com/6835873

  • http://www.quickenwebsites.com Quicken Websites

    nice article! entertaining)

  • http://blog.zeemp.com/ Paulo Miranda

    Great post, you could have included “drop shadows” too.

  • http://free-websitedesign.com free website design

    Nice share here although I am guilty of the big fat RSS icon on some of my blogs.

  • http://www.kalais.net/?language=english Kalais

    hello,
    thats very nice article :)

    i agree with most of those abuses. It is funny with cup of tea, there is like 230975927 portfolios, blogs and design companies in Poland with it.

    The thing which I dont agree is mirroring objects. I think it is nothing bad when u need show some products.

    Cheers!

  • http://shiningthrough.co.uk Jon

    What on earth is wrong with comic sans? is it badly designed? no. To all those people saying it should be banned forever, its a great font that has been abused, but that doesn’t men you shouldn’t use it if its appropriate.

  • http://www.teklicious.com Nacho

    nice article.
    what about sites that make you open a new browser window?

  • http://twitter.com/jjenzz Jenna

    Haha, I saw the reflected laptop and my mind started screaming “OBJECTS DON’T REFLECT LIKE THAT”… then I saw the text below it and smiled. That’s one of my biggest bugbears of the more recent web trends.

    Great list. Good work =)

  • Positive Web Design

    Great list. Made me smile.

    Have to admit using that actual handshake stock image on a clients site.

    Oh the shame!

  • http://www.aliusdesigns.com Xander

    Very interesting list of things that are overused

  • http://www.seorank.com.au/website_designing_sydney.php Website Design Sydney

    the items on this list inspired an entire generation of web designers. … comes when we’re happy to .

  • http://exclusteve-bytes.blogspot.com/ eXcluStve

    hahahaha! nice… ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Matt

    Black is not out… thats just crazy to say one color scheme of a website is out. Black is great when used correctly, just like any other color.

  • http://www.franz-koenig.at Franz

    jeah!

  • http://www.holadesign.blogspot.com monica

    great post! I can’t stand Auto-played Music. if I want to listen to music I’ll go to pandora or something, right?
    this is a good list to keep in mind when designing a website, so you dan’t make these mistakes.

  • Rusty Mango

    I would have to agree to disagree with you on some of these. Some of the effects (reflections, torn paperm etc) are very relevent on some websites and can’t be ignored simply because you think they have been overused in the past. Your reasoning needs examination.

    Mind you, if I come into a site with auto playing music I feel like smashing my keyboard into my speakers.

  • http://onetec.pk/local/karachi.html Karachi

    Very informative, I mean really. I never noticed these mistakes in our work and great heads up. Kudos, keep it rockin.

  • mel

    Good post, and this may have been said already, but here’s my two cents. These trends are also, I believe, the result of the speed at which designers are expected to produce “professional-looking” results. None of these techniques are inherently wrong or bad, they just have become convenient tools to help a design appear professional. I think any of these are valid provided they support an overall concept behind a design. Saying they’re overused is somewhat like saying “we need to figure out a different way of saying hello, because hello is soooooo (insert year here)” I’m all for fresh and new, but if something works to communicate an idea, then why not use it. Impressionist painting is an over-used painting style, but it still has validity. Maybe the discussion could be when something is craft vs. art. Art is originality, craft is practice. Just my thoughts.

  • Belinda

    I think a big trend at the moment is blog posts that start with “10 examples of__” or “80 new tools to__” etc etc. Like, instead of having something to show or say themselves, the author rounds up a bunch of other peoples work and comments on them.

    I read them, a lot, and I am not saying that they are necessarily a bad thing (if done properly) but I certainly think they are a big trend!

  • http://www.spectramindz.com/ Web Designing

    Excellent post Jacqueline! Enjoyed reading it a lot. Nostalgic and spot on. Looking forward to seeing more of your articles.

  • http://www.empfehlenswert-wien.at wien

    nice post, thanks

  • http://dezign-diva.blogspot.com Mia

    Superb list – thanks for making me laugh aloud :) Sadly however , you will notice many of these “No0No’s ” occurring on many websites, and it sometimes makes me wonder : ‘ What were you thinking when you designed this ? ‘- however , one has to admit : there are so many super talented designers out there at the moment and I have seen some truly exceptional designs . I guess we all must learn from the mistakes of the past . So..I guess the scrolling marquee is a no-no huh ? :))

  • http://www.deemo.co.uk/blog John Bloomfield

    Great post, especially the overused stock images we do a lot of work for financial advisers and their existing sites nearly all have the same four or five stock images on them!

  • http://citrinella.etsy.com/ FJR

    Oh, this is rich! Just more colors being added to the big box of crayons. And all crayons should be used judiciously and sometimes not at all.
    Loved your post!

  • AL

    Considering I’ve been into web development since about 1998, a lot of these REALLY took me back. I miss those days as much as I don’t. It was so much simpler, yet so ridiculously limited.

  • http://www.greatwavedesign.com Nils Rasmusson

    I love it! I was chuckling my way through this list and thinking of the people I need to share this with. I’m not necessarily agreeing with each one but all in all a great and much needed list. Kudos!

  • Mook

    Don’t forget bevel and embossing text!

  • http://couldnotwritefile.wordpress.com Mario

    OMG I am soooooo cliche…I think I might have used all of them…once or twice :(

  • http://www.bubblefish.com.au Web Design Sydney

    There’s no way this list could exist without the prominent mentioning of aqua buttons. .

  • web design springfield mo

    So funny. That was like looking at old high school photos, kind of nostalgic. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.chercabulasmindbox.com Cher Cabula

    oh no, i use the the coffee theme for my blog template. I haven’t found a rightful replacement yet, any suggestions?

  • Nik Phillips

    I have to say, I don’t agree with alot of the items on this list. If they’re used correctly they they still work. And well!

  • Kaitrece

    LOL – LOVE this list! So fun to see what the veterans say. I’m new but agree on quite a few counts. That globe is hideous! I do still love the flourishes though! :-) And black backgrounds are green-chic! :-) Took me a very long time to embrace them.

  • http://www.jmc-website-design.co.uk Jason

    Some of the list items are more defunct than others. Especially marquees!

  • http://www.jmc-website-design.co.uk Jason

    I forgot to mention, maybe gradient overkill is another unmentioned addition! ie a gradient background with a gradient header banner with gradient buttons!

  • http://www.pixellica.com Derek

    Very cool list. :)

    I’d add Oversized Text Headers. With the advent of WordPress and blogging, these have become a dime a dozen – unfortunately, even by more educated designers.

    Thx for posting!

  • Stu

    Great list and read. Guilty of a few of them myself in the past

  • http://joemacstevens.com Joe

    I am with you on everything except the black backgrounds. I think done properly black backgrounds can be awesome.

  • cap

    Ugh… frames! -.-
    You kinda nailed it with the stock photos, but I was thinking a more specific stock photo that appears on every wannabe-large-tech-company site: a smiling woman wearing a headset! I cringe and shutdown my PC when I see that image.

  • jumstik

    i agree to most of those but html and flash are still options to give if you want to show that you can do nice flash animations and action skripts.

    isent it out to have a website that looks like a changed wordpress theme with right list for archive, links etc…

    for me this is now what i see and cant see anymore. like this website. same scheme but another theme.

    sorry. this list most come from someone who can impress with something more than a blog theme…

    wordpress, wordpress, wordpress… you will see next year

  • http://labs.dariux.com Dario Gutierrez

    I disagree with the last point, the black background is very elegant, depends for what you use it.

  • http://www.elliottrodgers.com Elliott

    Hi Jacqueline,

    Definitely agree with you on some of these. Don’t agree with the black backgrounds, used in the right place it’s great.

    Likewise Comic Sans Serif, for people with Dyslexia it’s one of the easiest fonts to read (along with Arial). I will admit though it has been overused.

  • Nina

    There’s a massive trend out there criticizing other supposed trends… but a lot of this criticism is simply opinion. A lot of overused trends, if done right, can be fantastic (ie. using a rainbow pallette AND dark background is done superbly by http://www.thecoolhunter.co.uk). Why do creatives fall into this “I must be ahead of the pack and therefore criticise everything around me?”. True originality rises to the top whether it’s trying to or not… let’s just concentrate on good and appropriate design and not whether we have to be ahead of the latest trend!

  • http://www.blueplatypus.com.au Tanya

    Sorry but black may be out for you, but it isn’t out for my customers. I have one whose whole look, including her retail store is black with grey flowery flourishes. (www.vanitybeautyclinic.com.au) For me to create anything but a black site would be to totally go against her whole branding. In any case I think the simplicity works. I have several customers who come to me with all black marketing material, so unfortunately, for as long as customers love the use of black in the real world, it will prevail in web design.

    Same goes with music and flash intos – some just customers just won’t be talked out of it!

  • Kat

    What about tiled background images… Yuk! Made it so difficult to read the vital text.

  • https://www.sequencehosting.com/ Jack

    Great article!

    I have to say I am guilty. I currently have a huge RSS button on my blog :)

  • Impulse

    I had a website once…actually 2…I realise I’ve did 2 or 3 of these…had a black background with comic sans text…still do it on some of my personal pages on certain websites.

  • http://blog.dobromirivanov.net nzhul

    Nice article except one!
    Don’t touch the darkness – i love it :)

  • http://www.architela.com Architela

    Very amusing. I used that same handshake image a few years ago.

    And just noticed the bit of torn paper at the top of this site.

    I’m also getting tired of grunge and goth designs. A little goes a long way.

  • http://www.glamrockdesigns.com Griffin

    The “Mac Look” is completely played-out. I still get requests for it all the time (by name!) from clients wanting a trendy design. I guess Battleship Grey is hip again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://weboreviews.com Akshay Ghate

    Nice article and I am glad that I have managed to avoid most of the listed practices. lol
    @ link in the first reply <– OMG OMG !!

  • http://www.digitalidiom.co.uk DI Web Packages

    Great ! – Been there and worn the t-shirt… at the moment we have a ‘trend’ for the Pop-up auto size picture gallery with those awful NEXT/PREVIOUS/X buttons… no JavaScript skills necessary !!

  • http://www.anythinggraphic.net KDzyne

    This list makes me laugh, lol.

  • http://www.xemion.com James Paden

    This post is so true. Hilarious! Fortunately, I think we’ve come a long way since then.

  • http://www.onlinesynergy.net/website-template.html Web Designer vs Web Template

    Great stuff – gave me a good laugh (actually I’d better start removing some of the dodgy old graphics off my sites)…

  • http://www.eggdesign.ie Egg Web Design

    Ha! Animated globes, gaaahhh!!

  • http://www.crystalwalkerdesign.com Crystal Walker

    Wow this is a really great post! Great reading!
    You’ve identified sooo many of those annoying trends… that we’ve all fallen victim too :)
    Thanks!

  • http://www.xcellence-it.com/ Xcellence IT

    Great stuff!!!

    thank you for sharing
    Xcellence IT

  • http://www.juangiordano.es Juan Giordano

    Great article…

    I’m guilty too… I still have a black background and frames in my website… but I’m about to change it to a full web-standard site (with polaroid theme)

  • woMooMow

    Hahaha! Yes I’ve seen a lot of those things!

    I know a great art trend; “Lowbrow”. I think it shall be used in future web design.

  • http://vidmarkr.com Ben

    How about lists of fifty+ things?

  • http://www.designbysatori.com Claudiu

    I agree with the majority of these web trends but then again we have to remember that these are just opinions.

    Some people might do just fine with the “reflective” effect for instance if it ties in well with the rest of the design. I am not saying that everyone should use it or that it’s not a trend that lots of designers are fond of it.

    Also – I slightly disagree with the black background (maybe because I am using it in some of my designs :) ). If it’s done right, the design certainly can look nice.

    On the same idea, dark blue is also over-used.

  • http://www.kasiaciesla.com Kasia Ciesla

    I enjoyed reading your opinions, but I must say black is definitely NOT out.

    Black is a lot better for saving energy.
    Black is the new green.

  • AestheticSeun

    Under ‘Splash Pages That Make You Choose’, you wrote, “no one likes full screen.” Why? What are you basing this assumption on?

    I think it depends on the content. Some contents look good in normal screen (e.g. Standard Definition Video) while others look great in full screen (e.g. High Definition Video)

    Looking forward to your explanation.

  • Bruno

    I will have to disagree about black being OUT… sorry…

  • http://www.squiders.com Web Design Maidstone

    So many bad designs out there, but like Bruno I still think black has a place, not over used but in the right hands!

  • Andy

    This post seems a little lazy to be honest, with more than a hint of design snobbery.
    All of the things listed are popular for a reason and if done well, can still be a valid part of good web design.

  • http://www.allyzen.com Allyzen

    Black backgrounds may be old skool but are still kool.

  • http://www.psprint.com/ Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing

    I personally am very thankful for this post ….hope designers would now avoid using stock images…and i don’t want to see anymore coffee cup desktops….and a skip intro is a must for busy personalities (like me)…

  • http://nicolasschudel.name/ Nicolas

    Nice list Jacqueline, but I disagree about the black background. The great advantage of screen design is that there is no technological limit to the color palette โ€“ Use that freedom! The Print CSS should take care of any ink wasting issues and revert the pageโ€™s background to white.

  • http://www.lyonssolutions.co.uk Lyons Solutions Web Design

    It’s all about personal choices isn’t it? What someone classes as “abuse” may be someone elses dream design ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://www.sirjogalot.com Sir Jog A Lot

    Great article containing a lot of design trends that I’m very guilty of! Thanks for showing me the error of my ways!

  • Length McGirth

    Black is totally worthless. Well said!

  • http://www.webrextech.com vijay

    it helps to make a good web designing.
    thanks

  • http://divyasharad.blogspot.com div

    Very very useful info…………. Overall a different article in web design trends.

  • Jesus Estrada

    Good article! I enjoyed it =)

  • http://brandedcode.com Micheil Smith

    I think the only trends I only jumped on with was the rounded corners and that sorta thing. Although, I did come late into the web scene, or around 2005/2006.

  • Pingback: The Most Popular Articles of 2009 | Web Design Ledger()

  • LB

    @Kat:

    The author didn’t mention tiled backgrounds because she uses them on her site!

  • http://www.wabashstudio.com wabash Studio

    This article brings back so many sad and funny memories. I remember going through almost all of those trends at one point in web design. My biggest ones were Frames, Counters, Splash pages, and Reflective images.

    Oh what would we do without advances in the web?

  • http://aug4th.com estevan

    I’m shocked that some of those are still “trends”.

  • Caroline

    I agree with the flourishes….BOOORRIINGGG! And auto-played music…so annoying! But I do still like black blackgrounds…great article!

  • madmak

    How about smashing magazine style blogs….heheheh

  • http://creativitybloc.blogspot.com David

    Full stops. Short sentences. Everywhere. Ugh.

    In the author’s defence, the article says “Trend isnโ€™t a bad word in web design” – so even though she mentions black as a trend I don’t think she’s knocking it.

  • http://twitter.com/alexandra_dobra Alexandra db

    Reality bites, and this article is certainly presenting a reality!

  • Udgang99

    What I hate more than anything, is when you scroll a page, and the text is scrolling but the background is static. :-(

  • http://twitter.com/carlostealdi Carlos

    Related to the animated globe are all those animated gif!!!! They were terrible!!!! Like the the email envelope opening and closing!! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Nice article, thanks

  • http://www.soniktechnologies.in Software Developer’s

    Thanks for providing this information.

  • http://wallpaperesi.com Phil

    How about with cpa ads ?? or pop up?

  • http://terramel.org Terramel

    Hiho

    Congratulations for this awesome post. I just think you forgot one thing: those annoying buggy and slow all-flash sites.

    []s from Brazil

    Terramel

  • http://www.overthehillweb.com Crystal Jones

    Many of you are missing the REAL point of the argument..

    “The problem comes when weโ€™re happy to create a clone of a great design and let it rest at that.”

    She didn’t say that black DONE WELL is out of style, but black done like EVERY OTHER black site since black became the hot trend in web design is pedestrian..

    “Great designers push themselves to be ahead of the trends, or they twist the trend into something uniquely their own. The problem isnโ€™t that you were inspired by the Matrix, it is that you didnโ€™t re-imagine your inspiration into something different”

  • http://www.xerox-phaser-ink.com Xerox Phaser Ink

    Nice article, thank you for putting this together.

    Mike

  • http://ids.com.lb IDS

    Got us a good laugh. You also need to add a rotating logo as an abused feature next to the rotating globe.

  • http://www.notabledesign.com website design montreal

    Nice and catchy posting but funny though. I believe Black background can never be old skool, It’s kinda evergreen

  • http://www.omerercan.com Omer

    very nice article and very true those were amusing

  • http://www.digitalbushwad.com Dan

    No offense but Tiled backgrounds are just a little bit aggravating and overused. some good opinions in here too.

    :-)

  • spawn782

    Nice article, I am guilty of those myself :( .Especially that stupid aqua button.

  • http://www.fishandchipsonfriday.blogspot.com Bart

    Funny, simple, easy to read. Thanks.

  • http://www.139-23.com Andrew

    What about tiled backgrounds that are definitely NOT seamless? That’s definitely abused. Gaudy cloud tiled background with chartreuse text and a purple div background. Ugh.

    And what about the seeming Geocities crowd obsession with animated gifs?

    Andrew

  • http://www.daviddevor.com David Devor

    I hate it when I see grunge fonts used in places where they stick out and take away from the design. I feel like i see “Bleeding Cowboys” everywhere!

  • http://www.johnfront.com Ivan Tsankov

    No offense but what is wrong with mirrored objects and shiny buttons?
    I agree that they’re everywhere on sites these days, but they make you feel comfortable, realistic and smells professional too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    With everything else I agree, especially the coffee stains, the comic font and torned papers (and other annoying grungy stuff).

    Great article Jacqueline!

  • OneMoreThing

    I have something to add. “Mailto:” contact links NEED to die.

    Flourishes and reflected things still look good on some sites.

  • Xana

    Black backgrounds are definitely still very alive.
    It keeps the site quiet and focuses all attention on the content.

  • http://fineartandgraphicsdesign.com Lloyd DeBerry

    This is really a great list. At one time or another I have used most of the examples.
    I wonder what will be added to this list in the next 5 to 10 years.