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The abundance of web features available may leave you more confused than ever, rather than excite you. Knowing which components to include and which to ditch feels like the task for an expert but it isn’t! Here is a short guide to highlight the website features you should avoid.

Before we begin, it’s important to understand why outdated features can be harmful to your website. There are certain elements that are affected by website features, one of them is user experience. It’s something you need to constantly be referencing and taking into account when building or improving your website. User experience, as the name implies, is all about giving visitors a positive experience on your site, making processes easy so that they want to return to your website. The design of your website helps to point customers in the right direction and finalise sales.

Another factor influenced by web features is page speed. Although many web features can look good, they can considerably slow down your page’s loading speed, and as a loading speed of as low as 5 seconds increases your bounce rate (the rate of people leaving your site) probability by 90%(opens in a new tab), it’s pretty clear that sometimes you need to choose speed over style.

Nowadays, we are all short of time and people make snap decisions about whether your website is worth their time or not. Outdated features can make your website look poorly maintained, not exactly a factor that inspires trust in your visitors. And we all know, no trust means no purchase. A professional, up-to-date website can be the key to sealing the deal on a sale.

Let’s look at those features that you need to leave behind to be able to move forward.

Gallery Sliders

You might be shocked by some of the features we recommend avoiding, and gallery sliders will probably be one of them. They are one of the most common website features, but times change. What are they? A series of pictures, sometimes with content included, which showcase the companies products on a carousel which you can move along with arrows.

These are often used in the hero area of a homepage, the prime real estate of a website. The area that visitors see first and where they make the crucial decision whether to stick around to find out more or move on. You may be thinking, well they are a great idea, you can showcase your key products in a small, important space. This is the very reason they became popular to begin with, but we have learnt a lot since then, including new methods to use space to our advantage.

What’s more, packing all that information into a small space is more likely to overwhelm visitors and obscure your company message. You need to make sure that the hero area is a clean and precise space with a stunning photo(opens in a new tab). Your visitors should land on that page and know exactly why you are special. Use a designated section further down the page to showcase your products, your users will appreciate the comprehensible, uncluttered structure.

Even more convincing is the fact that these gallery sliders can negatively impact your page loading speed as well as your user experience. Getting rid of this feature can improve your website’s structure and increase your site speed. Two for one!

Popup Light Boxes

These popup forms often appear when you first enter a site and darken the rest of the page, drawing your attention to, most commonly, a newsletter subscription. There’s a lot that’s wrong with these, firstly, it’s not a good idea to ask people to subscribe to a newsletter before they’ve had time to read your content. If you do insist on having a popup, ensure it pops up after a certain amount of browsing, or when users exit the website.

Secondly, and one of the most important factors, the popup lightbox interrupts the visitor’s navigation through your site. This lack of control can often cause visitors to simply leave the site, especially if it is mixed with the frustration of not being able to close the popup. Allow users to navigate the site as they please. As a mild control freak myself, I can tell you, seeing a popup lightbox on a website often sends me straight back to Google search.

Autoplay on Audio and Videos

The autoplay feature is when videos or audio from a website automatically play when you enter a page, and it has often been described as a user experience nightmare. Imagine you are on a conference call and quickly want to check something on a website but you are disrupted by the site’s loud autoplay audio or video. As I said, a nightmare.

Consider your users with visual impairments, the autoplay overwhelms screenreaders, making it impossible for them to navigate the website. They arrive at your website and are then bombarded with unwanted audio and have to investigate how to turn it off (if they can even be bothered). Not exactly a pleasant experience.

This is another situation where power dynamics are important, you’re restricting visitors’ freedom to move through your site. We know the domino effect of curbing control: customers become frustrated, they leave the site, leaving you with no sales and a higher bounce rate, which means you move down the Google rankings. The takeaway: you need to give people the option to start and stop media when they want.

External Links Opening in the Same Tab

It’s definitely worth adding external links to respectable websites into your content. Think of it as a tree creating roots to stabilise itself. You stabilise yourself in the Google rankings(opens in a new tab) by referencing other websites and getting them to link you in their content.

But don’t neglect the basic rules of web design, you want users to stay on your site. If your external links open in the same tab, you’ve lost them. Your users are galloping off into the expanse of another website. In 2020, there’s no excuse for having external links open in the same tab, check and double-check that all open in a new tab, and keep those visitors on your website.

Also from a personal perspective, there’s nothing worse when you open a link to read later and lose your place in the current site because it opens in the same tab. Think about the user experience from your point of view, and what processes frustrate you when you’re visiting a website, I know I have a long list. Then when building or improving your website, make sure you avoid those features.

Non-Responsive Web Design

Last but not least, non-responsive web design. In our mobile device-driven world, responsive web design is a must. If your website is not optimised for mobiles and tablets, you are missing out on sales, because not only do over 50% of website views come from mobile devices, it also improves your Google ranking.

It’s a feature that adjusts the display of your website according to the device it’s being viewed on. It adjusts the menu, images, and pixels to improve user experience and to facilitate the management of the site. Instead of paying for different websites for mobile and desktop, you have one site that adjusts to all platforms.

If your website display doesn’t adjust to mobile devices, it looks outdated to visitors. If they’re on the fence about buying from you or your competitor, this feature could be what convinces them to go with your competitor. Responsive design makes your website more accessible and opens the door to a whole new audience.

If you’re reading this article and realising that your site is in need of a serious redesign, there are options. Ask customers, friends, and family to go through your website and give you feedback. We’ve also got a range of tips on how to improve your website(opens in a new tab) in our blog. Or even better, reach out to us(opens in a new tab). Our design team knows the ins and outs of user experience and can help you build a website showcasing up-to-date features and technology. It’s never too late to upgrade your site!

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