Web design and development is moving all the time. Unless you’re in the industry, it would be hard to keep up with every detail, but it’s good to know what aspects of websites you should now leave well and truly behind.

Out-of-date website practices

Automatically playing videos or music

Unexpected audio and video that plays automatically when a browser lands on the page, are distracting and override any sense of intuitive design you might otherwise have.

Even worse, if the video is a YouTube video, ensure first of all, it doesn’t play automatically, but also that it is embedded, so that the browser isn’t taken to the YouTube site to play it.

IMPORTANT: You should never be aiming to direct browsers from your website, even to your own social media, without very good reason.

Social media icons in your header

Do you want the first thing your browsers sees to be your social media icons, clickable to take them away and off your website? Social media icons should be firmly in your footer, and is actually where most browsers expect to see them these days.

Vague headlines and headers

The purpose of all website content, whatever page it is, is to tell the browser they are in the right place. As tempting as it might be to have a header that just says, for example:


Amazing what? And what service? Often, with headings like these, the text then follows about the product or service, and why browsers need it in their lives. If you’re falling into this trap with your content, try flipping your explanatory text for the headline instead, or ask a content copywriter to help you.

Dead-end thank you pages

Excellent news if you have a CTA (call to action) on your page that successfully gets browsers to leave their email and details for you to get in touch with them, maybe registering for a newsletter or find out further information. But don’t just face them with a flat, plain ‘thank you’.

When a browser registers their details and presses send, they do expect a thank you, so yes, say thank you. But leaving it at that is a missed opportunity. Say something else about the journey you are taking them on. For example:

“Thank you for asking to receive our useful email newsletter and being part of our community. We look forward to giving you all the insider tips on website content development. Expect to hear from us at the end of the month, and if you need any help in the meantime, please give us a shout.”

Take the opportunity to engage further. A thank you, can be an abrupt end to a beautiful conversation!

Downloadable PDFs no one wants to download

If you have information you think your browser wants then make it into a news article or blog. A downloadable PDF is not shareable, easily modified or related to any analytics data, beyond it being downloaded.

Ask yourself, are your browsers really going to download it? Wouldn’t it be better to have it as a HTML page, as content on your website?

Stock photos of people

Stock photos are used in web design, sure. There are excellent resources for stock photos these days, but stock photos of people, are not as good, and can easily come across as inauthentic and obviously what they are. Stock.

While people do want to see people, they want to see the right people. Stock photos can look unreal, insincere and potentially put a barrier between you and your browser. Consider getting photos of your own team produced by a professional photographer. The investment will be worth it in the long run.

We could go on…

This isn’t a definitive list of website no nos. There’s a lot more we could mention. But these are some important basics, that as a result of better UX design-thinking and SEO practices, are important to point out and why.

Remember to keep checking in on the Web Academy for web tips and hints, always aiming to be helpful.