Website features to avoid…maybe

Mashable had an entertaining article recently about “12 Outdated Web Features That Need to Disappear in 2014.” They asked entrepreneurs and designers about what annoys them about websites. Their answers reveal how quickly some new features have gotten old, and how long some old, tried and maybe-not-true-anymore elements have held on.

Of course, everyone has an opinion, too. Just because an entrepreneur some website element to go away does not mean your website should not use that feature. Here is my take on a few of the 12 things.

Flash Intros

A few years ago a friend and coworker remarked on Facebook, “I have yet to see a website’s flash intro that was worth waiting for.” I completely agreed.

In Mashable’s article, Josh Weiss of Bluegala cautions against flash intros because they annoy customers and they aren’t read by iPhones, iPads, or search engine crawlers.

On top of that, flash intros present this problem: They stand between the customer and the content they came for, all for the sake of trying to be cute and impressive. Can you imagine going into Lowes and saying, “Hi, I’m looking for drywall mud,” and then the employees make you watch them do a song and dance number before they take you there?

My rule: You can have some form of animation (preferably not flash-based) on your home page if it does not stand between your customers and the content they seek.

Photo Carousel

Christopher Prujisen, of Sterio.me, counsels against photo carousels (or sliders) because of the time they take for users to cycle through them. He prefers Kickstarter-like introduction videos.

I get his point, but I hope he doesn’t actually expect this feature to go anywhere. Carousels serve a different purpose than a Kickstarter-like video. They are to convey different sets of information. Once someone has seen your initial pitch video, they have seen it. They don’t need to see it again. But the carousel can change each time to give returning visitors new content in a visual way.

But here’s a rule: You MUST give users an easy way to pause the slider (such as hovering over it with the mouse, or an actual pause button for touch users) and to skip back and forth on it.

Large Hero Images

These are criticized by Eric Bahn of Webflow because the large image at the top of the website pushes key content “below the fold.” I agree, except I don’t think this means hero images should disappear. They just need to be used at the right times.

Don’t just use a hero image because you have a really nice high-definition image you’d like to show off. The best kind of hero image will, in conjunction with a headline, some other content, or other design elements, impel viewers to scroll. Use an image and headline that pique curiosity. One of the worst things you could do is to open your website with a giant stock photo. (Stock photos, by the way, are another website sin criticized in the Mashable piece, and I agree.)

Automated Popups

A pet peeve of mine, for sure! There is a website I visit occasionally because I do like its content…But every time I visit, I’m greeted by a popup that asks for my e-mail address. Even if I came to the website by clicking a link in its e-mail. Come on! Seriously? I’m glad that Aron Schoenfeld of Do It In Person LLC agreed and voiced his opinion in Mashable.

So, those are my thoughts. Be sure to check out the original Mashable post for more ideas of features to avoid on your website…Or not. It’s up to you.

Whatever you do, make sure it works to help your audience connect with you and your content.

What do you think? What practices do you wish websites would discontinue? What features do you think will take the place of the ones going out of style?