Remember when websites were just a bunch of text with links that went to other pages with text?

ebay then and now

Since then, websites have evolved dramatically from just simple text to complex interactive web applications. To keep up with today’s web design industry standards and expectations of visitors to your site, it is vital to avoid web design practices that are outdated or slowly being phased out.

Here are some principles to keep in mind when designing your next website:

Flash animations, Java applications, load filters and splash pages

Flash animations and banners were all the rage before the 2010’s and nearly every website had some sort of interactive menu, sidebar or advertisement built using Flash. However, Flash has been under a lot of criticism due to its vulnerabilities, heavy resource usage and abuse from overuse on websites. Flash is slowly dying and HTML5 will soon take over in audio and video streaming plugin services.

Java web applets is also under the hammer with it being disabled in major browsers in the near future. With vulnerabilities and usage of an outdated plugin API, it was swiftly killed in Google Chrome and with other browsers advising developers to “avoid using plugins wherever possible” for web development.

In modern times, visitors are impatient for webpages to load. Load filters and splash pages are considered barriers to quick access of information. Visitors want to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. If you absolutely must have a splash page, make sure you add a skip button that allows visitors to skip it if they wish to.

Lack of Contrast

Having white text on a light background might look pleasing in design but visitors may find it hard to make sense of the information presented. Good web design practices indicate that you should make sure that your typography uses plenty of contrast to stand out from the background. This will improve readability and colour contrast on your website.

high vs low contrast

Certain Typefaces

A fundamental of web design is choosing the right font type for your website and also sticking to only 2-3 fonts. Excessive use of different fonts will make the site appear chaotic, confusing and unorganised. Using one type of font for the heading and another one for the body text will make your website clear and understandable which results in a clean and professional look.

Choosing the right typography is highly important which determines whether visitors will want to stay on your site. A lot of generic fonts such as using Comic Sans are frowned upon but surprisingly still widely used. There are plenty of beautiful web fonts available and services like Typekit or Google Web Fonts allows you to easily use such fonts in your website with minimal effort.

too many fonts

PDFs and document downloads

Whilst is possible to view PDF documents within your browser, it may still break the navigation process and require heavy loading, technical capability or some other resource on the visitors end. Best practise is to try to reproduce as much information from your PDF document onto a webpage. In this way, visitors can easily find information at a glance and have the ability to download the document if they wish to find out more.

Unresponsive Design

Google recently made a push to punish websites that did not have a mobile friendly website by lowering their SEO ranking. Also, more smartphones and tablets are being used to access websites, so the need for a responsive website is crucial to your business. That said, if your website is not responsive, expect your website to have less visitors and be ranked lower in Google’s search results.

Building a responsive website may be challenging at first but with the help of many frameworks (such as Bootstrap) available, it makes responsive design much easier.

All of Fireworks website builds are now built fully mobile responsive by default and pass the Google mobile friendly test as well as being tested on all the major browsers and devices.

responsive design

Auto-playing Music and Videos

Many websites still use auto-playing music and videos and for many people it may be a frustrating experience. Not only is it disruptive to what the visitor is doing on your site, but it can be difficult to track down the source and close it when you have multiple windows or tabs opened. Auto-playing elements can also slow down a page dramatically and use more resources on page load.

Having auto-playing music or videos may result in the visitor to your site frantically searching for the culprit window and instantly closing it. In any case, it is best not to auto-play anything on your site.

no auto play

Iframes and Tables

Before responsive design, a static website was built using tables. This was perfectly fine and acceptable until the mobile revolution came about. With structured tables and elements, it was a frustrating experience trying to scroll through a website on a tiny screen.

Tables were designed for tabular data and not for structuring websites. It was once acceptable to use tables for website structuring but in the long run this resulted in a landslide of problems. SEO becomes an issue since robots crawl the most important elements first such as tags. Code and maintainability becomes an issue with large websites that use tables for structure. Within multiple nested elements of table cells, maintenance becomes quite difficult.

Iframes allow developers to easily embed other webpages or elements to their website. You can load a single frame without affecting the other frames. However, these frames were maintained externally and you were limited in customisation as to what the frame will show. It’s better to integrate AJAX to your website which is much more powerful and flexible.


Whether you currently have an existing website or planning to create a website, it’s good to do some research on industry standards in web design and development.

Fireworks web developers design and build beautiful sites all looking modern and fresh and work closely with our clients to design the best solution for their business. Check out our portfolio to see some of our recent projects.