It’s almost Halloween, which means it’s time for a spooky story! Gather ’round as we walk through the chilling tale of a light in need of repair and the scary web design mistakes that stand in the way. Running into these outdated errors may just have you (and your visitors) running for the hills!
The 2005 Myspace Page Experience
Picture this: you’re alone in your office browsing for a contractor to repair the light at the end of the hall- you know, that one that just won’t stop flickering and reminds you vaguely of a haunted hotel. You click an unassuming link, and suddenly you are bombarded by the sound of classical music. Is a radio playing outside? Did you accidentally leave your tv on? No, to your horror, that music is coming from inside the room– or rather, from your computer.
Why it’s really scary: Like me, you may remember when hiding an auto-playing song on your Myspace or personal web page was the peak of cool and trendy. We’ve progressed from those times and your website should too! Phantom music isn’t the only problem- outdated elements that fall into 2005 Myspace territory can also include blinking elements and over-stylized, unreadable text. If you’re using these elements, I can promise, users will not keep you in their top 5: they can negatively impact your website’s accessibility and user experience, yikes!
You exit from the website belonging to the electrician with a penchant for Bach. Maybe you’re better off repairing the light fixture yourself. You begin reading home repair guides and find yourself on a DIY blog. “Great! This doesn’t seem too hard,” you think. You begin selecting and copying pertinent pieces of the post to print for yourself. Suddenly, you highlight something that catches your eye. As the blue of your text selection grows, a seemingly blank section of the page slowly comes to life, revealing more and more text as you highlight, “lights, lighting ideas, light fixtures, light repair, home repair…” it goes on and on and on. Is this ghostly writing? No, it’s much worst, it’s… intentionally placed hidden text.
Why it’s really scary: Hidden text refers to deliberately coloring words on your site to blend into the background and become unreadable or virtually unreadable to human visitors. It was primarily a spammy technique that was used to manipulate search engines in the early days of the web – webmasters would use hidden text to cram as many keywords onto pages as they could. These days, search engines are smart enough to catch on to this tactic (whether the text is hidden or not) and most will penalize you if they find it being used on your site. Not only is it, at best, ineffective, but this type of keyword cramming can be detrimental to users’ experience- particularly for those using screen readers or internal search tools.
A Lack of Mobile Responsiveness
What a night! To decompress from the scare of seemingly disembodied music, phantom page text, and your weirdly flickering hall light, you decide to relocate from your office to your bedroom and idly scroll through your phone. You’ve had enough of browsing for solutions to fix your hall light, you start looking for full replacement fixtures online. Your search leads you to a result describing “Affordable Lighting that Will Not Make Your House Feel Haunted!”
“Wow, what a specific description of exactly what I’m looking for!” You think excitedly. You click the link. The page slowly loads. As your eyes adjust to the emerald green site background, you notice something is horribly wrong. The text and buttons are far too small and scrolling bars have appeared both horizontally and vertically. The horror of the situation sets in, you’ve found just what you’re looking for, but the site is not mobile-responsive. You let out a shriek (from fear, I presume) and shut off your phone. Getting that light repaired is a job for tomorrow.
Why it’s really scary: We rely on mobile devices for everything, from keeping in touch with loved ones to managing our finances. As of 2022, mobile-friendly design is more important than ever with over 60% of all internet traffic currently coming from mobile devices. Sites that are not optimized for mobile make for a bad user experience and will send your bounce rate soaring.
So there you have it, three outdated web elements that will send a chill down anyone’s spine this Halloween. While they may seem like harmless or minor mistakes, they can cause some serious damage to your website, your reputation, and most of all- your users’ experience. Keep these in mind as you build or revamp your site to make sure you’re providing the best possible experience for everyone. Happy haunting!