5 Outdated Design Elements You Should Avoid

Posted on July 13, 2012 by

If you have worked as a Web designer for more than a few years, looking at designs that you created a decade ago may result in some laughter or even a few cringe-worthy moments. The Web design industry has been evolving steadily and we can’t help but to be influenced by recent changes. Who among designers hadn’t collected many cheesy Photoshop, while thinking they could produce awesome results.

Admittedly, some Web designers evolve slower than others. Forward-looking professional should take a walk down the memory lane and look at things that were once super cool, but now looks outdated or even downright ugly. Web designers should bring their design skills into the 2012 and beyond. Progressive Web designers should admit upfront (at least to themselves) that they have flirted with outdated trends mentioned in this article. On the other hand, newer Web designers should be able to identify easily design styles they need to avoid

When analyzing a design trend, you should remember that they are not inherently good or bad. Instead, they can aid you in observing the Web design industry as a whole and recall the collective ideas among Web designers of the bygone era. This article should serve as an insightful history lesson on how web design styles have evolved through the years. Try to think of it as something that was cool when we were young, but eventually become deplorable when the industry evolves.

By identifying outdated design styles, you can avoid being that guy who still thinks colorful animated gifs looks cutting edge. But, does it mean that we need to completely abandon styles mentioned in this article forever? Absolutely not, there are still moments where these designs seem appropriate. Who knows? Just like the fashion industry, they might eventually make a come back and become really cool again before long.

Bevel and emboss

They are quite tempting for many designers. When web designers open the effects windows in the Photoshop; bevel and emboss options are calling them to add a little more touch of realism. Putting too much bevel and emboss effects may make your design looks like something made in late 90s. Developers from this era went crazy with them and website logos weren’t safe from the proliferation of these graphic effects. Websites in recent years are much more minimalist and the industry has gone past faux realistic-looking bevels and largely dropped them entirely. Objects in recent websites have uniform edges and look simple with nearly no added effects except from occasional subtle shadows.

Web 2.0 Gloss

We didn’t go straight to minimalism style from the bevel and emboss trends. Instead, objects in Web design evolved towards more ornate forms of bevel. Traditional bevels give an almost wood-like our clay-like looks to objects. But add in some shine and we will get a fancy glass and plastic effect. Implementing this excessively glossed Web element on your design is a surefire way to make a newly constructed website looks like something that needs a serious refresh.

Fortunately, creating attractive buttons are relatively easy to make these days, for example you can apply a slight gradient and some border-radius, without making your website looks too flashy. It is also important to see how recent web technologies affect visual trends in Web design. Old Photoshop-centric effects are now giving way to CSS3 styles. With today’s pure code-driven designs, we can expect new possibilities will continue to come to light.

Too many cursive texts

From a purely objective standpoint, adding too many cursive texts in your design is already a bad thing, even in the late 90’s.  For some reason, the habit of adding cursive texts simply refuses to die. Some designers even used logo using cursive text with bevel effect, which was a double whammy of ugly design. Not only does cursive text make your website unpleasant to read through and browse, it also reflects common typeface woes of the 90’s.  Instead hitting your audience over the head with excessive use if cursive text, try to sprinkle it sparingly throughout the design. Cursive text may look like an elegant form of written communication, but in Web design, it is far more preferable to chose anything more readable


It has roots dating back to days of print design. Bursts are traditionally thought as something that can easily attract attention and They easily say “Hey, here’s something really important. The problem is, bursts are very outdated and reflect a complete lack of imagination and innovation. Instead of looking for a way to effectively integrate an attention grabbing element, Web designers who still use bursts may simply chose the first idea that comes in your their minds. For most non-designers, this could be the very first thing that cones into their minds as well, making it one of the most uncreative web design element we could possibly use. Try to add something that fits the overall website theme but still disrupts the smooth flows of the design to grab visitors’ attention.

Dramatic drop shadows

Like bevel and emboss, Photoshop’s drop shadow effect is also something just begging to be used. Shadow effects used in late 90’s were big, had contrasting colors compared to the background and had plenty of distance. But, unfortunately, they are reeks of cheesy lighting styles.  There are many other ways to apply shadows other than using Photoshop. If you prefer shadows with soft, feathered looks, you can blend shadows in the background so the text would look adequately realistic without being distracting.


Web designs styles above should give you an idea how to avoid antiquated trends that can negatively affect the impression your design leaves on your audience. Remember that trends in the web design industry won’t evolve at all without pioneers that stubbornly go against what are being prevalent. Don’t be afraid to jump onto the new, innovative tricks bandwagon, if you believe they look interesting. Be persistent and go your own way, then perhaps everyone will follow you! The real key to understanding design trends is to know what it tries to suggest. You shouldn’t only implement something because you feel really good about it and analyze what it is that visitors want and what will serve your main topic well. For example, when creating an e-commerce website that reflects the latest advances in the industry, avoid elements that can make your design looks like print works from the 80’s. But if you are intentionally try to create a retro look, then some of the above styles can be entirely legitimate choices.

Author :

  • admin