Is Your Website Design Stuck in the 90s?

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website designs

A few weeks ago, I showed you a few client websites that I’d recently given an exciting new look while converting them to WordPress. You may be thinking that as long as the information on your website is up-to-date, it’s not worth investing in a brand new site. My guest today, Jenna Pool, will explain how an outdated design can actually hurt your business.


These days, your website is often the first impression customers receive of your business. Web visitors are less tolerant of outdated and poorly designed websites than ever, and if your site does not look clean and professional, you will lose traffic. If you have not changed your website in recent years, it is likely you are due for an upgrade. Some websites, however, are definitely worse offenders than others. Here are some ways to tell if your web design is truly out of date.

Less Is Often More

The first rule to grasp is that simple is better. Websites from the 90s tended to use large pages cluttered with content, images and animation. Contemporary websites use clean layouts so visitors can easily see the main message. Websites should be well-structured so that visitors can easily navigate using menu bars and search boxes to find more information. In fact, the navigation menu is probably the most important element in good web design, and should be made using up-to-date CSS coding. Your site may have become cluttered over time as you have added more content without considering the overall plan or structure – if so, a complete redesign is probably your best bet.

Unnecessary Gimmicks

There are lots of individual design choices that will also put off your customers. The very worst is music or media that plays automatically on entering a site. This is annoying for users, who expect the option of choosing to play media themselves. Not only are they hideously annoying, they’ll also increase your site’s load speed, which again is hideously annoying. Likewise, you should not include any animation if possible – no animated gifs, blinking tags, and especially not scrolling marquee bars. These have an amateur look and will distract your readers.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Fonts

Finally, you should never underestimate the impact of font and colour choices. Always limit yourself to a single font, and remember that modern, sans-serif text looks much more professional than cursive or novelty fonts. If in doubt as to the design of your page, a clean white background is always acceptable.

Don’t Underestimate Your Users!

Web users can detect outdated design more quickly than you think, and bad design will unfortunately make you come across as having a complete lack of professionalism. The way that your pages look and feel will play a large part in whether customers stay or click over to a competitor’s site. Not only will a poorly designed website devalue your company’s image, it may even cause customers to doubt if you are actually a real business at all, or just a dodgy spam site! Good web design is a necessity, and always worth the investment.

Photo: Robert S. Donovan


  1. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on October 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

    My website isn’t stuck in the 90’s because I’ve hired Janet Barclay to redesign it for me! (Not live as of today, but soon!)

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Hazel, I am having so much fun with your new site – can’t wait to show it off!

  2. Avatar Mary E. Rossow on October 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm


    My website is not stuck in the ’90’s… it’s stuck INSIDE my d.e.a.d. MacBook Pro, at the Apple Computer Morgue. [Memorial service next week. Wear RED. Copious amounts of Adult Beverages to be consumed at reception following.]

    It first disappeared into the ether when MobileMe ended last Spring. Caught me way off-guard. Had no idea that iWeb was connected/related to this.

    Am currently using a PC netbook given to me by a friend, just so I can check email. My MacBook was my 1st and only computer 4 years ago. Was just getting comfortable with that, and POOOOOF. Dropped dead on me.


    BTW, fabulous work on Hazel’s website!

    Your Computer Luddite Colleague,

  3. Avatar Janet Barclay on October 31, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Mary, please accept my sincere condolences. Is there no way of restoring the files from your hard drive?

    I’m glad that you like Hazel’s new site! I’d be happy to connect with you by phone if you’d like to learn about the advantages of using WordPress.

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