5 Retro Website Design Elements We Don't Want Back!

5 Retro Website Design Elements We Don’t Want Back!

By Sadie on November 18, 2010

Retro Website Design Elements

The internet first came into people’s homes in the mid to late 90’s and it was a huge innovation as people could access information from their personal computers and the technology that was used was amazing! However, 20 years on and we look back at some of those early websites fondly – and in some cases, not so fondly. We do want to see a lot of them back though.

Web design has come on a long way and the simple websites from the 90’s that were so awesome at the time now look very dated and simple, even a child could replicate them in word. Moving away from page maker and basic HTML websites in tables there were a lot of ‘snazzy’ features that stood out as web designer got better at their trade.

We have put together a list of 5 retro web design elements that amazed us 20 years ago but now look outdated and we don’t want to see them in modern day web design.

Retro Web Design – Let The Past Stay Buried!

1. Scrolling Text – Ticker

Tickers were all the rage when websites first appeared, they were amazing as they offered a way to show moving content on the screen and once people saw this they all wanted one. Most website’s began including scrolling tet, tickers or marquee style text that would include their latest news or even just the date. As long as the website had some kind of scrolling text it was cool. Today however, this style of scrolling tect looks dated and we prefer to add content in a more SEO friendly way, pulling in feeds that update from the news section, or using Flash to display moving content that looks a lot better than the marquee style text scrolling across the page.

2. Flashing gifs

Because anything moving was considered to be innovative in the early days, many people used flashing gifs in their websites, these were impressive at the time but looking back were a severe health risk as the flashing colours with no real purpose could induce epileptic fits! With early website design, people didn’t think about usability and we didn’t have the wealth of information and case studies that tell us this amount of flashing images and colours is very off-putting to a user. Back then it was just cool! Flashing gifs were pointless and today if you see a gif used in this way you immediately see the site as being dated. Gifs are still used in websites and often in banner advertising but the design and application of them is much better than it was 20 years ago.

3. Hit Counters

Unfortunately, you still see websites with hit counters on today but it often makes the user question the professionalism of the site and people don’t want to see that they are the 1025th visitor to the site of all time. With the internet being used daily hit counters could go up to millions and billions of views in the site’s lifespan and therefore lower hit counters are much less impressive. They were easily manipulated as you could hit refresh on the browser and watch the hits go up. Hit counters aren’t too offensive but have no real purpose, now with real tracking like Google analytics a website owner doesn’t need a hit counter and the user certainly doesn’t need to see them.

4. Sounds and Music

Once developers realised you could play music on a website it seemed as though everyone had to have it, this was annoying and not very user-friendly as you click onto a website to be surprised with a midi version of a classical piece or a pop song blasting. You have to remember that back then most people were on dial-up and the files would have to load up before playing meaning you could wait minutes before seeing (and hearing) the website. Today people advise against using music on a website unless there is a specific purpose for it and always recommend the option to switch on/off the music so the user has control. There is nothing worse than being caught out doing some personal browsing at work by music blasting out from a website.

5. Background Images

Background images are coming back in fashion as we can now load images much quicker and it can be a good way to fill in the screen when designing for different screen resolutions. However, in the 90’s background images caused big problems as they would use it as the main background and put text directly on top of the image. If you have an intricate background image then the light and dark spots would make some text unreadable depending on the text colour. The other big issue was the load time, an image couldn’t be compressed i the same way and would be a large file that took a long time to download via your telephone connection. Some people would use a smaller image then tile it over and over again on the page this was horrible in a website and today would put people off using the website.

We can’t knock these retro elements too much as from these came some really good web designs and it was an evolution towards today’s web design which is much better, however, in another 20 years, web designers may be mocking our work as web design as being retro and technology moves on. The future generations may be laughing at our 2D designs or the fact we use a keyboard and mouse rather than voice activated design 😉