Even if you’re not a web design professional, you may have noticed that web design is heavily influenced by trends. If you’re wondering why, there are two key reasons. The first is because such a large percentage of the web design industry consists of freelancers doing work for clients. Since freelancers want to get paid, when a client sees something they like on another site and says that’s what they want for their site, the designer is going to end up doing it for them.

Second, a lot of advances in web design are driven by popular free templates. Recent examples of this include the “Twenty” series of themes from WordPress and Twitter Bootstrap. Even though many designers may heavily tweak and customize these themes, any notable new elements that they contain will most likely remain visible. Since these themes can be used for tens of thousands of websites, it doesn’t take long for those elements to become trendy.

 

While web design trends aren’t necessarily bad, it’s important to remember that the goal of your site is to generate new customers for your business. Since some trends can actually work against that goal, it’s important to think carefully before jumping on any design bandwagons. Here are three trends that can be especially problematic:

Header Carousels

Also known as automatic image sliders, this is a trend that has spread to a lot of sites. Unfortunately, no published A/B tests have shown this element to increase conversions. In fact, a lot of discussions have resulted in designers saying that when their company tested this element, the majority of visitors ignored the content on the header’s slides. Even though it’s easy to assume this “cool element” will make a great addition to your site, it can actually cause visitors to miss important information because of the banner blindness effect.

Mobile Sites

Five years ago, if you wanted people to be able to visit your site on their phone, a mobile version was a must. So, since more people than ever are using their phones to browse the Internet, doesn’t that mean it’s even more important to have a mobile version of your site? Well, actually not. Since most smartphones can fully render normal websites, a mobile version can actually frustrate mobile visitors instead of helping them. In most cases, it’s better to simply make some tweaks for mobile than a completely different version of your site.

Lightboxes

This element is similar to a pop-up ad. However, instead of opening in a new window and advertising a third-party, it opens on top of content and advertises something like signing up for the site’s newsletter. While tests have shown that this can increase email signups, you have to be careful. Because this is a fairly aggressive element, it has the potential to drive visitors away from your site. That’s especially true if you don’t make it easy to close or don’t limit its appearance to only first-time visitors.