It’s easy to find everything you want to know about the latest web design trends. We even covered a few trends ourselves to help increase engagement.
But what about those trends that seem great to begin with, but actually do more harm than good? If your church is using fading trends or going overboard with a trend, it could hurt your site.
Take a look at your church website to see if you’re using any of the worst website trends of 2019.
Hamburger Menus Everywhere
This one is kind of controversial. Some people will never let go of the hamburger menu. It’s sleek, works great on mobile and it’s something most people recognize instantly. In fact, it gained popularity simply because of how easy it was to add to mobile apps.
However, UX Planet points out that a major downside is people naturally feel that if you’re hiding menu items, they must not be important. Now, imagine having your About, Ministries and Giving pages stuck behind a menu where visitors think those pages aren’t important parts of your church’s site.
So, you can see the issue here. Yes, they are convenient and save space, but there are some cons. If you still want to use them, test different positions to see where they’re most effective, such as the left or right side of the screen.
Another thing to consider is using a hamburger menu for mobile and a more traditional menu for desktop.
Too Much Interactivity
Yes, interactivity is still a major website trend in 2019, but it quickly became one of the worst website trends of 2018. In an effort to be more competitive, many sites went with the more is more theory versus less is more.
When it comes the interactivity trend, less is definitely more. The last thing you want to do is make it more difficult to use your site. If interactive elements ever require visitors to take more steps or spend more time to perform an action, it’s not beneficial to your site.
In fact, many visitors will leave, especially if the interactive elements don’t make sense. Think of it in the same way as complex nested menus. If you have to click four menus deep to reach what you’re looking for, you might just give up before you ever reach your destination.
Minimalist websites have been making waves for several years now, especially in 2019. However, there comes a time when people want something different. Eventually, every site starts to look the same and nothing stands out anymore.
Even with church websites, you want to showcase your personality, not just a bland white site with a few images and minimal text. Some sites still pull off the minimalist trend well, such as these. You’ll notice they also make great use of color and well-chosen imagery without being bland.
Of course, there’s also the issue with extreme minimalist sites. These can be just as terrible to use as a chaotic website. At this point, your church site is so minimal there’s no reason for visitors to come back.
Finding a balance between minimal and a standard site is your best approach.
It’s hard to deny the effectiveness of animations. Yet, once again, this could easily be one of the worst website trends of 2019. Some websites, and not just church websites, have taken this trend to the extreme.
Every page is filled with animations. Whether it’s a full-screen animation for the background or just random animations throughout page sections, you can’t look at anything on the site without something moving while you’re trying to read.
With that last statement, you can probably see the problem. Animations draw the eye, but you don’t want them to distract from your content. For instance, if someone’s trying to read your service hours, but the animation makes it difficult to see, they might just forget about it.
Use animation sparingly. As a header image or draw attention to a certain section, they work well. Otherwise, use static images or videos that don’t auto-play.
Reliance On AI
While your church shouldn’t ignore the power of artificial intelligence, this website trend isn’t always ideal for church websites. People are used to encountering AI-powered chatbots on various websites, but your church is one of those rare brands where people still fully expect to interact with a real person, not a virtual one.
Often times, a person doesn’t know whether they’re about to chat with a bot or a person. If they suddenly discover they’re discussing questions about faith with a bot, they may lose all trust in your church. After all, they want to have guidance from an actual person.
It’s fine to use AI for certain things, such as a chatbot (fully disclose that this is a bot and not a person) to answer basic questions about service hours and contact details for specific staff members.
However, you should have a form in place for anything more personal. If you have the time and availability, you might host live chat or live stream session. This creates a better relationship with your site visitors and members.
2019 brought some welcome relief from the same tired old typography. Finally, sites were getting creative and utilizing a wide array of fonts and styles. While all of this was great, it doesn’t work for all sites.
As one design expert put it, web design is 90% typography. After all, if visitors can’t read what’s on your site, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of the design is.
One trend that really makes new typography seem bad is the chaotic typography trend. You read that right – sites are purposely trying to use chaotic typography to grab attention. While this may work with some sites, it’s not a good fit for most churches.
The chaotic look makes the text hard to read, even if you’re just using it for a headline or names of upcoming sermon series. Since your church is likely trying to appeal to people of all ages, you want a simpler look and feel that’s easy for everyone to read.
That being said, get a little creative with your typography. Use several different fonts that work well together. Use bold colors to make things stand out. Just remember, test your typography to ensure it’s easy to read on all devices.
One Long Page
If you’re a simple brand with very little on your site, the one page design works well. However, for larger sites and for churches, this is one of the worst website trends of 2019.
No one wants to scroll forever to reach a certain section. Plus, the longer the page, the longer it may take to load.
This type of design makes it more difficult to create an engaging website. Your church has far too much information to fit on a single page. So, just skip this and opt for a more traditional approach with multiple pages nicely organized and easy to access via the menu. Your visitors will appreciate it.
Abundance Of Videos
The video trend isn’t really a new one, but it seemed to hit hard throughout 2018. It’s also become one of the worst website trends. Why? The old saying that too much of a good thing is bad holds true here.
The first mistake is opting for auto-play videos. Despite how many experts say they’re a great idea, people hate them. No one wants a video to start randomly playing while they’re trying to check out your church’s hours or see what your mission statement is.
You never know where a visitor might be and a loud, obnoxious video – no matter how well-intentioned – makes them close your site immediately. There’s a reason why Google started blocking auto-play videos automatically in Chrome.
So, if your church is guilty of using auto-play videos, please stop. Visitors will push play when they’re ready.
If you don’t use auto-play, good for you! But, there are still a few more issues with this trend. Too many large videos on your page can decrease page loading speeds. You never want this.
The other issue is large video files may not always play well, depending on your website host. If you have great videos, but they’re constantly buffering, it’s going to drive visitors away.
A solution to the page loading and buffering issues is to host your larger video files on third-party sites, such as YouTube. Plus, this gives your church the chance to reach an even larger audience. You can still embed the video on your church site without dealing with all the negative consequences.
One final note is to limit videos. While you should have them for your sermons and to explain certain things about your church, such as your mission, volunteer campaigns and ministry groups, you should still have text on your site. This is easier for Google to index. A balance is more engaging.
Cutting edge brands have fully embraced complex web design. It actually is eye-catching and fun. However, the appeal quickly wears off if it’s a site you want to engage with on a regular basis.
Think of it as the difference between a church and the pop-culture/gag gift retailer Spencer’s. People looking to explore their faith don’t want a bunch of bright colors, flashy designs and complex navigation. They just want the site to work.
You can still have a fun, engaging site, but if you throw too much at your visitors, your site becomes difficult to use.
Instead, keep it simple. Use easy to understand navigation. Use eye-catching imagery related to your church. Sometimes, less really is more.
Brutalist design has been a controversial web design trend, but that hasn’t stopped many sites from adopting this in-your-face strategy. Creative Bloq calls this the punk rock side of web design and they aren’t wrong.
While some people love this trend, others see it as one of the worst website trends, not just for 2019, but period. For most church sites, it’s okay to adopt a few elements of brutalist design, but not all.
For instance, using bolder typography and a more attention-grabbing color palette can make your site stand out and seem more engaging. However, going full brutalist could easily hurt your conversion rate, which is the last thing you want to do.
Honestly, you might not even see this trend on many websites. Why? Even if they’re using it, you don’t notice. Some sites have adopted this trend to appear more artistic, modern and minimal. While that’s a nice strategy, visitors don’t want to have to search for ways to navigate your site.
A prime example is hiding links behind an image with no words. For instance, how is a person supposed to know to click the image of two smiling church members to view the couples’ ministry group details?
It’s an even bigger problem on mobile, which may be where many if not most of your visitors are coming from. It’s not as easy to hover to see if a link exists.
Avoid hiding your menus and links. You’ll make it easier on your visitors, decrease your bounce rate and have more repeat visitors.
Going Too Bold
As you might have noticed, there’s a trend throughout this post. Most of the worst website trends of 2019 aren’t necessarily bad trend, but going overboard with them makes them terrible.
The same holds true with the bold trend. Bold fonts, bold colors and overall bold designs instantly catch the eye. Yet, people can only handle so much of that in-your-face strategy before it loses its appeal.
A common issue is using too many conflicting bold elements. Think back to the late 80s and 90s where everyone wore a dozen different shades of neon colors. Is that really how you want your church website to look? Of course not.
Limit how many bold elements you use. For instance, you might opt for one or two bold colors to contrast against the rest of your color palette. Or, you might use bold typography for headlines, but not sub-heads.
The two lessons to take away are to utilize website trends in moderation and always make sure a trend actually works for your site before embracing it. If your church site needs a makeover for 2019, contact us today to learn how we can help.