Why Web 2.0 Is Often Web Fail.0 and How to Avoid It

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Take Web 2.0 design, for example. Yes, certain elements like rounded corners and 3-D effects can be great, but it seems lately people are overdoing it. Whenever we see a website that is obviously overdoing Web 2.0, we call it Web Fail.0, because that’s what badly done Web 2.0 elements do in testing – they fail to convert.

Why do they fail to convert? It’s mainly because they’re trying too hard to be “hip,” and it just doesn’t look right to the eye. You know a Web Fail.0 site when you see one. It looks like a cartoon with exaggerated images, rounded corners, gradients and 3-D text. It looks amateurish, and doesn’t come across as genuine to the reader. You lose credibility. So, naturally, conversion is poor.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Web 2.0 designs can be done well. However, it takes a gifted designer to pull it off. The key is subtle application of Web 2.0 elements so you don’t notice the design, only the content. But subtle seems so hard to do online. So, we tend to recommend people just stay away from these elements unless their designer is very, very good.

There’s a crisp and clean aspect to good Web 2.0, as well. In fact, that’s one hallmark of what we call Web 2.5, which is where the online world is quickly headed. But for now, here are some ways to save you time and money by avoiding a Web Fail.0 design.

Don’t try so hard.

Be yourself. Create a website that reflects you and your business, not the popular trends. Just because “everyone else” is doing something is sometimes enough reason to run the other way. It’s tempting to use every tool in Photoshop just because it’s easy. And that’s when you can get into trouble. Just because you can make a gradient button easily doesn’t mean you can do it well. Or that it’s appropriate for your particular site. So, trust your instincts. Just because all the cool kids are using drop shadows, doesn’t mean you have to.

How can you recognize Web 2.0 design?

Here are some of the most blatantly overused elements:

  • Rounded corners
  • Overly shiny buttons
  • Sharp gradient colors that don’t blend
  • Big over-simplified icons
  • Huge drop shadows creating sloppy 3-D effects
  • Giant fonts without appropriate padding
  • Diagonal lines in the background

Just get something up there.

All that being said, there is value in just getting it done. Does it seem like you’ve been going round after round with your designers and coders trying to get your site perfect? Stop. The fact is a website isn’t a permanent artifact. It’s fluid. It’s always changing. And you’re going to want to do conversion testing on each page anyway. So, just get it up there. It’s okay if it’s not perfect.

Remember, it’s a website, not your baby.

It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a site design and protect it with every fiber of your being. You vigorously defend everything from the giant goofy social media buttons to the confusing navigation just because you’re too attached to the site. So, take a step back. Why do you even have a website? What is the ultimate goal? It should be to serve your customer better – to make it easy for them to hand you money in return for products or services.

The only one who truly knows whether you should have a button or a link, a larger header or a sidebar is your customer. Testing is the only way to know for sure whether a page converts well or not. And testing is the only way to continually improve conversions.

So take the pressure off yourself. You have enough to worry about. Get some solid advice from a conversion rate expert, make the changes, and then test the results. Keep what works. Toss what doesn’t. There’s no need to get emotionally involved in the final outcome. That’s just added stress. The fact is good ideas fail all the time. Fortunately, there are always more good ideas.