Cliches to Avoid When Working With Your Web Designer

Web designers and developers understand that not everyone speaks their language. Part of the job is to translate what you the customer wants into actionable design priorities.

Keeping in mind that designers are often called upon to make many, many websites, they tend to see the same things crop up time and again. Nothing makes a designer grit his or her teeth than requests for the same old, tired cliches. Here are a few you should avoid.

“Make it pop.”
Text and images on a screen don’t pop. Balloons pop. Popcorn pops. Visual flair is a subjective judgement, and any good designer will have training and experience working with color palettes that are designed to be pleasing. Be specific and thoughtful in your requests. Don’t ask your designer to “make it pop.” Instead, try something like “Can I see in more contrasting colors?” or “How would that look with a different font?”

Overused stock images
The proliferation of sites like and has made it easy for anyone to purchase high quality photographs and save money over hiring a photographer to do custom work. This in and of itself isn’t a problem. It’s when everyone uses the same images on their websites that this becomes an issue. Ever see the boardroom full of smiling, racially diverse employees? Or the close-up of two hands grasped in a handshake? Probably more than you can count. Don’t choose these for your site. Your company is unique, so why use the same photos as everyone else?

Flash page takeovers
In the early days of Flash, it was popular to have a “talking head” type of Flash introduction. Upon entering a website, users would be confronted with an overlay of a person, either real or animated, welcoming them to the website. Sometimes the user was forced to sit through an entire spiel before being able to get rid of the overlay and get on with their business. Repeat visitors were treated to the same annoyance every time they went to that website. These “takeovers” only serve to annoy users and delay them from getting to the real point—browsing your site and buying something.

Auto-play music
Much like Flash takeovers, music that automatically starts playing when a site is visited is a major annoyance. Just because something is technically possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. For instance, it’s possible to hit every visitor to your house in the face with a pie, but it’s really not the ideal way to welcome them to your home. Plus, what if someone is visiting your site in a quiet environment like the library or their workplace? Invariably everyone in their vicinity is blasted with whatever your choice of music, which is both startling and distracting.

Do you have any additional website cliches to add? We’d love to hear them.