As web designs constantly evolve, new trends take hold for a while, and then vanish. Over a span of 12 years, my own site has undergone many redesigns – each of which represented a different phase of web evolution. And it’s not just the outward appearance that’s subject to these trends. Many different backend processes have been in vogue, and then fallen out of favor – sometimes due to changing technology.
Unfortunately, there’s no expiry date for articles on the web. So it’s quite possible that you’ll land on a blog post written years – often over a decade old, with outdated advice. If you’re not careful, you’ll receive outdated, but harmless design tips, but in the worst-case scenario, you’ll be actively harming your site by following the recommendations. So here are three different pieces of “bad” advice that might have been good at one time, but no longer.
3rd Party Commenting Systems – Throw Them Out
I’ve often had occasion to point out that you shouldn’t use 3rd party comment systems on your website. Even if they bring features to the table that are unavailable using your native commenting system. Here’s a quick breakdown of why it’s a bad idea:
- Increased page load resources
- No control over your data
- No access to privacy
- No guarantee of integration with future updates
- Typically, no option to make it fit with your theme
In fact, there’s an increasing movement these days to disable comments on articles completely. Something’s changed since say 2012 or 2013, where people began to realize the dangers of toxicity and spam in their comments section. Not just that, it presents an additional burden on the server – especially when spam comment volumes reach a high limit.
Combining JS and CSS – No Longer Necessary
There was a time when all website optimization guides recommended that you combine your CSS and JS files into just one of each. The reason for this was that earlier browsers had a limit to the number of resources they could download in parallel with the HTTP/1.0 protocol.
But times have changed since then, and that limitation no longer exists. Now, combining your CSS and JS files can actually slow things down. Not just that, it plays havoc with your CDN since any software that combines these files needs to update the entire package with the changes and a new name. So if you need to remove or modify just one little CSS file, your entire CDN cache will be invalidated.
So despite earlier advice, you need to stop combining these files. It used to be a best practice at one point in time. Not anymore.
Interactive Social Media Buttons
Just get rid of these. It’s fine to have links to your social media networks, or even a URL to share the current article. But I’ve seen social media buttons such as:
- “Like” buttons
- Buttons showing a count of shares/likes
- “Share” buttons that are more than just links
The truth is that these buttons are terrible for your site performance. They add a ton of code that’s far out of proportion with their small graphical footprint. Not just that, they completely screw over your privacy, and that of your viewers. The cookie that these social media companies place on your visitor’s browser can be used to track them over multiple sites – even when they haven’t logged into Facebook!
So it’s just not worth it. If you have to, you can simply create static URLs with icons for sharing posts on Facebook. But anything more than that is killing your site. There was a time when these buttons were everywhere on the web. But now, they’re poison.
There are many other “best-practices” that have fallen into disuse as time progresses. Always make it a point to review your technological inventory to see what you can throw away. It usually ends up benefiting your site!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!