7 Deadly 90’s Web Development Mistakes

The web has come a long way since the 90’s. Code standards have changed, some technologies have fallen out of use and others have evolved.

But old habits die hard on the web. A lot of websites these days still use technologies that are outdated or obsolete, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things the 90’s way without even realizing it.

So this article will share with you 7 common but deadly 90’s web development mistakes that all of us web coders should be aware of, and most certainly not doing.

1. Using Java on a Website

Java is not JavaScript, the definitive front end scripting language used by almost all web pages. Java is a programming language that was once popular for embedding applications, or ‘applets’, on the web.

Now that native web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and AJAX can do everything that Java was capable of and more, the need for it has disappeared. So if you’re thinking of embedding a Java applet on the web, don’t.

2. Using Flash on a Website

The other major web browser plugin that has fallen out of use in the past decade is Flash. Back in the 90’s, Flash was used for all kinds of purposes from simple animation and interaction to full blown websites. But now, it’s frowned upon as slow and annoying.

Just like Java, native web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and AJAX can now do everything that was once only possible with Flash. However, Flash still lingers on old and new websites alike.

Don’t be one of those daggy, old-fashioned coders trying to flog a dead horse. Forget about Flash.

3. Using an Intro or Splash Page

Intro pages with nothing but a heading and a big button saying ‘Enter Site’ are so 1999. Splash pages that auto-load the main page are just as bad.

Come on, when was the last time you saw a site with an intro page? Sure, they might be exciting if you’re coding your very first website, but if you want to be taken seriously as a coder, it’s time to say bye-bye to intro pages.

If your intro is built in Flash, that’s even worse. The world may not care if your wardrobe is straight out of the 90’s, but they’ll care all right if your website is.

4. Using HTML Inline Styling

<DIV BGCOLOR="#000000">

If the above HTML code looks foreign to you, then congratulations. You’ve bypassed this horrific coding practice.

If you write HTML code like that all the time, time to move on. Mixing styling in with your HTML is a thing of the past.

CSS is where it’s at now (and for the past 15 years, for that matter). Learn CSS and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.

5. Using an HTML Table for Layout

Is your web page a giant table? If not, then you shouldn’t be using the HTML <table> tag to lay it out.

Believe it or not, in the 90’s, this was how most web pages were laid out. Yes, that even includes the 0.01% of them (give or take) that actually were giant tables.

Use CSS instead. HTML is for structure, CSS is for appearance. End of.

6. Using Obsolete HTML Elements

Using deprecated HTML tags, that is, tags that are not to be used anymore, is like Googling ‘google’ – it will break the internet.

Tags like <font> and <basefont>, <center> for centering content, <strike> for striking through text and <dir> for menus are just some of the tags that have no place in modern HTML coding.

Undoubtedly, the worst of them all are the ghastly, seizure-causing text <blink> tag, and the scrolling <marquee> tag. Needless to say, those tags are dead and buried.

7. Using Trippy Backgrounds or Too Much Animation

Effects like <blink> and <marquee>, animated rainbow bars and other exciting GIFs, trippy backgrounds and fluoro text were all the rage back in the wonderful 90’s.

To be fair, back then the internet was like a shiny new toy, and everyone loved looking at web pages that just ‘popped’. But now that the novelty’s worn off, no one cares anymore.

Welcome to my site!

These days, what people want from a website is something that’s readable and usable. There’s really no need to go overboard with styling.


The main lesson to be learnt here is that HTML and CSS are constantly changing and evolving. If you think you need to brush up on your modern HTML and CSS skills, you can either sign up for Treehouse or invest in a recommended HTML and CSS book.

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