Today, websites and other online assets account for the lion’s share of leads and conversions for a growing number of businesses. Businesses are now so reliant on online leads and sales that any friction in how visitors are engaged through online channels can lead to serious repercussions for their credibility, growth, and survival.
Unfortunately, friction can happen very easily over the web. It only takes one careless web designer, content creator, or web developer to degrade your site’s web design to the point that it ruins its ability to engage and convert visitors. Furthermore, web design mistakes are so commonplace that a lot of website owners don’t even recognize them when they see them.
Here, we’ll show you 11 of the most common web design mistakes out there. By the time you go finish reading this list, we hope you’ll understand just how important having a great design team on your side is.
What Exactly is a “Web Design Mistake”?
Web design mistakes can be any design choice that makes it difficult for a website to perform as intended. As such, this article is not concerned with personal websites that are intended for personal enjoyment. So long as the webmaster enjoys what they’ve made, it’s all good.
However, not all websites have it so easy. Business sites and other websites that are meant to draw qualified leads or drive conversions have to be intentionally designed. What’s more, these websites will have to work within the context of complex ever-changing markets, technologies, and business-side limitations, all of which make it difficult, if not impossible to make a “perfect” web design.
That said, when it comes to lead generation and conversions, some common web design choices are almost always a bad thing. Common web design mistakes include:
1) Slow Loading Speeds
Page loading speeds can directly impact the user experience and they are also used as a search engine ranking signal. Long loading times not only turn off potential leads and customers but also degrade your site’s search optimization characteristics, making it more difficult for a site to be found. This means that it’s always in your best interest to do what you can to ensure that your pages load as fast as they can.
Loading speed isn’t strictly a web design issue but how web designs are implemented can affect loading speeds. The use of multiple data-heavy media assets such as uncompressed images and videos can contribute to a slowdown in loading speeds. Poorly-maintained sites can also become bloated and sluggish, over time. What’s more, some site owners don’t realize just how serious of an issue a slow loading speeds are until it’s too late.
Fortunately, site speed optimization is a fairly straightforward process. While engaging the services of SEO-oriented web developers is ideal, most site owners can achieve better loading speeds by themselves by using appropriate compressed image formats, switching to better hosting solutions, and implementing lazy loading on their website.
2) Cluttered Layouts
Though some popular sites such as Shopee and Lazada can make densely-packed web design elements work for them, these sites are the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, cluttered design is something you want to avoid, especially if you want to increase your site’s credibility and convert more visitors.
Cluttered layouts can be problematic for several reasons. First, they make it difficult for visitors to find the content they’re looking for. Next, they can make a site seem less professional and trustworthy, especially if the brand isn’t well-known. Lastly, unnecessary clutter from several discrete page elements and links can ruin a web page’s technical SEO, slowing down loading speeds and increasing the odds of crawl errors.
All these drawbacks make it harder to convert page visitors into leads or customers. Paring down your page designs and ensuring their functionality is clear can do wonders to keep visitors engaged and interested in returning.
3) Inefficient Site Structure and Navigation
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who only visit one page on a website before leaving. A high bounce rate is generally undesirable, as it often means that the visitors are either not finding what they’re looking for or are uninterested in exploring the other content on the website. This can indicate that the site isn’t good at generating leads or conversions even though visitors are finding their way to it.
There are many potential causes of high bounce rates, including slow loading speeds and cluttered layouts. However, site designs that make it hard for visitors to explore the site or find order pages are especially prone to high bounce rates and lost conversion opportunities.
4) Bad Content Organization
This is related to the previous point. The way a site’s content is organized can affect how it is perceived by human visitors and search engine bots. Unintuitive categorization, sloppy use of category tags, duplicate pages, a large proportion of irrelevant content, a lack of relevant links, and an overall lack of purpose can all doom the chances of a website ever getting a solid following.
Thankfully, this is fairly easy to remedy. Doing an audit of all your content, reducing the number of topic and product categories to a minimum, and adding a search bar to your site to make it easier for your audience to find the content they need.
5) Bad Typography
Bad typography choices can make your content difficult to read, alter your message, and make it more difficult to retain your audience.
It takes years of experience to nail down the art of typography but there are some pointers that you could follow to ensure that your typography works to effectively send your message across. Some things to consider include:
- Ensuring your font choices are appropriate for your intended audience.
- Picking font sizes that are easy to read.
- Choosing font and background colors that have sufficient contrast.
- Avoiding excessive bold or italic text.
- Limiting the number of fonts that appear throughout your website.
6) Ineffective Calls-to-Action
A call-to-action (CTA) is something that prompts an audience to do something. CTA’s often take the form of a command such as “contact us”, “sign up”, “buy now”, or something similar, usually linked to an appropriate landing page. They can be above the fold when you open a page, contained somewhere within an article, on a button in a floating popup window, or anywhere else you need them.
There are a lot of blanket recommendations out there for CTA placements but the fact is, designing effective CTA elements is as much of an art as it is a science. There is no single approach that will work for all brands and content types.
For example, most blog articles are primarily meant as a form of lead generation and content marketing, which means that the content and visuals related to the CTA don’t have to be especially aggressive. On the other hand, a CTA for an ecommerce landing page or signup form might be contained in a brightly colored button that sometimes pops up before you have the time to read anything.
Whatever CTA design or strategy you choose, you have to make sure it makes sense for both your content and your brand. Choosing one that’s incongruous to either can result in a negative visitor experience, limiting your conversions rather than increasing them.
7) Poor Content Design
Content is more than just marketing copy with some media assets inserted between paragraphs. It should be viewed as a singular whole, a combination of various web elements working together to deliver a unified message. In other words, the content has to be purposefully designed to meet the site’s goals.
Unfortunately, the process of content creation is often heavily siloed with writers focusing on the copy while web designers, developers, and graphic designers concentrate on the site layout and visuals. This means the content elements aren’t always as intentional as they could be, which leads to missed opportunities when reaching out to audiences and earning their loyalty.
While siloed content development usually works, it often leaves the content feeling disjointed from the rest of the website’s visuals. This, in turn, may make it more difficult for the site to have a unique and coherent voice, ultimately diluting the potential of the site’s content. Having all content stakeholders work closely together can do much to ensure a unified message and stronger conversion rates.
8) A Lack of Mobile-Responsiveness
Outside of key B2B (business-to-business) markets, most web traffic today is primarily facilitated through mobile devices. This is even more true in the Philippines, where mobile devices account for a handy majority of all web traffic.
Despite this, however, most websites are developed on desktop computers for practical reasons. As a result, some web designers and developers have a bias towards desktop-first design, occasionally failing to account for the main source of their site’s traffic.
Given the overwhelming dominance of mobile devices, there is a growing number of web designers advocating not just for mobile responsiveness but for a mobile-first approach to website design, upending decades-old assumptions of site design.
To understand why mobile-first frameworks are now key to great web design, read Why Adopting a Mobile-First Design is Good for Your Website.
9) Incoherent Branding
A lot of web design battles are not lost not in design systems and CMSes but in boardrooms and convoluted email threads. If the site owner itself doesn’t have a clear direction for its online branding, then coherent web design will be difficult, if not impossible.
Without a defined tone, voice, or visual identity, web designers, content creators, and developers will not be able to come up with a site that accurately reflects a business’s branding and intent. This invariably causes organizations to develop an inconsistent appearance throughout their online and offline properties, resulting in confusion, a weak user experience, and negative brand perceptions.
These outcomes would make targeting audiences and converting them to qualified leads and customers extremely challenging. With this in mind, organizations should strive to define their brand identity and their key markets before they begin to engage in a website redesign.
10) Poor Choice of Images
The visual assets used on websites are a direct reflection of the organization’s branding as well as its attention to detail. When chosen well, they can draw attention and elicit emotions in a way that contributes to a positive user experience. When they aren’t chosen carefully, they can distort the intent of the landing page and reflect poorly on the business.
Whether an image is “poor” can be subjective. However, most web designers tend to agree that offensive images, unlicensed reproductions, outdated references, cliche stock art, low-resolution files, as well as poorly-composed photos should be kept out of your online properties. Including these images, particularly if they are of no real relevance to the brand or content, can serve to diminish even well-executed parts of a website’s overall design.
11) No Risk-Taking
Even great websites need to be periodically reassessed to see if their web design is keeping up with the demands of the surrounding digital landscape. Remember — websites have to work within the constraints of changing markets, technologies, and other volatile human systems. A site design that works well now may not necessarily be the best thing for your site months or years down the road.
Unfortunately, many site owners prefer to stick to designs that they’re familiar with. As a result, their site may eventually become dated as various market shifts and technologies reshape the consensus of “good web design. This lack of willingness to continuously improve on existing web designs may, over time, make it difficult to make substantial improvements in market share, engagement, conversions, and brand loyalty.
Some web design mistakes are so commonplace that site owners often don’t even realize they’re there. Now that you know what these mistakes are, you can begin identifying them on your own website.
If you’re interested in discussing potential improvements in your online properties, feel free to contact SearchWorks.PH. Our professional web designers, developers, and content creators will be happy to look over and discuss your website with you.