It is such an indescribable joy when your website numbers start to go up. Admit it, we are glued to our analytics. What do the numbers look like today? What’s the bounce back rate? How many click-throughs did we get? How much did we do in sales? Let’s face it. The numbers count.

While many of us are not trying to build the next media empire, we still want to get those numbers to our sites, whether we are B2C or even looking at lead generation for our B2B sites, we want to connect to those who will make our business better.

That’s why we are such advocates here for great web design. We’ve talked a lot about what makes a site great, what you need to do to hire a great creative agency, but let’s discuss a few things from a user perspective, shall we? That’s really what we’re talking about here, right? Our audience.

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First, What Makes a Great Website?

First, a question: Are you chasing visitors from your site instead of bringing them in? Let’s check out the numbers:

  • According to Adobe, two-thirds of people prefer reading something beautifully designed.
  • Another Adobe research shows that 39% of people will stop engaging with a site if the images load too slowly.
  • 7% of business owners prefer investing in new or improved websites.

We can go on and on with the stats. But the clear fact is that your web design determines whether people will read from you, engage with you or invest in any of your offerings. Web design is so important that Derek Halpern says it’s superior to content.

Here are why some readers will never visit your site again (and what to do about it!):

Ignoring UX design principles will mess up your traffic and conversions.

This is highly detrimental. Sadly, there are so many people who make this mistake. They are so focused on creating content, generating leads and making sales that they forget the simple user experience (UX) principles.

To fix this and get the most value from your audience, you should ensure you follow the user experience principles below:

  • Simplicity: Readers come to your website to get specific information or take action. Make it easy for them to get what they want. Check out the world’s top sites such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Wikipedia. Don’t you just love how simple they are?
  • Visual hierarchy: This should visually show visitors exactly what action you want them to take. You achieve this by making some elements larger than others, giving them different colors, or adjusting the position of your core elements.
  • Easy to navigate: Once a visitor lands on your site, you don’t want them to get confused on what they should do next. This can be sorted out by easy navigation elements such as breadcrumbs, search boxes, fewer navigation options and internal links on your pages.
  • Simplify access: Your site’s design should be responsive and appear beautiful in all devices. Also as you advertise and try to generate leads, avoid blocking or distracting your readers from your main content. Avoid obstructive pop-up forms and ads, especially on your most important pages.
  • Accessibility on a mobile device. If your site does not have responsive design, then it will turn people away. Most of us turn to our smartphones to help us make those daily decisions and we want a site that works on any device, not just a desktop.

We’ll tackle more methods that will chase your clients away. Some will include the simple design factors above, while others will tackle other overlooked elements, such as not properly considering your clients.

Not putting your audience into consideration when designing.

All audiences are not created equal. Instead of blindly copying the most successful influencers in your niche, think of how he got there. Most keep testing and optimizing their sites for their specific audiences and goals. You’d want to do the same for your audience.

Here are a few examples:

  • Neil Patel, a top influencer, can easily get away with lots of popups and repetitive ads on his site. However, as a new blogger, you may not really grow your audience with his marketing approaches. Some may seem obtrusive and instantly turn off your growing audience.
  • Seth Godin’s blog has very short musings that resemble brief social media posts, instead of thorough long-form blog posts, but they work for him. He’s a well-known author and influencer already with an established readership. His methods may work for him, but not for most upcoming bloggers.

As you get started with your blog’s design, infuse your own personality and make it unique. The world needs you, not a replica of Neil, Seth or any other renowned marketer.

Sites that are not mobile friendly chase away a chunk of their traffic.

In November 2016, StatCounter revealed that mobile internet usage beat desktop. Right now, there are high chances that most of your visitors are using tablets and smartphones. You can easily check this out from your Google Analytics data. Responsive design is a must in this day and age. If you want to reach out to your core audience, they are probably going to be looking you up on a mobile.

Mobile friendliness is not just about having a responsive theme, there are a few more factors that you can consider. These include:

  • Playable content: Avoid including content that only plays on desktop. Mobile users don’t want to see that “Video can’t play on mobile” error.
  • Redirects: Avoid faulty redirects if you have separate mobile urls. All your redirects should lead to their correct mobile pages.
  • Touch elements: Buttons and links should not be so close to each other such that they make it impossible for a mobile user to tap on their desired option.
  • Website headers: Have you noticed that most top websites have now reduced their header sizes? Avoid large header sections so that it can be easier for mobile users to get to the content.
  • Font size: This is important on both mobile and desktop. Make sure your font size is not too small to read. Also, include lots of white space in your content.
  • Test your visuals: Sometimes some visuals you create for your users may not work well in mobile devices. This includes pop-ups (that may not even show the “close” button) and floating social sharing buttons. After testing, optimize them for mobile.
  • The design of e-commerce sites: 30% of shoppers on mobile abandon transactions if their mobile experience is not optimal. That’s a lot of money lost for something that can be quickly set up.

Having a poorly designed background does not work.

No, you don’t want to visit a page with yellow text on a purple background. Or dark blue text on dark red background. In fact, most readers love the conventional black text over white or grey background, with occasional white text over dark background, such as what you see on the Netflix homepage.

Even in Netflix, you’ll note that other pages don’t have the same elements. Being a video streaming service, it must also be trying to replicate the theatre ambiance which is a dark place with a bright screen. Therefore, remember to create something that will work for your users.

Suffocating your audience with ads is bad for your site.

It is okay to want to earn from your site. Most readers know this. But if you suffocate them with ads, it messes up their experience, making you look cheap and inconsiderate. If you use ads for monetization, here are some things you should be careful about:

  • Avoid screaming ads on top of your pages: Remember the visitor came to your site to get a solution. An ad should not be the very first thing they see when they visit your site.
  • Avoid obtrusive pop-up ads that cover your content: This is the surest way to have people clicking away from your site since they can’t view what they came for in the first place. It’s also bad for SEO. Some advertising networks can ban you if they realize you’re doing this.
  • Avoid ads that take up more space than content: This reduces credibility. It’s like going to a supermarket only to find half of it filled with banners and screens that display ads. Always give your content more real estate than ads.

Auto-loading audio and videos turn people off (let them choose).

Not all your visitors want audio and video loading automatically. It may even scare some who are researching for something, open 30 tabs and all of a sudden audio starts blaring from one of the tabs. Once they trace your tab, many will quickly close it, never to return again.

Visitors want to choose when and where they can play audio and video. Websites are not like classrooms or conferences where people’s full concentrations are on what you’re offering. People view sites in buses, offices, bus stops and hospital waiting rooms among other places, therefore they are not always in a position to watch videos and listen to audios.

Just putting out a poorly designed site. Yes. Design matters.

Have you ever visited a site with bad design? You don’t want to ever go back to it, right? The same will happen with your audience if your site is designed poorly. This is where nothing really adds up, for example:

  • Colors are awful, some are too luminous and bright that they hurt the reader’s eyes.
  • Unwarranted flash graphics keep screaming and moving around everywhere
  • There is poor contrast thus you can’t distinguish some things clearly
  • Some elements take too long to load
  • Offensive images and graphics
  • Navigation is difficult or non-existent
  • All pages have warning messages when you try to close their tabs e.g. “Are you 100% sure you want to miss this amazing opportunity?”

These are just examples, but ensure your pages at least pass the eyeball test – that they are good enough for the eyes. It’s advisable to ask a few friends and critics what they think about your new design before it goes live. It also doesn’t hurt to split test to see what graphic elements work better.

Blocks of text that are hard to read.

You may argue that this is more of a copywriting than a web design tip. It actually involves both.

Many experts, such as serpIQ, recommend long-form content on your blog posts. However, people won’t scroll through 2,000 – 5,000 words when it’s arranged in huge blocks of texts.

To avoid this, break your content into short paragraphs and make use of subheadings. Use bullet points where applicable. Also include images, videos, charts, graphs, screenshots, infographics and other relevant multimedia items on your long form content.

Navigation that is difficult, confusing, or just non-existent.

Once your reader lands on your website, blog or landing page, they want to know what to do next. However, if your site is hard to navigate, they’ll get psychologically exhausted trying to figure the site out. Some will just end up clicking away.

To ensure your navigation is on point, avoid these mistakes:

  • Putting navigation menus on non-standard locations: Some people won’t find such items since they automatically know where to check, and if there’s nothing there, they don’t look further.
  • Using generic labels: Don’t use the same labels that you’ve seen on many websites. Instead, plan your specific navigation with search engines and your audience in mind. For example, if you’re selling something, it’s always advisable to have a clear pricing or plans page.
  • Drop down menus: According to usability studies, drop down menus are considered annoying. Psychologically, when you hover your mouse over a menu item, you already want to click it, not to open up more options.
  • Wrong order: It’s been proven that the most important items on a menu are items that appear first and last. This is called the serial position effect. Therefore, don’t put the most important items in the middle of your menu list.

Broken promises: Content/products that don’t live up to the promise.

You may chase away visitors when you have content that does not live up to the promise. Landing pages and advertising copy can be all hyped up about the potential benefits that people will get when they access your content.

This may get quite a number of clicks with people earnestly waiting for you to fulfill what you promised.

However, if your content doesn’t meet their expectations, you psychologically break their hearts and they may never come back. People hate broken promises. And, with the myriad of choices users have online today, it can only take one broken promise to lose a client for life. Therefore, avoid overpromising and under-delivering. This will help you maintain your conversions and reputation.

It is not debatable that your content needs to be awesome. After all, they say that content is king, right? But poor design and user experience often hinders people’s access to great content.

You should constantly address the issues above to ensure your site passes the eyeball test and the content test. Once you increase your website’s design and performance, you will start seeing major improvements in your conversion rates.

Not understanding basic SEO principles.

While not understanding basic SEO principles might not drive me away once I get to your site, not using them could mean I never get there in the first place.

You could have all the greatest designers working on your site, have some really cool products to share, even a shopping cart that evokes buyers to keep buying, but if we can’t find you, you won’t be successful. A great site is a must, but so is a great strategy to get us there.

Think about your favourite local shop. What if it suddenly moved, but you couldn’t find it? No matter how much you wanted to shop there, you couldn’t!

Great design works! Knowing what your users want, and delivering makes you great, but if nobody knows how to find you, you’ll just be a fantastic shop on an island, alone, without sales. Who wants that? If your customers can’t find you in any search engine, you’re not going to be a success.

We’ve compiled our top 17 actionable SEO steps that you can easily implement to get people to find you online. You’re welcome.

Some Final Thoughts

A website is a major business tool in today’s marketplace. If you are not leveraging this asset the right way, you are going to be leaving sales, leads, money… all of that on the table. Today’s users are growing more impatient than ever.

It’s not the early days of the internet, where we were much more forgiving, and it took us 20 minutes, with our low-speed internet connection to get to your site. We want information fast. We want to visit a site, find what we are looking for, and buy it, or make that call.

Thinking about the things that turn someone off of your site is just as important as thinking about what your customers are looking for. Do you have to scroll forever to find the contact us information? Do you have to visit 5 or 6 pages before you get to pricing?

How does your shopping cart function? Users want an intuitive design. What does that mean? It means you think like your user. You listen to your audience. Getting back to the basics of what makes anything good, really.

Amy Aitman is the owner of 8menCan, a content agency based in Toronto, Canada. She works to create content strategies and digital marketing plans for businesses around the world. Away from the office, Amy takes her team out for chicken tacos and martins, extra dirty, extra olives of course.


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