The Web Design Brief Template
The Top Website Design Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Updated: March 2021)
Website design mistakes run wild online.
In our line of work (branding, web design, and digital marketing) I come across a lot of people who think website design is getting easier.
Platforms like WordPress and Squarespace are becoming more accessible. In turn, they’re making building your own website easier than ever.
While it may seem to be more convenient to build a website yourself, it’s the same as designing your own logo, there is a greater chance you will make mistakes that could damage your brand.
Imagine the time and money you spend building a website, especially if you have to learn how to do some of the more technical things, like adding in a slider, posting a video, or making it responsive.
There are so many moving parts when it comes to a website – it’s not just about choosing nice images, or writing the content.
When it comes to something as valuable and as key to your business as a website, and just like your branding, you don’t want to make mistakes.
In this post, I’ll show you how easy it is to avoid making these crucial website design mistakes.
This advice will help you increase the number of visitors coming to your site, and help you turn those visitors into paying customers.
How Important Is Web Design?
A mistake free website is easy to avoid. But first, answer this question:
Are you chasing visitors from your site instead of bringing them in?
Let’s check out some statistics:
- According to Adobe, two-thirds of people prefer reading something beautifully designed.
- Another Adobe statistic 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 online sales and psychology expert Derek Halpern says it’s superior to content.
It’s no good having all of the best content in the world, if nobody wants to read it because your website is riddled with design mistakes.
But you also need to try and attract visitors to your website. Nobody will stick around if it looks poor!
It is such a joy when your website numbers start to go up.
Admit it, we’re all 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. Website 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.
So, what are the top web design mistakes we see people making on a daily basis? And what can you do to help your website visitors get the most out of their stay with you?
No Visible Contact Details
Not listing your contact information is one of the most common website design mistakes. People hate digging around to find contact details. If I want to book a table at a restaurant in a strange city, or use my mobile to book on the go, the last thing I want to do is click around your website to try and find your phone number. So frustrating!
It makes sense to have your contact details, or, at the least, a link to your contact page visible. After all, your website is a sales tool and should be treated as such
The same thing goes for directions. Going back to the restaurant example, if I want to get to your restaurant, how do I do it? Where’s the nearest tube or bus stop to your establishment? Let me know! Show me a map.
This works well because:
- I can decide if your location is suitable and fits in with my itinerary.
- If I book a table, I’ll come back to your site later to find out where I’m going.
- I can get directions from my hotel to your restaurant.
Homework Task: Are your contact details visible without having to scroll to find them? If not, is it easy to get to your “Contact” page? If your business relies on passing trade or face-to-face contact, make sure you add your contact details. Consider putting them in your header, footer or sidebar, or a combination of all three.
Not Using a Favicon
Be honest, how often do you have multiple tabs open at once when you’re online?
One report from Firefox in 2010 found that people typically had, on average, 3 tabs open at once. While there doesn’t seem to have been a more recent report, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number has gone up since then. And the more tabs you have open, the harder it can be to keep track of what’s open where.
This is where favicons come in.
Short for “favourite icon”, these small (usually 16×16 pixels) icons are small, simple images that sit to the left of your web page title and are visible in the following places:
- Browser tab
- Bookmark menu
- Toolbar apps
- Browser history
- Search bar
- Search bar recommendations
Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, Apple. All of these brands have icons that you would recognise on sight. They are an integral part of these companies’ branding.
That’s part of the beauty of including favicons in your website design – they can play a big role in building brand recognition and adding legitimacy to your website.
They can also improve the user experience, making it easier for users to bookmark and come back to at a later date, which is great for improving your website’s SEO and can lead to an eventual conversion if users are making return visits to your site.
Homework Task: Check if you are already using a favicon. If not, considering reaching out to a web designer who will be able to create a unique favicon for your brand.Alternatively, if you already have a designer working for you, or feel confident making it yourself, there are multiple tools available online where you can build your very own favicon.
Not Being Mobile Friendly
How many times have you had to “zoom in” on a website when browsing on your phone or tablet?
And, how annoying is it when you have to do it on the go?
Pinching to zoom in on a screen isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially on larger mobile devices.
What do I mean when talking about mobile friendly websites, responsive web design, and responsive capabilities?
There’s a way of building your website that allows it to be fluid and fit your content to any device.
A responsive web design will present information in a readable way immediately, removing the need to pinch and zoom to see information clearly.
In early 2015, Google changed its search algorithm. This change encouraged users to make sure their website was responsive. Over time, it’s suspected that Google will start to decrease the rankings of websites that have not conformed, whilst increasing the rankings of those that have.
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 your target audience, remember they are probably going to be looking you up on a mobile.
Having a mobile friendly website means more than just about having a responsive WordPress theme (not that you should be using pre-made themes anyway!)
But, there are a few more factors to consider. These include!:
- Playable content: Avoid including content that only plays on desktop. Mobile users don’t want to see the “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.
Homework Task: Test your website on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. Highlight the areas that don’t work or are difficult to read. From there, you have two choices:
1. Employ the services of a professional design agency or freelancer to either build a new website or work to redevelop your existing site into a responsive format.
2.Buy a responsive website template from a site such as Themeforest and apply it yourself.
Hint: If you’re unsure how to choose a design agency to work with, here’s a handy blog post to help you decide.
Music and Videos That Play Automatically
If I land on a site that plays either music or a video as soon as I land, I hit the back button. It drives me nuts! I’m usually listening to something whilst browsing the web, so if something interrupts that, I’m out of there.
Here’s the deal:
When people visit your site, they don’t want to hear a soundtrack; they want a clean and simple website experience. Don’t overwhelm your customers!
Nobody wants their 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 websites on 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.
The same goes for video.
With platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo, video has become more accessible on the web. But again, not everyone wants to see your latest promo or explainer video without asking for it.
>But you should absolutely be doing video.
A better solution is to create a channel on a video hosting platform such as YouTube, then embed your video in a more elegant way.
Feel free to put your company video front and centre if you think that it will lead to a better customer experience. But don’t force people to watch it or have it start without them first requesting it.
Homework Task: Check if the media usage on your homepage is appropriate. If you have sound that automatically plays, get rid of it.
Get rid of anything that interrupts your visitor’s experience. Click around your site and see if anything distracts you. If it does, get rid of it.
Having a “Click Here to Enter” Page
The “Click Here to Enter” fad should have died years ago. When people land on your website, they don’t want to see “Click Here to Enter Our Website.” They’ve already clicked through from somewhere else, don’t force them to do it again.
In the olden days, people used “Click to Enter” pages (also known as a pre-loader) to allow Flash and other assets to load before accessing the main site. This prevented users from experiencing a broken website.
But, with the speed of the modern Internet and the progress of technology, pre-loaders are now a redundant practice. With HTML5 and CSS3, animation is now quicker and easier. And with faster internet speeds across the world, images load faster than ever.
The pre-loader is dead.
Homework Task: If there’s a pre-loader or “welcome page” on your website, get rid of it. If your website is using out-of-date technology like Flash, get ready for our next tip.
The Use of Flash
In the past, the only way to get interactive websites with animation and all sorts of other wacky interactive content was to build it using a programme called Flash. Adobe bought Flash from Macromedia and until ten years ago, it was still used frequently in web design.
Enter, Steve Jobs.
When Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Flash started its downward spiral. The platform and file type was not natively supported on the Apple device.
As the popularity of smartphones and tablets around the world increased, websites using Flash started to see less traffic since they didn’t work on the new devices. Not to mention, as of December 31st 2020, Adobe officially put Flash to pasture for good.
If your website is built on Flash, it’s time to give it up and hire a professional to redesign it. After all, you’ve worked hard to get a user through to your site; you certainly want it to work when they get there!
The “Welcome to Our Website” Message
When the internet was new, people felt the urge to welcome visitors to their website. They did this by writing “Welcome to Our Website” into the body copy of their homepage.
Oh, how times have changed!
Today, people don’t feel shunned or rejected if you don’t have a message welcoming them to your site. In fact, they’d probably feel it looked awkward if you did. Besides, they just want to get the information they desire and move on.
If your website is for a brick and mortar business such as a hotel or restaurant, you should save your welcome message for your “About Us” page. Your “About” page is a good place to begin a relationship with your customers using a more personal tone, while the messaging on your homepage should appear professional and to the point.
Homework Task: If your website features a welcome message, consider moving it to your ‘About’ page. Here, you can get into more detail about your company and reach out to potential customers on a more personal level.
Slow Load Times
As we mentioned earlier, the platform Flash declined rapidly because of Apple’s lack of support. Another reason for its decline is the fact that it takes forever to load. Flash sites were slow and often very laggy.
Here are some key website speed killers:
- Images that aren’t optimised for the web
- Animated file formats that could easily be created in HTML/CSS
- Lots of background textures and background images
The list goes on.
But just touching on website backgrounds for a second:
Nobody wants 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, just like 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.
Slow loading websites are a conversion killer. People will leave straight away if your website doesn’t give them what they want instantly. Work with your web designer to reduce the load time of your site.
Homework Task: You can use Online Marketer and Entrepreneur Neil Patel’s handy tool over at Quicksprout.com to check out his speed and load time optimisation recommendations.
No Logical Reading Order
Your website needs to have a clear and concise message. Underlining the goals of your website will help you pin down your hierarchy and reading order.
Many websites appear confused about what they’re trying to achieve. Some want sales, some are built for lead generation, and others try multiple approaches within one page which never works.
It’s great to try different strategies, but keep them separated. For example, if you want to collect email addresses, create a landing page specifically for that task. If sales are your goal, design dedicated sales pages that feature specialist sales copy and the products and services you offer.
Having a plan for each page on your website will help you to decide the layout and will ensure your messaging reflects your priorities as a brand.
If you’re trying to build brand awareness, having your email list subscription box and blog posts above your service or product on the homepage might be a better strategy than burying them towards the bottom of your site.
If your website is an eCommerce store, or even if you’re just selling a couple of products, you want to put them front and centre. That way, people can’t miss them.
You need to guide your users through your website. If you want them to see a product first, put it above the fold on the first page. You control how they experience your brand, so take them on a journey through your site.
Do you have a special offer you want them to see right after they’ve viewed your product? You have the power to make that happen.
These decisions are only possible if you have outlined your goals. Having these in place will allow you to make easier, more informed choices along the way.
Homework Task: Outline the goals of your website (get page-specific where possible). This plan will help you make decisions about what to keep on your site, what to remove, how to order your page, and more.
Designing Cluttered Pages with No Whitespace
This follows on from not having a visual hierarchy for your website.
Something else that causes people to click off your website is having too much information crammed into one page. Your website users don’t want to be overwhelmed and, as mentioned above, having a logical reading order and hierarchy will help guide them.
But here’s the kicker:
If you have the hierarchy right and still insist on cramming huge amounts of detail, images, and text in there, you’re still going to put people off.
If you look at websites like Amazon and eBay, their sites are busy, but not overwhelming.
Amazon is nicely spaced out and easy to read. There is a lot of space between items, and everything comes with an easily digestible title, or there’s a line break thrown in for good measure. Subtle use of space and graphics such as dividers can improve the user’s viewing experience.
Another thing to consider is your font selection and size. Pick fonts that are easy to read, and use a contrasting font for headings and body copy. Some people find it easier to read sans-serif fonts, or fonts without a slight projection at the end of the letter, while others prefer reading serif fonts.
Conversion XL did a great study about the effect of typography on a user experience and how it affects conversion rates.
When it comes to making difficult typographical choices on your website, the simplest answer is to test it and adjust the font according to the results.
Homework Task: Set up A/B testing on either Google Analytics or a platform such as Visual Website Optimizer. Begin testing your layouts, font choices, and more. Remember to optimise for user conversions rather than personal preference.
Overly Complicated Forms
This website design mistake happens frequently and can easily be avoided. It happens when a user is prompted to fill out a huge form on a “Register Now” or “Contact Us” page. Visitors take one look at the multiple fields requiring information and quickly hit the back button. This lengthy form is a sure-fire way to prevent users from converting.
A study on Unbounce states that:
If you want to increase form conversions, you must consider reducing the number of fields.
They also created a great infographic about optimising your contact forms for conversion rate. They stated that some companies had seen up to a 120% increase in conversions when they reduced their form fields from 11 down to 4.
Another form tip that I want to share with you is that using “ghost fields” (pre-populated form fields with example information) can help boost your conversions!
Homework Task: Head over to your “Contact” page and if you have an excessive number of form fields (5+), cut out as many as you can. While you’re there, add ghost text/placeholder information into your form fields.
Bad Menu and Navigation Design
A website’s navigation menu should be easy to use. Users should be able to find their way around your site easily. If they can’t, you risk them clicking away.
Without a web standard or suggested method for website navigation, it becomes difficult when implementing menus. Many sites opt for a horizontal menu across the top right with the logo in the top left; others go centred, and some choose vertical.
Website navigation on a mobile phone can be even trickier. I’m a big fan of the responsive burger icon for a menu on a phone or tablet device. Others prefer a button labelled “Menu”. Both tend to drop down or slide out from the side of a website.
There are many different approaches to designing your website’s navigation using buttons and tabs, but as long as it’s clean, easy to find and easy to read, you shouldn’t go far wrong.
To ensure your navigation is on point, avoid these mistakes:
- Putting navigation menus in 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. 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.
Homework Task: Try to simplify your menu structure by reducing lengthy navigation labels and stripping back your menu to the essentials. Make your navigation as easy to understand as possible. If you have menu items that could confuse your visitor, remove them.
Bad navigation can often lead to orphaned pages on your website.
What is an orphan page?
An orphan page is a page on your website that has no easy way to navigate back to the rest of your site.
It’s commonly suggested by SEO experts that to optimise a landing page for conversions you should remove as many links as possible. However, I wouldn’t suggest that anyone remove their main navigation.
With the advent of CMS platforms such as WordPress, orphan pages are far less common than before.
If you’ve done the hard work and people visit your site, it would be a shame for them to disappear simply because there is nowhere for them to go.
Google will also take a dim view of your site if their crawler can’t navigate around it with ease. That alone should be reason enough to fix your orphan pages.
Homework Task: Head over to Google and type in site: www.yoursite.com. From there, check your site’s indexed pages and make sure they all have a navigation menu in place. If not, add one.
If you are using a minimal landing page approach, consider reducing your links rather than removing them altogether. If this all sounds far too complicated, it’s not too late to hire a professional, especially if you have a lot of indexed pages or a huge site that needs an audit.
Not Understanding Basic SEO
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 actionable SEO tips that you can easily implement to get people to find you online. You’re welcome.
Homework Task: Spend some time reading about SEO. Neil Patel’s website is great. So is Moz. Learning the basics can really help you attract more traffic and understand more about your own website.
No Search Box
If your website has more than 10-20 pages, it’s probably worth adding a search box. By 10-20 pages, I mean regular pages, blog posts, products, and every other page that you have online. If you run an eCommerce site, then search functionality is a must.
Again, look at the top eCommerce sites:
Amazon and eBay both feature a search box at the top of their homepage, immediately catching the first glance of each visitor.
Because it makes the website so much easier to use. You don’t have to click through irrelevant pages to get to something that interests you. You just type it in the box and in less than 5 seconds, you can be looking at things directly related to your search term.
If you run a brick and mortar business such as a restaurant or hotel, think about your average customer.
If you don’t have your opening times clearly displayed on your site, they’re quite likely to want to search for them. If you don’t have room rates and information front and centre, again, people are likely to look for a search box before digging around your site.
Websites can get large quickly, and a search field lets users get their desired information within seconds.
Homework Task: If you don’t have a search box, consider whether adding one to your website would be a useful feature for your users. Why not run a survey on your existing customers? While you’re there, you could also ask their opinion on the rest of your website.
If you don’t want to hire a design agency to implement your search box, you can get started quickly with Google Custom Search.
Not Providing an Email Opt-In Form
When designing your website, you must give your customers a way to engage with your brand by providing an email opt-in form. This form is a crucial part of the website design process that is often overlooked.
If people love your site and want to be in touch with you and your brand, give them an easy way to do it!
Mailing lists are a great way to keep in touch with your customers. You can use a service such as Convertkit, Mailchimp or Aweber to create signup forms which you can then place into your website design.
One of the key reasons that having a mailing list is so important is that you can always take that data with you.
Google rankings may drop, social media follower count may drop, Google and other search engines may cease to exist, but, if you start a mailing list, you have it forever.
One of my favourite digital marketers, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, had this to say about email newsletters:
An email list will never die. In other words, if you have an email list, you will always have a way to communicate with your audience. Blogs and websites can die. RSS readers and feed subscription services can vanish. But those email addresses will never change, and you can always keep your audience informed of what you’re up to, even if you go completely off the radar; it’s where the money is.
If it’s good enough for Pat and other high profile digital marketers, it’s good enough for me! In fact, you can join the Canny email list right here.
Homework Task: Get signed up with an email marketing provider such as Infusionsoft is another company that provides a higher end service. Once you’re signed up, get creative with your signup forms. Also, have a read of Brian Dean’s article, The Content Upgrade.
Not Testing Your Website
Not testing your website is a big mistake often made by people eager to get their page up and running.
There are several reasons to test your website.
A test is needed to find out if a new page works and whether it matches the style of the rest of your site. Perhaps you want to test how users are engaging with your site by testing your user feedback options. Or maybe you want proof that version A of the page converts higher than version B.
Whatever the reason, the point is this: always test your site.
If something isn’t working, it’s going to turn users and search engines off. If something isn’t converting, then something isn’t working.
That’s why it’s so important to always test your site! Again, this step can get quite complicated if you have a lot of moving parts on your site. Testing your website is an important step and should not be rushed.
Homework Task: This task is twofold:
- Get familiar with the principles of A/B testing and sign up to Visual Website Optimiser.
- Give your website a good once-over and check that all your pages are working; your links are linking and nothing appears out of place.
Ignoring Standard Practice
This is highly detrimental to the success of your website.
Sadly, there are too 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.
- Clear CTAs: Whatever you want to guide visitors to do, having clear calls to action are absolutely essential to your site design. You want your CTAs to be eye-catching but also simple and to the point. Avoid using “click here” and instead, use clear instructions, such as “sign up” or “claim your free e-book”.
- 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.
Homework Task: Take an honest look at your website, paying particular attention to things that you think are “clever” and “break the mould.”
Then, ask a family friend, or someone who doesn’t know that much about your business to use your website, and relay their feedback back to you.
See if these “fancy” features are actually useful, or whether they’re putting people off!
Not Prioritising Your Audience
All audiences are not created equal.
Instead of blindly copying the most successful influencers in your niche, think of how they got there. Most keep testing and optimising their sites for their specific audiences and goals.
You 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.
Homework Task: Check out our post about target audiences and creating customer personas. This will help you get everything in line, and to further understand your website’s users.
Don’t Suffocate Your Visitors with Adverts or Popups
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 monetisation, here are some things you should be careful of:
- 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.
Homework Task: Setup tracking and analysis tools to help you decide whether it’s actually worth having the adverts there in the first place.
There’s a high chance your adverts don’t actually convert your visitors. If that’s the case, remove them and lose the visual clutter!
Not customising your Cookies Permission Banner
Now, it is likely that most website visitors will automatically click “ok” when asked for cookie consent. However, you can still improve the user experience by designing your cookie consent banner to be clear to understand or as unobtrusive as possible to their overall visitor experience.
You don’t need to be stuck with a generic consent banner. Instead, I would recommend custom designing your cookies consent banner to fit the overall design of your website.
Homework Task: Check if the back-end of your website has built-in options to customise your cookie consent banner. There are also tools and widgets available online where you can custom-build your banner and will even provide instructions on how to insert it onto your website.
Alternatively, consult a web designer who will be able to advise and design a bespoke cookie consent banner for you.
Not Having a Customised Error Page
Even with the best designed and maintained website, there’s always a chance that a visitor will eventually encounter an error page.
Yes, they’re annoying. For both the user and the website owner. Ideally, these will occur few and far between. However, that is no reason to forget to ignore the design for your error page.
We’ve all experienced the default 404 error page. It’s cold, impersonal and, quite frankly, not actually that helpful. For the website owner, this can also potentially damage your SEO rankings.
Luckily, there is an easy solution for that. By creating a custom error page that matches the look and tone of your website, it creates a better user experience. It can help ease your visitor’s frustration and, by providing links back to their previous page or the homepage, makes it more likely that they will stay on your website.
Additionally, by ensuring that your custom error page still includes your site’s header and footer, visitors are more likely to visit another page on your website. This also allows search engine crawlers to continue indexing the rest of the pages on your site, which means better SEO rankings.
Homework Task: Check your current errors page. If it defaults to a generic 404 page, it might be time to talk to a website designer about building a custom error page just in case something does go wrong in the future.
Blocks of Text 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.
One thing to note when sourcing images, however. Make sure that you aren’t using generic stock images. You know the ones. The generic city skyline. The businessman handshake. The person against a white background images.
The recent use of stock photos in meme culture is another reason to double-check your images. Unless intentional, it’s not a good idea if your audience is distracted by the appearance of Hide The Pain Harold!
To put it simply – if you find an image and find yourself thinking, “hmm, this looks familiar”, it’s probably best to use something else.
Homework Task: Run through your website and break up any huge chunks of text. See if you can add a quote, image, some bold text, a list, an interesting statistic, or something else to break your text up.
Conclusion: The Top Website Design Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
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, and money 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.
The important thing to remember when you’re working on your website, is your audience.
Without an audience that likes, appreciates, and uses your website, you won’t get very far.
Make it easy for your audience to contact you. Make it easy for them to buy from you. And you can’t go far wrong!
The tips above provide a general overview of things to avoid. But just like with SEO, people are key in this equation.
Without people, your website won’t succeed. And if you’re making these top web design mistakes, you won’t have the people.
What do you think? Have you managed to make your website attract traffic, and then convert that traffic to clients or customers? Let us know in the comments below!
36 min read