As a professional web developer for nearly two decades, I’ve seen my share of good and bad websites. And even though the definition of a “good” website is constantly changing based on ever-shifting user demands and design trends, “bad” websites tend to have the same flaws year after year.
From clumsy navigation to confusing user interfaces, bad websites often incorporate design choices that negatively impact the overall brand while turning away would-be customers in the process.
Today, I’m outlining eight of the most common web design mistakes I see while working with our clients.
Poor User Experience
We’ll continue to brush on this topic in other sections, but it’s important to highlight user experience (UX) as its own line item. With great UX, a website’s purpose and functionality are immediately clear to the visitor. Bad UX can make your website confusing, hampering trust and even causing you to lose sales.
A Few Signs of Bad UX:
- No clear call to action: In general, most pages of your website should have some sort of CTA, whether it’s to call your sales team, send an email, or even simply to click on another page.
- Inconsistent with branding and overall digital presence: If your website looks radically different from your logo or social media presence, that’ll be alarming and confusing to visitors.
- Confusing site architecture: If a visitor doesn’t understand how to navigate your website, the majority of your website becomes unreachable and, therefore, useless!
Your website design is a direct reflection of your business, especially during a first impression. The more outdated your design is, the more outdated visitors will think your company is. And for a consumer at the decision stage of the sales funnel, the design and quality of your website could be among the deciding factors on whether to do business with you.
Examples of Outdated Website Design Elements:
- Gradients: Although gradients have seen a small resurgence in recent years, they make websites feel like they’re from the 90s.
- Sidebars: Sidebars are heavy, clunky, and distracting, and they pull away from your overall design.
- Heavy navigations: Too much navigation can make your website overwhelming and hard to use.
Overlooking the Latest Tech Standards
Expectations and standards change often, and their impact can span as wide as offering better user experience to dropping in the search engine results. Keeping up with the latest trends can keep your company ahead of the competition and in front of your target audience.
Examples of Tech Standards To Include:
- Mobile functionality:– How useable is your website from a tablet or smartphone?
- Mobile responsiveness: Does your website look as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop screen?
- SSL certificate: An SSL certificate is used to authenticate your site identity and allows for an encrypted connection. If you don’t have it, that can be a red flag!
- Fast load speed: Users expect quick load times, and slow, clunky sites could turn them away.
- ADA compliance: Your website should be useful even for people with disabilities.
Including Too Much Content
Sites that try to operate as every stage of the sales process often provide too much content and information, overwhelming the reader in the process.
- Be concise: Large blocks of text are intimidating, especially for visitors on mobile devices.
- Be engaging: You don’t need to write the next Dan Brown thriller, but your content should be engaging for visitors.
Not Enough Content
While having too much content is a negative, so is having too little content. If you’ve ever hopped onto a website and felt confused because there were only one or two pages or there wasn’t enough information for you to figure out whether the business covered the services you needed, you know exactly how frustrating websites with little information can be.
- Include an About section: Your site visitors should be easily able to figure out what you do.
- Include a Contact section: Be sure people know how to contact you!
- Define your services: Describe your services in full detail.
Not Speaking To Your Audience
Your business isn’t for everyone! It’s for a very specific target audience, and missing opportunities to talk to them directly can damage your online presence, reduce sales, and cause people to leave your website. To overcome this, talk to your audience directly in the language and jargon (if necessary) they’re comfortable with.
Tricks for Speaking To Your Audience:
- Define terms: If you have to use complex jargon, define your terms so that your visitors understand.
- Be customer-focused: Talk directly to your site visitors and speak to them as if they were in your office.
- Don’t be too technical: Your website isn’t a place to impress people with your technical knowledge. Keep your writing accessible.
Not Using Data To Make Decisions
We all know that old quote from Peter Drucker. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” You can’t truly improve upon your website and overall web experience if you can’t track user behavior. This is where analytics come in. You can learn how the users get there, which search terms they use, where they click, which pages are most valuable, and how people behave on your website.
Useful Website Data Services:
- Google Search Console: Google Search Console shows you how people reach your site through the massive search engine.
- Google Analytics/Universal Analytics: Google Analytics and Universal Analytics can help you track user behavior and decisions on your website.
- Google Tag Manager: Google Tag Manager can help you track detailed user actions.
- A Keyword Search Tool: The market is filled with keyword search tools, but all of them can help you write content that is designed to rank well on search engines, pulling more traffic to your website.
Picking the Wrong Platform
There are dozens of platforms available, from WordPress and Shopify to Squarespace and WebFlow. Each platform has very specific benefits and drawbacks that could impact your immediate and long-term success.
Considerations When Picking a Web Platform:
- Your present needs: What capabilities do you currently need?
- Your future needs: What additional requirements might you see as you grow?
- Who on your team can manage and master the platform: Do you have someone with the technical expertise to provide ongoing web support?
Web design may feel overwhelming and confusing at times. To simplify the process, always keep your user in mind. As long as you build a website your target audience loves, you’ll stay on the right track.