It is a common mistake for businesses to prioritize aesthetics over website conversions in website design, purely because they don’t know any better. Some are glaring mistakes in web page design, and then there are some subtle mistakes, but they all work together to let potential customers abandon your site before they have even looked at it properly.
What is web design
Web design is the process of conceptualizing what you want for your website, the look, feel, purpose, structure, and functionality required. Once you have a mental image, you need to plan each step carefully, then build the electronic files that will make up the website.
Common web design mistakes
- Does not clearly state what your company does/offers.
- Lack of clear CTA (Call to Action) – often forgotten, or left way down at the bottom of the page.
- Hard to find contact info – put a phone number in the top bar.
- Not secure (HTTPS) – secure sites load faster, rates higher search rankings and 84% of visitors will abandon a purchase if the website is not secure.
- No Analytics – if you are not tracking what works and what does not, you are not focused on making the website your best advertising tool.
- Not designed for a specific audience, for example, a school website would be very different to that of a restaurant.
- Way it looks – this is crucial, you have less than ten seconds to impress a visitor and make them want to explore further. The overall theme and colors must appeal to the audience Less is more, so a cluttered homepage will turn visitors away. They need to see navigation bars and other functions clearly to lead to conversions.
- Overuse of colors – too many colors can ruin conversions – color psychology is important to understand (e.g. use bold colors like blue and white for beauty and health site).
- Takes too long to load – the sweet spot is 3 seconds; the likelihood of bounce increases exponentially for every second longer.
- Not mobile ready
- 52% of users less likely to engage with a company if a bad mobile experience.
- 91% prioritize need and speed.
- 61% will move on if they don’t find what they need very quickly.
- Not using responsive design – responsive web design uses CSS3 media queries to make a website work on all platforms (i.e. computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone).
- Inconsistent interface across pages – you do not need a new design for each page, it gets confusing and does not support a strong brand design.
- Pop-ups – can interfere with mobile usage and will affect rankings
- H1 tags removed for aesthetic reasons – but this is the first element search engine crawlers look for.
- Text in image – search engines cannot see images so will not read the text, it needs to be overlaid.
- Buttons and links too small to click – especially on mobile, nothing more frustrating than fingers touching more than one button at the same time and ending up in the wrong place.
- No Favicon – user like to open multiple pages, difficult to find if you want to return to the site.
- Carousels that scroll automatically on homepages – distracting users away from your message.
- Automatic music in the background – just irritating.
- Videos that play automatically – again, just irritating. Conversion killer.
- 404 generic pages – most users abandon when they get one of these. Get your error handling sorted immediately.
- Slow server response times – needs to be optimized.
- Not following design norms – users are forgiving, but they expect the basics like a navigation bar and search function.
- Poor use of white space – too little makes it look cramped, too much unprofessional.
- No browser caching – affects the reloading of pages speed, which will result in lower rankings.
- Does not work on all browsers – all websites should be designed to work on all browsers.
- Lots of links opening in new windows – if there is no back button or it is difficult to navigate visitors will not likely return, in addition to it eating bandwidth.
- Links hidden on website/Invisible menus – visitors need to know ‘where am I’ so you need clear menus, breadcrumb navigation, and design cues. Menus can be hidden on mobile.
- Centering logos – it makes it six times more difficult to find your homepage with one click.
- Not changing colors of visited links – so visitors keep returning to the wrong page and abandon.
- Uncontrollable navigation – anything animated can kill conversions very fast.
- Legibility, readability, clarity – these are the critical factors.
- Font too small, not reader-friendly – body text should use Sans Serif, size above 14px, as it is compatible across platforms. Curly fonts are for children.
- Too many fonts – leads to confusion, as visitors are distracted by the presentation and not focusing on your message. Three is ample.
- Conflicting fonts – can be jarring and does nothing for conversions.
- Poor kerning (symbols), tracking (words), leading (sentences) – spaces are important and helps with clarity and readability.
- Weak SEO – will not be picked up by search engine crawlers, use longtail keywords.
- Content not focused on visitor needs – but rather on ‘how great we are’ can be a real turn off.
- No headers and sub-headers – in addition, to make it easier to read, you miss out on search engine crawlers picking up on keywords in your message.
- Content not scannable – paragraphs must be short, use bullet or number lists for readability, visitors like to scan a page to see if there is a possibility of it having the information they need.
- Poor grammar and long sentences – again a readability issue, and it looks unprofessional.
- Not posting Regular Quality Content – the content pyramid needs to be wide and low for search engine crawlers to pick up keywords for ranking. Visitors will return if they know it is updated regularly.
- Irrelevant stock photography – images must be pleasing to the eye, relevant, and focused on one specific subject.
- Poor sizing and scaling – it will affect load times and looks unprofessional.
- Unresponsive image sizing – CSS Media Queries are used to deal with this issue
- Missing metadata – check file names before you post images, 987098709.jpg looks unprofessional.
- No image compression – longer load times equals lower rankings.
- Not encouraging social engagement – missing out on your best opportunities for growth.
- Social media icons at top of page – proven to encourage readers to leave your site and get distracted, put them anywhere else.
- Poor search facility – visitors are spoiled with good search engines and expect the best or most relevant to be shown, it must handle keyword variations, hyphens, plurals, and typos.
- Not responsive to inquiries – nothing will drive visitors away as quickly as an unresponsive site, set up automated responses when you are not available and get back to them urgently.
- No warranty information – visitors want to know that there is legitimacy behind your products.
- No return policy – good commerce demand that you provide at least some period for a customer to change their mind (mandated by law in some countries) and that you will accept returns if a product turns out to be not suitable. Bad reviews often focus on bad return experiences.
A great website will ask users to let them know if something does not work for them or provide suggestions for improvement, some may even have a star scoring system for usability. Always put your best foot forward with your website – it is most often a potential customer’s first impression of your company and culture and can make or break your conversion rates.