Designing a website might look like an easy task and some might even find it fun and challenging. However, as a web designer, you know that it can be quite a daunting task.
You need to create a website that not only looks appealing, but also generates revenue and increases conversions, A great majority of businesses now deal with global customers, as opposed to only local clients, as was the case until the last decade or so, thus increasing the competition tenfold.
In fact, most businesses focus on web design rather than attempting to create a website that will boost their conversion rates, which overall could be detrimental to their product or brand. A poorly designed website can be overwhelming to your customers, which will then discourage them from utilizing your site. Your fancy website, while it may look aesthetically pleasing, may in fact be driving people away.
In order to increase web traffic, sales leads and generate more revenue, you need to avoid making those mistakes which will deter customers from spending any time on your site. Yes, it will take some effort on your end it’s worth it in the end. And it’s not as hard as you think. You don’t need a degree in graphic or website design to improve your business website.
Following are the most common mistakes business owners make when designing their website. Once you can identify and correct these mistakes, you will notice vast improvements in every aspect of your online business!
Common Website Design Mistakes
- Your website lacks responsive design.
According to the study, responsive design is one of the most crucial features on a website. While this may seem a bit intimidating, it is clear that the responsive design of your website is what makes it accessible to your visitors regardless if they are viewing your site on a smartphone, iPad, gaming system, tablet or desktop.
- Website does not contain any favicons.
Most internet users have multiple tabs open on their browser when they are checking out different websites. They prefer to leave them open, so they can easily go back and forth between sites. Adding favicons to your website will give them a visual so that they can easily recognize your site, seek out what they were searching for in the first place and navigate their way back to your site while they are still browsing.
- Your site contains generic 404 pages
One of the most common, yet silent, ways to stop traffic from going to your website is 404 pages. In an informal survey of 3,475 internet users, it was concluded that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed did not even make an attempt to resolve the issue. Most of them will simply leave your website and search elsewhere, costing your time, money and severely limiting the amount of traffic to your website.
- Carousels are being used on your homepage.
While carousels are not an issue on their own, they can cause an issue if they automatically start to scroll. As they create banners, or take on the appearance of ads, they then mess with your conversion. As well, they are an annoyance and a distraction to your visitors. It draws their attention away from conversion, which is the reason why they are visiting your site in the first place!
- Your website takes too long to fully load.
In today’s fast-paced world, people do not have the time or patience to wait more than 4 seconds for a web page to fully load. The days endless waiting for dial-up internet service to load up are long gone. People want instant gratification and will move on to another site if your website takes too long to load.
In a recent study by Google, it was determined that over 70% of the websites that participated in the study took more than 7 seconds to fully load. As well, they noted that users will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. If you wish to engage your customers, your site must be up to speed.
As well, your page speed can have a direct impact on your Google ranking. Google uses the following metrics to determine site speed, which are then used as one of the ranking factors used in its index to assess web pages.
- Start to render: By the creation and presentation of the visual display on a computer monitor, the computer code lets site visitors know that the page is in fact loading.
- Time to the first byte: After a URL is entered into a browser, it prompts the server for the HTML doc for that URL. The page will load much quicker if the response time is faster.
- Visually complete: At this point, your website is fully loaded and visible to visitors on your page
- Document complete: The page may appear to be fully loaded, at least visually, however, loading in the background are many other details. Visual completeness is one of the most accurate measures of when a site is fully loaded.
- Page fully loaded: Once your website has fully loaded, asynchronous code will begin to load the data. Typically, it will not interfere with site usage so Google does not consider this to be part of the total load time.
6. Your server response time is slow.
If your website is still slow even after your page has been optimized for speed, your server response time may be slow. This is a direct indication that there may be an underlying problem with the overall performance of your website.
The recommended server response time by Google is 200 or less ms. Following are some possible causes:
- Framework & libraries
- Database queries and application logic are slow
- Starvation of resource CPU and memory
In order to increase the performance and speed of your website, you must have optimized your web pages and eliminate lagging server response times.
7. Design norms are rejected by your website.
Although you have room for flexibility, you should design your site with caution as users have certain expectations for design conversion. You will definitely lose clients if they cannot readily locate the search function or navigation bar on your website. Experts recommend that you adhere to as many common design norms as you can when designing your website.
8. Using a font that is unclear on your website.
Choosing fonts such as symbols, hand-drawn scripts or cursive fonts are extremely difficult for some users to read. The following is a perfect example of an unclear font:
Are you finding that difficult to read? The font they used is entitled “Bedtime Stories.” Even I, a seasoned website designer, am finding that difficult to visually comprehend.
A font that is difficult to read will chase away viewers due to lack of compression and cognitive fluency. Ease of use, or cognitive fluency is what keeps people coming back to your website. If a visitor can not make light of what they are seeing, they will simply click off your site and find a site with a font that they can understand. Unclear fonts decrease comprehension while increasing cognitive load. Users want content that does not require a great deal of thinking and is easy to read and comprehend.
9. Your site contains poor tracking, kerning and reading.
The space between two characters (letters, symbols or numbers) is known as kerning.
The spacing between your text and phrases is referred to as tracking.
The spacing in between the lines of your text is known as leading.
Your readers will have difficulty reading and comprehending the information on your website if any of these are grouped too closely together. You might not see this as a big deal as long as the overall information presents as legible, correct?
However, each of the aforementioned items, along with other common typography errors can render the clarity of your website as difficult, or even impossible. You will not be able to sell your product or brand unless your website visitors get the gist of your text.
For example, an Instagram ad that is written in Spanish won’t catch your eye unless you are fluent in Spanish. After all, clarity always supersedes persuasion as former is a key element of the latter.
10. Your website contains too many fonts
The overuse of different font styles and types only causes confusion. Your visitors will not be able to focus on your product or brand as they are too distracted by the overall appearance of your page.
Constantly changing from one font to another will derive from the cognitive fluency of your page. Your visitors focus will be distracted by this unsightly visual speed bump. While your website as a whole may appear aesthetically pleasing, the overuse of styles and fonts is a major distraction. As a rule, you should stick with two to three fonts at the most.
11. Your website contains conflicting fonts
The use of two or three fonts that are conflicting will distract your visitors, as each font is screaming for attention. This will draw the focus away from the critical components of your website. The usage of conflicting fonts causes issues as they tend to draw unnecessary attention or emphasis to an item on your website.
12. The content on your website doesn’t focus on your visitors.
The biggest mistake that novice content marketers and web designers make is that they focus on emphasizing how great their business is. This tends to overlook the visitors expectations, goals and desires while increasing their frustration, anxiety and problems. It makes it more of a challenge to convert them to customers, thus taking away from your credibility as a business.
13. The content on your site isn’t scan able.
On an average visit to your website, visitors typically have enough time to read 28% of the content on that page.
Do not take this as an indicator that you should reduce the amount of content on your website. Instead, you ensure that the content contained on your website is able to be easily scanned by your visitors.
This is what scan able content should entail:
- Formatting that is highlighted, bold and italicized
- Short easy-to-read paragraphs that consist of two or three sentences.
- Subheadings that are catchy and descriptive
- Numbered lists and bullet points.
The above criteria make it easy for your readers to scan, read and comprehend the content on your website.
14. Your page contains improper use of whitespace
Used correctly, whitespace can improve readability, maximize clarity and enhance comprehension and focus. Visitors find content without the proper amount of whitespace to be overwhelming and frustrating.
The above example is an extreme misuse of whitespace. However, it does show the importance of it as well. Google utilizes whitespace to highlight the content that is of the most importance to their users.
Following is an example of too much whitespace, although that can be a bit more challenging of an assessment.
Do you see the difference between Google and this example?
The difference is intent! Google wants to draw their visitors attention to search for the answer they are seeking. Thus, the amount of whitespace used serves its purpose and meets the goal of the user.
However, too much whitespace can indicate that the purpose of the whitespace does not match the intent of your visitors or does not serve a purpose. Both too much and too little whitespace detract from focus and clarity.
15. Your website contains grammatical errors
Everyone makes the occasional grammatical error. Most visits are willing to overlook this as they view this as understandable. However, in excess, improper grammar can take away from the credibility of your website. It will leave a bad first impression and end up costing you revenue and site traffic.
16. Not responding to your visitors’ questions:
Visitors seek out your website with burning questions which need to be answered. If these questions are ignored they will leave your site and seek them elsewhere.
Here are some common questions visitors may have (although yours may differ slightly):
- What is your physical location?
- What is your refund and exchange policy?
- What are your rates?
- How can I speak to an actual person?
- Is my information safe with you?
- What is your shipping and handling policy?
- Why should I choose you over your competitors? What makes your company stand out from the rest?
Of course, these questions will vary by industry as well as the individual consumer! And they will change even more as your visitors evolve to subscribers and potential customers and finally as returning customers.
17. Inadequate search engine
Website users, particularly those on e-commerce sites, will utilize your search engine to find exactly what they are seeking on your site. It is how they navigate those websites that are larger and more complex.
In order for your onsite search engine to compete, it must be able to keep up with the following:
- Variations in keywords
Those results that are solely based on the number of queries and keywords are of no use to your visitors. Your search engine must sort its results by the most relevant or best search results for each and every query made on your website.
18. Neglecting to change the color of visited links on your website.
Visitors on your website depend on links to remember where they have been and their current position on your website. They will exclude those pages that they did not find useful according to the color of the link. This will prevent them from repeatedly returning to the wrong website.
19. Centering your logo on your website
It makes it as much as six times more difficult for visitors to locate your home page using only one click when the logos are centered.
It is of utmost importance that visits find their way to your homepage when they visit your site as it is most likely the first place they will see when they are having difficulty navigating your website.
20. Navigation menus are invisible
The following example shows navigation menus that do not help your visitor find their bearing! Instead, they will use visual clues from these menus to maneuver around your website. These cues are used repeatedly to answer the question “where am I currently?”
Otherwise, known as ‘mystery-meat navigation menus,” navigation menus that are invisible to the users will force them to have to guess which items on the page are indeed menu items, where it will lead them and whether their issue will be resolved once they arrive there.
On the extreme, navigation menus that are clear will help you visitors remain orientated to your website. Design cues, breadcrumb navigation and clear menus are designed to help your visitors resolve the issue of “where am I?”
21. Your website is full of uncontrollable navigation.
Any navigation such as animated navigation is a major conversion killer. This includes things that flash, bounce, roll or otherwise move and distract your visitors as they are trying to navigate your website. They do not want to waste their time figuring out how the navigation works, the majority of users find this annoying and will go elsewhere to find their results.
Graphics and image mistakes
22 Your site contains overuse of generic stock photography
Generic and cheesy stock photos are confusing and will end up hindering the performance of your website. They derive from the cohesiveness and intent behind your website. When used properly however, they can enhance your website by reinforcing your message, thus making it easier and more appealing for your visitors. It is best to stick with original photos.
If you lack the know how, resources and time to use original photos, make sure to use stock photos that add to your website, rather take from it. Make sure that they are used to illustrate a point, demonstrate your product or brand, and/or tell a story to assist your visitors in their overall experience on your website.
Keep in mind, whether you use stock or original phones they need to be relevant to the subject at hand. Irrelevant photos are a waste of revenue and space.
23. Poor sizing and scaling are prominent on your website
Images that are sized poorly or stretched will make your website look unprofessional, crass and cheap. As well, visitors will lose their faith in your product or brand. All of your images should be horizontally and vertically scaled with a ratio of one-to-one.
Large images will make your load time much slower which, as we discussed previously, will cause visits to go to other websites. Incorporate common formats such as GIF, JPEG and PNG to increase your load time. Shy away from TIFF as these will drastically decrease the load time of your web page.
It is best to size your website images for those sites on which they will appear. This means scaling the sizes, so they can be used for your website as well as your social media networks. To increase your page speed, you can use a CDN.
24 Your site contains unresponsive image sizing.
In order for your CSS to accommodate the necessary changes in the shape and size of media, graphics and images that you use on your site, so that they are fully responsive, Google recommends using CSS media queries. This will help to resize your media and images according to screen dimensions.
25. Your business website is missing metadata
The use of digital cameras can prevent a great deal of unproductive metadata. File names like DSLR0012345.jpg will not be of any use to search engines or site visitors. You should remove the metadata and instead use data that is useful and descriptive to keep both your visitors, onsite and online search engines happy.
26. Your website will not work with every type of modern browser.
Your website should be compatible with all browser types.
28. Your page does not have file or image compression.
Imagine files contain a lot of information that is redundant. To get the same image with a decent quality but a smaller size, you should use incorporate image compression.
29. Your page is missing browser caching.
If you enable browser caching, it will increase the load time of your web page. Caching first downloads assets and files before it stores the data onto the hard drive of your computer, desktop or the like. It is faster to retrieve these items from a hard drive than it is from a web server.
If you want to remove any unnecessary characters without changing the functionally of your code, you should take the time to minify the code. To improve the overall performance of your website, as well as the load speed, you should compact your code as well.
32. Your site does not display your return policy or warranty information
Visitors to your site what you to reassure them that in the unlikely event that something is remiss with their end result, you will take care of them. They want to make sure that you have a sound return policy and will honor it.
Let me tell you a well-kept secret:
Return polices and warranties are designed with the intent to boost sales! If your visitors feel that they can trust you, you will most likely gain a loyal customer.
While this list isn’t all compressive, it serves as a starting point for those who wish to create a website that is profitable. Sadly, most businesses make very basic mistakes when designing their website. They create a website that is attractive but not practical. It should drastically boost the amount of sales, revenue and traffics generated from your visitors. All you need to do is create a customer-focused site by getting to know your target audience and build your website with them in mind Figure out what they want and determine the best way to deliver it to them. Soon you will see that website design is not as difficult as it looks!