June 27, 2017 | By: Rustin Dodd

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9 Simple Web Design Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

It can be hard to look at your website objectively.  We often have the tendency to embellish the strengths of our websites and downplay their weaknesses.

In this post, we’ll cover nine of the most common web design mistakes that cost businesses like yours traffic, leads, and revenue.

What makes a web design effective?

Before we dive into the mistakes that people make when designing their website, let’s look at the elements that make up a good web design.

The most effective web designs balance four key factors into one seamless package:

  • Visual Appeal
  • Branding
  • Usability / UX
  • Readability

Your website should have visual appeal.  Visual appeal is about creating a sense of credibility with the user.  We’ve all been to an outdated or ugly website, and the initial impression is that the owner of the website doesn’t have the money to invest in something better.

Your website should be well branded.  Your logo should be top left or top center in some cases.  Users are 89% more likely to remember logos shown in the traditional top-left position than logos placed on the right.  Other elements like typography and imagery should also be consistent with your brand to improve brand recognition and recall.

Your website design should be focused on the user experience.  It is not uncommon for web designers to design a beautiful website that results in a terrible user experience.  It isn’t enough to focus only on getting a user to complete some action that you want them to complete.

Instead, determine why a user would be on your site and what their goals might be.  Then design the site in a way in which you help them achieve their goals more easily.  Using this approach will help you further your own goals.

Readability is an often-overlooked pillar of web design.  Ensure that when a user is on your website, regardless of the device that they are on, reading your content is easy, if not enjoyable.

It’s not always a simple task to effectively combine all of these elements into one web design, and in most cases, continuous updates should be made to your website to continue to improve its effectiveness.  However, if you work with the right web design company, you can get a head start on this continuous optimization process.

Now, let’s have a look at the nine most common web design mistakes:

1. Poor Readability

As we’ve already covered, readability on the internet can be a very common issue.  Avoid the common pitfalls and do the following:

  • Select a font for the bulk of your content that is easily read.
  • Use sentence case for the bulk of your content.
  • Avoid large blocks of unbroken content
  • Ensure that you have the right kind and amount of contrast between your text and your background (e.g. red text on a black background is quite possibly the worst)
  • Don’t use justified alignment

2. Hard to Find Contact Info

Including easy to find contact info on your website is a no-brainer for most business owners, but can sometimes be overlooked by designers.  Often, a designer is so focused on designing a visually appealing website that they lose sight of the fact that the website has a focused function and that is to generate leads and customers.

3. Visually Overwhelming

busy web design

Don’t fill every inch of your website.  One of the most common arguments between a designer and a business owner revolves around the amount of whitespace in a given design.

Let there be no mistake about it, whitespace matters.  It’s whitespace that allows a design to draw your attention from one element to the next and create a visual hierarchy that leads the user to where they want to go, and if done correctly, where you want them to go.

4. Over-engineering

Like the whitespace debate, the over-engineering debate can be fairly common.  More often than not, it works in the reverse of the whitespace debate in that a developer ends up pushing for functionality that they want to add that is not necessary for the website to be effective.

It is always important to ask the question as to whether the added functionality will add value to the user, or just dollars to the cost of the website.

5. Few or Poorly Designed Calls-To-Action

call to action comic

Calls-to-action are the lifeblood of your sales funnel.  Well-placed, well-written, and well-designed calls-to-action can turn your website into a lead generation engine.

A lack of calls-to-action or poorly designed calls-to-action can render your website ineffective and see highly qualified individuals abandon your site without making contact.  Every page of your website should feature some form of call-to-action, if not multiple calls-to-action.

6. Non-Responsive Web Design

non-responsive web design

Your website must absolutely, without exception, be mobile-friendly.  After all, it’s 2017 and 71% of time online is spent on a mobile device in the US.

percentage of mobile web traffic

Now, this does not mean that 71% of your traffic will come from mobile devices.  It does, however, signify that the way we access and use the internet has changed and is continuing to shift more and more to portable devices. You need to make sure that you can meet your audience where they are.

7. “Cool” But Unnecessary Design Elements

slider design

Closely related to the debate that you may or may not be having with your developer, your designer may be pushing for unusual or “cool” design elements that are unnecessary or even counter-productive to your end goal.  Case in point, the seemingly inescapable “home page slider.”

The facts are quite simple, 1% of users will click on a slider. Of those, 89% of the clicks will be on the initial slide.  Sliders are simply not effective design elements, and yet, designers keep using them, and business owners keep giving them the OK.

Consider every element that your designer includes in your web design from the perspective of whether it is likely to make it easier for a user to accomplish their goals, and not whether it seems like it would be “cool” to add.

8. Overwhelming Navigation

excessive navigation

It is very common for business owners to want to include links to absolutely everything that their business does in as many places as possible.  You may have even been tempted to design a large or complex menu or even may have grown a menu that was originally well-sized.  Believe it or not, this practice is counter-productive to what you are trying to accomplish.

Giving your users too many choices can bury the most common, or likely links for which they are searching.  Providing too many menu options can also lead to a paralysis of choice, in which the user is so overwhelmed by the number of choices that they feel more comfortable making no choice at all.

9. Designing a Website That YOU Like

The final, and all too common mistake is quite possibly the hardest to avoid.  We are all human, and it’s very hard to separate out emotions from the process when working on a project like a web design.

We interact with websites daily, and as a result, we form all types of opinions about them.  But it’s important to remember that not everyone will use a website in the same way that you do, or shares your preferences.

Don’t request that your web designer create something, say a website form, a certain way because that’s how you like website forms to look.  Instead ask your web designer to design a form that will be most effective at converting website visitors, regardless of whether you like the way it looks or not.

Finally, test it.  Test all of it.  Then make a change and test it again.  It can be hard to remove our own opinions and feelings about design elements truly, but numbers don’t lie.

The Take-Away

If you’ve noticed a theme running through this entire post, good. You’ve probably recognized the take-away already.  If not, here it is: focus on the user, and the rest will work itself out.

Focus on what assists the user in building brand recognition, what calls-to-action encourage them to perform the tasks you want them to perform, what content do they want to find, and what their goal is for using your website.

If you work with a good web design company, a good SEO company, and a good content marketing company there is no reason why you can’t turn your website into a high-performing leads creation engine.

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About Rustin Dodd

Rustin Dodd, a marketing strategist with MARION, has more than a decade of marketing experience in both the B2B and B2C industries. His experience includes graphic design, front-end web development, e-commerce management and digital marketing. He has worked on projects for various clients as a freelancer, within an agency setting, and as a member of an in-house team.