Web design can make or break your online presence. Today online competition is fiercer than ever, and your website must look its best if you want to stay ahead.
When building a website, there are some mistakes you want to stay as far away from as possible. These mistakes will harm your SEO rankings, drive traffic away, and ultimately cost your business in terms of time and money.
If you are missing certain design elements, your website will suffer. But, if you add the wrong stuff, or if your implementation is off, you will do more harm than good. So, what should you avoid when building your website?
In this article, we are taking a deep look into the worst website design mistakes.
Not Being Responsive and Mobile Friendly
An obvious issue, especially after Google’s most recent algorithm update. With the mobile-first index, websites are ranked differently when accessed through mobile devices. This new change makes responsive web design an imperative.
Responsive design makes a website display differently according to what device is accessing it. This means that it offers the same user experience regardless of device.
More than 40% of all searches are done through mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for responsive design, Google may not even list your website in searches done through mobile devices.
With less than 20% of all websites featuring responsive design, you can get ahead of the competition if you open up your website to mobile-optimized searches. Not doing so, is going to cost you a lot since Google now penalizes non-responsive websites.
Slow Loading Times
The slower a website loads, the more users will just bounce off. If your website takes more than a couple of seconds to load, then you are probably losing a significant portion of your traffic to loading times alone.
According to studies, the optimal loading time is 0.1 second, but few sites can manage that performance. The sweet spot is between 1-2 seconds. After that time, users are likely to hit the “back” button and try some other website.
Both users and Google don’t like sites that load slowly. Google’s own dev team offers a tool to measure your site’s loading times. This tool also gives you insights on how to improve loading times.
Things that slow down loading times include poor server performance and content-heavy landing pages. Content like auto-play videos, flash games, and other heavy files will slow down a page. These can do a lot of harm when featured on the homepage of your website.
DIY and Free Website Solutions
When starting out, building your own website might seem like an attractive idea to save money. However, unless you are a web design expert, your DIY project will do more harm than good.
One of the worst web design mistakes you can make is attempting to build your own website.
Numerous companies offer website building apps that allow you to build a website in minutes. These are fine for casual blogs and social content but fail for business purposes.
Free website builders create ineffective, slow and sloppy websites. Your visitors will notice if your website is poorly made and this will harm your traffic.
The more you use a DIY website, the bigger the performance issues will become. The best approach is to either purchase a premium theme or hire a professional web designer to take care of your site design for you.
No Clear Message or Purpose
People will visit your website with some expectations. If your site does not tell them straight away what your site is about, they will bounce back shortly after the homepage loads.
If your website does not have a clear and concise message, it will confuse visitors who will leave it for better sites.
A second after your page loads, visitors will have already scanned the page and formed an opinion. Your web design must tell them clearly what the purpose of your site is.
Overly technical or too artistic websites that fail to explain what they are about will fail. This is true even if the sites themselves feature top-tier content and otherwise excellent functionality. Simply put, if your site doesn’t tell your visitors what it is about, it will fail.
You Are Driving Visitors Away with External Links
When you get a visitor to your website, you want them to stay there as long as possible. The longer a user stays in your website, the higher are the chances they will engage with your content or make a purchase.
For that reason, one of the worst website design mistakes is to feature too many links that open new browser windows. This damages user experience and can drive visitors away from your website. Mobile visitors will have a hard time managing all the new tabs and they are more likely to just close down everything and start browsing afresh.
The same is true for social media links. Sure, social media can be a powerful marketing tool, but they can actually destroy your official website if you are not careful.
If you feature your social media buttons at the top of your website, you are doing it wrong. These buttons invite visitors to leave your site and cause the same kind of distraction as external links that open in new tabs.
Once your visitors leave your main site for your social media, they will likely never return. You should still feature your social media buttons on the main page, but not on top of your page. Best web design practices put these icons at the footer of the page, along with the “about us” and “FAQ” sections.
Poor Font Choices
A website is mainly a visual medium. That is why you should take extra care when using any special fonts. The reading experience is important when determining a website’s usability.
If your visitors have to manually zoom your pages or guess at what your special cursive font is trying to say, then your web design has a serious problem. The majority of visitors today will appreciate clean and simple fonts that are sizable enough to read without having to move closer to the screen.
If your text is difficult to read, visitors will simply skip it and move ahead. Pick a Sans Serif font of at least 14px size.
Again, remember responsive design. Without responsive design, your text might appear tiny in mobile devices. This is one of the worst website design mistakes you can make!
Overcomplicating and Oversimplifying
These two mistakes are two sides of the same coin. If you overcomplicate your website design with tons of widgets and flash apps, it will become slow and hard to use. Even if loading times are not affected, too much clutter will harm the design, even if the individual elements are good apps in themselves.
On the other side of the spectrum, minimalism is good only in moderation. A website with only the bare minimum design features will feel empty and cold. If it is lacking essential features, it will also be less useful.
Autoplay Video and Autoplay Audio
One of the worst website design mistakes is autoplay. Videos or sound files that play automatically when visiting a website will scare or piss visitors away. Visitors rarely expect autoplay features, so they are often unpleasantly surprised when these appear on a new page.
The autoplay problem becomes worse if users can’t find an easy way to shut the video or audio file down. Obviously, making it impossible to close the autoplay is the biggest design mistake. This will cause a sharp drop in traffic as Google penalizes such non-responsive sites.
Autoplay makes visitors feel that they are not in control of their own user experience. According to international guidelines, autoplay video and audio should give visitors clear options to pause or mute them.
Spun content, stolen content, and no content are a surefire way to get your website delisted from Google. No amount of SEO will save you if your site’s content is not original, or if your site has zero content to speak of.
Visitors come to your website expecting to find a solution to a problem or to inform themselves about a certain topic. To be successful, you need the right content that will fulfill your visitors’ needs.
Sometimes static content will work just as well as a frequently updated blog. In some industries, even an inactive blog with some interesting and relevant articles will still be useful years after the last update.
The point about content is to make it useful to your visitors. That is why content depends solely on your target group.
Missing or Hiding Obvious Elements
Sometimes the worst mistakes are the most obvious ones. Visitors don’t want to work hard to find your contact information or other important stuff like your address or your office hours.
User experience is all about finding what you want fast. The most scrolling and clicking your visitors must go through to get what they want, the more visitors you will lose.
If you are not offering secure browsing, more than 80% of your visitors will leave before even reaching your main page.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a security protocol that safeguards the privacy of the data between your visitors and your website.
Today, most modern browsers warn users when they are about to enter a site that is not secured via HTTPS. This gives users the option to leave the site. Not having HTTPS security will damage your SEO rankings and drive away the majority of your traffic.
“404 Not Found”.
When visitors click a link and see the above error, they will likely leave your page for good. Search engines also hate broken and misconfigured webpages.
One of the worst mistakes you can make is not fixing broken pages when content becomes obsolete or when a plugin stops working. Broken links in product descriptions will make the most damage, and broken links in e-commerce stores are a major sign that the store is about to go bust.
Lack of Maintenance
To avoid broken pages and slow loading times, you need to properly maintain your website. You can either assign an IT specialist from your team to this task or assign it to the expert who originally built your website.
Poor SEO Optimization
Finally, web design and SEO should go hand in hand. Every design element and every piece of content should align with your SEO strategy for maximum impact. If your SEO approach goes one way, and your web design another, then you are losing sales.
Good news is that web designers today are also experts in SEO. So, when you work with a web design firm, you are also partnering with an SEO expert who will optimize your page for maximum traffic conversion.
Now That You Know the Worst Website Design Mistakes, It’s Time to Partner up with the Best
Avoiding the worst website design is the first step to expanding your online presence. Here at GmapsRocket Web Solutions, we offer top-tier website design and SEO services with a focus on Arizona businesses.
With over 25 years of experience, we excel in harnessing the power of technology to deliver measurable results.
GmapsRocket Web Solutions specializes in helping businesses reach their target audience. From the first strategy session to creating tech solutions that have an immediate impact on business performance, we are your strategic partner when it comes to expanding your online presence.
Contact us today to find out how we can leverage technology to give you an edge in today’s ultra-competitive online markets.