In the modern era that we live in, it is absolutely critical for businesses to own a great website. It is not seen as just a pretty window online - its importance goes far beyond that. It is a portrayal of your business online and that should be sufficient enough reason to take it very seriously. However, as easy as it may sound, there are a ton of mistakes people commit while building a website. This article sets out some of the common web design mistakes to avoid (mistakes which otherwise you would most likely subconsciously commit).
As mentioned, your website should offer an amazing story to your online visitors of who you are and what you do. Your introduction to them should be simple yet effective. It also needs to have all its working cogs well-oiled up - it must offer seamless navigation, great content, good loading speed etc. A badly designed website will repel its visitors – a job that is contrary to its purpose. Here are 13 “unlucky” web design mistakes to avoid – by you and by anybody else!
Web Design Mistakes To Avoid
1) A terrible logo
A logo is a visual representation of your brand. It is what makes people visualize your company and associate various services to it. We wouldn't be wrong if we say that a logo builds people's perception of your brand. It is a big influencer of making the brand what it is. If you display a poorly designed logo on your website, it is going to be poorly received. A logo is probably the first thing an online visitor sees and you don't want to make that first bad impression.
This can be counted as one of the biggest website mistakes so to speak. A logo is extremely critical for your brand’s success and you have to invest substantial efforts in getting it right.
2) No favicon
Favicons are another visual depiction of your website but for the browser tab. If you notice, a lot of well-designed website ensure having a favicon displayed. They look like this:
As people surf the internet, they usually end up opening multiple browser tabs. Having a favicon displayed for your website is advantageous as it helps stand out from the already crowded browser tab area and makes switching to your website a lot easier.
3) Inconvenient navigation
Your visitors expect to see the various elements on your website laid out as smoothly as possible. Users are on your website for a reason - they want to understand what you're into and what services or products you have to sell. They want to know about you and perhaps contact you as well. Some of the most common navigational items such as your shop page, about us, blog, FAQs, store policies, contact us etc. should be visible right away. One cannot expect a user to start digging through a confusing menu to find these pages.
If they are struggling with a badly designed navigation to find the information they want, they will not hesitate to leave your website never to return again.
If we were to pick the top 3 web design mistakes to avoid, this point would be one of it. Therefore, give sufficient thought on how you want the site layout and the navigation to be. Keeping it simple will work.
4) Website load speed
Users expect your website to load pretty quickly. They want information quickly and won't wait till the site takes its own sweet time to load. It is found that websites that take more than 3 seconds to load have a higher likelihood of users quickly bouncing off. Google also factors in the website load speed while determining the page rankings for displaying on its SERP (search engine results page).
Having a good web hosting provider is one of the important factors determining your page load speeds.
5) Incorrect typography
Fonts are a great way to make an impact and they have a big role in influencing your perception of a brand. You will notice that a corporate lawyer's website utilizes a different style of fonts than a website meant for kids and their activities. The former will most likely use a traditional corporate-ish font like 'Open Sans' or 'Raleway'; while the latter has a much liberal approach to adopting fonts such as 'Butterfly Kids' or 'Indie Flower'.
Choosing incorrect types of fonts on a website can be quite damaging to the company's brand image. Imagine visiting a lawyers website that looks like this:
Lawyer & Associates Law Firm
Not only does it look ridiculous but they'll be hard pressed to gain any serious attention from their online visitors (many of them will think of it as an amateurish website!)
While not as bad as the example above, Amazon - the e-commerce giant gave some people a bit of a stress when the company changed its font from Amazon Ember to Amazon Bookerly.
6) Poor content
One of the biggest website mistakes is having poor content. Let's face it - if you have poorly written content, nobody's going to read it. People expect something valuable from a website and if you cannot provide that, they won’t' think twice before clicking on the 'X' on the window.
Content writing is an art. It requires a thorough understanding of what a user wants and helping them with that information. A website with poor content on it will not find any takers because they are not helping a user with their queries, doubts or fear. A poorly written content also means one with bad grammar. A valuable piece of content with great nuggets of advice written in bad grammar is equally terrible as a shallow invaluable one.
Even though it sounds (and is) very clichéd, but content truly is the king. Without having sufficient, in-depth and valuable content for your users to consume, you have a tough battle ahead of you to attract potential customers.
7) Lack of white space
Nobody likes to be in a room with a thousand people and no space to breathe. Likewise, nobody likes to visit a website that looks overcrowded and want to make you gag. One of the reasons why you'd find many websites that aren't well designed is due to the cramping of elements in whatever space there is available.
This was typically seen in the websites of the era bygone but a few of them still lurk around. Not giving elements the required space to "breathe" makes it difficult to concentrate and focus.
You did have a tough time understanding the layout above, didn't you?
Having enough white space around the various elements makes a website look easy on the eyes. It looks neat, tidy, professional and more importantly uncluttered.
8) Unresponsive design
If you take a look at your site's analytics, you will find that a lot of visitors come on your website using devices other than desktops. This is the norm today because almost everybody has access to internet on their mobile phones and it is just so much easier to check something on it rather than wait till you're on your PC or laptop. Because of this shift towards mobile usage, Google gives a fair degree of importance towards the site's responsive design.
Responsive design is one that alters the site's look and layout depending on the kind of device which is accessing it. So, for instance, one section of your website may have 2 columns side by side (as seen on the desktop) but when viewed on a mobile handheld device, you will see that those columns are stacked one over another so as to fit the smaller screen size. If your website is built with an unresponsive design, it will neither look good nor contemporary and you will struggle getting in Google's good book.
9) Broken links and a generic 404 page
Don't we all get annoyed when we're presented with a link to an interesting subject, we click on it and it takes us nowhere? We're pretty sure you must have faced it at some point in time. It's far too common. Such links (that lead nowhere) are called broken links and they take away from a great user experience which every website owner must strive to deliver.
Having a broken link or two, on a website is still understandable, especially if those links are external links to pages that are beyond the control of a webmaster. However, if you have far too many broken links on your website, it just frustrates the user and makes your website look spammy.
Also, most webmasters are lazy and they hardly ever prep a 404 page. Remember we said that broken links take nowhere. Well, that's not entirely correct. Though it is true that those links will not take you to the desired page but they usually link to a dedicated page called a 404 page, which looks something like this:
Most website owners do not take the trouble of designing a good 404 page. For someone who is serious enough not to lose their online visitors, a well-designed 404 page must have sufficient links to important parts of the website such as the home page or the contact us page. This gives visitors a chance to "get back" on the website and stroll around. This is what our 404 page looks like:
10) Ignoring analytics
Ignoring analytics for your website is a cardinal mistake you should not be making. We cannot list out how many websites we’ve seen that look great but their owners have no idea how many people are visiting, where those visitors are coming from and other metrics that are important to be aware of. We simply cannot emphasize enough the gravity of this error.
Many people wrongly assume that analytics is some super science that they'll struggle to grasp. This isn't true at all. There are many applications available today that are equally easy to set up and even easier to monitor. One of the best analytics program is Google Analytics and it is completely free! So you shouldn't have any excuse to not install it on your website and use it.
Having analytics correctly configured can give you data that you would have otherwise find hard to fetch. It can give you data on the number of visitors your site is getting, their geographical regions, the devices they use, which pages are popular, so on and so forth. This data can then be leveraged to improve upon. For example, you find that your visitors are reading some articles more than others. You can then utilize this information to generate more content around the winning articles to attract even more visitors.
Ignoring analytics is akin to ignoring a pool of visitors who want to come to your website but are being shut out. You don't want that, do you?
11) Not having an opt-in
We can understand when you say that those pop-ups can be annoying as hell - we get it. However most of them aren't executed correctly. It is true that nobody wants to stare at a pop-up as soon as they visit a website. That is being plain rude, if you ask. At least give it a few seconds and kick it in, we’d say.
Having an opt-in is a great way of capturing a lead and it saves money on further advertising. Think about this for a second. You spend hundreds of dollars on advertising to bring people on your website and there's nothing that nudges them to leave their information. Which means that you will have to spend money again on getting them back!
If you have an opt-in form that is not in-the-face type, people are more likely to leave their email addresses with you if you are helping them in return. For example, if you have an ecommerce store, you can ask them to leave their email address in exchange of a discount coupon, or you can give away a valuable freebie (like an eBook on our website) or have them enter a giveaway contest - there's just so much you can offer to trade with their emails - which you can then utilize for further marketing activities.
12) Going design overboard
Businesses spend a lot of money to get a well-designed website. It is one of the keys to a successful website (and the business). Though it plays an important role in helping gain online visitors, some people go totally overboard with it. They think that having a good web design means having a lot of elements playing themselves out on the web page.
So you will find some websites having very flashy, gaudy colours that will instantly hurt your eyes; or have a lot of animations going about such as a text banner doing flip overs, or images flashing and flickering on the screen and what not. This is an utter recipe for disaster.
It not only looks very unprofessional but it does nothing to add value to your website. Taking a minimalistic approach is best, as having such over the top dancing elements on a website will only confuse and distract a visitor.
13) Using stock photos
Another common web design mistake that we see people committing repeatedly is to use stock photographs found on the internet in abundance. No doubt that they are freely and easily available but that is one of the only few advantages they have.
Remember that you aren't the only one using them. There are hundreds and thousands of people who have their own websites and need photos too. Where do you think they get them from? You're right - from the same source you got them from!
If you want to differentiate your website from the rest, then using your own photographs is one of the best ways to do it. We know it can be tedious but it is worth the effort. That way, your site will be the only one having those custom photographs which will only help it stand out from the crowd.
A few other alternatives are to purchase photos from websites like Shutterstock, Getty images and others; or to use images from stock photography websites and give them your own twist using photo editing tools like Photoshop, Illustrator etc.
There you have it! 13 unlucky web design mistakes to avoid. As much as you must be excited to launch a new business website or redesign an existing one, keeping the above reminders in mind will help you make your site look polished and professional.
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