As a website designer and brand strategist, I see a lot of design mistakes being made online. This ranges from the “could be better” to the outright “what were they thinking?” With the ease of platforms like Wix and Squarespace, good design is becoming much more accessible for the person who just needs something online, but this also means there are more opportunities to make mistakes a professional designer would not.
A website is not just about having pretty images, font, or well-written content – everything needs to work in harmony and look cohesive and on-brand if you want a truly effective website. Making mistakes can lead your visitors to feel like you’re unprofessional, untrustworthy, or just give them that sense that something is “wrong.” This sense that can come from bad design often leads customers to seek what they need with a competitor.
So, what mistakes might you be making? Here are the top 8 website design mistakes I see, and how to fix them.
8 Website Design Mistakes You May Be Making
#1 No Call to Action Above the Fold
Too many amateur website designers focus only on aesthetics, forgetting to consider the customer journey. The truth is, visitors will leave a website in less than 10-20 seconds if there is no clear value proposition, and in an even shorter period if they feel confused or misled by what they see. You should have some form of CTA above the fold, even if it’s just a “Learn More” button that scrolls further down the homepage to lead them to the next piece of content you want them to pay attention to.
#2 Buried Contact Details
If you’re a service-based business and the sole purpose of your site is to get them to reach out to contact you, then everything you do should be to drive them to reach out. It’s all too common to land on a website for a small business only to spend five minutes digging around to find how to contact them. Make sure you map out your customer journey and balance giving your customers the right information they need to feel ready to reach out with ample opportunities to contact you. This doesn’t have to be sophisticated and you don’t need to offer dozens of options, it just needs to be clear.
#3 A Clear, Branded Favicon
Be honest, how many tabs do you have open right now? There are so many people out there that keep 20, 50, or even 100 tabs open at any one time as they make decisions about different things in their life, and often the favicon is the easiest way to see where a tab they want is. If your favicon isn’t unique or clear, you won’t stand out from the crowd. Make sure it stands out on bright and dark backgrounds. Your designer should create this (or even a few options) when they create your brand identity.
#4 Not Being Mobile Friendly
There’s no excuse anymore – everyone uses their phone to search for information, and even with the pandemic keeping us inside and within reach of a computer, most people will still use their mobile device (60% of all searches are now made via a mobile). If your site isn’t mobile-friendly and responsive, you’re going to lose visitors, and fast. No one wants to pinch with their fingers to zoom in on information, especially if they have to pan across to read a single sentence. Make sure your website works on mobile, tablet, and desktop.
#5 Reviving the 00s Trend of Music Playing
Who wants their computer to start blaring music or people talking on a video the moment they open a page? No one – and it will often make them exit the page as fast as they clicked on it in the first place. Make sure that any videos you have playing are muted if they have an option to play music and if you have advertising on your website, stay away from video pop-up ads.
#6 Click Here to Enter
The only reason to have a “click here to enter” page is if you are splitting an audience in two different directions, and even then, you should be incredibly mindful about how you do it. In all other cases, you’re essentially putting a tripwire in front of your audience to see if they’re willing to jump over it to get onto the homepage of your site. Unless you’re giving them some vital information, don’t do it and make that first-page count.
#7 No Logical Journey
So many websites still leave the visitor with no clear path to follow once they land on your home page. You need to make sure your visitors know where to go and what to read next, especially if there’s more than one possible customer journey. Avoid old-fashioned things like boxes and sidebars on your home page and keep things streamlined or with minimal information so your visitor knows exactly what to focus on and isn’t distracted from your messaging by your own website.
#8 Neglecting Load Times
A video background for your website homepage above the fold is indeed beautiful, but in all likelihood, it slows load times to a crawl, especially if your visitor is on mobile and not in an area with perfect internet. Load times are more important than ever – not only will it impact whether or not your visitor sticks around long enough to actually see your site (they’ll likely click away if it takes more than 3 seconds) but Google and other search engines now place a value on it, too.
Search engines want to give their users the best information and the best experience they can, and if your site doesn’t give that to them because it takes too long to load, your search engine rankings will likely suffer. Make sure you’re pleasing your audience and the search engines by optimising your website speed. You can check your website speed with Google here. Minimising image file sizes can help, but you’ll likely need to work with an expert to help you speed up your site if it’s old and slow.
There are, of course, many more mistakes I see, but these are the most common offenders I see as I navigate the internet. Fortunately, nearly all of those listed above have easy fixes, and working with a good website designer will eliminate them all, especially if you have strong branding.
If you’re thinking about giving your website an overhaul, I’m here to help. If you’re going to be doing your website yourself you can read about all the platforms I recommend here, or learn about how to work directly with me here. For the best of both worlds, make sure you sign up for my newsletter as I’ll be releasing easy-to-use templates in the future that marry expert design with the ease of a template!