Common Web Design Mistakes
Building a website, especially from scratch, is a big task. Often, when small businesses decide to undertake the creation of a brand-new website, they don’t know what to start or what to include. So, whether you plan to hire professional web designers or you plan to use a website builder, like WordPress or Squarespace to do it yourself, know that there are a lot of variables to consider.
Here are the biggest web design mistakes to avoid:
Failing To Do User Research
Do you understand your audience and the user who hope to attract to your site? Part of a strong web strategy is having a strong understanding of your target customers and audience. This is where user research comes into play. There are companies that help small businesses conduct user research, or you can do some on your own.
Either way, it’s a good idea to gather some generic data around user needs to better understand how your primary user interacts with the site. Don’t have the budget to blow on professional research? No problem. The good news is you can still attempt some version of the following with a family member, friend, or colleague. Whoever you choose, make sure they can remain objective and fall somewhere within your target audience.
Some data collection and testing methods include:
- Interviews. Before launching your site, you or a researcher can conduct in-person interviews with a small sample size of test users, asking questions about usability, likes/dislikes, and areas in need of improvement,
- Surveys and questionnaires. Whether online or in person ask a targeted group about specific preferences in both usability and design as well as the reasons behind each.
- Usability test. Usability testing is the process of testing your site by asking participants to complete typical tasks while a researcher watches, listens, and takes notes.
- A/B testing. A/B (or split testing) is used to compare two working versions of something to determine which may be better. So, if you’re stuck between two different color schemes for your website’s design, you may test to see what is easier to read for most users.
Slow Load Times
Attention spans are dropping like flies these days, and if it takes too long to load a website it’s hard to keep visitors. Dramatic as it may sound, slow load times are a traffic killer in the internet world. So if your site takes three seconds or longer, it’s officially in the “slow” category. This is not only important to the user experience, but to your SEO ranking as well.
Why? Many search engines specifically factor load rates into their ranking simply because modern browsers can read and index the page more quickly. So, in a nutshell: slow loading rates on web pages may negatively affect your search rankings.
Here are a few ways to improve speed on your new site:
- Compress/optimize images
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Cache your web pages
- Remove unused plugins
Strong images are a huge part of accessible design. They not only improve the user experience, but they’re also a big part of a successful SEO strategy as well. Unfortunately, poor, low-res images or irrelevant images are among the most common web design mistakes. Inaccurately sizing images is another common issue, which can lead to slow load times, high bounce rates, and the loss of potential customers. Image compression may be necessary and it’s important to make sure images load properly on different devices, so mobile users and desktop users are able to use and navigate your site effectively.
Clunky Visual Design
Not only must your website function well, it has to look good too. A big part of the website design process is making sure it’s pleasing to the eye and creates a quality experience. The more appealing a page is to your website visitors, the more likely they are to stay on the site and buy a product or service, subscribe to your newsletter, or perform another action.
Here are some design mistakes to avoid:
- Hard to read color scheme
- Illegible font size
- Inconsistent font styles and page titles
- Cluttered layout
- Too many pop-ups
- No search bar
But, let’s be clear, aesthetics support usability. Why? Because an appealing design goes hand in hand with optimized functionality. Keep design elements simple, clean and well-spaced. The goal of your website design should be to guide users through your site as simply as possible.
No Analytics to Measure Performance
Are visitors coming to your site but leaving quickly? Or maybe your website traffic has dipped considerably over the last several months, but you’re not sure why. That’s where Google analytics comes into play. Not having SEO analytics set up for your site is a top web design mistake. Without them, you’re driving blind without any real insight onto how to make improvements. With SEO analytics engaged you’ll have data around your:
- Visibility on Google
- URLs and meta descriptions
- Titles and headings
- Link health, and more.
SEO analytics can also provide further insight into how many site visitors you receive, how they interact on your site and make suggestions to improve conversion rate optimization.
Today, most internet users search the web from mobile devices. So it’s critical that your site design is mobile-friendly. Research shows nearly 80% of online searches today are happening on smartphones, so it’s critical to optimize your site for mobile use. ]
Poor Website Copy
You may have the most beautiful site, top-notch website speed, and all the bells and whistles, but if your have poorly written content lacking valuable information, you’re shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to effective search engine optimization and ranking on Google. Search engines algorithms factor in the strength of your website’s content, so make sure to:
- Write to your audience
- Keep content relevant, short, and to the point
- Be creative and representative of your brand
- Review for grammar and spelling
Focus on your brand messaging and make sure it’s consistent throughout your site. Make sure you have a contact page as well as CTA so your visitors know what to do It’s also important to update your content regularly. It’s true, creating content is hard work, but outdated content that feels stale or isn’t relevant can lose you website visitors in flash.