Design Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Business Website

2d Graphic showing sad people in front of bad website design icon with thumbs down and angry face emojis

For many businesses, your website is the face of your company. Whether you're an online store or a local service provider, virtually every single customer you have has browsed your webpage at some point or another. In many circumstances, your website is the first thing a potential client will see about your business, and first impressions are critical in business.

We all know what a good website looks like to us, but it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it so appealing. It often is not just one thing that makes a website appealing it is the synergy of how well everything works together.  Designers create this synergy by utilizing tools in their arsenal that make your website work the hardest it can for you.  To understand what makes a website attractive and informative it might help to learn what makes a website design alienating.

All examples listed below are from actual, currently running websites.  If you find your website listed as one of my examples, I apologize, but I am using notoriously bad designs found on the web.  If you take offense to your website being portrayed this way (and it wasn't intentionally designed to be bad) again I am sorry, but it might be a good time to review your site from your client's perspective and redesign it.  Below is a list of the most common mistakes that will ruin a website’s design or content.

Missing Your Target

Know Your Audience

Knowing your target audience is essential to forming a successful business and as a business owner you already know who your target audience is, and what their specific demographics are. The overall theme of your website will naturally attract a specific type of viewer. You want to make sure it’s the right one.

Oftentimes, a website will try to cater to everyone. This usually ends with a muddled website lacking any appeal. It is imperative to identify and profile your target audience then cater directly to it.  Another instance of where this can go wrong is when you cater your website design to your own wants and styles which can be a huge disaster when your needs don’t align with your potential client’s needs.  It is a slippery slope to include your own preferential styles when designing a website that should be catered directly to the needs and wants of your target market and what they find appealing.

Your website has a sort of personality, for example, is your website scientific and filled with a lot of statistics and infographics?  Or is your page a fun-filled invitation to adventure?  Some websites are more professional while others are more relaxed but no matter what personality your site has it needs to be aligned with your target demographic.

Honing in on these different traits can be difficult for someone without any experience with design. If graphic design is not in your skillset, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional and the same goes for writing your website’s copy.  You know your business better than anyone designing your website, but a good web designer knows how to take your input and create something that will far exceed your expectations.

Lacking Cohesion

Stay on Theme

Your website should display a clear and cohesive theme. Color and font schemes are crucial to ensuring this. Your brand should maintain its color palette across all social media platforms, not just your website.  Font choices also need to be made for a reason and the number of fonts must be kept to a minimum and must be paired with other fonts appropriately.

When designing a website, you must determine the color palette, logo usage, and font theme and they should be used consistently across your website and really across all platforms of your business.  If you don’t do this your website will lack the cohesion that is needed to display information in an easy-to-read and recognize manner, and it will also show your clients that you don’t value your business because you haven’t invested in its core elements.

Too Much Clutter

Make Things Short and Sweet

Screen shot of yvettes bridal formal website

In the age of social media and with the broad use of mobile devices, we have all developed somewhat of a shorter attention span. If a new visitor to your website does not find the information they’re looking for within a few seconds, they will move on to your competition without even so much as a second thought.

To avoid this quick exit, make sure that only the most important information is being conveyed on the main pages or sections of your site. From there, you can provide links to learn more. This will make the information more digestible, and it will be easier for your clientele to find the information they’re looking for without being overwhelmed with paragraphs of irrelevant information and graphic overload.

While you don't want to overrun new clients with too much information, you can also go to the other extreme by leaving too much to the imagination. If your website is so barren that first-time viewers hardly know what service you are providing, you’ve done it wrong. People go to your website to learn about you and your business. If they aren't getting their questions answered, they’ll quickly pass you up.

Improper Use of Graphics

Aesthetics Are Everything

It might be your goal to make your website strictly utilitarian, but it shouldn't be designed this way. Pictures, icons, and infographics not only make a website more visually appealing, but they keep your audience engaged and make ideas and information easier to understand.

Featuring nothing but paragraphs of black text on a white page is painfully hard to go through and we usually only accept this when reading novels. Websites and online articles that lack the proper use of graphics usually look like they have not been updated since the 1990s and customers will avoid them at all costs, and even worse they can shame you on social media by poking fun of your business!

Photos and infographics can convey complex ideas quickly and they’re usually pretty easy on the eyes. However, it is important to avoid overdoing it and quality is key. Too many pictures flooding the front page will destroy the cohesion of the website making it disorienting.  Even gallery pages that contain seemingly endless thumbnails of images are not a good use of space and can be done in a more interesting way.

Furthermore, only pictures of the highest quality should be displayed on your site. Any images that are blurry or low resolution should be quickly replaced with higher-quality pictures.  However, images should be sized according to how they are placed on your site.  It will cause your page to load slowly if you use high-resolution images that are beyond the size of the screen or for thumbnail images.  A lot of business owners that are not well versed in graphic design have a hard time understanding that image size is about creating images that work for a specific place and size and are compressed to be as small of a file size as possible without losing quality.  For example, images sent from a cell phone sometimes get compressed to even smaller file sizes when sent via email or text message and if you put that on your site it will look pixelated.  On the other hand, images direct from a photographer should also not go directly to your website unless they have been sized and compressed because they have exceptionally large file sizes as they are meant for printing.  Prepping your images for the web usually requires the use of Photoshop or other high-end design programs for the best results.

Missing or Ineffective Mobile Design

So Small…

Screenshot of the Yale University Art Department Web PageMobile device viewership has overtaken desktop and laptop computers as the most used devices for website viewing and if you haven’t realized that your website might be lacking some key strategies that are going to lose you more customers than you might realize.  Your website should be easy to read on smaller devices and in fact, your site design must include mobile-friendly font sizes, menus, buttons, and graphics to be able to be mobile-ready.

If you aren’t a web designer and the platform you are using to create your website doesn’t use responsive (changes design to suit the size of the screen) techniques to your design then your website will look bad on a mobile device.  Even if you are utilizing a web design platform that does this for you, you still have to be aware that sometimes certain elements are not going to display at the correct size on all devices and orientations.  You must be diligent in testing your site design on different devices and even different web browsers to make sure that you aren’t losing users by not catering to how they want to view your website.

Ineffective CTA

Creating Leads

Your call to action is the gateway to your business. It encourages your visitors to go to the next step in choosing you. Whether it be your “Contact Now’ or ‘Book a Reservation’, it's the difference between an anonymous browser and a valuable lead. For this reason, the implementation of your call to action is vital if you are going to include it in the traditional manner and should only be a few words long, focused, and serves a direct function. It should be displayed prominently without being obnoxious, making it easy to avoid but hard to miss.

As opposed to using a full-time call to action on your home page you can create what are called landing pages.  A landing page with a call to action on it is actually the best method of using a call to action section on your site.  Landing pages are for specific purposes and are usually only one screen tall where the user is forced to perform an action like signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product that is on sale.  Your business would link to this unique page on your site inside of ad work or e-mail newsletters so that instead of viewing your home page, these potential clients are herded into navigating this one page with its specific intent.  This makes your overall home page and website seem like it is above ads and call to action, but you can still utilize the benefits of a call to action without cheapening your site for whatever promotion or campaign you are running at the time.  Also, you should try to avoid pop-up or fly-out ads on your site unless it is absolutely necessary as this will anger many users to the point that they might leave and not want to return to your site.

Hidden Navigation

No One Likes to Get Lost

Screen shot of home page on

Navigation issues are the silent killer of website design and it is unfortunate because if done properly internal and external site navigation is a great opportunity to direct your web traffic to important or useful sections of your website.  Site navigation is not a one size fits all solution for businesses and it must be set up with your business and your customer’s needs in mind.

Your primary site navigation should be easy to find and utilize and this pertains to any sub-menu items as that is a huge trouble area for a lot of business websites.  Your menu is essentially the road map to your web page, and it should be very functional and not bothersome to operate.  Mobile menus are another area where I see a lot of business sites have a lot of room for improvement because either they are not mobile-friendly, or they are hard to find or operate.

Make sure the navigational aspects of your website are easily maneuvered and even easier to notice.  This is also true with any links or buttons on your page, and you should also consider navigational shortcuts to make your site easier to move around.  For example, a simple “jump to the top” button at the bottom of a long page can make it much easier for users to get back to the start of a page without a bunch of scrolling.

Missing Contact Info

Who You Gonna Call? ...

This may be one of the biggest mistakes a website can make. If a visitor on your website decides to contact you, you do not want to miss that opportunity. Having your website obscure this information can easily lose you a sale.  Also, sites without contact information or with minimal contact information can make your business seem disingenuous and no one wants to represent their business that way.

Your “Contact Us” page should always be just one click away, and your information should be listed on every page even if just minutely in the header or footer sections of your site.

make it much easier for users to get back to the start of a page without a bunch of scrolling.

Final Thoughts

It's All Over

Your website is the gateway to your business. It may well be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful enterprise. Avoiding these common mistakes will improve your conversion rate and lead to more sales. Always keep your target audience and brand image in mind in every step of the design process. Prime Encode, LLC can implement a well-designed website for your business so if you need the help or want to spend your time working on your business instead of your website then reach out to us and we would be more than happy to set up an appointment to discuss your business.

Michael McAllister is the owner and lead designer of Prime Encode, LLC. Residing in Burt, NY he enjoys graphic design, painting, hiking with his family and their labradoodle named "Dude", and working on trucks and things around the house.

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