Did you know that 75% of your website’s credibility depends on its design? If there are lots of design mistakes on your website, people might not trust your company.
Whether you’re making a new website or fixing up your current one, avoiding these mistakes will help your business look good online for the right reasons. For this article, we interviewed many experts who talk about common website design mistakes. You’ll also find out how to fix or avoid these mistakes
What is Website Design?
Website design refers to the process of creating and arranging the visual elements and layout of a website.
It involves planning and organizing the overall look, structure, and user interface of a website to make it visually appealing, user-friendly, and effective in conveying information or achieving specific goals.
This design process includes selecting colors, fonts, images, graphics, and other elements to create a cohesive and attractive web page. Good website design also takes into account user experience, navigation, and accessibility to ensure that visitors can easily find and interact with the content on the site.
The ultimate goal of website design is to create a website that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional for its intended purpose.
Website Design Mistakes to Avoid
Following are some of the major website design mistakes that everyone should avoid while building or revamping his/her website in 2024.
1. Neglecting Accessibility
The most critical website design mistake is neglecting accessibility. Maria Kelly, Web Development Manager at HubSpot Marketing Web Team, identifies four primary accessibility errors:
- Insufficient Color Contrast: Many websites prioritize their brand’s color scheme over accessibility, resulting in poor color contrast between background and foreground elements. This makes it difficult for individuals with visual impairments, like color blindness, to read text and identify icons.
- Missing or Inappropriate Alt Text: Screen reader users depend on alt text to comprehend images and graphics. When alt text is absent or doesn’t accurately describe the image, it excludes users who rely on it.
- Insufficient or Missing Visual Focus Indicators: Without clear visual focus indicators, site visitors, particularly those using keyboards and screen-reading software, may have an incomplete browsing experience.
2. Overlooking Responsive Design
In the second quarter of 2023, mobile devices accounted for over 58% of global website traffic, excluding tablets. If your website isn’t as user-friendly on mobile as it is on a desktop, you risk frustrating visitors and increasing your bounce rate.
Juan Manuel Devia Pinzon emphasizes that users access websites from various devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. If your content appears poorly on any of these, visitors may lose trust and leave the site.
Moreover, according to Sean Landry, this happens because websites are often built on desktop browsers, with a common mistake being the assumption that all users will view the site on a desktop.
3. Sacrificing User Experience for Looks
A growing mistake in website design is prioritizing aesthetics over functionality. The internet’s abundance of media and design has led to an excess of design and graphic elements that may dazzle users but disconnect from a website’s true purpose.
Sergio Martinez, Design Experience Manager, notes various manifestations of this issue, such as design trends diluting a brand’s value proposition and overuse of animation, content, and heavy graphics that enhance aesthetics but serve no real purpose. The key is to strike a balance where form complements function.
Your website is like your business’s online storefront. It should reflect your brand and stand out. One common website design mistake is opting for a generic template without customization.
For example, relying on the standard hero banner, with a full-width image, text, and a button, can backfire. According to Lindsay Derby, Senior Product Designer on the SAPG team at HubSpot, this design choice has become overused and lacks originality.
4. Using Ineffective Features
Another prevalent error is incorporating features that don’t drive conversions. Regardless of how visually appealing an element may be, the primary focus should be on the website’s effectiveness.
Derby highlights the common practice of using rotating carousels to showcase multiple pieces of content at the same level, noting that research indicates users often don’t engage with carousels, especially on mobile where interaction costs are high.
5. Lacking Hierarchy
Have you ever visited a website and felt lost, unsure of where to focus your attention? This often happens on sites with a lack of hierarchy. According to Sean Landry, just like newspapers use headlines and subheads to signify importance, your website’s typography should establish order.
Having a structured layout not only looks good but also serves a functional purpose. Sergio Martinez emphasizes that organizing website elements provides a coherent structure, guiding users to complete specific actions and achieve the main goal, ultimately creating a seamless experience.
While addressing this issue might be challenging, particularly for companies with diverse audiences and goals, it’s essential because a lack of hierarchy can significantly impact how users perceive your site, often leading to confusion and missed goals.
6. Unclear Navigation
Clear navigation is key to reducing the friction experienced by website visitors. In an increasingly crowded digital landscape, having clear navigation and consistency across various touchpoints and user journeys ensures a smooth transition from first-time visitors to advocates, as highlighted by Juan Manuel Devia Pinzon.
7. Ineffective Business Communication
When visitors arrive at your website, they should immediately grasp your company’s purpose. Any hint of ambiguity may lead visitors to leave your site. Sean Landry underscores the importance of clearly stating, above the fold, the product or service your website offers.
Your website should enhance your business’s credibility, and if it fails to communicate your purpose and reassure visitors that they’re in the right place, it’s likely time for a website redesign.”
How to Fix Common Website Design Mistakes?
Here’s a complete guide on how you can fix your website design mistakes.
1. Prioritize Accessibility
Web accessibility is about ensuring that your website and its content are usable by everyone, including those with disabilities. It’s a critical aspect of web design. Ignoring accessibility issues can create barriers for a significant portion of your audience.
Even if your website looks visually appealing, if some of the content or features are not accessible to people with disabilities, it means your site is not fulfilling its potential.
- Creating User Personas: User personas are fictional representations of your target audience. When designing your website, it’s crucial to create user personas that consider a variety of needs, including those related to accessibility. By doing this, you ensure that accessibility is taken into account at every stage of your project. For instance, consider factors like color contrast, font size, and keyboard navigation that can make your site more accessible.
- Educate Yourself on Accessibility Best Practices: Learning about accessibility best practices is essential. There are numerous resources, checklists, and guidelines available to help you design, build, and test websites for accessibility. Start by checking out accessibility checklists to ensure your site meets the basic accessibility standards.
2. Ensure Responsive Design
Responsive web design ensures that your website provides a seamless and user-friendly experience, regardless of the device visitors use to access it. It’s not as complicated as it might seem, and there are various tools and templates available to simplify the process.
However, even with a responsive design in place, it’s crucial to continuously test your site on different devices to identify and address any issues or glitches.
3. Balance Aesthetics and User Experience
Achieving a balance between visual appeal and a seamless user experience is key to a successful website. This balance can be maintained through effective communication and alignment within your team. Your design should align with the goals and objectives of other teams, such as Development, Content, and SEO.
4. Be Intentional and Creative
Avoid simply replicating common design patterns that you see on other websites. Instead, be intentional about the content and features you place in valuable spaces on your site. Consider the purpose of each element and whether it engages users effectively.
Ask questions like whether the imagery is meaningful or just decorative, if the layout encourages user action, or if there’s something interesting that holds users’ attention. It’s also an opportunity to differentiate your site from competitors by trying something unique and creative.
5. Avoid Burying Information
If you know that a particular feature on your website doesn’t convert well or if visitors tend to ignore it, don’t hide crucial information there.
For instance, if your website features a carousel, follow best practices such as making controls highly visible, limiting the number of slides, and ensuring the most important information appears first. This ensures that users get a complete experience even if they don’t interact with the carousel.
6. Implement Hierarchy
A clear hierarchy on your website makes it easier for visitors to understand where to focus their attention. You can achieve this by using HTML heading tags and adjusting their sizes to communicate the relative importance of each line of text.
Additionally, consider design principles like scale (using size differences), balance (distributing visual elements), and composition (organizing elements) to create a cohesive and structured layout.
7. Ensure Intuitive Navigation
Effortless navigation is vital for a smooth user experience. It should support users on their journey, making it easy for them to discover information or return to specific points within your website.
To ensure this, define the levels of navigation (ideally no more than three), confirm that labels are clear and easily understood, and test navigation on different screen sizes, as it can behave differently on various devices.
8. Convey Your Business Purpose
Your website’s purpose should be crystal clear. Whether you’re running an e-commerce site or sharing information about your services, every element on your website should contribute to this purpose. Use compelling copy and visual elements to reinforce your site’s mission.
As we enter 2024, it’s crucial to avoid common website design mistakes. A well-designed site is essential for a positive user experience, traffic generation, and achieving online goals. Whether it’s mobile responsiveness, cluttered layouts, or slow loading times, steering clear of these pitfalls is key to success in the digital landscape. Keep your website user-friendly, up-to-date with design trends, and optimized for ongoing success in the coming year and beyond.