The 10 Most Common Web Design Mistakes

Photo of a broken pencil

With a recent surge towards mobile browsing and cool new design options like parallax scrolling, the web has seen millions of websites receive facelifts over the past few years. It has also led to a lot of poor web design choices that prevent consumers from fully connecting with brands. From unattractive homepages to weak content, poor navigation, and countless errors, there are a number of things that the average website can improve on.

Below, you’ll find the top ten most common web design mistakes and how to keep them from hurting your site’s overall engagement.

1. Failing to Use Responsive Design

Since over forty percent of modern searches are conducted on smartphones and tablets, having a website that can display properly on those devices is of paramount importance for businesses. However, recent estimates show that less than seventeen percent of the world’s 876 million websites have been created with responsive web design. Since Google introduced a search update that penalizes non-responsive sites in mobile searches, this is a major problem for those who generate leads online.

2. Relying On a Free Website Builder

Numerous companies offer “drag-and-drop” website building apps that claim to allow users to launch a new website in minutes. The problem with these types of services is that each design facet adds dozens of lines to the back-end code and makes the site load slower. Over time, this can lead to serious performance issues and countless errors.

If budget restrictions are a problem, then consider purchasing a premium theme that already has the look and style of your ideal website. There are thousands of talented developers on Upwork that can lightly and cost-effectively customize a theme.

3. Forgetting About Actual Design Elements

Some businesses are also guilty of either going completely overboard or flat-out ignoring the design elements of their website. Too many customizations can lead to the same issues talked about in the previous topic, plus it can distract the reader from the actual content. Minimalist websites with very few design features can also be a turn-off to visitors though, so finding a balance is essential.

This same concept applies to photos, videos, banners, and other types of graphics as well. For most websites, the entire page should be designed to lead the consumer’s eye towards making a favorable action (opting in, requesting information, making a purchase, etc.).

4. Poor Use of Headers, Sidebars, and Footers

People often assume that heading areas, footers, and sidebars are designed exclusively for advertisements. However, it’s a big red flag when a webpage displays a high number of ads and banners, especially when there’s little content to go along with it. These areas can be much better utilized for additional navigation within the site.

Now, that’s not to say that it’s wrong to place a banner across the top of the page advertising a special promotion. This only means to remember the importance of design and balance throughout the site.

5. Not Capturing Customer Information

While some sites may have too many ad placements, other domains might spend countless hours and advertising dollars driving customers to their site, only to fail at capturing a sale or even a lead. The odds are strongly against that missed customer returning on their own, which means that even more revenue needs to be invested in retargeting campaigns or other strategies to win back the customer. Some corporations waste millions per year trapped in this vicious cycle without ever actually capturing the consumer’s information.

This problem can be largely eliminated by creating a homepage opt-in offer that will appeal to your visitors. It can be something as simple as an instant discount or free shipping on retail sites, while others may want to offer an appealing freebie or a contest giveaway.

6. Lacking Top-Quality Content Throughout

The number one ranking criteria for the search engines has always been the quality of the content displayed on websites. Yet, domain owners frequently spend thousands of dollars to build a sleek, beautiful site and then treat the actual writing as an afterthought. This affects far more than search results though, because it is also the number one way to engage visitors and increase conversion rates.

To determine if your content is high enough in quality, look no further than your bounce and click through rates for visitors. This will clearly show if people are viewing multiple pages and taking actions on-site or leaving quickly. Bottom line: When designing a website, give just as much consideration to your content.

7. Making Core Information Hard to Find

Another common web design mistake is making core information hard to locate. The homepage should have links to things like store hours, return policies, directions, FAQs, and shipping details. Other frequently viewed content like blogs and product descriptions should also have their own sub-menus in the sidebar once a visitor reaches that particular section. A search bar is also a very handy tool to place in the header of your site.

When creating the navigational layout for a website, it’s essential to focus on the consumer’s most frequent questions/needs and make those pages the easiest to find. On huge websites, it makes sense to create major category pages for quick navigation, which would give the user a brief description with a link to seek additional information.

8. Not Keeping a Website Updated

While the digital era has brought us amazing new technological advances, it has also opened up cybersecurity risks. That’s why keeping themes and plugins fully updated is essential in modern times; it ensures that every possible entry point is protected on your domain. The good news is that WordPress and many other popular website choices can auto-update—as long as it’s properly configured to do so.

Another tip for solid website security is to install a real-time protection like Wordfence or iThemes Security, plus a CAPTCHA option to thwart automated attacks. Also, insist that users with administrative access use secure passwords and change them periodically.

9. Dealing with Broken & Poorly Optimized Pages

There’s nothing worse than clicking a link and seeing “Page Not Found,” especially when it comes to a product or landing page. In other cases, the page may still exist but not display properly due to a site conflict or a broken plugin. Some websites also lose potential conversions by neglecting their product descriptions and failing to provide enough information. Any of these mistakes can have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line.

The only way to avoid these issues is to actively have eyes on your website—whether it’s an engineer, a QA specialist, or through direct feedback from customers. There are tools that can assist in locating and solving some of these issues, but it still requires a hands-on approach with a system in place for diligent bug reporting and eliminating problems.

10. Not Paying Attention to Analytics

Finally, a critical mistake in website design is not properly setting up the site’s analytics through Google Webmaster Tools or a similar program, or not using the analytics once it’s properly installed. The only way to accurately measure a website’s success is by digging down into the data and seeing how visitors are navigating the website.

This enables you to quickly leverage tools that identify poorly performing pages, analyze important conversion flows, and test banners and promotions in order to improve the weaker facets and find the best option. The most popular websites in the modern world are constantly testing, measuring results, and optimizing some more. That’s the only way to constantly improve and increase customer loyalty.