Creating a website that makes it easy for visitors to do what they came to do is easier said than done! Supercharge your conversions and decrease high bounce rates by fixing these 21 avoidable website design mistakes.
24 hours a day, 365 days a year, your website is open for business! Unlike any other marketing channel, your website has the ability to generate leads, sell products and answer user search queries on your behalf. While you sleep, visitors can be crawling your pages to buy your products, read your blogs or seek for help and advice. It is therefore very important that your website is ‘ready for business ‘ and visually on point at all times to make the most of your precious traffic.
However, unfortunately, webmasters and designers that are responsible for websites of all shapes and sizes are sometimes fundamentally unaware of easily avoidable website design mistakes that are seriously affecting both the website’s search engine optimisation (SEO) and a visitor’s user experience.
Common website design mistakes can range from simple font and colour issues to boring content and missing trust signals. Failure to tackle these issues can potentially result in lost revenue and leads. We’ve put together our list of 21 easily avoidable website design problems with advice on how to fix each issue to ensure your website can continue to evolve into a super user-friendly, converting monster machine!
Realising most of your visitors don’t care about your website
I’m sorry, but it’s true! Most of your visitors really don’t care about your website – they simply want to solve their problem, buy your products or access your contact information. Time and time again here at Marketing Labs, we see marketing & dev teams create websites that are heavily based around those all important ‘brand guidelines’. When it comes to digital, user intent and the user’s experience (UX) needs to come first! Building a website that looks sexy and on point with those ‘not-so important brand guidelines’ can have a detrimental effect on both search engine optimisation (SEO) and the site’s UX.
If you want to improve conversion rates and lower bounce rates, take a deep look at your website analytics. Scan the data to find; hotspot and dead-spots on pages, why visitors are leaving and how they are behaving on your site – you can then make informed design changes that match user intent. Let me show you a great example of how letting go of design principles and designing for the user can have great results.
Naturally, the designers at BITO have used a brand colour for a website’s ‘buy button’ – the screenshot below is a great example of how using the wrong colour can draw your visitors eyes away from the main CTA (call to action) on the page. Instead, visitors are drawn to the telephone number – a quick fix would be swap these two colours round.
Although the designers at Old Fashioned Bathrooms have created a website with a shabby chic look and feel, they have made sure the main CTA on the page is bold, colour and stands out, even though it’s not ‘on-brand’. After testing over 13 colours, this luminous green was colour that best converted best.
Writing content that’s too heavily based around your company
Remember, digital marketing is very different to old-school traditional marketing methods. The days of shouting about your company are long gone. Today, visitors seek valuable information on the internet about how to solve their problems and get inspired. They use search engines to guide their interests and don’t appreciate information being thrown at them. I think I can speak on behalf of most website visitors when I say that we don’t really care about how Mary from you Accounts team cycled 3 miles and raised £100 for a dog charity! To build trust, industry rapport and more importantly influence your visitors, you should be challenging your team to write useful guides, blogs and latest industry news posts. It’s time to stop writing about how your office had a cake sale and starting writing about ways your product or services help customers in their worlds. Here’s a bad and a good example of how you should be using content to your advantage, drive more leads and create industry rapport.
The team over at Chestnut Homes love a blog post about their company. Following traditional ‘shouting’ marketing methods has resulted in little useful and informative information for new home buyers such as how to set-up your first mortgage or a helpful how-to guide about the ‘help to buy’ scheme.
Here at Marketing Labs, we write content for our blog that is both useful and informative. We try to write our posts around everyday digital topics that small to medium sized businesses can relate to. We keep company updates to a minimum and use our blog as a way to show off our expertise in the industry, which in turn indirectly generates new clients leads.
Using utterly useless company slogans to convey value
Who doesn’t love a good slogan? From McDonald’s – i’m loving it to Nike’s – just do it, slogans are everywhere. However online, slogans need to take a different approach to be effective. With on average just 15 seconds to capture and inform website visitors, your slogan needs to hit the nail on the head immediately. For your website slogan to be effective, it must highlight what your company offers instantly and be positioned in the header of your website design.
Here are 2 examples of how tweaking the slogan could provide more user value and inform visitors instantly.
EXAMPLE 1 – BEFORE
The slogan: ‘…or how do you store’ is possibly the most useless slogan ever. It’s a great example of how NOT write a slogan for your website. The slogan could be improved by adding text about what the company offers.
EXAMPLE 2 – AFTER
Swapping the text to simply say ‘storage systems’ instantly tells visitors the company sells storage equipment.
EXAMPLE 2 – BEFORE
The slogan: ‘storage and interior’ again highlights no real clue to what the company offers. This slogan creates confusion as to whether or not visitors are on the correct website. It could be improved by displaying specific company services.
EXAMPLE 2 – AFTER
Copying your competitors’ website design
In the words of Jeff Bezos – don’t focus on the competition, they’ll never give you money! More to the point, how do you know their website design is performing well, converting customers and generating leads. When creating or launching a new design, copying your competitors’ is possibly the worst idea and can have detrimental affects on your new site’s performance and SEO.
Whether you are at the beginning of a new website build or mid-way through, focus on creating functionality and a design that is based around your own opinions and the way your customers behave. Use you competitors’ websites as inspiration, not as templates. As your website gathers data you can then test multiple designs to see what elements perform the best. Remember, your biggest competitor is yourself.
This interesting topic could be a blog post all on its own! If you want to dig deep into this topic, read Peep Laja’s post about why you should stop copying your competitors.
Failing to use easily understandable language (categories & CTA’s)
Not answering those all important visitor questions
Every time a website visitor lands on your website, they automatically want to answer a series of questions. It is critical to design a website that instantly conveys the answers to the following questions:
- Is this site credible?
To add credibility to your website, add customer reviews, industry articles and display your expertise early.
- Can I trust this website?
To increase your website’s trust factors, add industry badges, social links and security awards.
- Is this a real company?
To highlight that you are a real company, present your contact details in the header of your design
- Am I in the right place?
Cemet to your visitors that they are in the right place by a slogan or prominent website header.
- Is this site credible?
Failing to instantly tell visitors what your website is about
Not catering to visitors on mobile devices
Failing to track simple visitor metrics
Failing to test your website
Writing boring product descriptions
There’s nothing worse than landing on a product page only to find the content is boring and unengaging! From a visitor perspective, poor content sucks but, more worryingly, poor content highlights a missed opportunity from an SEO perspective too. Not only can a detailed, USP driven, keyword rich product descriptions attract visitor attention and influence sales, search crawl bots will also be able to understand more clearly what the page is all about, in turn boosting rank results in search engines. Product descriptions should be engaging, easy to read and tailored to each product. They should contain no less than 250 words and be focused around users’ questions such as ‘what is this product?’ and ‘how can I use this product?’. You can read a detailed blog post all about how to write the perfect product description that
Product descriptions should be engaging, easy to read and tailored to each product. They should contain no less than 250 words, include headline bullet points and be focused around users’ questions such as ‘what is this product?’ and ‘how can I use this product?’. You can read a detailed blog post all about how to write the perfect product description that converts visitors here.
A great example of the perfect product description can be in the screenshot below. The descriptions highlights key USP details and further down offers visitors detailed information about specification and where the product can be used.
Calling products by SKU codes
This mistake is possibly one of the most common fatal website design / SEO errors around. Calling products by their catalogue SKU code highlights a clear misunderstanding of how the internet and search engines work! To fully appreciate the importance of creating keyword rich product titles, you have to understand how ‘search bots’ operate. For example; if I were to type ‘strong extending ladders’ into Google, the ‘search bots’ will show results based around my entered search term. Websites that list products that contain SKU codes will be deemed inappropriate as they do not match the search term, therefore showing further down the rankings or not at all. Not only does it confuse bots, but SKU codes in titles don’t provide value for users either!
Here’s an example. To improve this title, the SKU code could be moved into the description and the words ‘heavy duty two wheeled’ added. This provides visitor information about the product and offers search ‘bots’ the opportunity to undertstand the product.
Hiding important business contact information
Being up front and honest about your website’s contact information sets the foundations for gaining your visitors trust. Companies should strive to make their contact details accessible as well as highlighting these details clearly on their website design. Implementing this simple change can help to inform your visitors that there is ‘real’ company behind the screen and that they can contact you if they need help. Personally, I find there’s nothing worse than having to crawl multiple pages to find important contact information such as telephone numbers, email address and even a registered addresses.
Here’s a great example of a website design that has a missed an opportunity to clearly highlight important contact information.
This design has utilised the top header of the website to clearly display contact details on every page. This stops users from having to search the website to find this important information.
Using a complicated and unmemorable domain name
Your website domain name should be catchy, easy to spell and keyword rich for Google to determine what your site is about. A domain name that’s
Not carrying out website maintenance
Using hard to read font types with different sizes
Using over-the-top animation and pointless graphics
Not writing blog posts
Not taking advantage of ‘above the fold’ design principles
Ask for too much information and emails too soon
Auto playing music and video
Finally, the last of our 21 easily avoidable website design mistakes! If you hadn’t already realised, auto-cue music went out of fashion in the early 2000’s. Not only is background music unprofessional and obtrusive, it slows your website down. Auto-cue can affect both your site’s bounce rates and user experience as visitors get confused by random sounds. If you think adding music, creates atmosphere, try adding personality through colours and pictures. You can read 9 reasons why your site doesn’t need auto-cue music here.