Web Design

The Top 10 Scariest Web Design Mistakes You Can Make (And What To Do Instead)

By Matt Merlino| 17 Min Read | October 31, 2023
Web Design Experts | the top to scariest web design mistakes you can make and what to do instead

Marketing professionals are always a little queasy around Halloween. It’s not because we ate too much candy (though some of us do (burp)), but because that means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner. What’s scarier than being unprepared for the biggest sale of the year? That’s right, let’s say it together: bad web design! 

There are so many different kinds of websites in the world today and so many ways to mess them up that it makes some of us downright wistful for the days of Geocities and Tripod, when everything made sense, everybody had a website about everything, and we were all equally bad at making them. 

Table of Contents

Let’s make sure you’re not messing up your website by going through a few of the scariest and most common mistakes we see around the web and some ways to avoid them. 

Mistake 1: Lack of Clarity

A website without clarity is like a dimly lit room where you can barely make out the shapes around you. You know there’s something there—a purpose, a reason—but it’s not immediately clear. That’s what a website with a lack of clarity feels like to a visitor. It’s an eerie ambiguity that leaves people confused, frustrated, and likely to exit faster than a haunted house. 

For CMOs and marketing professionals, a lack of clarity on a website is akin to turning away potential customers at the door. Every visitor who leaves because they can’t quickly understand what you offer is a lost opportunity for engagement, conversion, and revenue. The absence of a clear message can dilute brand identity and make marketing efforts less effective. 

The Antidote: A Guiding Light

So, how do you banish this ghostly presence? It’s really quite simple: there should be a very clear declaration above the fold that describes exactly what you do. You would be surprised how many websites don’t do this one simple trick. In addition to that, you should have a value proposition: a concise statement that explains the tangible benefits that customers will get from your products or services. It should answer the question, “Why should I choose you?” straightforwardly.

Steps to Achieve Clarity:

  • Identify Your Unique Selling Points: What sets you apart from the competition? It could be your innovative approach, exceptional customer service, or unbeatable prices.
  • Craft a Clear Value Proposition: Use simple, jargon-free language. Your value proposition should be easily understood in less than 5 seconds.
  • Place It Prominently: Your value proposition should be one of the first things a visitor sees on your homepage. Consider placing it above the fold for maximum visibility.
  • Support with Visuals: A picture is worth a thousand words. Use high-quality images or short videos that align with and support your value proposition.
  • Test and Refine: Use A/B testing to try out different phrasings and placements for your value proposition. Analyze visitor behavior and conversion rates to determine what works best.

Mistake 2: Not Enough Content (or Too Much)

Imagine a Halloween party where the snack table is either overflowing with candy corn or almost empty. In the first scenario, you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume. In the second, you’re left wanting more. This is the Candy Corn Dilemma in web content—either inundating your visitors with an overwhelming amount of information or leaving them starved for details.

Too much content can lead to cognitive overload, making it difficult for visitors to absorb key messages or take desired actions. On the flip side, too little content can result in a lack of engagement and a missed opportunity to establish authority and trust. Both scenarios can lead to lower conversion rates and a weaker ROI for your marketing campaigns. When you don’t have enough content, you go against one of the cornerstones of good SEO: give the search engines plenty of content to serve to organic users. When you have too much, you’re breaking a UX law: don’t overwhelm your audience. 

The Antidote: Striking the Sweet Spot

The goal is to find the right balance, offering enough content to guide the visitor through the buyer’s journey or to educate them, or whatever your goal is, without overwhelming them.

Steps to Strike the Balance:

  • Identify Key Information: Determine the essential details that a visitor needs to understand your product or service. This could include features, benefits, pricing, and customer testimonials.
  • Organize Thoughtfully: Use headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make the content easily scannable. A well-structured page guides the eye and makes information digestible.
  • Use Multimedia: Videos, infographics, and interactive elements can convey complex information in an easily understandable format. They also break up text and add visual interest.
  • Implement Analytics: Use tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar to track metrics like time-on-page and bounce rate. This data will give you insights into whether your content is engaging or overwhelming.
  • Iterate Based on Feedback: Conduct user surveys or use heatmapping tools to understand how visitors interact with your content. Use this feedback for continuous improvement.

Mistake 3: No Call To Action

A website without a call to action is like a road trip with no map, GPS, or even road signs to guide you. You might enjoy the scenery for a while, but eventually, you’ll want to reach a destination. It leaves visitors wandering through your content without a clear path to follow, leading to missed opportunities for everybody. 

A missing CTA is a critical oversight, like having a store without a checkout counter. Visitors may browse, but they’re unlikely to take the next step in the customer journey, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting more information. The result? Stagnant conversion rates and a less effective marketing funnel.

The Antidote: Signposts for Success

The solution is to incorporate clear, compelling CTAs that guide visitors toward a specific action. These are your signposts, leading people down the path you want them to take.

Steps to Create Effective CTAs:

  • Define the Objective: Before crafting a CTA, know what action you want the visitor to take. Is it to read a related article, fill out a contact form, or make a purchase?
  • Be Clear and Specific: Vague phrases like “Click Here” are less effective than specific ones like “Download Your Free Guide Now.”
  • Make It Stand Out: Use contrasting colors, larger fonts, or strategic placement to make your CTA catch the eye.
  • Add a Sense of Urgency: Phrases like “Limited Time Offer” or “Only a Few Spots Left” can encourage immediate action.
  • Test and Optimize: Use A/B testing to try out different CTA designs and placements. Analyze the results to find what drives the most clicks and conversions.

Mistake 4: Non-Responsive Design

According to Statista, 58% of all web traffic is on mobile, and that number promises to get higher. Since so many office workers and business people use their computers and their big, wide screens to look at their own websites, it’s really easy for them to overlook the mobile experience. No mobile experience means lower engagement, reduced SEO rankings, and, ultimately, fewer conversions.

The Antidote: Adaptability is Key

The remedy is a responsive design, one that adapts and restructures itself depending on the device it’s viewed on. This ensures a consistent user experience, crucial for keeping potential customers engaged and moving through the sales funnel.

Steps to Implement a Responsive Design:

  • Audit Your Current Design: Use tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how your site performs on different devices.
  • Prioritize Essential Elements: Identify the most crucial information and features that must be accessible on all devices. Make sure these are prominently displayed in your responsive design.
  • Use Fluid Grids and Flexible Images: These automatically adjust to fit varying screen sizes, ensuring that your site looks good and functions well, no matter the device.
  • Test Extensively: Don’t just test on one or two devices. Use a variety of smartphones, tablets, and desktops to ensure universal adaptability.
  • Monitor and Update: Technology and user behavior are always changing. Regularly review analytics to ensure that your responsive design continues to meet your audience’s needs.

Mistake 5: Sloooooow Loading Speed

Is your website a zombie, moving at a snail’s pace, inching closer but never quite reaching some juicy, delicious brains? That’s what a slow-loading website feels like. They’re waiting for something to happen, but it takes so long that they lose interest and move on. 

Slow loading speed is a conversion killer. Google says that even a 1-second slow down in site loading can decapitate the top 27% of your website’s conversions. This means higher bounce rates, lower SEO rankings, and a tarnished brand image. 

The Antidote: Turbocharge Your Website

The solution is to optimize your website for speed, ensuring that pages load quickly and efficiently across all devices.

Steps to Boost Loading Speed:

  • Compress Images: Large image files are one of the main culprits behind slow loading times. Use tools to compress images without sacrificing quality.
  • Minimize Code: Eliminate unnecessary code elements. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can identify areas for improvement.
  • Leverage Browser Caching: This allows frequently accessed resources to be stored in the user’s browser, reducing load times for subsequent visits.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): CDNs distribute the load, saving bandwidth and speeding up access for your users.
  • Regularly Monitor Performance: Use speed testing tools to regularly check your website’s performance and make necessary adjustments.

Mistake 6: Inconsistent Design

Inconsistent design elements can create a jarring experience for visitors. One moment they’re navigating through a sleek, modern interface, and the next, they’re faced with outdated graphics and mismatched fonts. This inconsistency not only confuses users but also undermines the credibility of your brand.

For us marketers, inconsistent design is more than just an aesthetic issue; it erodes trust and can lead to lower conversion rates. A cohesive design is an extension of your brand’s identity, and inconsistencies can make your business appear disorganized or unreliable.

The Antidote: Cohesion and Consistency

The key to solving this problem is to establish a consistent design language across your website.

Steps to Ensure Design Consistency:

  • Create a Style Guide: Document your design choices, including fonts, colors, and layout styles. This guide serves as a reference for anyone who works on your website.
  • Standardize UI Elements: Buttons, forms, and other user interface elements should have a consistent design and behavior across all pages.
  • Consistent Navigation: The menu structure should be the same on every page to make navigation intuitive.
  • Uniform Imagery: Use a consistent style for all images and graphics. This includes the use of filters, angles, and lighting.
  • Regular Audits: Periodically review your website to ensure that all elements adhere to your style guide. Make adjustments as needed.

Mistake 7: Bad Site Organization

Navigating a poorly organized website can feel like wandering through a labyrinth. Visitors encounter dead ends, hidden information, and a lack of clear pathways. This complexity frustrates users and often leads them to abandon the site altogether. How’s that bounce rate? Probably not very good. 

A poorly organized site is a missed opportunity. Visitors who can’t find what they’re looking for are less likely to convert, impacting your bottom line. Additionally, bad site organization can negatively affect SEO, as search engines may struggle to index your content properly.

The Antidote: A Well-Planned Blueprint

The solution lies in creating a logical, intuitive site structure that guides visitors effortlessly from one section to another.

Steps to Improve Site Organization:

  • Conduct User Research: Understand your target audience’s needs and preferences. Use this information to inform your site structure.
  • Create a Sitemap: Outline the hierarchy of your website, detailing how each page connects to others. This serves as the blueprint for your site organization.
  • Implement Clear Navigation: Use straightforward menu labels and a consistent navigation structure. Consider adding breadcrumbs to help users track their location within the site.
  • Optimize for SEO: Use descriptive URLs, proper tagging, and well-structured HTML to make your site more accessible to search engines.
  • Test Usability: Conduct usability tests to identify any bottlenecks or confusing elements in your site structure. Make adjustments based on user feedback.

Mistake 8: Ugly or Outdated Design Choices

An outdated or unattractive design can make your website look like a room that hasn’t been cleaned in years, complete with cobwebs in the corners. This not only detracts from the user experience but also sends a message that your brand may be similarly outdated or neglectful. 

For businesses, an outdated design can have serious repercussions. It diminishes the credibility of your brand and can make visitors question the quality of your products or services. In a world where first impressions are often made online, an unappealing website is a significant disadvantage.

The Antidote: A Fresh Coat of Paint

Refreshing your website’s design can be like giving a room a fresh coat of paint. It brightens the space, makes it more inviting, and shows that you take pride in your presentation.

Steps to Update Your Design:

  • Assess Current Trends: Research current web design trends to understand what modern users expect. This can include flat design, minimalism, or the use of specific color schemes.
  • Consult Your Brand Guidelines: Ensure that any design changes align with your existing brand identity, including colors, fonts, and logos.
  • Focus on User Experience: Make design choices that enhance usability. This can include larger text, more white space, and intuitive navigation.
  • Implement Visual Hierarchy: Use size, color, and layout to guide the visitor’s eye to the most important elements on the page.
  • Get Feedback: Before finalizing any changes, get feedback from stakeholders and target users to ensure the new design meets business objectives and user needs.

Mistake 9: Too Many Technical Mistakes

Technical errors on a website are like a flashlight that flickers and dies when you need it most. They disrupt the user experience, causing frustration and confusion. Broken links, outdated plugins, and 404 errors are common culprits that can make your website difficult to navigate. Make no mistake: Google will find those technical errors, too, and your rankings will tank faster than the Titanic.

The Antidote: Regular Maintenance

Just as you’d regularly replace the batteries in a flashlight, your website needs ongoing maintenance to function smoothly.

Steps to Avoid Technical Mistakes:

  • Conduct Regular Audits: Use tools to scan for broken links, missing meta descriptions, and other technical issues.
  • Update Plugins and Software: Outdated software can lead to security vulnerabilities and compatibility issues. Keep everything up to date.
  • Optimize for Mobile: Ensure that your website is fully functional on mobile devices. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test can help identify issues.
  • Improve Site Security: Use HTTPS and regularly update security protocols to protect user data and improve search rankings.
  • Monitor Site Speed: Slow load times can be due to technical issues like unoptimized images or excessive code. Use speed testing tools to identify and fix problems.

Mistake 10: Experimental or Unconventional Elements

Are you an artist? Are you trying something new and, this is the important part, are you unafraid of putting your users off? There’s a good argument for making interesting or unexpected web design choices. For instance, is your name Jeff Bridges, and are you a movie star? Do people coming to your website expect an unconventional experience? If that’s the case, then go wild and follow your heart. If not, then what are you doing?

For marketing professionals, unconventional design choices can be a gamble. While they might attract attention, they can also confuse or alienate your audience, leading to lower engagement and conversion rates. Unless your brand is built on being avant-garde or experimental, it’s usually best to stick with proven design principles.

SEO Note: this also applies to the language you use. Sure, you can call the donuts you sell “Dough-Knots” but unless you use the old-fashioned and obvious word for what you sell, too, kiss that organic traffic goodbye. 

The Antidote: Calculated Creativity

Innovation and creativity are not inherently bad; they just need to be applied thoughtfully. The key is to introduce new elements in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, the user experience.

Steps to Balance Creativity and Usability:

  • Know Your Audience: If your target demographic appreciates creativity and is more tolerant of unconventional elements, you have more leeway.
  • Test Small Changes: Before overhauling your entire site with a new experimental feature, test it on a smaller scale to gauge user reaction.
  • Get Feedback: Use analytics and user surveys to measure how new elements are affecting engagement and conversions.
  • Iterate: Based on feedback, make adjustments to ensure that your creative elements are adding value, not creating confusion.
  • Balance with Familiarity: If you do introduce unconventional elements, balance them with familiar design features to help guide the user.

Save Yourself (and Your Conversions) With DOM

Using the World Wide Web doesn’t have to feel like a trek through a haunted forest, dodging pitfalls and snares at every turn. Your website should be more like a well-lit, inviting mansion where visitors can explore freely, welcomed and encouraged by each room they enter. 

At DOM, we’re the architects of these digital mansions. We know how to avoid the cobwebs in the corner, the flickering lights, and the confusing mazes. Let’s work together to build a digital space that’s not just free of scares but is irresistibly inviting. Turn the key, step inside, and let’s create something extraordinary. 

Key Takeaways

  • Clarity is Crucial: Your website should immediately convey what your business is about. A clear value proposition is essential.
  • Content Balance: Too much or too little content can either overwhelm or underwhelm your audience. Strive for the sweet spot that informs without overwhelming.
  • CTAs Drive Action: A missing Call To Action is like a map without directions. Make sure to guide your visitors toward meaningful engagement.
  • Mobile Matters: With over half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, a responsive design isn’t optional; it’s mandatory.
  • Speed Sells: Slow-loading websites kill conversions. Optimize for speed to keep your audience engaged.
  • Design Consistency: Inconsistent design elements can confuse users and dilute your brand message. Maintain a cohesive look and feel.
  • Organized Navigation: A well-structured site helps users find what they’re looking for, improving user experience and SEO.
  • Fresh and Modern Design: Outdated or unattractive designs can turn visitors away. Keep your design fresh and aligned with current trends.
  • Technical Health: Regular maintenance and audits can prevent technical issues that harm user experience and SEO.
  • Calculated Creativity: Unconventional elements can be a double-edged sword. Use creativity wisely to enhance, not hinder, user experience.
  • Partner with Experts: Avoid these common pitfalls by partnering with a skilled team like DOM to create a compelling, effective website.

Free DOM Webinar: Tuesday, November 14 2023

Feeling like your digital marketing and sales teams are like a witch and a vampire—powerful alone but not quite in sync? Conjure up some team synergy this season. On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at 12:00 PM EST, we’re stirring a potion of knowledge in our webinar: “From Click to Close: Maximizing Google Ads & Sales Team Synergy.” 

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill webinar; it’s a spellbook for navigating the shadowy realm between Google Ads and your sales force. From unlocking the dark arts of Google Ads to metrics that can resurrect your ROI, we’ve got the incantations you need. Suitable for CMOs, sales sorcerers, and SEO warlocks alike. Don’t ghost on this opportunity; reserve your seat in our digital séance today.

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