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15 of the Most Common Web Design Mistakes to Avoid this Year

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James Cummings
February 04, 2019

James Cummings
James Cummings has written 6 articles for JavaScriptSearch.
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Just one small, seemingly inconsequential mistake on an award-winning website is enough to sink your business. We’ve seen many of these mistakes - for which even the pros are sometimes guilty of making. Such errors undermine your site credibility and cause you to lose visitors.

So, just what are these mistakes and what can online brands do to avoid them?

Building a website without a plan

A website is like a store. You need a plan of action to draw people in, place orders, pay for them and leave good reviews. Your value proposition is how you will propel your site to greater heights. Starting the process of website building without a plan of action is a common mistake. At every stage of the design process, you have to research, look at what works for top brands, what your audience needs and how your product or service will satisfy those needs.

Mobile websites

This is one of the biggest mistakes both web designers and owners make. Beyond using a mobile-friendly template, how does your website layout translate to the same journey for desktop and mobile users alike? Use a mobile device to view your site to ensure the message translates across both mobile and desktop platforms.

PDF for online reading

Most online users find it extremely annoying when they have to download a PDF file to glean information. It breaks the readers’ browsing flow and simple functions like saving documents and printing won’t work when standard browser commands are ineffective. Convert any information you want readers to see into web pages and put aside PDF for distributing manuals, printouts and other large documents.

Using an inconsistent domain name

The domain name you choose should reflect your brand’s identity and be easy to remember and type. Successful domain names are always memorable. When choosing domain names, experts advise site owners to undertake comprehensive research when looking for ones that are consistent with your brand’s spirit and also define your business.

Failing to use Analytics or tracking tools

You can’t improve what you can’t track. If you know your web statistics - such as which pages people spend more time on, the performance of your ‘Call-to-Action’ buttons, the number of people who convert or leave halfway and other key metrics - you can measure the success of your marketing efforts and know where you need to make adjustments.

Sadly, recent statistics shows that most small business websites aren’t using analytics to track performance. Google Analytics is a free, popular tool that provides all the essential statistics that will guide your conversion goals.

Cluttering your site with too much content

Overloading your site with content affects user experience and site engagement. At most, use a double-column strategy and avoid designs or pages that cause users to scroll left or right. Minimalist designs with short, concise and powerful words connect better with internet users.

Skip content that requires complex coding, as it affects mobile site functionality. For example, AJAX and JavaScript don’t work well on mobile browsers. Skip Flash on your site, because while it improves the visuals, it increases loading time and causes higher bounce rates.

Disabling the ‘Back’ button

People who disable the ‘Back’ button on their site are in turn jeopardising their website traffic. By negating the functionality of this option, the browser stays as it is, a new window pops-up or the user is redirected to another location entirely. These are features guaranteed to ensure people won’t want to return to your website.

Broken links

The bane of every online user is clicking on a hyperlink that leads to a 404-error page. During the design process, include a link for people to contact the webmaster, so they’ll inform you when they see a broken link amongst any of your content. At your own end, test your site weekly to ensure all links are working and fix any errors immediately when you find them.

Poorly structured sites

The best websites have a clear, concise message that is visible the moment you enter the site. Underline the goals of your website in order of hierarchy that can be easily read. Some websites appear inconsistent against the primary goal they hope to achieve.

Separate your strategies and create different landing pages. If you want more email subscribers, create a landing page for just that purpose. If conversion is the goal, create specialised sales copies for each category of products and services you offer.

Hard to locate contact information

You want people to be able to  reach you if they have any enquiries about your products or are looking for someone to guide them through the sales funnel. If you don’t have your contact information displayed on your homepage or ‘Contact us’ page, people will soon leave. Have several means of contact, including an email, physical address and phone number. Some sites have a ‘live chat’ option that provides immediate help to your visitors.

Poor navigation

Everyone loves a website where you can easily access content without stress. There’s no singular standard for structuring web navigation, but it must be seamless, consistent and intuitive. Don’t reinvent visual metaphors and ensure hyperlinks stand out from the rest of the text.

For best results, follow these tips:

  • Use textual descriptions for links

  • Your website theme and navigation should be structured in tandem with each other.

  • Business websites must be clear and efficient.

Thinking you can build a great website through YouTube

YouTube is a great place to find resources for almost anything, but creating a visually appealing website that makes Google and your visitors happy is a job for experienced developers. They won’t be cheap, but you’ll get better functionality and more visitors and ROI for your efforts.

Missing SEO

The major cause of incorrect SEO on websites is uninformed SEO experts who don’t have the wealth of experience they claim to have. Mastering SEO requires staying on top of Google’s ever-changing algorithm, new trends and best practices. You’re not an SEO expert if you don’t consistently track, experiment and analyse key elements on your site.

SEO should be built into your web design from the very beginning - not something you add at the end of the design process. It's about great content, metadata, sitemaps, removing duplicated content, fast loading content and building a good backlink profile.

No sharing options

Social media has become a kind of search engine that attracts millions of visitors to websites daily. Integrate sharing options into your website using a simple button that allows users to redirect to your social media pages or share great content from your site with their followers. The best place to add such a button is at the end of a post.

Bad ‘CTA’ buttons

Your ‘CTA’ tells your visitors what to do. “Click here to get a free ebook”, “Start your conversion journey here”. Whatever your CTA, if it’s not clear or fails to provide concise information, it fails.


The best websites are well designed and consistently tested. If you have a responsive website with a good security certificate, you will have created trust with your readers and can encourage them to spend time on your site, browsing content and shopping from you.

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