common web design mistakes | headache

10 Most Common Web Design Mistakes to Avoid in 2022

author headshot - Alex Lee
Alex Lee
May 22, 2022
Read time: 12 minutes

10 Most Common Web Design Mistakes to Avoid in 2022

The last thing you want after launching your new website is to find out you made costly website mistakes that demand a significant amount of time and resources to fix them.

Even worse, finding out about these mistakes months (or years) down the road, realizing it could have been hurting your brand online and causing you to lose potential customers to your competitors.

Many of them are made by businesses that create their website to save money and get more control over the project. Unfortunately, there are spoken and unspoken "rules" that web designers and agencies follow. People frequently do not follow these guidelines, which results in websites that are less-than-ideal

An effective website should:

  • provide a user-friendly experience
  • generate a constant flow of leads
  • communicate your value and sell for you

In this in-depth guide, I'll show you the 10 most common web design mistakes to avoid in 2022, what they mean for your business, and practical ways to fix them quickly with ease.

But first:

Before starting a new website project (or redesigning) you must ask yourself these essential questions:

  • What are your goals for your website?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you drive traffic to your website?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What's working? What isn't working?
  • Who will manage my website?

By having clear and realistic answers to the questions above, you can formulate a digital marketing strategy to avoid future website mistakes before launching your new website.


1. A Lack of Clear Brand Messaging

This mistake is by far the highest priority to focus on when avoiding web design mistakes in 2022.

What is Brand Messaging?

Brand Messaging is the way your brand communicates its unique value proposition and personality via verbal and nonverbal marketing. It's what inspires and motivates your prospects to buy your services or product. It's how your customers can connect with your brand.

What this means for your business

When you have a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what they want, it allows you to focus on those people specifically with laser precision in both your web design and digital marketing strategy.

A lot of small business brands imitate the major corporations in their industry and try to sell everything to everyone.

The result is a website (and brand) that is lost in the mix and doesn't resonate with their ideal prospects.

How you can fix it

To stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition, you have to utilize storytelling.

Storytelling is a marketing narrative of creating communication that's compelling to your target audience and connects with them on an emotional level.

Here are a couple of questions you can consider:

  1. Define your target audience - Who are they? What are they struggling with? What keeps them up at night?
  2. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What makes your brand different from your competitors? Why should people care?
  3. What's the main plot of your story? (The problem, the solution, and the transformation)

And I want to share with you the most important advice on this:

Your website content must cater to the motivations and needs of the target audience, not your accomplishments or agenda.

Your brand messaging has to be framed in a way to get your prospects to take action on your website and realize the value you provide.

Refrain from using headlines and texts that directly talk about your services or product. Instead, focus on their pain points and provide a solution to their specific problem.


See Also: 6 Steps to Create Your Effective Website Sales Plan


2. Not Using a Clear Call to Action

Common web design mistakes | bad CTA
Fig 1. Left: Lack of contrast (Reiss). Right: Too many options create confusion (Macy's)

The lack of clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons is one of the biggest web design mistakes made by businesses of all sizes.

According to Go-Globe, "53% of websites lack a clear call-to-action button that takes users 3 seconds or less to see." This is probably due to the lack of contrast between the texts and the background color shown in Fig 1.

As online users tend to scan through texts and scroll fairly quickly, it is critical that your primary call to action visibly stands out on your website.

How you can fix it

Message

The key to a persuasive call to action is to be clear and concise with your message. Try not to get too creative by sacrificing clarity.

Keep the focus on your target audience. Consider using the "you" and "your" pronouns when applicable.

Below are some of the most common action verbs broken down by intention. Pair them with the offering of your business and pronouns if you can.

PurposeCTAs
EcommerceBuy, View, Shop, Reserve, Order, Pick, Save, Add to Cart
Saas ConversionSign Up, Get Started, Try, Subscribe,
Non-profit conversionSupport, Volunteer, Adopt, Donate, Commit, Give,
Newsletter or communitySign Up, Join, Subscribe, Refer,
Freebie giveawayTake advantage of, Grab, Get, Claim, Download,
GeneralContinue, See How, Start, Check it Out, See More, Learn More, Find Out, Click here, Swipe Up,

For example: "Reserve your seat" instead of "Reserve a seat".

Tip: There should be enough information beforehand so that visitors understand what they will gain from taking action and what information they must provide. Give them enough breathing room on your page before the CTA button appears.

Color

Make sure your call to action button or links have enough color contrast and matches your brand and fit well within the interface.

Spacing

Use enough margin (external spacing around the button) and padding (internal spacing).

3. Too Much Information

Did you know users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website's content? (Sweor)

What this means for your business

If your visitors can't find what they are looking for within a matter of seconds, they will leave. And 70% of them won't be coming back.

Upon landing on your website, your visitors should be able to figure out these 4 questions in seconds:

  • What you do
  • Who you do it for
  • What's in it for them
  • What action you want them to take

To show you a good example of what NOT to do, take a look at the landing page below.

The amount of information displayed can easily confuse the visitors and cause them to leave your website for an alternative: Your competitors.

While we may think that more is better, when it comes to website content, less is more for the consumers.

How you can fix it

Consider your website's homepage to be a magazine cover: Introduce the purpose and target audience early and frequently, and emphasize crucial elements in large, bold, straightforward headlines:

  • List the benefits in short concise sentences with bullet points and break up large blocks of text.
  • Create an easy-to-navigate layout by giving enough breathing space between sections and texts.
  • Make it easy for them to find the information they need, displaying a call to action where it's most visible.

4. Ignoring SEO

Having a weak SEO score or ignoring your SEO strategy completely is another common web design mistakes seen in small business websites.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results. When done correctly, SEO can help a website achieve its business goals by increasing traffic and visibility in search engines.

Research conducted by Hubspot found that 75% of Internet users never scroll past the first page of search results and at least 71% of traffic comes from the first page.

What this means for your business

If your website is not optimized for SEO, your customers are likely to find your website when they search for keywords related to your business. As a result, you could be missing out on valuable leads and sales.

How you can fix it

Many different factors contribute to a website's SEO score, but here are a few of the most effective tactics:

Start a blog (Post high-quality content)

Quality content that is posted regularly is seen as a highly valuable SEO ranking factor by search engines.

Blogging is about building relationships—becoming the trusted source to your target audience rather than just a salesperson. It is also the only real way for a small business to affordably reach the consciousness of a prospect.

Regularly blogging educational, valuable content is hard work and it takes time, but the time invested will, in turn, gain the trust of your prospects.

Always plan your content first and pick a topic that's relevant to your business. The posts should be at least 1,000 words or longer if you're providing actionable insights.

Optimize for Long-tail Keywords

More and more online users are using long-tail keywords to search for more detailed and specific answers.

By targeting long-tail keywords, you'll find they are much easier to rank for than short ones and attract more relevant leads.

Here's an example:

Instead of ranking for "dentist in Toronto", try "how much is a dentist in Toronto".

That consumer is already looking for something specific: pricing & location. A piece of valuable information that you can provide to form a relationship with your brand.

Another way to find ideas for your long-tail keyword is to input short keywords (also known as "head term") into Google:

Consider the following searches that users use while looking for information about "dentist in Toronto." After conducting a Google search, you can find these near the bottom of the page.

Common web design mistakes | related searches

Leverage Social Media

If there's one thing you can do to compete against large corporations, is your ability to connect with your customers on a personal level.

Social media is a great place to start and grow relationships that can later turn into something commercial. Being able to gauge customer emotions toward your business and engaging with customers who praise or complain in a public forum is one of the most valuable ways to strengthen your brand identity.

Another advantage of this is social proof. Being approachable, responding to criticism or praise, and engaging with customers create social proof and give prospects and customers the impression that they are dealing with people rather than a faceless corporation.

You can start by sharing blog posts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Tip: Consider the best times and frequency to post your blogs on each medium.

Mobile social media apps

5. Not Using Analytics to Measure Performance

There is a famous saying among digital marketers: "what gets measured, gets managed."

Marketing your website is a statistics game that requires you to constantly measure, manage, and improve your figures.

Yet, 75% of small business sites don't use analytics tools to track their website's performance.

What this means for your business

Understanding how people interact with your site helps you make data-driven decisions on where to focus your time and energy to get the best ROI.

The best part is, that measuring your digital marketing efforts is not difficult and you don't need a data scientist to do it.

How you can fix it

You can install Google Analytics on your site and start tracking your performance. It's a free tool that provides you with valuable insights on website traffic, conversions, user behaviors, and much more.

If your website runs on WordPress, consider these free plugins that connect your site directly to Google Analytics:

Tip: Combine the data you get from analytics with a digital advertising campaign to target your online marketing content to an audience that will do business with you.


Featured Reading: Website Analysis: What It Is and Why You Need It


6. Slow Loading Time

A recent study by Digital showed that 1 in 2 visitors abandon a website that takes more than 6 seconds to load.

What this means for your business

Online users are impatient and they want information fast. If your website can't meet their standard, they will leave for a better alternative.

This is especially true for mobile users as 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load (Google).

mobile page speed new industry benchmarks

As I have mentioned the importance of having a strong SEO earlier, your website's loading time is a factor that strongly affects your search engine rankings.

How you can fix it

Although this is a technical mistake that requires collaboration with your web developer, you can diagnose the problems with free tools such as GTMetrix and Google Page Insights.

GTmetrix loading time makko digital
This blog post's performance report with GTMetrix

Make sure your web developer or agency has these best practices in mind should you choose to work with them:

  • Choosing a speed-focused web host
  • Compressing Images
  • Using a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Reducing redirects
  • Embedding videos instead of uploading them on the site
  • Uninstalling any unnecessary plugins
  • Enabling cache browsing

7. Confusing Navigation

A survey conducted by Clutch revealed that 94% of users value easy navigation more than anything on a website.

An easy-to-navigate website allows users to find the information they need much faster. This includes having a clear menu structure and the ability to quickly and efficiently navigate between pages.

What this means for your business

Easy navigation features should be your top priority when creating or redesigning a website. By adding simple, responsive navigation toolbars and menus, you can create an intuitive user experience and increase your web traffic and conversions.

How you can fix it

Limit Options

Overloading the navigation with too many options will only create confusion. Consumers are less likely to make a decision if confronted with numerous alternatives. To avoid this, group the content in your navigation. Aim for 3~5 to choose from at a time.

Use Breadcrumbs

This is important for sites with a lot of pages. You don't want your users to restart their ten-minute journey just to see the page they just viewed.

Add a Search Option

A great choice for content-heavy websites. It's easy to add, and it may help your visitors in finding that one page they remember seeing the week before but can't seem to find now.

8. Not Designing for Mobile-Devices

Mobile devices have become the new standard for internet access in 2022.

With over 60% of global website traffic coming from mobile phones (Statista), your design must be able to adapt and maintain an appropriate user interface (UI) to reach as many prospects as possible.

Take a look at the following data from Google Mobile Playbook:

  • 67% of users say they are more likely to buy a product from a mobile-friendly website.
  • 57% of users say they will not recommend a business with a badly designed mobile site.
  • 40% of users have gone to a competitor's website after a poor mobile experience.

What this means for your business

If you're not designing a responsive website (meaning it looks good on all devices) that can be easily viewed and navigated on all devices, you're missing out on a large portion of potential customers.

You have to prioritize creating a mobile-friendly experience for them if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.

How you can fix it

Before you contact your web developer/agency, use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to check if your website has a responsive web design. If the test fails, it's highly recommended that you contact your developer.

If you're using WordPress, there are many mobile-friendly themes that you can use to improve your site's responsiveness.

Many plugins can help with this, such as WP Touch (free version) and WPTouch Pro.

Common web design mistakes | mobile

Take a look at these mobile-friendly websites above on your smartphone and compare them on your desktop. You'll notice how it's optimized for easy navigation and user experience. From left to right: Nationwide, PDS, and Strava.

9. Hidden Contact Info

Often and strangely enough, website owners do not make their phone number prominent in the header or footer — or on a dedicated contact page.

What this means for your business

If your visitors have to put an effort to search for the contact info, they will likely get frustrated and leave.

By making it easy for visitors to contact you, you're increasing the chances of converting them into leads and customers.

How you can fix it

Place a clear call to action in the header with the phone number:

  • Call (700) 700-0000
  • Get a quote now at (700) 700-0000

The call to action button should dial and make a call when clicked.

It is recommended that you create a dedicated contact page with all your relevant information so that your visitors can easily contact you from every page.

Consider adding different ways to get in touch with you as possible – by phone, email, contact form submission…and even via your social media account.

To step it up further, you can add a live chat widget to offer instant support.

10. Low Quality or Irrelevant Images

A study by David Ogilvy, "The Father of Advertising", found that an image without any relationship to the text may reduce readership and thus hurt sales as consumers are less likely to want to buy something if there's no relevance.

What this means for your business

If you're using images that are irrelevant or of low quality, it will not only turn off your visitors but also give them the impression that your business is unprofessional.

The use of high-quality visuals can help you build trust with your audience, improve conversions, and boost engagement.

How you can fix it

Use High-Resolution Pictures

If you can't find a hi-res image for your content, look for an illustration to take the place of the photograph. This will add some character to your brand.

Optimize and compress Images

Learn effective image optimization techniques to improve both loading speeds and picture quality. This will increase your page loading times mentioned earlier.

If you use WordPress, I recommend these free plugins: EwwwImage and ShortPixel.

Hire a Photographer

A genuine and professional picture of your company and staff will always build trust with your target audience over generic stock photos.

Stock Alternatives

If you must use a stock image, make sure to edit it in some way so that it's not an exact duplicate of what everyone else is using. Here are a few websites that I recommend for free stock photos:


Avoid These Common Web Design Mistakes

These quick and easy solutions to fix some of the most common web design mistakes will help you attract new customers and elevate your brand online. When you decide to build a new website for your business, keep the following best practices in mind:

  1. Make your brand messaging clear and concise to the correct audience.
  2. Use a clear call to action that compels them to take action.
  3. Refrain from putting out too much information.
  4. Publish a high-quality blog regularly, Aim for long-tail keywords, and share it on social media.
  5. Measure website performance by having Google Analytics installed.
  6. Optimize page load times to keep visitors engaged.
  7. Create an easy-to-navigate website for users by organizing menus and using breadcrumbs.
  8. Design your website for a mobile-friendly experience.
  9. Display your contact information where it can easily be seen.
  10. Use high-quality images that are relevant to your message.

Being a website/business owner is no easy task. You have data to measure, a website to manage, and content to regularly update.

Working together with a professional web designer will make this work easy and they will help you overcome your biggest challenges— whether that's branding or generating more qualified leads for your business. Above all, they will ensure your website is not making costly mistakes.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: 10 Benefits of Having a Website for Your Business

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Makko Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency in Kincardine. Contact us today for a free website analysis or book a non-sales intro call. Either way, we're excited to meet you!

Find us on Clutch!

author headshot - Alex Lee
Alex Lee
Alex Lee is the lead web developer and founder of Makko Digital. Outside of the office, you can find him training in the gym, trail running, and cooking.

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