Web design is an ever evolving field, and with that comes common website design mistakes. Your website design affects user search-ability and visibility as well as its effectiveness in drawing in customers. A poorly constructed and designed website can create a frustrating shopping experience for your customers.
On the other hand, one that is created to be user-friendly and easy to navigate can be an inviting element and competitive edge for your business. Here are some common website design mistakes you need to be aware of:
1. Don’t Make Visitors Wait
The sad reality of it is, most computer users and web visitors have the attention span of a toddler. Yes, a toddler. If you don’t successfully grab their attention, like any 2-year old, they lose interest and move on to the next toy in their toy chest.
You’ve probably heard the old saying that attention span is directly proportional to age: 2 years old : 2 second attention span. 50 years old : 50 second attention span. You get the point. Perhaps it’s not quite that bad. However, Tony Haile of Chartbeat says that, a stunning 55% of website visitors in a recent study, spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page.
There is a plethora of data and choices on the web nowadays that demonstrate that you have a very small window-of-opportunity to get your website visitor’s undivided attention, before they switch to the next website. And since it only takes one click of the mouse button, web surfers won’t think twice about ditching yours for a more interesting or useful one.
Bad website design is riddled with irrelevant navigation options, pop-up windows, and blocks of content that are too long to read. The best way to avoid repelling your visitors is to make things easier for your visitor.
Don’t make them wait for the specifics. You shouldn’t make them think too hard or read too much either. Give them exactly what they need to know IMMEDIATELY when they first get to your website. Introduce yourself and what you can do for them with two to three lines on your home page or your About Us page.
2. Don’t Use A Linear Order In Your Website Design
Good website design naturally directs the focus and the flow of the visitor’s attention. Users do not like looking at a webpage in a linear order. New visitors to your website won’t take the time to carefully peruse and digest every word that’s on the page.
As the person designing the website, it’s your responsibility to capture their attention. Since you only have a short window before your visitors lose interest, you have to guide them to the crucial page elements, such as the product or services being offered, pricing for said offerings, and the benefits or strengths of your offerings versus other brands.
One effective technique is to offer your products or services in steps. For instance, if you look at sites, such as Groupon, they offer discounts to customers but only once the customer has completed the three-step registration process.
The aesthetic elements are designed such that the user’s eyes are focused on a single rectangular box that takes input from users. This is an effective way to extend the visitor’s attention span and keep them interested long enough for them to commit to actually completing the signup or registration.
3. Don’t Over-Complicate Things
There’s a common misconception that sophistication equates to success. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least as far as good web design goes. Instead, keep it simple, clear, and visible.
When your website has these three attributes, they have a higher chance of attracting more visitors. There’s very little to be gained from complicating the design of your website.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stu…
Follow the KISS principle in your website design, which is short for “Keep it simple, stupid”. Putting too much color in your web design can put a strain on the visitor’s eyes while too many widgets, features, and menu options can overwhelm the visitor.
4. Don’t Have Too Many Ads Running In The Backdrop
Having too many ads and promotions running around the web page can overshadow the actual information you want visitors to read in the few seconds that they’re in the website. In addition, visitors avoid content that looks like an advertisement. This is a very common phenomenon called “Banner Blindness,” as reported by Nielsen Norman Group an evidence-based user experience research, training, and consulting company.
Keep this in mind when designing and dividing the webpage. Furthermore, it’s been shown that website visitors, who scroll through your website, don’t want to view your ads for the most-part anyway.
Elements should have a clearly defined theme and no one element should look suspiciously different from the rest. If a headline looks too standoffish from the rest of the elements around it, visitors will think it’s an ad without even looking at it.
5. Don’t Hijack Control
In an attempt to make their website stand out, some professionals set up the page so that it takes control over certain keys, such as the scrollbar, to behave differently. For instance, some sites manipulate the animation effects of a webpage and some even redesign the key completely.
When you design web pages or UI’s (user interface), you want to allow future users full control over their browsing experience and simply give them the option to make aesthetic changes to keys or templates.
6. Don’t Auto-Play Content In Your Website Design
This is the surest way to get your website visitors to make a direct “B-Line” for the exit! I absolutely hate it when I get to a website that I think is going to meet my interest or needs, only to have it start playing music or some hokey video. When you visit a website with videos, they usually don’t immediately play. Or, at least they shouldn’t. But sometimes, if you leave a website with videos, after a while, you’ll notice that the videos will play without you needing to click on them. This can be annoying to users, especially if your website viewers are in a public place or have multiple tabs stacked up in their browser.
Avoid putting the “auto” attribute on your audio or video tags when writing your HTML code. This should do the trick of not playing anything unless the user explicitly requests it.
7. Don’t Prioritize Aesthetics Over Functionality
The design of your web pages is indeed important to attract visitors, however, it should not supersede its functionality. A bad web design that sacrifices functionality for aesthetics will have busy backdrops running behind the content and a dominant color scheme that hinders readability of information.
Keep color schemes and background themes simple, with color combinations that are soft on the eyes and animation that doesn’t cover or overlap the content.
Creating a website that best represents your professional brand or business vision and mission takes skills and hours of trial and error. But, even for rookies who have yet to create their first website, it doesn’t take a specialized skill set or massive budget to design a user-friendly and intuitive interface that is both attractive and functional.
Sometimes, knowing what the common website design mistakes are is more important than knowing what to do.