Designing a website is not for the faint of heart.
There are a multitude of elements to consider—usability, speed, budget, and security, to name a few.
And with so much to consider, SEO often falls to the bottom of the priority list during this process.
While web design and SEO are separate specialties, the two are tightly linked.
To ensure you can maximize functionality without sacrificing creativity, we’ve outlined the top web design mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.
1. Unappealing or Unrelated Images
Visuals can make or break your web page.
They can evoke certain emotions, encourage users to make a purchase, and bring the story of your brand to life.
And when people land on your website, the first thing to draw their eye will be an image. First impressions matter, so choosing an appropriate, appealing image is crucial to hooking web visitors.
That being said, many businesses make the mistake of selecting irrelevant or low-quality images. Not only does this turn off visitors, but it ruins the overall look and feel of your website.
In addition to being eye-catching, your visual content should convey the right message to your audience.
Random or stock images won’t do the trick. Each image needs to be chosen specifically to complement the content on the page and move visitors along the buyer journey.
Industrial Painter is a nationwide painting company that specializes in industrial and commercial painting for larger enterprises.
While their site includes a side toolbar with a list of menu options, it’s unclear what Industrial Painter actually sells. Not to mention, they’ve got some prime real estate right in the center of their home page that’s not being utilized properly.
Instead of using a high-quality photo of a freshly painted commercial building, the graphic is unpolished and appears to be quickly thrown together.
2. Low Page Loading Speed
When it comes to your site’s performance, speed cannot be ignored. If it takes more than a few seconds for your website to load, chances are it’s too slow.
In a study administered by Google, researchers found that as page load times go from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce rate increases to 90%.
Page speed can also affect your rankings, as Google uses it as a ranking factor to review pages in its index. The longer it takes for your site to load, the lower your site’s visibility on search engine results pages, and consequently, the lower your traffic levels will be.
Here are some of the metrics Google uses to assess site speed:
3. Unclear or Multiple Fonts
Typography plays a big role in web design.
It has the power to shape, enhance, and modify the meaning of your messaging.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of websites that don’t pay enough attention to font choice.
While you want to differentiate sections of content on your website, it’s best to not go overboard with the style or number of fonts you use.
The moment your copy becomes too difficult to read, you run the risk of losing your readers.
Instead of guiding the reader through the page, Fanta uses more than a dozen different fonts to abruptly break up the content and create emphasis when it’s not necessary.
Cursive and hand-drawn scripts are generally harder to read and the varying sizes of the words themselves make the overall message even more confusing for the visitor.
Stick to basic, clear fonts. Choose a size that’s big enough to be easily read from the screen and colors that won’t fade or clash with the background.
4. Content is Not Scannable
During an average visit to a web page, visitors have enough time to scan about 28% of the text.
While this doesn’t mean you necessarily need to minimize the amount of content on your site, it does need to be easy to skim.
From a web design and SEO point of view, this format is typically made up of:
- Descriptive subheadings
- Shorter paragraphs (2-3 sentences)
- Bold and italicized text
- Bullet points and numerical lists
Above all else, your content needs to deliver value to the reader. If it doesn’t, you can probably afford to leave it out entirely.
In this case, Bella de Soto tried to cram as much content as they could on one web page.
Not only is it content-heavy, but there are several low-quality images that cheapen the overall look and feel of the website.
When in doubt, always take the “less is more” approach with how much content you choose to include.
5. Web Design and SEO: Intrusive Pop-Ups
Pop-up ads have always been a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, they can be annoying and invasive for site visitors. On the other, they have proven to be effective tools for advertisers who want to grow their mailing lists and drive conversion rates.
Any time a pop-up blocks the web page’s main content or hinders the user’s ability to easily read the content, it’s safe to label that pop-up as obtrusive.
In 2017, Google announced that it would begin penalizing pages that show pop-up ads that disrupt the user experience.
Upworthy is a media site, which makes this pop-up ad all the more confusing.
The copy is unrelated to anything the website actually offers and is worded in a way that may be difficult for readers to understand what they’ll receive when they click on either button.
6. Poor Navigation
Have you ever been to a website where you can’t find the menu bar right away?
Navigation issues can be detrimental to your website’s popularity and are one of the biggest website mistakes designers can make. It can also be a surefire way to lose visitors.
The goal is to create a logical path to information. Whenever someone makes their way to your website, he/she should be able to understand what actions need to be taken next in order to reach their destination.
After all, without content discovery, you won’t get any conversions.
While there is some flexibility here, navigation should almost always be displayed towards the top of the page.
In this example from Gates N Fences, you have to use the horizontal scroll bar to read all of the content.
It’s also extremely cluttered with menu options, text links, and images.
7. Lack of Contact Information
When it comes to web design and SEO, missing contact information is another common mistake.
Remember—a contact page is made up of a variety of different elements, ranging from content and links to design and images.
When used correctly, it can make a great first impression on your visitors. If you’re missing information, it doesn’t communicate to your visitors that you want them to stay in touch with you.
As a result, their questions stay unanswered and their problems go unsolved.
Apple may be a larger company, but that doesn’t mean their contact page should be completely devoid of personality.
It also has a complicated filter process, making it hard to find any basic information.
8. Thin or Uncompelling Content
Websites that put more emphasis on design and less on content are destined to end up toward the bottom of search engine results pages.
The most successful websites use images to complement your content.
And the longer visitors stay on the page to view this content, the more search engines will start rewarding your site with higher rankings.
How do you get them to stay on the page? By creating content that’s targeted specifically to your buyer persona and writing it in a way that connects with them on an emotional level.
Find your brand voice and speak directly to your customer’s pain points, and you’ll be on your way to more buyers and higher search rankings.
Remember, your content should always be relevant to your target audience and optimized for keywords, as well as long and in-depth enough to cover a topic completely.
Ultimately, it needs to communicate what you do, how you do it, and who you’re doing it for, and framed in a way that compels your readers to stay on the page.
9. Bad or Unclear Call-to-Action
A solid call-to-action is the gateway to your business. It directs visitors to take a specific action, which could be signing up for a newsletter, following them on social media, or downloading an eBook.
The call-to-action should also be short and sweet. And be sure to give users some time to scroll before the call-to-action shows up.
Unfortunately, many websites get a bit too creative when crafting a call-to-action and end up with a statement that’s vague or at times, downright confusing.
On the surface, this call-to-action from Verve Coffee may seem concise enough to get the point across.
However, it’s unclear what exactly the “Adventure Pack” is.
A coffee website should point consumers to shop for coffee, and nothing more.
10. Not Optimized for Mobile
From a web design and SEO standpoint, a site that’s not optimized for mobile could cost you huge potential reach.
In fact, more than half of all web traffic comes through mobile devices.
But many websites are still built for desktop first, which means that mobile users won’t receive an optimal user experience.
Of all the web design mistakes to avoid, this tops the list.
With so much data on the site, this web page from John Hopkins is slow and unresponsive.
It’s also difficult to zoom in on a certain topic since there’s a ton of information the user has to sift through to get to their category of choice.
If users can’t load the content they want quickly or have difficulty interacting with it, you can count on them bouncing.
As we enter 2021, all businesses would benefit from embracing a mobile-first mindset. That means ensuring your site provided an optimal mobile experience and performing regular tests to ensure quick load speed and responsive design.
Building a responsive website requires striking a delicate balance between aesthetics and SEO.
That’s why it’s crucial for developers and designers to align their SEO and design efforts so your website can outrank the competition and climb to the top of search engine results pages.
Just avoid these common SEO web design mishaps and watch your rankings skyrocket!