Your website is the face you show to your clients. It might be your brand, your online store, or a platform for engagement. A crucial part of making the best website is its design, but there are common mistakes that people can make which limit the impact and effect of their websites.
The web design team at Squarebird have years of experience in creating bespoke website designs that avoid all the common mistakes. In this article we’ll go over the most common mistakes in web design, how to achieve the best web design for you, and the benefits of a great web design.
“You wouldn’t skydive by yourself if you didn’t know how to do it; you’d use an instructor. You wouldn’t give yourself a filling; you’d go to the dentist. So why not make use of professionals to help you with your web design?” – Alec, Lead Designer
What are Common Web Design Mistakes?
Perhaps the most common mistake of web design is not knowing what the purpose of the website actually is.
Purpose is the driving force behind design. To get results that pack a punch, you need to understand what you want the site to achieve and then develop its design from there.
For example, if your site exists to drum up leads, adding banners and really obvious calls to action (CTAs) that use a consistent accent colour can highlight next steps and lead the user through a considered journey.
On the other hand, if your site is more informational, then having less CTAs can actually be a good thing. You can use passive CTAs like links to relevant blog posts or services pages that gently lead a user through their journey.
Other Factors that Influence Web Design Choices
Once you’ve figured out your purpose, and it’s time to crack on with your design, there are two other important factors to keep in mind. The first is your target audience and the second is your brand guidelines.
There’s no point in making a website that looks like it belongs to a coffee shop if your clients are in the energy industry. Likewise, a website that focuses on new design trends but has an older demographic of users won’t have the same resonance.
Considering your target audience is vital in making a good web design – Jakob’s Law states that users spend most of their time on other sites, so they expect yours to look, feel, and respond in similar fashion. Web designers use this to inform their decisions on what will and won’t resonate with your users.
Brand guidelines exist to keep brand presentation consistent between all your channels. An inconsistent experience can be off-putting to users so keeping design choices like font, graphic shapes, photography, and colours constant throughout all your channels is an important step in making a website that shines.
Common Places for Mistakes in Web Design
Even with all this in mind, there can still be mistakes in your web design. To help you spot them, we’ve listed five of the most common areas that websites make design mistakes:
1. Mobile Design
Mobile device tailoring is super important for design. We live in a mobile world, with more than half of users accessing websites on their mobile phones. This means that a design has to be made with mobile users in mind.
Common mistakes for mobile designs are:
- Text being too small to easily read
- Design components that don’t scale to match screen size
- Inconsistency between mobile and desktop design
- Considerations for the way people use their mobile devices
Starting from a desktop is still a logical idea as it makes it easier to adjust your design into something that’s consistent across all platforms. A good designer will then be able to produce a mobile design that’s consistent with your brand and site while eliminating the issues above.
2. Site Navigation
The best site navigation meets the needs of your target audience.
A younger audience can pick things up on the fly, and using a nested menu like a “burger menu” (those 3 lines you see in the top corner of the screen) is a good idea as people in this demographic are used to using one. An older audience, on the other hand, might not be so intuitive.
Designers can inform the best way to create your site’s navigation based on data from a navigation heat map that provides visual information on how users interact with your pages. As a norm, users will want to navigate back to the top of the page to change which page they’re on, so including a way to do that as well as clearly signified buttons for where they will end up is a great way to improve the user experience.
The visual experience you want to achieve is also a factor. A navigation bar is better for a quick response, prompting users to click through to key information in a flash. Other navigation options are better when the look of the site is more important as they help to declutter the visuals and let the user focus on what is in front of them.
3. Site Loading Times
If a site takes too long to load, a user is likely to dash away before they even see your site. Making your site load quicker, or making it appear to do so, can prevent this.
High-resolution imagery is a common offender for long site loading times. Reducing the resolution of your images while retaining their quality is one of the key considerations for a web designer.
Loading screens can be used to disguise the loading of your site’s features, but overusing them can result in a negative experience. Animations such as the logo animating in should be used sparingly to increase their impact and improve the loading times of your site.
4. Calls to Action (CTAs)
How you implement CTAs should be based on the purpose of your site. While it’s tempting to plaster a CTA everywhere you can, this can be detrimental to the user experience and scare off potential clients.
For a sales-driven site, having clear CTAs that are easily accessible is key. Colour and shape are the main visual elements of a good CTA, and making them consistent will ensure a smooth user experience.
Other trends like variable font sizes and hover states that reveal an image are great ways for modern sites to indicate a CTA.
Good CTAs fall under the wing of a great user experience. Improve yours with help from our experts – get in touch today!
Pop-ups can be great. They definitely snatch a user’s attention, ensuring they’re only looking at the thing you want them to be looking at. For them to actually work, that thing has to be something that they want to look at as well.
Having a pop-up for a newsletter, for example, isn’t usually a good idea. A user at this point probably doesn’t know or care enough about your business to subscribe to a newsletter, and even if they do you’ll be interrupting their browsing experience. This leads to a frustrated user, and one less person on your site after they click away.
To make a truly great pop-up, you need to offer value. Whether this is a discount code, a limited-access download, or anything else, the user has to benefit from your pop-up. This can prevent them from growing frustrated with your site by offering them an incentive that means the pop-up is no longer an intrusion, but instead something they want to see.
The point at which your pop-up appears is also important to consider. Having it appear when you scroll to a certain point or on a time delay will mean that the user is more invested in your content when they see it and therefore more likely to respond rather than hitting the “X”.
How to Achieve the Best Web Design
With so many pitfalls, how can you achieve a web design that looks great and is great for users?
Well, here are a few pieces of advice that might help you in getting the most out of your website design:
Don’t Do It Yourself
DIY can seem a great idea. In theory, doing it yourself rather than hiring someone to design your website could save costs while getting the design that you envision.
In reality, it is often the opposite.
If you’re designing your website yourself, you won’t have access to the years of experience and specialism that web designers provide to a project. This means you’ll have a gap in your industry knowledge, making it harder to hit the targets that you want to reach with your website.
It can also result in increased costs. A web designer knows what to do, and the most efficient way to do it. This means they can deliver the results more quickly than someone who isn’t specialised in the field. Quicker results mean less time spent developing and more time achieving results with your site.
That isn’t to say that your input isn’t important. As the expert, you’ll know loads about your business and the industry you work in. This information is invaluable to web designers as it can help them inform their design choices, making a website that looks exactly how envision while conforming to the best practices for accessibility, user experience, and consistency with your brand.
At Squarebird, we take your input on-board from the start. We consult you during the planning phase and beyond, wireframing your design to ensure your business case is met and briefing our designs to achieve your goals. With regular feedback and check-ups, you’ll know we’re on the right track.
Use a Web Designer or a Web Design Agency
Web designers have years of specialised experience in the industry. They know how to make something look good, what the functionality of it will be, and can analyse the needs of your website relative to its target audience – zapping your web design to life.
Without the knowledge of the best practice for web or graphic design, you’ll be shooting from the hip. This can mean missing crucial design factors, resulting in a worse experience for your clients. Plus, a web designer who is part of an agency will have access to a whole team of development experts – allowing them to find out what the best practice is and any limitations that will inform design choices.
Having an extra pair of eyes from outside your field can highlight things you wouldn’t have thought of, and brings a broader range of ideas to the table of design. Using a web designer or a web design agency is the right way to go if you want to avoid common design mistakes and make the best website possible.
The Benefits of Web Design for Your Business
People have become lazier – with all the convenience of online platforms, it’s hard not to. If they want something, they’ll search for it. Whether this is through Google, Instagram, TikTok, or any other medium, the place they eventually end up will almost always be your website.
Having a well-designed website means that this first impression of your business will be a good one. However, it also comes with several additional benefits which include:
- Letting people dive deeper into what they’re looking for
- Puts all your information onto one platform
- Makes navigating the site easier
- Ensuring consistency with design elements and with your brand guidelines
- Makes a site that looks great and functions according to your needs
The web design process also comes with benefits. It lets you see what a design will look like before you commit to it, helping you iron out any issues you have and producing a really refined final result.
Missing this key stage can result in the site being developed without ever seeing the actual design, which can lead to grievances and increased costs down the line. Web design addresses these problems while also leading to a better final result for your website.
The Full Web Design Package from Squarebird
Web design mistakes can lead to users getting lost, a disconnection between your brand on different channels, and a loss of revenue. Web designers help prevent these mistakes, creating a website that is in line with the needs of your business and the wants of your clients – helping you generate the best results.