6 Hideous Website Mistakes That Will Haunt You for Life

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Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Website mistakes can turn users off before they’ve had a proper chance to engage with the content. Don’t let yours fall into these traps.

Article 4 Minutes

It’s widely considered that it takes less than a second for a user to decide whether to stay on your website or hit the back button. That means a single mistake can have a big impact on your bounce rate and severely reduce your web traffic. It doesn’t matter how useful your content is; if your website is ugly or hard to navigate, you’ll be in trouble.

Over the years, there have been plenty of examples of website mistakes that have slowly disappeared from view as best practice takes over. As the internet evolves, it becomes more apparent when a website is getting left behind and continuing to function despite glaring errors. Make sure your website doesn’t fall into any of the following categories.

1. The homepage is too cluttered

Less is most definitely more when it comes to getting your message across on your homepage. Take MGBD Parts & Services as an example. This online auto parts shop has got too much going on in one space and by trying to convey all its information in one go, it’s impossible to take any of it in. More white space around the images and text would give them a chance to stand out and be noticed.

As a business, it’s important that you understand which elements of your message must be prioritized. These should be detailed on the homepage, with additional information being unveiled as the user works their way through your site.

2. Poor readability

Every decision that you make relating to the text on your website will impact its readability. That means font, size, color and even the shade chosen as the background. Keeping your business goals at the forefront of everything you do requires good readability so you can attract leads and convert them into sales. Pacific Northwest X-Ray Inc hasn’t spent time reviewing its text choices and amended them to better perform their role.

It’s always worthwhile experimenting with a number of options and road testing them with impartial individuals. Even subtle differences can change a user’s opinion of a website immeasurably.

3. Too text-heavy

Websites that are all text and no pictures or logos will find it hard to grab users’ attention and keep it. The only website that gets away with it is Craigslist, which adopted this format in the mid-90s and hasn’t changed since. It’s safe to say that it looks hideous, but its reputation for solving visitors’ pain points means they persevere with it despite its unappealing layout. Unless your website also taps into a need that users cannot get anywhere else, you require some imagery to break up all that text.

Make sure that every page has a high-quality image or focal point that's visually appealing. Even the driest subject benefits from something to look at and draw visitors in. This can be a crisp and clean logo to complement well-structured and clear design.

4. Slow loading speed

Being visually appealing can have its downsides, as pages loaded with videos and graphics can take a long time to open. With modern attention spans notoriously short and getting shorter, you can’t afford to lose your audience in the time it takes for pages to load. Unsurprisingly for an institution like the University of Advancing Technology, its website has a number of high-tech features. While these will be seen as impressive by those with the patience to wait for them, the load time will put many people off.

Weigh up visual elements and load speeds to find the sweet spot that offers the best of both worlds. Forfeiting one for the other rarely works, so carry out tests on various options for the optimum combination.

5. No established hierarchy

A clear hierarchy is a vital navigational tool for your site, signposting which way to go for users and making it clear what the purpose of each page is. Hierarchy can be achieved through a combination of factors, including a bread-crumbed navigational menu, perspective, alignment, proximity, spacing and the sizes of elements on your page. Norwegian electronics company Arngren has managed to avoid all of the features that give a website a comprehensive hierarchy.

This leads to information overload and gives the user no idea where to start or what’s the most important content to focus on. It looks outdated and won’t funnel visitors in a meaningful way that leads to conversions.

6. Not enough content on the page

Nobody wants to spend lots of time clicking around different pages of the same website to get the full picture. Each page should be populated with an appropriate amount of copy. SpaceJam’s site, which hasn’t been updated since the film hit movie theaters in 1996, has lots of buttons to click and not much information on each page, demonstrating how far web design has come since the 90s.

Search engines reward websites that comprehensively answer users’ questions and prevent the need for multiple queries. Sparsely populated websites or those with too many pages for the amount of content are unlikely to do well in search engine optimization (SEO).

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