7 Common Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Oleksandra Sokolenko

Web designer

Web Design
June 20, 2024

Table of content

In the extremely competitive world of small business, every customer interaction counts. Yet, for many entrepreneurs, their website – a potential goldmine of leads and sales –  might unknowingly be pushing potential customers away.

The problem? Often, it's not about flashy features or modern design. Subtle website issues can add up, creating a user experience that frustrates visitors and prevents them from converting. This article dives into 7 common mistakes that can cost you clients, along with clear fixes to transform your website into a conversion machine.

Mistake #1: Lack of Clarity and Focus

A website visitor forms an impression of your business within seconds. This first impression hinges on your website's clarity and focus. When a visitor lands on your homepage, they should instantly understand:

  • Who you are: What kind of business do you run?
  • What you offer: What products or services do you provide?
  • Why should they care: How will your offerings benefit them?

A website lacking clarity and focus creates confusion and frustration for potential clients. This can lead to them leaving the website before engaging with your business. Here are some ways a website can fall victim to this mistake:

  • Unclear Value Proposition: Your value proposition is a concise statement that explains what makes your business unique and how you solve your customer's problems. Without a clear value proposition, visitors struggle to understand why they should choose you over the competition.
  • Information Overload: Bombarding visitors with excessive text, complex ideas, or overwhelming visuals creates a sense of information overload. This can be overwhelming and make it difficult for visitors to identify the most important information.
  • Jargon-Filled Content: Using overly technical language or industry jargon can alienate visitors unfamiliar with your field.

Solutions:

  • Create a Compelling Value Proposition: Clearly communicate your unique selling proposition in a way that resonates with your target audience.
  • Prioritize User Experience (UX): Design your website with user needs in mind. Ensure navigation is intuitive and content is easily digestible.
  • Write Clear and Concise Content: Avoid jargon and use language your target audience understands.
  • Ensure Complete and Up-to-Date Information: Regularly review your website content to ensure all information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. Missing or outdated information can confuse visitors and make your business appear abandoned or unprofessional.

Mistake #2: Inconsistent Visual Identity

Imagine walking into a store where half the walls are painted bright green and the other half a calming blue. The furniture clashes in style, and some lighting fixtures seem randomly placed. While the store might have great products, the overall experience feels confusing and disorienting.

This visual inconsistency translates to websites as well. When a website lacks a cohesive visual identity, it creates a similar feeling of confusion for visitors.  Let's explore why this happens and how to achieve a visually unified website.

Here's how this mistake can manifest in a website:

  • Mismatched Color Schemes and Fonts: Using a hodgepodge of colors and fonts across different pages creates a disjointed look and feel. For example, your homepage might use a bright and playful color scheme with a quirky font, while your product pages use a more muted color scheme and a serious-looking font.
  • Lack of a Clear Logo or Branding Elements: A weak or missing logo, or inconsistent use of branding elements like colors and fonts throughout different pages or landing pages, makes it difficult for visitors to recognize your brand and understand if they're still on the same website.
  • Use of Distracting or Low-Quality Visuals: Blurry, pixelated images, irrelevant stock photos, or overly busy graphics can distract visitors and detract from the overall user experience. This can be particularly problematic if the visuals used on different pages are inconsistent in style or theme.

Solutions:

  • Develop a Brand Style Guide: A style guide defines your brand's visual identity, including color palettes, fonts, logo usage, and image styles. This ensures consistency across all your marketing materials, including your website, and across different pages or landing pages.
  • Create Page-Specific Layouts (Optional): While maintaining overall style consistency, you may consider creating slightly different layouts for specific page types like product pages, blog posts, or contact forms. However, ensure these variations are still visually aligned with your brand identity.
  • Invest in High-Quality Visuals: Use professional-looking photographs, illustrations, and graphics that are relevant to your brand and resonate with your target audience. Ensure these visuals are consistent in style across all pages and landing pages.
  • Maintain Consistency: No matter how many pages or landing pages your website has, ensure all page elements, from color schemes and fonts to image styles and logos, are consistent. This creates a cohesive and professional brand experience.

Mistake #3: Unintuitive Navigation and Menu Design

Clear and intuitive navigation is fundamental to a positive user experience. When visitors land on your website, they should be able to find the information they seek quickly and effortlessly.  Unfortunately, navigation challenges can create a barrier to engagement, hindering the website's effectiveness.

Here's how navigation challenges can manifest:

  • Complex Menus with Unclear Labels: Menus with overly long labels, technical jargon, or unclear category names leave visitors unsure of where to click.
  • Inconsistent Button Styles and Placements: Using a mix of button styles (size, color, shape) or placing buttons in unexpected locations can make them difficult to find and interact with.
  • Lack of Clear Hierarchy of Information: A navigation menu that doesn't prioritize important pages or buries key information deep within subcategories makes it challenging for visitors to find what they're looking for quickly.

Solutions:

  • Keep it Simple: Prioritize user experience by using clear and concise menu labels that are easy to understand for your target audience.
  • Maintain Consistency: Use a consistent style for all buttons throughout your website, ensuring they are visually distinct and easy to identify.
  • Prioritize Information Hierarchy: Structure your navigation menu with the most important pages at the top level and subcategories nested logically. This helps visitors find what they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Utilize Search Functionality: Consider including a search bar on your website, especially if you have a large amount of content. This allows visitors to quickly find specific information without navigating through menus.

Mistake #4: Unbalanced Content Presentation

Imagine walking into a store where every inch of wall space is covered with products, posters, and advertisements.  While the individual items might be appealing, the overall effect is overwhelming and makes it difficult to focus on anything in particular.

While you might have a wealth of information to share, cramming a webpage with elements can create a cluttered and confusing visual experience. Let's explore the design aspects that contribute to "content overload" and how to create a website that prioritizes visual clarity:

  • Information Overload: Presenting large blocks of text, excessive images, and competing design elements creates a situation where visitors struggle to focus on what's truly important.
  • Poor Use of White Space: White space, or empty space on a webpage, plays a crucial role in readability and visual hierarchy. Without enough white space, content appears cluttered and difficult to digest.
  • Inconsistent Font Sizes and Line Spacing: Using a variety of font sizes and inconsistent line spacing can make text appear messy and hard to read, further contributing to information overload.

Solutions:

  • Focus on Clarity: Prioritize delivering clear and concise information that is easy for visitors to understand.
  • Embrace White Space: Strategically use white space to separate content elements and improve readability.
  • Break Down Content: Chop large blocks of text into smaller, digestible sections with clear headings and subheadings.
  • Utilize Visual Hierarchy: Use font sizes, colors, and layout to guide visitors' attention to the most important information.
  • Leverage Visuals Effectively: Use high-quality visuals that complement your content and support your message, but avoid overwhelming visitors with too many images.

Mistake #5: Low Engagement with Visitors

A website's primary goal is to connect with its audience. It should be a platform for interaction and exchange, not a one-way street of information delivery.  However, many websites struggle to capture visitor attention and encourage them to actively engage.

This lack of engagement can have a significant impact on a website's effectiveness.  If visitors simply consume content passively and leave without taking any action, the website fails to achieve its full potential.  Let's explore why websites fall victim to low engagement and how to create a more interactive experience for your visitors.

Here's how websites can fall victim to low visitor engagement:

  • Lack of Interactive Elements: Websites with only static content and no interactive elements like calls to action (CTAs), forms, or quizzes fail to capture visitor attention and encourage them to participate.
  • Uninspiring Design: A dull and uninspiring website design can leave visitors feeling bored and unmotivated to explore further.
  • Generic Stock Photos and Visuals: Overusing generic stock photos and visuals that don't resonate with the target audience can create a sense of disconnect and fail to evoke any emotional response.

Solutions:

  • Incorporate CTAs: Clearly guide visitors towards taking action with strategic placement of calls to action buttons. These CTAs should be clear, concise, and visually appealing.
  • Integrate Interactive Elements: Consider incorporating interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or calculators to increase visitor engagement and collect valuable data.
  • Embrace Dynamic Content: Utilize features like video, animation, or user-generated content to create a more dynamic and engaging website experience.
  • Invest in High-Quality, Targeted Visuals: Use visuals that are relevant to your brand and resonate with your target audience. These visuals should evoke emotions and encourage visitors to connect with your message.

Mistake #6: Lack of Accessibility Features 

Many businesses invest heavily in creating a visually appealing and informative website. However, they might overlook a crucial aspect: accessibility.  An inaccessible website excludes a significant portion of potential users and hinders the overall effectiveness of your online presence.

Let's delve into the specific accessibility issues that can arise and explore solutions to ensure your website is inclusive for everyone:

  • Lack of Color Contrast: Poor color contrast between text and background can make it difficult for users with visual impairments to read the content.
  • Missing Alt Text Descriptions: Images without alternative text descriptions leave visually impaired users unable to understand their meaning.
  • Difficult Keyboard Navigation: Websites that rely heavily on mouse interaction can be challenging for users who navigate with a keyboard.

Solutions:

  • Prioritize Color Contrast: Use color combinations that meet accessibility standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG offers specific guidelines for color contrast ratios to ensure clear and readable text for all users.
  • Implement Alt Text for Images: Provide concise and descriptive alt text for all images, conveying their meaning for visually impaired users.
  • Ensure Keyboard Usability: Design your website to be fully functional using only a keyboard, allowing users with dexterity limitations to navigate and interact with content effectively.

By following these solutions and adhering to the WCAG recommendations, you can create a website that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone.  This not only improves user experience but also demonstrates your commitment to social responsibility and opens your website to a wider audience.

Mistake #7: Poor SEO Practices

Imagine writing a captivating novel but neglecting to put a title on it or tell anyone it exists.  While the story itself might be amazing, readers wouldn't be able to find it.

The same principle applies to websites and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  When a website lacks proper SEO practices, it becomes invisible to search engines, making it difficult for potential customers to discover it.  This essentially buries your valuable content and hinders your website's ability to attract organic traffic.

Here are some SEO mistakes that can hold your website back and how to optimize it for better search visibility:

  • Missing or Irrelevant Keywords: Not including relevant keywords within your website content makes it difficult for search engines to understand your website's topic and purpose.
  • Keyword Stuffing: Opposite to the previous mistake, this outdated practice involves cramming irrelevant keywords unnaturally into website content in an attempt to rank higher in search results. Search engines now penalize websites that use keyword stuffing, and it creates a poor reading experience for users.
  • Unoptimized Page Titles and Meta Descriptions: These elements are crucial for grabbing user attention in search results. Poorly written or irrelevant titles and descriptions will lead to lower click-through rates.
  • Lack of High-Quality Backlinks: Backlinks are essentially links from other websites pointing back to yours. The absence of high-quality backlinks can hinder your website's authority and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Solutions:

  • Conduct Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords that your target audience is searching for and incorporate them strategically throughout your website content.
  • Optimize Page Titles and Meta Descriptions: Craft clear, concise, and keyword-rich page titles and meta descriptions that entice users to click on your website in search results.
  • Build High-Quality Backlinks: Create valuable content that other websites will want to link to. Guest blogging on relevant websites or participating in online communities can help you build backlinks naturally.

Is Your Website Working for You?

If you feel like your website doesn't tick all the boxes we discussed – don't worry!  Most small websites have room for growth. The good news is, updating your website is easier (and more affordable) than ever. Here at Olive, we specialize in creating modern, user-friendly websites specifically designed to capture leads and convert visitors into customers. In our work, we primarily use Webflow, a powerful no-code platform that allows us to build your website quickly and affordably. 

We offer free consultations, with absolutely zero pressure.  If your website works well? That's fantastic! We'll congratulate you and be on our way. If it needs some love, we can discuss a solution that fits your needs and budget.

Let's make you a website that truly reflects your brand and resonates with your audience! 

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