7 Web Design Mistakes That Can Hurt Your SEO and Drive Away Traffic
Poor web design isn’t just an aesthetic issue – it also has the very real potential to drive traffic away from your site, whether it overwhelms visitors with cluttered pages and distracting ads or makes it overly difficult to navigate menus and find the content they’re looking for.
Another reason that web design issues can hurt your store’s traffic is the effect they can have on your SEO. You might not realize it, but if you make certain design changes to your website without consulting with an SEO company you can really hurt your organic rankings and search engine traffic. For example, any one in the SEO industry will tell you about the importance of strategically using header tags such as H1s and H2s to better help understand your content, but if a web designer or front end developer makes changes to your website, they may be completely ignorant to the ramifications these types of changes can have on your SEO and organic visibility.
This is why you should always consult with your SEO company before making any design (or other) changes to your website. If you’re not currently working with an SEO company, this list of the best SEO agencies is a great place to start your quest.
While web design trends come and go, focusing on functionality and ease of use is the most effective way to improve your conversion rate and keep visitors on your site for longer periods of time. Below are some of the common web design pitfalls that could actually be turning potential customers away.
Lack of Mobile Optimization
2016 marked the first year that the number of people accessing the internet on cell phones and tablets surpassed those using laptops and desktop PCs, and mobile use has only increased since then. In 2019, Google announced they had completely switched over to mobile-first indexing. A website that loads slowly or does not display correctly on mobile devices has more impact on traffic than any other web design mistakes you can make, so be sure to prioritize responsive and dynamic design that can be resized and comfortably viewed on any device. If possible, try to visit your site on a variety of popular phone and tablet models to ensure that your optimization efforts were successful.
It may seem like using custom fonts or text colors could be a small way to set your website apart or give it a more personal flair, but more often than not, such design choices have a negative impact on performance and readability. Custom fonts must be downloaded and cached in the viewer’s browser before the are rendered on the page, which could lead to slower page loading or even a failure to properly load the font if the page is being accessed over a weak or slow connection. Not only that, but some custom fonts may not be supported at all by certain browsers. Similarly, it is best to avoid color combinations that are either extremely high or low-contrast, such as green text on a black background or light gray text on a white background, because the smaller size of mobile screens may make them very difficult to read. For the safest results, stick to black text on a white background and use web-safe fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial.
Slow Page Loads
It may not seem like a few extra seconds of loading time makes a big difference in the amount of traffic that your website receives, but the truth is that speed makes all the difference. Not only does virtually every major search engine penalize rankings for websites that load slowly, but a 2018 study performed by Google found that over half of all people who used the search engine left a website if it took more than 3 seconds to load. In some cases, a slow website might the fault of poor hosting, which is why you should never skimp when it comes to choosing a hosting package. In other cases, the website itself might be to blame. Some of the most common culprits for a slow page are embedding too many photos and videos or using images that are much larger than necessary, and a lack of caching that forces visitors to dynamically generate the page every time they visit. For quick fixes, simply resize photos and look into a cache plugin that saves the latest version of your pages. Use tools such as GTMetrxix or Google’s own PageSpeed Insights to see your page load time and statistics.
Many websites depend on advertising as a source of revenue, and most visitors understand that. However, it is still important that you make an effort to keep advertising unobtrusive so that it doesn’t negatively impact the visitor’s browsing experience or their perception of your brand. Using pop-up ads or ads that automatically play video and audio can annoy users and may make them see your website in an unprofessional light, both of which can mean lost traffic and lost customers.
Simple and intuitive navigation is a key element of a well-designed site. If visitors have to go down a rabbit hole of headers and links to find the information they are looking for, the most likely outcome is that they will simply leave your site and find it somewhere else. All of the information on your site should be easily accessible through organized, highly visible, and well-labeled headers and categories, and you should aim to get visitors to the pages they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. It is also key that you ensure all of your links are functional – if the links are broken, unclickable, or go to the wrong page, users will become justifiably frustrated, which translates into a high bounce rate and low traffic.
Poorly Written Content
When it comes to the text and content of your pages, avoid the temptation to save money by doing it yourself or passing the work onto someone without a writing or editing background. In many cases, your site’s content will create the first impression that potential customers have of your business or brand, and if they find pages full of typos, ungrammatical language, or hard-to-follow walls of text, that impression is unlikely to be a good one. Strong content doesn’t just involve proofreading – it also incorporates aesthetic elements in the layout and presentation of information, as well as the use of search engine optimization strategies to bring more views and clicks to your pages We suggest running all of your content through a tool such as Grammarly before posting.
Web design has come a long way since the early days of online commerce, and higher expectations means that sub-par design generally translates into slower traffic, shorter dwell times, and fewer conversions. By avoiding the primary pitfalls above while designing or revamping your website, you can ensure that you aren’t unknowingly turning away prospects who might otherwise share your content or purchase your products.