Whether you use a free theme, a pre-built WordPress theme, have a marketing agency create a custom design or you use a website builder, you could run into issues when you begin to customize or modify your own site. It happens to everyone, even the biggest agencies, there is no exception. So, don’t worry and try to steer clear of our top five website design issues that will mot likely popup when you put yourself on the internet.
Here is our list of the most widespread website design issues that you should avoid at all costs.
1. Using Bright or Conflicting Colors
Have you ever went to a website and had to strain to read their content or have you ever had a headache after reading a blog post? Well, either your monitor is extremely bright at night or you have experienced our first issue.
A website that uses a dark background and bright or pastel color text can cause confusion or headaches and in turn force your visitors to leave. This is because our eyes are trained to read from books. So, dark text on white or light background is what we have been programmed to want. Use this proven method that dates back to the first book because it works.
If you cause eye strain or you force your users to miss parts of your website because of stark colors then you may have a reason why your visitors do not return. So, our advice is to use either a white background or a light background behind your content and have your content some variation of the color black. Sure, you can make headers and important items a different color but standardize your content to fit a format people want to read.
Can you imagine having to read a book with thousands of word on black paper and yellow text? After a few minutes, your brain would hurt and you would probably throw the book away. Don’t let that happen to your website.
2. A Wondering Layout Structure
One of a designers biggest pet peeves is the layout structure of a website. Some websites designers have created amazing websites that use parallax and side scrolling but fail to get any visitors because using such a format does not leave a clear structure. Your visitors are used to a certain layout and if your layout is all over the place they may leave your website completely confused.
Almost every website you go to has the same layout structure because that is what works. Sure, you can improve the structure and use interesting elements to sway your visitors, but the underlying structure should be the same as any other website. Make it clear what your visitor needs to do in order to get to where you want them to. Don’t make navigating your website any harder than it should be.
So, speaking of a navigation, lets meet number three of our website design issues…
3. Confusing Navigation
Having poor, unclear and/or confusing navigation can also destroy your web page. Every website should have a menu. That menu should also be visible as soon as the page is loaded. This means, no hidden navigation (commonly referred to as a hamburger navigation icon due to it looking like a hamburger).
On a mobile device a hamburger navigation icon is fine, but on a desktop or tablet, use a full menu. If you want to conserve space, then use a menu with drop down items on hover or click.
Try to remember this: You have 5 seconds or less to impress your visitor and they read in a F pattern. This means that they will see your logo on the top left and read right…to your menu. Either they click a menu item or keep reading. Next should be an eye catching image or a header…so forth and so on.
Also, use inner navigation to direct your visitors to other parts of your website easily and conveniently. This means when you are talking about your services on your about page, make sure to link to your services…but don’t overdo it as it can come off as spammy. Instead use natural linking within your content. So, talk about your services and the benefits they provide and include a link there. This not only helps your visitors but helps search engines spider your important pages and get them listed in the results.
4. External Pages Opening In The Same Window
This is a big one. Why would you ever open a link over your website and remove the visitor from your awesome website? Sure, sometimes you need to link to external articles or content, but it should ALWAYS open in a new tab or window. This way your website stays open and they can come back to it after they read your external link’s content without ever having to hit a back button.
You try so hard to perfect your website and perfect your SEO, why force your users to leave your site completely? Don’t know how to fix this…well, here is what you need to add to your external links:
Lastly for number four of our website design issues, add a nofollow tag to your external links. This small addition can prevent websites from leeching off of your SEO. The nofollow tag tells search engines to not follow this link so they do not use your website as a doorway to another website. This is not a major issue but it can help prevent drops in your SEO rank. Just add the following to your link as well:
This should be number one of our website design issues, but alas it is not. We have something even more important for that.
1. Bad Code
Wether you download a free theme or have it custom made, you have the opportunity to run into bad code or unstandardized code. This is truest when using a free theme or in some cases a paid theme for WordPress. A custom design can usually overcome these types of issues, but not every developer thinks about this when they develop the website.
Before you ask, no it will not make your website look bad, but it will make the code that search engines read think that your website is not as good as you think. Having old or unstandardized code on your website can greatly effect your SEO rank. Google and other major players do not want to list websites they think will give their users a bad experience.
Want to see how your website performs in this area? Take a look at the foremost standardized test on W3C’s website. Put your URL into their tester and see how you do. Some errors or ok, but none is best. The more error-free your website is, the better. Extreme cases may not have the possibility to be fixed, but the closer you are to zero errors the better Google thinks of you.
Lastly, a tip…the current web standards are on HTML5, if you are using anything else such as XHTML or HTML4, then you should really be looking for a marketing team to fix it as your ability to be found online is quickly vanishing. Meet the new standards for a more beautiful internet.
Our Conclusion About Website Design Issues
Every designer, every agency, every business has dealt with the website design issues before. You are not alone. Understanding that you need to fix something with your website is the important thing. Trust me, our list is short compared to what we have to avoid on a daily basis, but these website design issues suggestions will help you tremendously and get your started on a path to help your website and business online. Again, these are not all of the issues you will have to deal with but getting started on these is your first step.
Now you know how to find and avoid these website design issues. Go out and do something about them. Make your website and the rest of the internet a better place. Good luck.
About the Author
Director of Website Development
With over a decade of experience designing and developing websites, Eric has worked in every position of the agency ladder. He is fluent in multiple backend and front end programming languages and has written multiple international best selling plugins for WordPress. He has been part of or is still part of many startups. He is the Director of Website Development for Future Design Group and one of it's founding partners.