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Updated Apr 10, 2024

Just Say No: 7 Website Design Mistakes That Can Hurt Conversion

Business owners should pursue a more targeted, proactive approach to developing their websites.

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Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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It takes just 50 milliseconds — one-twentieth of a second — for a website visitor to decide whether to stay on your website. That’s a short time to make a good impression, so it’s important to get things right immediately.  

For business owners aiming to boost their online conversions, this information is helpful for website creation. Whether you are designing your site, using a website builder or engaging the services of a professional website developer, it’s vital to optimize the customer experience. Here are seven website design mistakes that can badly hurt conversion and what you should do to remedy them. [Read related article: The Best Website Builders and Design Services of 2024]

Design mistakes that hurt conversion

Make sure to avoid these costly pitfalls when you’re designing your business’s website:

Missing or unclear call-to-action buttons

Consumers should have a clear idea of what your website is about, what you’re offering them and where they should go to follow your lead. Ask yourself what you want your visitors to do. For example:

  • Are you an influencer, a marketer or a product developer?
  • Do you need visitors to follow your social media sites?
  • Should they share your article or infographic?
  • Do you need them to leave a comment and spark a discussion?
  • Are you engaging them to buy a product or sign up for updates on an upcoming webinar?
  • Are you engaging them to subscribe to your emails and eventually recognize you as an expert in your field?

A snappy, beautiful and functional web design is great, but without a prominent call to action, you merely impress your users with prose and aesthetics — and fail to guide them toward what you want them to do. 

A prominent call-to-action (CTA) button clearly tells website visitors what you want of them. Make sure to size and position your CTA button so it’s hard to overlook. 

Poor website loading speed

Most consumers expect a webpage to load quickly, with 53 percent of online shoppers thinking it should take three seconds or less to load, according to a survey, and half of consumers abandoning their cart if they have to wait longer. These statistics are important indicators that poor website loading speed can be disastrous for your business and should be avoided.

Hosting plays a role in your website’s loading speed. If you’re on a shared hosting plan, when another website on the same server experiences a huge spike in traffic, it can hog loading speed for all the other sites. This would not bode well for owners on the shorter end of the stick.

Other factors that contribute to poor loading speed include the amount of media on your site, image sizes, video quality, the number of plugins, and the scripts you use, such as JavaScript.

Opting for a reliable hosting plan is, therefore, a good strategy, and so are resizing and compressing your images. [Read related article: How to Transform Your Static Site into a Responsive Website]

Did You Know?Did you know
After having a bad experience on a website, 60 percent of visitors abandon their purchases, according to a study by Storyblok.

Bad stock images

Not too long ago, stock images were the norm, especially for professional websites. Lately, however, stock images have been getting a bad rap for appearing cheesy. 

The main limitation with free stock images is that you risk having your website contain the same images as another one. If using your own photos is not an option, consider alternative sources with modern, professional and offbeat images. Better yet, make those stock photos your own, as long as modification is allowed on your chosen images.

Image quality can also affect conversions. There are many online tools for improving the quality of your images. For example, Canva has an integrated tool for resizing and manipulating images according to its intended use. 

Confusing site navigation

You can’t have poor site navigation if you’re aiming for conversions. Categories should be organized, readable and clickable. Category labels should be specific and easily understood by site users. Links should work properly, and web design conventions should be followed.

Website clutter

These are surefire ways to get your website visitors to leave in a heartbeat:

  • Too many animations
  • Bright, contrasting colors
  • Ad prompts
  • Graphics splattered all over the page
  • Auto-play videos
  • Background music

Viewers hate being disturbed. Interrupt marketing is steadily proving to be an ineffective means of boosting conversions; it turns off consumers who are already tired of all the online noise. Keep your website fresh, clean, simple and to the point. A beautifully designed site with an elegant interface and clear navigation is a recipe for success.

Unresponsive design

Mobile optimization is no longer a buzzword or a trend ​​— it’s required. Mobile traffic makes up more than half of global web traffic, according to Statista, so your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Some 79 percent of smartphone users have used their mobile device to purchase something online, Zippia reported.

As a result, mobile-friendliness has become a much bigger factor in Google rankings. Old design standards have been rendered insufficient to address the demands of today’s website users.

And because mobile devices come in various shapes and sizes, it’s imperative to optimize your website to adapt to various interfaces, particularly if you want to stay top of mind to mobile shoppers.

TipBottom line
Use plenty of white space — with easy-to-read fonts, headings and bullet points — so website visitors can navigate your site effectively.

Disorganized content 

Underneath all the design and multimedia, once you’ve broken through the first-impression time window, is the content. If your design and interface can lure, your content should make it irresistible for visitors to leave your site.

Content that’s too long, too short, disorganized or hard to scan won’t get you the conversions you desire. It’s important to format content correctly so it instantly appeals to your users. 

Why website conversions are critical for your business

Although your website may serve many purposes, one of the main ones is to create leads, who then turn into paying customers. Here’s why you should work on optimizing your website’s conversion rate.

Decreases traffic acquisition costs 

While some of your website visitors may have stumbled upon your site organically, most probably discovered it because of effort and expenditure on your part, such as your pay-per-click advertising campaign, SEO activities or other paid marketing to drive people to your website. 

If you have 5,000 website visitors per month and you want to generate 200 leads per month, you will need a click-through rate near 4 percent. However, if your actual click-through rate is only 1 percent, then you need to pay to generate 20,000 visitors per month. 

Leverages existing website traffic 

Perhaps you don’t have any more money to spend on generating more website traffic. Wouldn’t you like to get more benefit from the website visitors you already have? After all, these individuals have made the effort to come to your site because they have interest in what you are selling. By making some changes to your site, you can get more leads and customers, without spending a dime.

Improves your brand reputation

When your website looks confusing, cluttered or otherwise dysfunctional, visitors make assumptions about your company’s credibility. Well-designed, clean and easy-to-navigate websites make your company look competent, trustworthy, organized and professional.

Increases sales

The most obvious reason to improve website conversions is the same reason to improve any sales conversions. More prospects filling out web forms, sending email inquiries, scheduling appointments or calling your company after seeing your website ultimately translate to more sales. In fact, website visitors are warmer leads than people who stop by or call because they have already had a chance to find out about what you sell, where you are located and other information about how you can help them.

Optimizing your website for conversions is worth the time and effort. On top of having more leads and sales, you will have a better-functioning and more attractive website. As your company grows that useful channel, you will have a good foundation for adding products, content and revenue. 

author image
Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Jennifer Dublino is an experienced entrepreneur and astute marketing strategist. With over three decades of industry experience, she has been a guiding force for many businesses, offering invaluable expertise in market research, strategic planning, budget allocation, lead generation and beyond. Earlier in her career, Dublino established, nurtured and successfully sold her own marketing firm. Dublino, who has a bachelor's degree in business administration and an MBA in marketing and finance, also served as the chief operating officer of the Scent Marketing Institute, showcasing her ability to navigate diverse sectors within the marketing landscape. Over the years, Dublino has amassed a comprehensive understanding of business operations across a wide array of areas, ranging from credit card processing to compensation management. Her insights and expertise have earned her recognition, with her contributions quoted in reputable publications such as Reuters, Adweek, AdAge and others.
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