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

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Editor Staff
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Business owners should be hard-pressed to pursue a more targeted, proactive approach to developing their websites.

When making business acquaintances, seven seconds is all you have to make a first impression.

In the case of websites, the time window is much stiffer, less than 0.2 seconds, according to an eye-tracking study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

For business owners aiming to boost their online conversions, this piece of information should be a steering point when it comes to formulating their website design strategies. Before finding a design partner it’s important you first undertand the goals of your website, review these tips for launching a website successfully.

Some further points to note:

  • A study by BIA/Kelsey suggests that 97 percent of consumers research online before purchasing a product.
  • A Moz article indicates that 67.7 percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • A survey by BrightLocal shows that most consumers prefer local businesses with a website.
  • A Stanford web credibility research, according to Kinesis Inc., suggests that 75 percent of consumers admit that they judge businesses’ credibility based on their website design.

With these statistics to serve as guidelines, business owners should be hard-pressed to pursue a more targeted, proactive approach to developing their websites.

Presentation is crucial to clinching a positive impression in a short time window. To develop that optimum web design strategy, you can start by redefining your goals, as well as outlining the key things you should avoid.

This article assumes you have already clarified your website’s goals and aims to help you formulate strategies for what to avoid. To that end, here are seven website design mistakes that can badly hurt conversion and what you should do to remedy them.

Missing or Unclear Call-to-Action Buttons

Consumers should have a clear idea what your website is about, what you’re offering them, and where they should go to follow your lead.

  • 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 for the expert you are in your field?

We’re all about snappy, beautiful, and functional web design, but without a prominent call to action, you merely impress your users with prose and aesthetics but fail in guiding them to what you intend they do.

Make sure to size and position your CTA button in a way that would make it hard to overlook. If you need some examples, here are 30 from g.

Poor Website Loading Speed

Most consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. 79 percent of shoppers reported that they will not return to purchase from a laggy website again, and approximately 44 percent will share the poor experience with their friends. 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, for example, when a co-owner’s website 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.

If you need help figuring out the best host for your website, this review of the top hosting providers may interest you. Other factors that contribute to poor loading speed is the amount of media that your site contains, the size of your images, the quality of your videos, the number of plugins, as well as the scripts you use, such as Flash and JavaScript.

Opting for a reliable hosting plan is, therefore, a good strategy, and so are resizing your images and refraining from using too much fancy Flash. Additional tips relating to cache plugins, GZIP compression, CDNs (content delivery networks), and others can be found in this Kissmetrics article about the importance of site speed to conversion.

Related Article: One Size Fits All: How Responsive Web Design Helps Get You More Conversions

Stock Images That Are of Poor Quality, Irrelevant, or Look Unprofessional

Not too long ago, stock images were the norm, especially for professional websites. Lately, stock images have been getting a bad rep for the “cheesy” impression they send to viewers.

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

A lot can also be said about image quality and how it can affect conversions. Canva is an app with an integrated tool for resizing and manipulating images according to what you’ll be using the image for.

Confusing Site Navigation

Having poor site navigation is inexcusable if you’re aiming for conversions. In the same way, your call-to-action buttons should stand out, your site should be effectively navigable.

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

Want your site users to leave in a heartbeat? Let me count the ways:

  • Too many Flash 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. To the contrary, it turns off consumers who are mostly 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.

Design That’s Not Responsive

Mobile optimization is no longer a buzzword or a trend, but a way of life. According to comScore, the number of users accessing content online through their mobile devices has already surpassed those who use a desktop. Due to this phenomenon, mobile-friendliness has become a much bigger Google ranking signal. Old design standards have been rendered insufficient to address the demands of today’s website users.

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

Related Article: Golden Rules of Small Business Website Design

Disorganized Content 

Underneath all the pompous 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.

Having content that’s too long or too short, disorganized, and hard to scan won’t get you the conversions you desire. “Formatting is as important as the content itself,” says a Buffer article, and it pays to format your content so that it instantly appeals to your users. Are there other website design mistakes you’d like to add?

Image Credit: Poike / Getty
Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks Staff
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.