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5 Web Design Mistakes You’re Making (& How to Fix Them)


Every business leader needs a great website to make a positive first impression on potential customers. This lets you not only sell your products or services, but also provide helpful information and show credibility.

But if your site isn’t strategic, easy to find, or user-friendly, you may be putting up buying obstacles without even realizing it.

Here are five web design mistakes you might be making, as well as tips to fix them.

1. Just Creating a Pretty Site

The Mistake 

It’s tempting to jump right into designing a flashy website, but you can’t forget about strategy. You have to know who your target audience is, what challenges and emotions they’re facing, and what success looks like for them. Without these insights, your website (and business) won’t resonate with them.

You only have eight seconds to capture (and keep) a reader’s attention. And that takes more than adding gorgeous photos and graphics to your website. If someone can’t immediately tell who you are, what you do, how you can help them, and what they should do next — they’ll move on.

The Fix

Identify your best customers first, then make sure your design and content work together to guide them. This will help them move through your strategic website while they read helpful, relevant content.

Remember: Customers want to know right away how you can help them solve a problem. Make it clear by designing each section of your home page’s header with certain elements

  • Top left – Your logo (who you are)
  • Top right – Your call-to-action (CTA) button (what customers need to do next)
  • Middle – What you do + how you can help customers solve a problem with your product or service
  • Above the fold – Another CTA button (to break up the page and to call the reader to action again)

2. Only Designing for Desktop

a web designer optimizing his site for mobile, tablet, and desktop

The Mistake 

People are now shopping online with mobile devices more often than on computers. 81% of consumers have smartphones, while only 75% own laptops or laptops. If customers can’t access your site from their mobile device, they’ll jump to someone else’s.

Something else to consider: 88% of shoppers who search for (and find) local companies on mobile will call or visit them within 24 hours. What’s more, 61% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from a small business if its site is mobile-friendly. If your website can’t adjust to fit a smartphone or tablet screen, you’re making it harder for these customers to use your site and buy from you.

The Fix

Build your website with a responsive design that supports browsing on mobile devices and computers. You can do this by making sure each page’s images and text adjust from a large desktop screen to a small phone screen. Then, check each page, post, and contact form on your website to make sure everything works on mobile.

Whether your customers are on mobile or a computer, responsive web design will allow them to see all the content and design you’ve worked so hard to create. This also helps shoppers contact you wherever they are: while riding the bus, waiting in line, or even relaxing at home.

3. Making It Hard to Navigate

The Mistake 

We’ve all been there: We visit a website to learn how to solve a problem, only to discover that finding the page you need is an even bigger problem. Don’t let your site’s navigation be an obstacle to customers! If you have too many pages in your menu, hidden CTA buttons, or huge text blocks, you might be driving people away.

If you have an e-commerce site, confusing navigation can hurt your business and bottom line even more. If your site is hard to navigate, your users will likely struggle to place an order online, especially on their tablet or smartphone. Those who have a frustrating experience are more likely to buy from another company with better navigation and easier checkout flow.

The Fix

Design your site in a way that’s easy for potential customers to use. For example, make sure every page has a header, body, closing, and footer. Customers want to quickly learn the benefits they’ll get if they choose your company without having to scroll forever or click a bunch of links. With a clear design flow, users can move through your site (and buy from you) with ease.

You can also make it easier to navigate your site by adding these things:

  • Internal and external links that actually work
  • Skimmable content you’ve broken up with imagery
  • A menu without too many drop-downs
  • Clear CTAs for visitors to learn more and take action
  • An easy checkout flow on desktop and mobile

4. Choosing the Wrong Images

a web designer choosing photos and color swatches for her site

The Mistake 

Your site’s photos should remind customers of the success they’ll find when they use your products or services. But if you only focus on choosing pictures that you like, you’ll miss a chance to help users relate to your business. This is another reason why you have to start with strategy and understand your target audience. If you don’t know their ultimate goal, how can you choose imagery that will inspire them to move toward that goal?

Irrelevant photos aren’t the only thing that can deter potential buyers. Massive photo files can slow down a page, and 53% of customers will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. On the other hand, tiny images (or photos you’ve taken with a cell phone) will be too small (or pixelated) for customers to see.

The Fix

Review every photo on your website for relevance and quality. First, add images that will appeal to your customers and show them what life can look like if they choose your small business. For example, if you’re a contractor, you might include photos of a happy family in their renovated kitchen. Or if you own a restaurant, you can add images of customers enjoying a delicious meal.

Next, switch out any cellphone photos (or tiny ones) for high-quality images. And if your pages can’t load within three seconds, see if you can optimize your photos. In other words, reduce your image sizes as much as you can while maintaining their quality. Sometimes, this is all you need for your pages to load more quickly, leading to a better user experience.

5. Not Optimizing for Search

The Mistake 

Once you’ve designed a strategic (and beautiful) website, you also have to optimize it — not just assume people will hear about it. That’s because 33% of shoppers use the internet every day to find small and local businesses. Customers want their online shopping experience to be as easy as possible, and 75% of them won’t search past Google’s first results page. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for customers to find you online. Without keywords in your content or meta descriptions and SEO titles for each page, you probably won’t rank on the first page. And even if you do, it’ll be hard for potential customers to understand how you can help them from the results page.

The Fix

To help customers find your business online and decide to click through to your site, focus on improving your SEO. You can do this by including keywords on each page that your target audience is searching for. For example, if you own a consulting firm that serves local business leaders, try adding “consulting firm in Lafayette, Indiana” to your home page’s header, SEO title, and meta description.

Your SEO may look something like this:

  • Keyword: consulting firm in Lafayette, Indiana
  • Home Page Header: Our consulting firm in Lafayette, Indiana can help your business solve problems with professional advice.
  • SEO Title: [Your Firm’s Name] | Consulting Firm in Lafayette, Indiana
  • Meta Description: [Your Firm’s Name] is a consulting firm in Lafayette, Indiana specializing in serving local business leaders like you.

This will help customers quickly learn what you do and how you can help them. Plus, you’re more likely to appear in Google’s first-page results when you include helpful and relevant keywords in your site.

By addressing these web design mistakes, you can turn your site into a 24/7 salesperson for your business! You’ll also remove buying obstacles by making your website easy to find, use, and buy from on any device. 

With a strategic site that appeals to your target audience, you can increase web traffic, sales, and customer satisfaction.

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.

Our marketing protocol has been proven to help companies make more money, filter bad advice, free up time, and eliminate the worry of following ineffective planning.

Treefrog Marketing is a marketing agency focused on small business and located in Lafayette, Indiana. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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