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13 Common Mistakes in Web Design

web design mistakesIt’s easy for companies to rush websites. Why? Because crafting a searchable, readable, and enjoyable website takes time and money. Making a quality website is, of course, one of the best ways for you to boost your company’s online reputation and traffic. Instead of investigating techniques for making the perfect site, here are 13 common mistakes in Web design you have most likely already made:

Undefined Purpose

One of the biggest turnoffs for site visitors is not being able to tell what the point of a website is. This is often linked to poorly aligned marketing strategies like “Click here for cheap bank loans” links that direct Web users to a landing page selling computer parts. A site’s purpose needs to be up front and personal, which leads to the next point…

Poor Readability

The content on a site needs to reinforce its purpose. Having big blocks of text, PDF files, and tacky content is a great way to encourage visitors to close out of a browser. Instead, focus on 21st century style by making everything sleek and streamlined. It is easy to underdo it, though, but that problem is easily fixed by…

Complicated Navigation

You want your page visitors to be able to find everything they need with easy-to-use and intuitive navigation bars. Don’t get all flashy by adding images and sound to them; instead, focus on building navigation bars that are simple and to the point.


Among the most common mistakes in Web design, overall flow is a major concern. You want your site to read like a book. They show up to a homepage (i.e. the cover), learn more by reading on, and can skip between chapters with simple clicks of a mouse. Prioritize information you want to share by putting what is most important up front and in the middle.

Slow-Loading Pages

Do not — do not — put dozens of big pictures, videos, sounds, and complicated flash features on a homepage. People do not like to wait until a site is fully loaded before browsing. Cut back on the complex and deliver something simple and intuitive.


From bad anchors to fossilized website features, it isn’t easy to make a site cohesive. Make sure that the homepage link goes back to the homepage from every other page. The same goes for other links, too. Also, it is important for a site’s navigation bars and resolution to be standard on every page.

Terrible Resolution

Speaking of resolution, it is never good to have a site that forces users to scroll horizontally. Make sure your website designers are using standard screen resolutions (1024 x 768) that apply to all browsers and mobile devices.

Messing Up Mobile Browsing

A number of common mistakes in Web design have to do with mobile browsing. A large portion of all searches done every day are from smartphones and tablets. Does your site look how it is supposed to on these devices? It needs to. Mobile searching is up, and if you’re behind the trend, then your website is a waste of virtual space.

Misguided SEO

Search engine optimization, in terms of mobile and desktop browsing, is still important. This influences how well a site ranks on Google and other search engines. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that overdoing it is more dangerous than anything. Google loves to penalize sites with excessive keywords and SEO — don’t give it the chance.

No Takeaway

Every user should take something away from visiting a website. Is it a free newsletter? Information on how to increase marketing? In-depth knowledge on a product or process? Whatever it is, your site needs to inform and educate.


Your site is not an ad. Instead, use your pages to educate your visitors on what you do and who you are. Have links to product/service-specific pages with all the advertorial content.

Ignoring the Basics

Every site needs a masthead, a contact page, a FAQ section, and an “about us.” These are expected and easy to create.

Too Much Like…

You don’t want your site to be like everyone else’s sites. Differentiate yourself and try new things; you can always go back. There are dozens of other common mistakes in Web design, but know that avoiding the problems is better than falling for them.

(Is your website hitting the mark? / shutterstock)

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 25 Posted 3 years ago Felix Brown

    These are some great guidelines for avoiding some common web design mistakes. It does take some effort to come up with a great design but if you have done your research and have good skills.

  • Samuel Hum's picture
    Dec 22 Posted 3 years ago Samuel Hum

    Nice article, Zsolt!

    You hit many points perfectly. The points about Complicated Navigation and Slow-loading Pages resonate very deeply with me. Many sites are either so complicated that I can't find what I'm looking for (or worse, when I have no idea what the site's purpose is), or it is so laden with images that it takes forever to load. The best part is when the page finally does load, I see that the images are not even relevant to the site in the first place.

    I think all of us can definitely learn from the points in this post to imporve our websites for 2014!

  • Sarah Thomson's picture
    Dec 21 Posted 3 years ago Sarah Thomson

    An interesting piece with some useful points - many of which are still often overlooked or, as you suggest, simply ignored for the sake of increasing profit margins.

    I totally agree that giving thought to the organisation of a website (its IA) is really important, as well as the need to recognise that not everyone's first experience of a website will be through its home page: with users entering the site through a variety of entry points it's vital that they're given a consistent user experience and embark on a user journey that's both rewarding and fulfilling in terms of what they (and the website owner) would like them to achieve.

    You mention 'undefined purpose', but I think it would also be worth mentioning 'undefined audience': far too many websites are built without thought to the primary audience, their needs and the key tasks that they'll be performing.

    I don't totally agree with your comment about the need for every website to have an 'FAQs' section. While an FAQ area does have its place and is needed in some instances, if a website and its content have been built correctly, with UX and other factors in mind, then I don't personally believe that it's necessary in every case.

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