5 Elements of Bad Web Design

A list of everything a decent web page should not have.

We visit websites all the time; From our phones, computers to even TV screens, there isn’t a day where we don’t find ourselves skimming through a web page. Thus, it has become second nature for people to Google a brand if they want to learn more about them. With the Internet’s ubiquity, any legitimate business is expected to have an online presence where users can obtain information with just a click.

Unfortunately, not all company sites are created equal. Some inspire and spur action in users, while others fall flat, frustrating people to click away. Ever felt that looming distrust upon stumbling a webpage that looked straight out of a Windows 97 Powerpoint Presentation? Then you will know what we mean; Websites are more that just about having a memorable URL or loads of content – its the way you present that impresses audiences. 

A badly designed web layout with dreadful user experience (UX) features is as much of a major turn-off as having no website at all. In fact, 38% of users would choose to stop interacting with a website if they felt it was unattractive, and another 39% would leave if a page took too long to load. 

So, if you have to create a website for your brand, design it well. Stop your business from breaking the Internet (in the wrong way) by avoiding these 5 web design mistakes on your company’s site.

1. Zero White Space

script aug 23_whitespace

Filling up every inch of your web page is not maximising space, its affecting legibility and clarity for the reader. A website cluttered with images and bulky text with no structure confuses a user. People don’t know where to look, and the informational overload hurts the eyes (and mind).

Instead, incorporating a right balance in white space, such as ample page breaks and paragraph spacings, help users break information into digestible chunks, improving readability. Likewise, by isolating important content using white space, webpages can aid in reducing the viewer’s mental strain by highlighting and guiding their navigation.

For example, compare the layouts of the aptly-named World’s Worst Website Ever  and online accessories retailer Loeffler Randall. Which website seems easier to comprehend?

2. Where Is Your Contact Information?

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Photo: DRX Clinic makes it easy for customers to reach out to them with comprehensive contact details. 

Perhaps, past the dodgy looking layout, someone takes a chance and decides to reach out to your company. The one thing that would really annoy them for good is if he/she just can’t find a way to contact you.

About 51% of consumers cited that proper contact information was the most important component missing in company websites. This should be a cause for concern; How can half of all branded websites fail to provide sufficient info?

Maybe your ‘Contact Us’ panel is tucked away somewhere, or maybe the only platform listed for communication is a fax number. Whatever the reason, incomplete or missing contact information defeats the purpose of creating a website altogether. What’s the point if interested customers can’t tell you that they are interested? 

Thus, besides describing about the products and services it can offer, businesses need to pay attention to their communication channels. For example, putting a ‘contact’ header on every page, or detailing an exhaustive list of contact platforms consumers can use (e.g. Telephone, Mobile, Hotline, Email, Fax, Physical Address, etc.) alleviates the problem of miscommunication.

3. Rigid, Unresponsive Layout

script aug 23_responsive

We may still rely on the Internet to obtain information, but the platforms that we use have definitely changed. Almost 60% of Google searches are now made on mobile devices, and account for two-thirds of the time spent online.

Yes, its great that people can now access to information anywhere and anytime, but hopelessly squinting and zooming into details on a non-optimised website? Not so fancy. One mistake websites often overlook is the importance of adaptability. Granted, a website does load on any device, but engaging a mini-me version of a desktop sized page is troublesome and unattractive.

That’s where responsive layouts come in, which are a set of CSS queries that adapt a website to any screen configuration, dimension or orientation. Services like Foundation provide fuss-free templates for all forms of layouts. Especially when Google now penalises websites which are not mobile friendly, an adaptable website pleases the viewers and improves your search rankings.

4. No Call-To-Action Tools

script aug 23_calltoaction

There are no expectations when it comes to designing your own website. However, if your domain can’t create any expectation for users, that’s a problem. Any website has to have a purpose that readers can do something about; Why else, would people search for your page?

It’s as simple as having a ‘buy’ button on an e-retailer site. Now that people know all about this amazing product, what steps can they do to attain it? Your online presence isn’t just for show, it’s there to help you and your consumers achieve an objective. Thus, your website’s content needs a call-to-action that will spur and guide consumer behaviour. Some ways to emphasise that include:

  • Having written copy that highlights a need the website can address
  • Using actionable language within text like ‘Buy’, ‘Call’, ‘Enquire’, ‘Contact Us’
  • Inserting 1 to 2 call-to-action buttons on every page, such as a ‘Sign Up For Our Newsletter’, or ‘Contact Us’ button to make it convenient for users.
  • Making your buttons attention grabbing. Use an alternative colour scheme, implement subtle effects like pop-ups or shadowing, or simply make them big enough to notice.
5. Lack of Visual Balance

script aug 23_visual balance

Photo: HerVelvetVase uses high quality images that blend well with its web aesthetic. 

It’s proven – People are visual creatures. When it comes to brand credibility and trust, users are more likely to be convinced by a beautifully designed piece of content, and place greater priority on appealing graphics and photographs over interactivity and interest in their web content experience. Needless to say, a website with zero visuals is as unappealing as it gets; Plain text doesn’t stimulate the eyes, the mind, nor your users motivation to act.

Visuals with splashes of colour definitely help to brighten an otherwise dull layout, but they must be implemented with caution. Too much, and you will be faced a problem highlighted in point 1; A website that is messy and direction-less. Likewise, where you get your images also affects how your users might perceive your brand. Make the effort to take genuine, custom photographs over cheesy stock images that will support your brand image and make the website appear trustworthy.

Last but not least, invest in a fast, quality web host. In general, 40% of users will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds for a site to load. So, it’s a good idea to invest in a hosting service that is able to load heavy duty data such as high-resolution photos quickly.

Written by: (www.script.com.sg) 

Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd

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