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3 Exceptionally Bad Web Design Mistakes that Many Businesses Make

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Elena Velikova
November 13, 2017

Elena Velikova
Elena Velikova has written 8 articles for WebKnowHow.
View all articles by Elena Velikova...

In the business world, it’s important to stay positive and focus on solutions. That’s why there’s no shortage of best practices on everything from how to choose the optimal CMS, to using jQuery for animation, and the list goes on.

However, sometimes it’s more illuminating — and also more memorable — to shine a bright, and admittedly rather alarming spotlight on what NOT to do; because, as red lights and stop signs demonstrate, safety and intelligence can often be matter of avoiding traps.

Considering this, and at the risk of being permanently banned from all future Optimist Club meetings, here are three exceptionally bad web design mistakes that many businesses make; and of course, that you’ll either stop — or better yet, avoid — committing:

1. Not having responsive design.

We’ve long since passed the point where the majority of web surfers are using smartphones and tablets. However, many businesses are still (with apologies to Prince) still partying like it’s 1999. That is, their website fails to load properly on various mobile devices and different browsers. To say this is a missed opportunity is a vast understatement. On today’s digital landscape, not having responsive design is fatal.

2.    Not having a secure website.

The adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is valid in some scenarios — but making the headlines because hackers made off with confidential corporate or (arguably even worse) client/customer data can be devastating to a brand and reputation; just ask Target, Yahoo and Equifax.

As such, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway just in case) that having a secure website is an absolute must. And this doesn’t simply mean using HTTPS and SSL (which you’re probably doing anyway). It also means being vigilant about installing patches and updates — especially for third-party plugins and apps — locking down directories and file permissions, and ensuring that everyone who has access to anything of importance is using a strong password (i.e. not their dog’s name or “password”).

3. Designing for Google vs. humans.

Yes, it’s important to make Google happy. But many businesses are doing this at the cost of irritating an even more important stakeholder: the human beings who actually visit their website.

For example, content is blatantly keyword optimized to the point of being redundant, ridiculous or nonsensical (“the best Chicago plumber will be the best Chicago plumber who is known as the best Chicago plumber”), and the sitemap is geared towards crawlers instead of UX.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can make Google (and Bing) happy by ticking their various boxes, and at the same time, making visitors happy by meeting their expectations and giving them a satisfying experience. If you need some help with the latter — and most businesses could use some pointers — then work with a marketing agency that specializes in qualitative research design. You’ll glean valuable insights that apply to your website, as well as to your overall sales and service effort.

The Bottom Line

While most (though not all) businesses have figured out that a website has to look good and load fast, a surprising number are making one, both or most often all three of the above-noted mistakes — which increases bounce rates and reduces conversions. If your business is guilty as charged, then don’t worry about pleading your case. There’s no sentencing, and you don’t have to wear an ankle bracelet. Just resolve to fix what needs fixing, and make sure that these problems don’t crop up again down the virtual road.

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