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Bad Website Design: What It Is and How to Prevent It

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Bad Website Design What It Is and How to Prevent It

Do you have doubts about your business website? Maybe you’re unsure about its design, user experience, or conversion potential.

This guide explains poor website design, its impact on a business, and how to eliminate it.

What Makes a Website Design “Bad”?

This article will explain eight issues that can make a website less than optimal. They all share one thing in common: they reflect a lack of user-centricity.

People visit websites to make purchases, research products and services, check out content, look for job opportunities, and more. If they find it challenging to do any of these things, bad user interface (UI) design is likely the reason. Poor usability typically results in frustration, causing visitors to abandon and move on to competitor websites that deliver a better user experience.

How to Determine if a Site Is Poorly Designed

Leverage website engagement metrics, such as time on page and bounce rate, to determine whether your business delivers an effective website experience. If people spend too little time on a page, don’t navigate to other pages, or fail to click on calls to action, it could indicate a bad design issue.

Consider A/B testing if you want to identify specific problems with your website. Switching out a single design or functional element (like a button or drop-down menu) can help you find things that confuse visitors or make them think negatively about your brand — along with solutions to improve things.

User testing could also provide insights into what’s not working. Watching people navigate your site and listening to their comments can help you see things you’ve never noticed.

Checking out competitive sites can also help you identify issues with yours. Viewing superior digital experiences can help you see where yours falls flat.

How to Identify Bad Business Website Design

Here are some things to look out for that indicate a poor digital user experience.

1. Cluttered Interface

Many businesses are tempted to say — and do — too much on their websites. This leads to complicated interfaces that confuse people and leave them frustrated.

If bold banners, flashing elements, essay-length copy, and pop-ups take the focus off products, services, and critical content, invest in an interface makeover as soon as possible.

2. Navigation Confusion

No one likes confusing navigational elements, especially on small smartphone screens. Clicking a button should never take visitors somewhere unexpected because they probably won’t take time to find their way back. If it’s not simple, fast, and easy for people to navigate to critical product and service information, it’s time to rethink your website navigation. Start by prioritizing the content on your site, then find ways to make it easy for visitors to access the most critical pieces.

3. Confusing or Invisible Calls to Action (CTAs)

People visit your site for a reason. However, you will likely lose them if they can't find clear buttons or directions to achieve what they want.

Without clear CTAs, most visitors will leave and move on to competitors with a simpler way to do what they want. CTAs should make it easy for visitors to take the action that benefits them most, whether it’s subscribing, buying, making an appointment, viewing a video, or contacting the company.

Make sure your calls to action are clear, visible, and actionable, especially on small smartphone screens.

4. Complex Website Flow

If a task on your website requires too many steps, visitors are more likely to abandon it. This is a big turn-off in today's busy world, where people expect to get things done quickly and easily. The easier and fewer the steps, the better. If you find people leaving your site without taking the desired action, it could be because you're making them jump through too many digital hoops to do so.

5. Inconsistency Issues

A website with different fonts, color schemes, and layouts on various pages can be chaotic. A lack of consistency disrupts the user flow and makes the digital experience feel disjointed (it also harms brand loyalty and recognition). If your website has been added onto over time, it could be time for a website refresh to ensure everything ties together.

6. Waiting and Waiting…and Waiting…

People today won’t wait for a website that takes forever to load.

Your website must load fast, within two seconds or less. Most visitors drop off at three. Sluggishness frustrates people and makes them question the platform's — and brand’s —reliability. If you haven’t optimized your site for loading time lately, it’s time to reduce image size, eliminate unnecessary plug-ins, and do other things to speed things up.

7. Unclear Error Messages

Have you ever had a form submission on a website fail, only to receive a message that says “Error?”

Messages like this provide no information about what caused the issue or how to remedy it, leaving the visitor confused and frustrated.

Always take steps to prevent errors, though they will inevitably occur. Find ways to explain the problem in simple terms, avoid technical jargon, and provide clear instructions on how to make things right.

8. Smartphone Experience Issues

A website that looks amazing on a desktop but is incomprehensible on a phone screen is a big issue. That’s because most visitors now experience websites on smartphones. If your website isn’t mobile-first, it’s time to invest in a new site. Ignoring the mobile experience is costing you too much business.

Bad Websites: The Final Word

Websites can be badly designed for many reasons. Some may have accessibility issues like poor color contrast. Others overwhelm visitors with too many options or a loose layout. And some are just too slow. What’s important is that you quickly identify design issues and eliminate them to give your visitors the best digital experience possible.

It’s better to know your website needs work than to ignore the problem. Now that you know where to look, you can work on making your website better.

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