3 Common Web Design Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Help your clients catch up to the digital revolution in the live design tutorial Are We Approaching Digital All Wrong?” on July 31, 2014 at 1pm ET. Web design expert Paul Boag explores the ways designers are approaching digital design and how we can revise that approach for the better.


“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.”

- Jakob Nielsen

We all know a good web design when we see it, but what makes a bad web design? What are some of the most common web design mistakes people make? What contributes to general web design grumpiness (according to Nielsen’s quote above)? With this in mind, I decided to explore a few common web design mistakes to get a better idea of what we’re looking for when we seek to create an excellent user-centered design experience.

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photo from Shutterstock

Don’t Design Grumpy Websites: 3 Common Web Design Mistakes

Mistake #1: Self-Serving Websites

Did you know that your website isn’t actually yours? You may have imagined it, designed it, built it and launched it, but ultimately, the website belongs to your users because, well, they’ll be the ones using it. Many designers make the mistake of designing their dream website, even if it doesn’t fully serve the needs of their users.

Solution: User-centered design

Your website should be dedicated to solving a problem or meeting the needs of your users. Every piece of content, every menu, every link should be created with the audience in mind.

As such, it’s important to ensure that the website truly serves its intended purpose by getting user feedback. UX design principles can help with this, ensuring that your website is fully designed with the user in mind. Set up a survey, or—better yet—create a prototype of your website before you launch it. That way, actual users can explore the website and offer feedback before you launch it.

Mistake #2: Boring Content

Even the most stunningly-designed website will never take off without engaging content. As they say, “content is king.” These days, there’s a lot more to consider than content, but nothing turns off users more than dry, poorly worded copy or low-res images.

Solution: Prioritize addictive content over innovative design.

Keep people coming back by creating an addiction. What will people want to check back and look at every day? Find ways to spice up your content with high-quality, engaging copywriting, compelling images and other multimedia elements. Tell stories, include testimonials, and share related content from across the web (with credit, of course).

Mistake #3: Incompatibility

One of the most common web design mistakes lately is incompatibility with some browsers and mobile devices.

Responsive web design is on the rise, and it’s only becoming more popular as new devices are released. Did you know that 70% of all web access is from mobile devices now?

Solution: Responsive web design

Make sure your website is viewable in any browser on any device—tablets, smartphones, desktops and laptops—to ensure that your audience can enjoy your website from anywhere.

Responsive web design can seem like a scary concept, but there are plenty of tools and educational resources available to help you along. For example, web design expert Brian Wood teaches a course on designing impressive responsive websites—all without writing a single line of code.

Want more? Read 3 more common web design mistakes over at HOWDesign.com.


T5786Looking for a more overarching examination of web design practices? Web design expert Paul Boag explores the ways designers are approaching digital design and how we can revise that approach in his live design tutorial, “Are We Approaching Digital All Wrong?” on July 31, 2014 at 1pm ET. If you’re frustrated by working with clients and companies that are horribly antiquated and inappropriate for the digital world, you’ll learn ways to overcome those issues in this one-hour webinar. Register here.

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