10 Ailments of Poorly Designed Websites and Bad Experiences

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We’ve all clicked on a link in Google and come to a website that was either outdated, slow to load, or was poorly designed. How did it make you feel? Probably frustrated, like the business was not trustworthy, or worst case [for the business] you went back to the search results to try your luck again.

There are four ways in which a well designed website communicates trustworthiness, that a poorly designed website doesn’t: their design quality, up-front disclosure of information, comprehensive and current content, and engagement with the rest of the web.

Ailments of Poorly Designed Websites

Poorly designed websites have many common traits that , that as web designers, we can spot almost instantly. If you’re designing or redesigning your website you need to avoid these common downfalls.

Have Bad or Bloated Navigation

If you have every clicked on a navigation link and a large menu opens that includes what seems like a link every page on the website, then you’ve been a victim of a mega-nav. In many cases a website designer or information architect was told by the business owner that “every page” was important – but we know this is rarely the case.

Users are learning new systems every day, so they appreciate an interface that they can understand quickly and with little effort.  The key to to a great navigation structure is balancing, what in psychology terms is called cognitive load (the amount of information that a person can process at any given time) with the mental models (the assumptions people carry in their minds before interacting with a website) of the user.

Lack An SEO Foundation

At some point, every business searches for their products or services within Google. If there was not a solid SEO foundation built when your website was designed, then you can expect to be disappointed with what you find.  This lack of exposure in the search results usually causes the business owner to explore the benefits of SEO, and find a top rated SEO professional to help them get their website to the top of the search results.

Our most valuable tip is, if you want to do SEO in the future you will need to involve an SEO expert at the beginning of your design process, and have them work closely with your team throughout the process to ensure a solid SEO foundation is built for future strategies.

Have Thin or Generic Content

We believe that great content drives brand growth strategies, positions you as a leader in your industry, and is at the core of any great website.

If all you’re publishing are short articles that provide no additional information than what a user can find on other websites, then don’t expect your users to view you as a thought leader.

Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Website Content

  1. Did an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well write the article?
  2. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  3. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  4. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic, or are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  5. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

Have Inconsistent Design

Google determined that it only takes about 50 milliseconds for users to judge your website and determine if they want to engage with your company or buy your products.

Drastically different layouts, colors, typography, icons, etc. between different pages can create a jarring, unsettling effect. Where as, visual consistency, with familiar tones, color schemes, and visuals on every page, creates a sense of stability, reliability, and trust.

Have Poor Image Quality or Overuse

With more than 65% of the population identifying themselves as visual learners, image quality on a website can make or break a users experience when they get to your site. There are two major issues with poorly designed websites that relate to imagery; image type, and image use.

Image Type

Eye-tracking studies have documented a dramatic gap in how users approach website images. Some types of pictures including generic stock photography are completely ignored. Other types of pictures such as custom product photography and images of employees at your company are treated as important content and add to the visual value of a website.

Image Use

Visual bloat continues to annoy users. Users prefer websites that utilize images to get them the information they want and not websites that use images just for the sake of using them. For example, in e-commerce, product photos help users understand products and differentiate between similar items. On personal websites, users want to see author photos and personal images.

Lack a Publishing Schedule

There is not much more frustrating than going to a website or blog and seeing it has not been updated in months – or sometimes years. Print publications have used editorial calendars for many, many years to help them define and visualize their plans for content. Bloggers can take note of this strategy, too.

There are many tools and WordPress plugins for creating a publishing schedule and editorial calendar – a few we use are listed below.

Trello is a project management tool that provides a visual way using a system of lists and cards to manage what’s being worked on, who’s working on it, and where something is in the process.

CoSchedule is a WordPress editorial calendar that allows you to schedule your posts, social media and team tasks.

Google Sheets are easy to use and familiar to most people. This is probably the most customizable system.

If you want to increase traffic to your blog and increase it’s reach within Google, it’s a good idea to have a consistent publishing schedule.

Bury Conversion Points

You have found the perfect service or product and all you want to do is contact the company to get more information or buy it, yet you can’t find any forms or the contact us page. Below are a few stats about converting visitors:

Having buttons or links to your contact us page – or better having a form – on each page is key to capturing leads and helping users when they are ready to buy.

Lack Social Integration

In 2017, social media is as important as ever. If you’re not making it easy for your users to share you content or products on their favorite social network then your missing out on free marketing and exposure.

Here are a few tips for social media icon placement.

  • Pick a prominent position.
  • Keep your button near the top of the page.
  • Place the button in close proximity to the content being shared.
  • Be careful about placing the button too close to navigation, so users don’t interact with it by accident.

Lack An Internal Link Strategy

Internal links have many benefits; some for SEO and some for UX. These benefits include allowing users to contextually navigate a website; establishing information hierarchy; and spreading link value around your website to help with rankings.

To create an internal link strategy 

  1. Create a data dictionary of key topics that relate to your services or products.
  2. Use those topics when writing blog posts.
  3. Link those keywords to your key product or services.

Not Optimized for Mobile

61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. Because of stats like that Google went to mobile first crawl – meaning they rank your website based on the content and experience of your mobile website.

Even knowing how important a well designed mobile experience is, I am sure everyone has had one of these two experiences when visiting a poorly designed website.

  1. Either, you visit a website on your smartphone and are staring at a full website – just in miniature form. The text is so small you have to try and zoom in just to find what they are looking for.
  2. Or, you visit a website and the design and experience is so poorly done that you can’t find what you’re searching for.

With 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device calling or going to that business within 24 hours, and 57% of users saying they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, you need to make sure you have a top-rated mobile website experience – no if, ands, or buts.

Need Help?

If you need help fixing your poorly designed website or building a new website that users want to engage with, looks great on mobile devices, Google wants to rank, and drives sales and leads feel free to contact our CEO/Founder directly.


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