How To Avoid 10 Common Web Design Mistakes That Might Be Killing Your Customers

Estimated Reading Time: 12 Minutes

By: Brian McCrackenbutton to visit the authors linked profile
High Level Developer


  • Slow loading pages on your website causes users the most stress with blood pressure levels rising by 21%, from 111 mm Hg to 134 mm Hg
  • Multiple pop-ups were the next largest offender, raising pressure levels from 108 mm Hg to 130 mm Hg – a 20% increase
  • Auto-play music (20% increase), broken pages (17% increase) and auto-play videos (16% increase) also contributed to elevated blood pressure levels among study participants
  • Disorienting animations caused blood pressure levels to rise from 102 mm Hg to 107 mm Hg, a 5% increase

It’s well known that if your website is hard to use, potential customers will leave and go to a competitors site to find what they are looking for.

Worse yet, if your website is poorly designed or has technical issues, it can leave the impression that your business is unprofessional, unreliable, and not trustworthy. (More on how to create a professional website design here.)

What’s new information is that according to a study done by the Cyber Duck UX Agency, your web design mistakes could be negatively affecting your website visitors health.

The Health Impact Of Common Web Design Mistakes On Website Visitors

A chart showing some of the biggest web design mistakes that website owners need to be aware of.

1,100 people aged 20 to 58 took part in Cyber Duck’s user research study. The participants had to use websites that featured 10 common web design mistakes, all of which you will find on any number of websites in Google search results.

Their blood pressure was measured before using the troublesome website, and just after using it to determine what level of stress each web design mistake caused.

These Are The 10 Common Web Design Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Slow Loading Pages
  2. Multiple Pop-Ups
  3. Auto-Play Music
  4. Broken pages (i.e. 404 errors)
  5. Auto-Play Videos
  6. Non-Clickable Call To Action Buttons
  7. Hard To Read Fonts
  8. Images Not Loading
  9. Multiple Image Sliders
  10. Disorienting Animations

It’s not hard to find web pages that have some, if not all, of these web design mistakes.

Less experienced web designers will often add these to a site based on the client’s request. Web designers with more experience will often head off these website design mistakes at the very beginning of the design process for a new site.

Let’s talk about each of these design mistakes to avoid, and how to make sure your web strategy accounts for them.

Slow Loading Pages

Slow loading website example as a common web design mistake.
A slow loading website is one of the most common web design mistakes that web developers make. It leads to a poor user experience and can hurt your search engine optimization considerably.

Slow-loading pages are a real focus in the web design world right now. It’s a common web design mistake that can negatively impact search engine rankings.

Website speed is extremely important to the mobile users’ many businesses depend on due to the slow load times caused by weak cellular signals in some areas.

Solutions To Improve Website Speed:

If your current website loads slowly, review your hosting plan to ensure it offers the speed and resources that your website needs to run well. In addition to quality hosting, the best websites use CDNs to reduce the amount of time it takes for website content to load.

If your hosting environment is adequate for your needs, work with your web designer to improve the website’s performance. A few examples of how to do that are:

  • Make sure the website images are the right size.
  • Replace irrelevant images that are not needed, particularly if the element the image is being used for can be created in CSS.
  • The site is built correctly and doesn’t use a “Builder” which can often hurt the website’s speed.

Using a custom WordPress website instead of a templated site with a high number of plugins can help you avoid this issue.

Note: Google Analytics will often hurt page loading time, but if it’s how you track traffic across your web pages, we do not suggest removing it.

Avoid Multiple Pop-Ups

A common web design mistake is using too many popups. This image shows 16 popups overlaying each other making the website impossible to use or see.
A very common web design mistake is to use multiple popups on a single web page. Pop-ups can be distracting for your website visitors and should be avoided.

Not only do search engines hate these, but your target customers probably do as well.

They are annoying on desktops, but can absolutely destroy a new customer’s user experience while using mobile devices on your website.

A business owner might think that they will convert visitors into new customers using them, but the opposite is often true. When visitors arrive at your website, they want to find what they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible, and pop-ups make that confusing and difficult in some cases.

Solutions To Avoid Using Pop-Ups

While this remains one of the biggest web design mistakes to avoid, it can be as easy as asking your web design partner to remove them in favor of less intrusive web design elements.

Some examples of those might be:

  • Add a sticky call to action to the sidebar of each web page to promote your newsletter, product, or service that may have been featured in the pop-up.
  • Be sure to add call-to-actions to the bottom of each blog post.
  • Creating a less intrusive but sticky call to action to the top or bottom of the screens on mobile devices can also be a good alternative in some cases.

Avoid Auto-Play Anything (music and video)

image shows a trendy web design that makes the common web design mistake of using autoplay video
Auto-playing videos are often used in more trendy web designs, but they can be considered a web design mistake when they cause confusion or their purpose isn’t immediately made clear.

Auto-playing music is one of the less common web design mistakes you will encounter these days, but auto-playing video is a common mistake you can find everywhere it seems.

Most designers add them to a landing page because website owners request them, but they are one of the bigger web design mistakes to avoid.

Using these in a website’s design can be disorienting the first time visitors arrive on your website and isn’t widely considered accessible design for your target customers that may have disabilities.

Because of the large files, they can also hurt your search engine optimization efforts and generally aren’t very mobile-friendly.

Solutions To Using Auto-Playing Anything (but mostly video)

The goal behind auto-playing videos and music is normally grounded in conversion rate optimization.

A business owner may want these for their new website because they think it will give them a competitive advantage by impressing website visitors.

It’s one of those common web design mistakes that people make to work on and improve their conversion rate optimization efforts, but typically only hurts search engine optimization and how your website is represented in search results.

Truthfully, there are other aspects of your website to address your customer needs that can go a long way in working to improve your conversion rate optimization efforts that don’t involve these design mistakes.

  • If your target audience has a problem they need to solve, creating quality content that provides valuable information to address those user needs will be far more impactful than a video that doesn’t do anything to help them.
  • If your website currently has low-quality images, address them and use images that accurately reflect your product, service, or business in a professional manner.
  • If your website has individual pages to sell specific products or services, make sure that your website copy resonates with your target audience in a meaningful way.
  • As you’re creating content for your website make sure that it is mobile-friendly, and that the page titles, meta descriptions, and labeling of menu items are correct. It doesn’t matter if you create a wonderful article for your content marketing efforts if nobody can find it in the search results.

Broken Pages

Image of a broken page that is producing a 404 error because the web page is not available.
Broken pages can be very frustrating for website visitors, leading to a horrible page experience and are typically considered a web design mistake that is avoidable.

There are few things as frustrating as seeing what you need in search results only to get to the website and find that the page is gone.

This is one of the more common web design mistakes on a new website where the developer was pushed to publish the site by the business owner before they felt it was ready, but truthfully many websites have this problem.

Solution For Broken Pages

There are all sorts of things you can do to make sure your website doesn’t have this problem.

  • Create a custom report in Google Analytics that notifies you when someone lands on a 404 page. When you’re emailed, find out what page they were looking for and fix the issue or add the appropriate redirect.
  • If your website is small, simply go to each page and make sure it works as it should.
  • If your website is larger, run a broken link audit on the site using something like Screaming Frog.

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    Non-Clickable Call To Action Buttons

    image showing frustrated user because a website's buttons don't work
    Why buttons on a website don’t work and there’s no explanation why, often times a user will wonder if something is wrong with their device and become frustrated.

    This is one of those website design mistakes that are easy to avoid on smaller websites but are very frustrating for website users.

    A very common page to find this problem on is surprisingly the contact page for a website.

    For whatever reason people will often review the other pages of a website, but forget to be sure the contact form works.

    The other common area you may find this issue on new websites is in the search bar.

    The search bar tends to be a web design element that is taken for granted and people forget to make sure it’s actually working and not just there as a placeholder in their website layout.

    Solutions For Non-Clickable Call To Action Buttons

    For larger sites, web design mistakes like these are evaluated and caught early in the web design process.

    Larger sites tend to be very template-oriented in construction, so if there’s a problem on one page, it will be quickly noticeable across the entire site.

    For smaller sites, the solution is very similar to finding broken pages.

    • Go page by page through the site clicking on any CTA to ensure it works as expected.
    • If you locate a page where there is an issue, review any other page that may use the same template in the overall web design.

    Hard To Read Fonts

    female website user having difficulty reading her laptop screen
    Users will quickly become frustrated with a website if it uses a font that is difficult for them to read.

    One of the biggest web design mistakes that new designers often make is using font styles that make the website hard to use across all devices.

    Solutions For Hard To Read Fonts

    Of all of the common web design mistakes to avoid, this is probably the easiest.

    • While working on the website design, be sure to go through and use the website on a variety of devices.
    • That means testing the site on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and at least one cell phone.
    • Test the site on as many different cell phones as possible since they vary in size to a great degree.

    Images Not Loading

    picture of a blank image holder that isn't loading on a website
    When images don’t load properly, users can miss out on important content and them to wonder what should have been there.

    if your website has images that aren’t loading, you may find that the problem is either with the website, the hosting, or the website’s CDN if it uses one.

    Solution For Images That Don’t Load

    • Contact your web designer to see if they are able to determine why your site is unable to load the images properly.
    • If the web designer can’t figure out what the issue is, contact your website’s host and see if they are able to determine the cause. Web hosts tend to deal with site problems regularly and may be able to quickly troubleshoot the issue for you.

    Multiple Image Sliders

    an image of a woman overwhelmed by too many images sliders
    Too many image sliders can cause a lot of motion on a page that is distracting and raises anxiety.

    This is something you don’t see on many websites as designers have really tried to get away from sliders overall.

    Sliders don’t work well on many mobile devices and add sometimes irrelevant images that only contribute to slow load times for the site.

    That problem only gets worse if there are multiple sliders. They will often harm your search engine optimization, lowering your position in Google search results, while contributing little to the overall website design.

    Nonetheless, some website owners make the common mistake of adding sliders under the same false belief that it helps give their website a “Wow” factor.

    Solution To Multiple Image Sliders

    Much like fonts, this is one of those common web design mistakes that are easy to avoid.

    • Instead of using a slider, focus on one great image and let the website copy do the work for you.
    • Utilize other design elements such as portals, or suitable, non-confusing interactivity that is mobile-friendly and addresses user needs in a more meaningful way.

    Disorienting Animations

    gif of girl nervously chewing gum
    Excessive animations can be disorienting and cause anxiety for your website visitors.

    Disorienting animations is right up at the top of the list for some of the biggest web design mistakes to avoid.

    Solution For Disorienting Animations

    There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you avoid overusing animations.

    • When going through the web design process and you’re considering animations, ask yourself how this will benefit your site.
    • After that, ask yourself if new customers who just found your site would at all benefit from the animation.
    • Lastly, consider if that animation is mobile-friendly, and if could cause mobile users to become frustrated with your website.

    If the answer to any of those questions comes back to it being for “Wow” factor, then it falls into the category of easily avoidable web design mistakes and you should probably not use them on your web pages.

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