You might not recognize a good website when you see it…
…but do you know what bad websites look like?
Craigslist. Yale School of Art. Ling’s Cars. Even parody sites like The World’s Worst Website.
You don’t need an expert to tell you that these are bad websites.
They’re ugly, confusing, cluttered, and outdated. But bad websites aren’t just the ugly ones. Sometimes bad websites are even gorgeous.
When web designers talk about “bad website design,” they’re speaking more about how people interact with the site (known as user experience, or UX) than how it looks. And for the average layperson, these things happen largely behind the scenes.
Which means that most website owners don’t know they have a bad website.
In this article, we’re pulling back the curtain on bad websites and going through 10 features that are preventing your site from being all it can be.
1. Poor Navigation
A site’s navigation menu is a lot like a book’s table of contents; it’s how web visitors know where to go to find the information they need.
When done right, it’s an homage to excellent UX. Done wrong, however, and it’s confusing, complicated, and cluttered:
- Too many menu items
- Too few menu items
- Links hidden in the footer
- Poor organization
Think of your website like a digital storefront (even if you don’t have a brick and mortar location). Keep like with like and make sure the shelves are well-organized.
Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else.
2. Visual Clutter
Our brains hate clutter. Having too much to look at made it a lot harder for our mammalian ancestors to recognize and respond to threats. Instead, we prefer order and categorization.
This applies to websites too.
Bad websites try to cram too much information into a small space. Words and images compete for attention. Colors and fonts are big, bold, and loud. There’s no white space for the eye to just relax.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have plenty of information on your site. It just needs to be organized better. A good web designer can act like a professional organizer and ensure that all the essentials are right where you need them.
Watch this quick (2-min) video to see
exactly the personalized video we will make for you!
3. Low-Quality Images
All websites—whether you’re selling a physical product or not—need to have eye-catching images to draw visitors in and keep their interest.
But not just any images will do.
If you’re using tiny, low-resolution pictures, your site won’t just look outdated, you’ll look like a total amateur.
Is that how you want potential customers to think of you?
Stock photos are fine, but you shouldn’t rely on them. Instead, opt for high-quality images of your actual office, store, and employees.
These days, there are just as many people using mobile devices to search the web as there are desktop users, which means your website is being viewed on different-sized screens.
If your site is unresponsive, mobile devices will crop your web pages rather than shrink them to an appropriate size. In addition to being frustrating to navigate, it’s just plain difficult to read.
With responsive design, on the other hand, you’re practically getting a website redo every time the screen size changes. If you’re on a desktop, go ahead and shrink your browser window right now and see what I mean.
5. No CTAs
A CTA, or call to action, prompts web visitors to do something, such as scheduling an appointment, signing up for a newsletter, or even reading more blog posts.
You might think your prospective clients will automatically know what to do next, but believe me, they can use a little nudge.
In fact, the best CTAs come in the form of a big, colorful button that takes them right where you want them to go. Bad websites make them figure it out for themselves.
6. Inconsistent Branding
Tiffany blue. The Nike swoosh. The iconic Disney signature.
These are all examples of branding that are so steeped into our collective memories that we recognize them instantly.
Your business might not be a household name, but it is a brand. And once you’ve gone through the trouble of creating your brand elements, it’s important to keep them cohesive and consistent throughout your site.
Brand elements are things like:
- Business name
- Color scheme
- Font selection
- Tone of voice
- And more.
Poor website design ignores branding entirely, which leaves potential customers with no idea of who you are.
7. Poor Functionality
The most expensive car in the world is useless if it won’t start. And even the most beautifully designed website is a bad website if it doesn’t work.
Long loading times, error messages, broken images or links…these are just some of the things that frustrate users.
This is also why it’s important to find a web designer who specializes in development as well.
8. No Accessibility
ADA compliance has been a bit of a buzzword in the web industry for the last couple of years. And while some of the hype and fear have been exaggerated, it is still important to make sure your site is accessible to a wide variety of people.
Small font, low contrast, missing alt tags, and the like don’t just alienate those with disabilities, they typically point to a lack of user experience, which drives everyone away.
9. Weak Content
Most of what we’ve talked about so far is your site’s style. Content, on the other hand, is its substance.
Well-written, informative content in the form of web pages, blogs, or videos overcomes the trust barrier and does the hard work at convincing curious users to become paying customers.
You can do this yourself, or hire an expert; either way is totally fine. But if you think you can slap up 200 words about your business and expect to have customers lining up around the block, you’re gonna be disappointed.
10. Ignoring SEO
You want people to actually visit your website, don’t you? Of course you do. That’s why no business can afford to ignore their site’s SEO.
SEO—short for search engine optimization—helps Google and other search engines find your site and deliver it to people who might be interested.
Fixing most of the issues listed in this article will help boost your SEO score tremendously, but there are other behind-the-scenes actions that you (or your web developer) can take to help even more.
A bad website is more than just an outdated design, it’s how your site looks and functions.
But if you’ve devoted a lot of time and energy into building it yourself, you might not even realize that you have a bad website. That’s where a professional web designer can help.
At Clarity Creative Group, we’ve been helping businesses grow by improving their digital presence since 2009. In that time, we’ve helped dozens of business owners meet their goals (and we have the case studies to prove it).
If you’re curious about what life is like with a great website, give us a call or shoot an email.
Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. If you’re interested, the hex code for Tiffany blue is #81D8D0.