Since the dawn of the internet, website design has been something website owners and users are concerned about, equally. Design has evolved with varying levels of cooperation between users and designers. Everything from site speed to typography has been studied closely for their effects on website popularity and user statistics.
Quite interestingly, one of the first studies regarding website design mistakes was conducted by the Nielsen Normal Group back in 1996. During this time, AOL still dominated the internet and people loved talking about Frasier and Friends in social meets.
It is quite expected that the internet and website designers have “grown out” of these mistakes that were listed down in the mid-90s by the premier UX consultations. But funnily enough, instead of correcting these website design mistakes, even 22 years later, website designers are repeating the same mistakes on a variety of platforms. You could say, the nature of the mistakes has not changed, but the magnitude of the effect has increased manifold, thanks to increased accessibility options.
A very recent study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group in 2016 shows the increasing frequency of the same 20 mistakes they had listed back in ’96. According to this study, the designers keep forgetting the basics of website designing and that leaves room for these obvious mistakes:–
- Enabling website visitors to find information easily
- Allowing users to read the information with ease
- Facilitating better navigation for all users looking for information on their website
3 Appalling Website Design Mistakes that Refuse to Go Away
1. A penchant for the covert and complicated
Today, the most common mistake that we have spotted in website design is the lack of clarity. Most websites fail to convey the correct location of content. The websites simply fail to sympathize with the user’s need for clear understanding of the deliverables.
- Hiding useful information away from users
The unexpected location of the target content is a massive blunder most websites make. This is usually exaggerated by the misplacement of information or including relevant information in unusual places where regular users are not habituated to look. This can also be seen in websites that lack proper category names and subcategories where useful information may be hiding.
- Employing namesakes for categories and links
When navigational categories and links sound very similar it gives birth to massive ambiguity amidst active users. Most users will end up quitting your website instead of playing Sherlock. Users need useful information, delivered to them simply and fast. They do not care enough to detangle the mess of navigational category names and links.
- Hiding your prices and additional fees
Not including shipping fees, taxes and other overheads can be crippling for your website’s vital statistics. This is a massive blunder that can incapacitate your website conversion rates. Your users can be old and loyal, but the moment you try hiding the cost of a service/product they will smell dishonesty. Even from a perspective of website design hiding any small fees is a grave mistake you can make while designing your website. It is one of appalling website design mistakes that has potential of great damage on the reputation of your brand.
2. Messing up the information and architecture profile of website design
Information and its architecture is the plinth of every good website design. Your user primarily judges your website by the content quality and its presentation. There are two things your users hate most –
- Excessive information presented in a cramped “newspaper” style format on the very first page
- Presenting your users with hidden links
These were included in the NN study that was conducted 22 years ago. And a more recent study shows that your users skim through your content rather than peruse it line by line. This calls for small, visually attractive content with proper highlighting of information your user should be looking for. It is ideal to break down your information in small chunks to distribute your visitor’s attention to the target content.
Hidden links can be a menace especially when a website designer tries to hide them as parts/options of the navigation menu. There’s no place for ads leading to external links in the listing of your own website products or in the menu of your restaurant. You should rather stick to only those links relevant to your website design.
3. UX as dictated by your website features and functions
If your website has good UX, your user will definitely find it easy to sail through the menus of your website and find what he is looking for.
The NN Group’s study that was conducted very recently echoes the finds of the study that was conducted in 1996. Here are a few vital UX website design mistakes that refuse to go away –
- Incomplete action of filters
- Isolated pockets of information
- Links leading users to microsites with a one-way ticket
- Incomplete search results (without autosuggestion)
- Now, the filters and facets are meant to help your users. But they foul up the results when your products and services are tagged wrong or are insufficient. These are breeding grounds of confusion and you should avoid them unless you know what you are doing.
Incomplete islands of info that have no internal links and related information distributed in unrelated pages are two mistakes that mar the UX for any website design. These are the two website design mistakes that can take the context out of the information provided to your users.
Many websites, like Yahoo, provide subsites and that is quite a good way to expand your base of information. But the boat sinks as soon as your subsite fails to provide ways to your user to return to the main site. This prompts your user to simply quit and your conversion automatically plummets.
Search options are another feature that is meant to help the users find what they are looking for unless the function fails to search the entire site for the search words.
Scopes of improvement
As far as we can see it, there’s no chance for things to turn around unless the experts step in and the newbies wake up! This is a classic instance of history repeating itself. It will be quite fun to see and compare studies 20 years hence just to see how many of these website design mistakes still survive.
Author Bio: David Wicks is a website designer and a blog author. He has been writing for websites likewww.stgeorgewebdesign.comfor quite a few years. He specializes in the optimization of UX and website performance.