Common Web Design Mistakes 

Last Updated on June 3, 2021

Have you ever come across a website and thought, what were they thinking? Websites can fall short due to many web design mistakes.  If you’re not immersed daily in the ever-changing world of website design and development, it can be hard to know if you’re doing something wrong. 

In our 17 years, we’ve seen all types of common web design mistakes. So let’s take a look at the top six and how you can avoid them.  

    1. Lack of strategy or communication
    2. Not understanding the audience
    3. Designing in a bubble
    4. Not including content and technology
    5. Representing the brand poorly
    6. Short-sighted thinking

Lack of strategy or communication

Every person on a web design team should understand the client, their audience, and the objectives of the project. Objectives can get lost in translation, so it’s important that all the players are aligned.  

Who are the players? 

Let’s use USDP as an example. Our typical website project includes a client leader, a project manager, a technical person, and a creative team member (or two). The size of the team will vary depending on the size of the project. We almost always start with a discovery phase to understand the audience, define objectives, create a clear message, and establish a roadmap for success. 

In any agency, excluding any one of the key team members may cause the project to fall flat. More importantly, the project lead will ensure that the team keeps client objectives and strategy top-of-mind throughout the project–especially on long projects.  

How can you avoid a lack of strategy and this common web design mistake? 

Know who’s on your web design team, and expect to talk to each of them throughout the project. 

Sticky Notes from Brainstorming

Not understanding the audience 

Knowing your audience deeply has been important since at least Aristotle’s time. Gathering audience intel before diving into design is critical. Back in the discovery phase, everyone, including the designer, should take a hard look at data like analytics and user feedback. This helps generate an accurate picture of the clients’ audience and how they interact with the website and other marketing materials. Skipping this step results in a distorted creative effort. It’s really hard to generate leads or sell your products if you’re talking to the wrong people or in the wrong way to the right people.

How do you avoid this? 

Spend time researching your audience. A combination of Google Analytics and quick user surveys can start you on the right path. And ask how your web design firm gets their intel. 

Common Web Design Mistakes, Designing in a bubble.

Designing in a bubble 

Designers are really good at imagining what could be. But if the designer misses important information about the client, the project objectives, and the audience, the chances are high that they could be designing in a bubble and making this very common web design mistake. 

Other factors that contribute to this are:

  • Being swayed by popular design trends
  • Not getting buy-in from other team members (either on the project or within the organization)
  • Having a personal bias towards certain elements. For example, the designer prefers sans-serif fonts, even though the brand calls for Helvetica. 
  • Getting too wrapped up in the tools and not using the ones that are most appropriate for the project. For example, a designer prefers Adobe products over Sketch even though it may take them more time.  
  • Defaulting to mediocre solutions that don’t hit the mark. 

How to avoid this? 

Ask your design team about their process, how they collaborate. And if you dislike a design, say so. 

Frustrated Developers

Not including content and technology

Websites are team efforts that require more than a designer’s time and talent. Content and technology play key roles. 

Defaulting to existing web content or using “Lorem Ipsum” dummy content (instead of creating new, purposeful copy) results in a half-baked approach that can cause clients to question the creative efforts. If the designer doesn’t understand the technology used for the project, he may create some transcendent design that can’t be built within scope. Or, it may not resonate with the audience. 

How to avoid this common web design mistake? 

Make sure the copywriter and designer are working together. Well-written content informs how the visual elements are laid out and where they are placed. At USDP, we use Message-Based Design to make sure designs are based on real, purposeful content. 

Be sure to make sure the designer and the developer work together. Technology is the foundation that serves up the pages quickly. Both work to complement the visual efforts to produce a great experience for the audience.  

Common Web Design Mistakes, People Problem Solving

Representing the brand poorly 

Digital rules the marketing world, so how a brand is presented online is even more important than how it’s presented offline. Two things can happen to sour an organization’s digital brand

  1. The designer didn’t understand the brand and how to properly activate the brand. This includes things like logo representation, approved fonts and colors, how imagery is used, etc. Misuse of brand elements often occurs because the company doesn’t have brand standards and there’s too much room for interpretation–and thus, confusion. 
  2. The designer didn’t know how (or wasn’t able) to adjust the brand for digital efforts. For example, let’s say Company Snozzle has been around for years without a logo update, so their logo is geared to print and isn’t easily adaptable to things like social media or websites. If that’s the case, they may require a brand evolution to create consistency across mediums.  

What can you do to ensure your branding is properly represented? 

To avoid this common web design mistake, make sure your branding is up-to-date, you have a brand style guide, and you over-communicate it with anyone working on your marketing. If you don’t do these things, you may need a Brand Boost.  

Also, be open-minded when it comes to adapting things like your logo. A skilled designer can help you modify your logo without requiring an expensive re-vamp. 

Short-sighted vision leads to some common web design mistakes.

Short-sighted thinking  

Great creative efforts are never finite. The same goes for launching a new website. While the team can celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief after a successful launch, it is short lived. You can’t rest on your past success. And on the web, yesterdays success fades into the past rather quickly. For any designer to see their work as permanent and never subject to change is short-sighted. Great designers understand that continual adjustments, improvements, and gathering feedback are important to the long-term success of the website.

How do you avoid this common web design mistake of short-sighted thinking? 

Make sure your designer or your web design team are coaching you on how to continually update your website because it’s the best way for your brand to stay relevant.   

But wait, there’s more… 

At US Digital Partners, we work as a cohesive team to help you avoid these mistakes. If you want to hear more, let’s chat. We offer a free digital assessment to see where (or if) you need our services like website design, app development, videos, and brand boosts

Joe Kruessel Image Alt

By: Joe Kruessel

Joe is the Creative Director at USDP. He listens to metal and has a dog named Kaiser.