Words on a blue background that read "oops! 404 Page not found" to demonstrate what poor web design can do

Excellent web design is an indisputably vital part of operating a business website. Of course, any corporate site must appear professional, but it's impossible to overlook the importance of design in the user experience.

It's crucial not to confuse web design and graphic design, even though there are undoubted crossovers. Great web design ensures that everything looks visually appealing, but it's even more focused on designing pages and functionality that work and promote results. An excellent website funnels users toward consuming more content, drives purchasing decisions, and provides a fantastic first impression.

Conversely, a website with poor web design can shake confidence in a brand and, in some cases, make the purchase path difficult or downright impossible.

A business website is often a brand's first experience with a potential customer, and any missteps can prove incredibly costly.

1. Low-Quality Images

The days of text-based sites are long gone. Text is rarely easy on the eye at the best of times, and one of the roles of great design is to make pages more readable. However, when the images and graphics used to make a page stand out on the screen are of low quality, they can quickly do more harm than good.

Visitors will form an opinion of a website within 50 milliseconds of arrival. Low-quality images will catch the eye immediately – people remember 80% of what they see and just 20% of what they read.

Between those two statistics, it becomes clear that a poor visual experience will immediately impact a user's perception of small businesses, and a lack of quality may ultimately prove all they remember from their visit.

Rightly or wrongly, a lack of effort in the presentation can quickly transform into a perceived lack of enthusiasm elsewhere in the business.

2. Poor Mobile Usability

Most designers work on desktops, and it's natural for tablets and phones to suffer in importance during the design phase. Indeed, unless creating freehand illustrations, tablets rarely get a look in. 

Great designers incorporate mobile functionality from the outset. Good ones ensure they go back and test that everything works on screens of all sizes. Bad ones assume that because a website looks great on their Apple Pro Display, it will render perfectly well on screens of other dimensions.

Occasionally, they get lucky, especially when working with inherently responsive platforms like WordPress. However, just because something looks acceptable on smaller screens, that doesn't mean it's optimized. For example, a call to action might be better positioned elsewhere, or a menu might work better when words are switched for icons.

A mobile site doesn't necessarily have to double a designer's workload as they work on it independently. However, when mobile traffic makes up over half of all internet usage globally, it becomes too large an audience to ignore.

3. Unclear Calls to Action

The call to action leads back to creating online content with a purpose. There have been times in the history of digital marketing where quantity may trump quality, with techniques like keyword stuffing and private blog networks having previously proven formidable but ultimately highly flawed. Worthless content may go the same way, but small business owners have slightly more control.

The danger from poor design is that content may appear worthless because there's no next step for visitors to take. For example, encouraging someone to sign up for a service without providing a link for them to do so usually means a lost opportunity.

Consider bounce rate. If a visitor arrives at a website, views a single page, and does nothing else before leaving, they're considered to have bounced. A bounce rate of 40% is deemed to be excellent. When only four in ten people do nothing at all on a website, that's a success.

That leaves 60% of traffic that may act. However, they're unlikely to search for a product or signup form. Even if they're so interested that they're willing to go out of their way to find something, it's not a risk worth taking.

Reading a blog post or browsing a product description can all serve the marketing mix well. However, businesses ultimately need their website to convert people into paying customers and subscribers.

4. Incoherent Navigation Options

Even the best-designed websites experience significant bounce rates, as outlined above. Just as providing no signposts for a visitor to follow can increase that number, the same can be said of poor navigation.

Many designers will remember a time when even business websites used Google for on-site search. It's not overly common on modern sites, especially with internal search engines being relatively simple to include. However, one design element that's unlikely to go anywhere any time soon is the navigation bar.

Each time a visitor lands on a website, it's an opportunity for the site owner. However, visitors must find what they want without heading back to search engines as they might find the competition.

Great navigation design extends beyond menus too. A thought-out internal linking strategy, easy access to related articles, and a footer created with purpose can all contribute to making every visit a pleasant one.

5. Poorly Presented Content

A website may look pretty, but many people are more interested in words than pictures unless they're browsing Pinterest. Therefore, the quality of the content matters, although it's not directly associated with the web design itself. Instead, it all comes down to presentation and meeting goals.

Some people write content and make web pages as a hobby. In these cases, there's no considerable requirement for coherence. However, any content on a business website should be able to justify itself.

As emphasized in the third tip, whether it leads prospective customers to make a purchasing decision, builds brand awareness, or perhaps even goes viral on social media, content must be designed to do something.

If a business cannot identify when a piece of content is lacking from the inside, visitors will have an even more challenging time. They don't have the benefit of knowing what a piece was designed for, let alone what it's expected to achieve.

Poor presentation may involve overlapping text, action buttons that don't render correctly, and even broken hyperlinks from a design perspective. All affect the user experience and can potentially stand in the way of a page reaching its full potential.

Fix Poor Web Design and Ensure First-Class Design with Vervology

At Vervology, we understand the importance of great design. We know that business websites need to create an enticing first impression while also providing a clear route to meeting corporate targets.

Our design services cater to businesses of all sizes. Whether making an existing website more effective or building something from scratch that's destined for success, we work closely with clients to create something that exceeds targets and keeps new and existing customers alike coming back for more.