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Common Web Design Mistakes that Affect SEO

Web design mistakes

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Web design and SEO go hand in hand. Whether you are a web designer or an SEO specialist, it’s important to know the common mistakes that can negatively affect SEO. 

An aesthetically pleasing website can be the key to keeping the users hooked, but ignoring the functionality can keep your site from ranking well in search engine results.

Unfortunately, many website owners make mistakes when it comes to web design without realizing the impact it has on SEO. 

To help you achieve better search engine rankings and create a positive user experience, this article will discuss some of the most common web design mistakes that can affect SEO.

Mistake #1: Choosing a Heavy Theme

Looks may be deceiving. Don’t let a pretty design trick you into believing it is the best choice. 

Bloated themes can affect your website’s loading speed and negatively impact user experience, which, in turn, will negatively affect your SEO rankings.

When users click on your link from SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), they expect the page to load fast so they can grab the information they’re looking for as soon as possible. 

If your page takes too long to load, visitors will become frustrated and leave before they can engage with your content.

See how this website is taking a long time to load because of heavy theme.

A good rule of thumb when choosing a theme is to ensure that it has all the features you need but no more. Pick a lightweight theme with only the necessary features, so loading times aren’t affected by extra (read unnecessary) functions or code.

Such themes are typically built with minimal code and feature fewer bells and whistles than their counterparts. A lightweight theme also reduces hosting costs, as each page does not need to download extensive amounts of data to be displayed correctly.

Mistake #2: Not Optimizing/Compressing Images

We understand that you want to display your business images, but uploading pictures is not enough. 

After all, images are essential for any website, as they make content more visually appealing and easier to understand. But if these images are too prominent with inadequate compression, it can drastically slow down your website’s loading times, hurting its ranking in SERPs. 

You can use online image compression websites.

You want to ensure that the image you upload is optimized for web use, meaning that the file size is as small as possible.

We recommend using WordPress plugins such as ShortPixel  Image Optimizer and WP Smush to optimize your images.

Mistake #3: Not Optimizing Site for Mobile Phones

As the proliferation of mobile phones continues to soar, optimizing a website for mobile devices is a prerequisite. Businesses risk losing out on potential customers who search using these devices by not ensuring that a site displays correctly on smartphones and tablets.

See how we have optimized our website for all devices.

A study by Google revealed that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a website if they have trouble accessing it from their device. 

Best Practices While Optimizing Your Site for Mobile Devices: 

  • Ensure all your content is responsive and provides an optimum viewing experience across different devices and screen sizes.
  • Rearrange elements such as images and text based on how it appears on each device to ensure the best viewing experience.
  • Compress images and use caching methods. 
  • Keep navigation simple; minimize the number of menus and options displayed at any time.
  • Test your website frequently during development to check for errors, glitches, or compatibility issues between browsers or operating systems.

Mistake #4: Designer Not Working in Tandem with SE Optimizer

Without an SEO specialist on board from the beginning of the project, there’s no guarantee that all design elements will be optimized for maximum visibility. 

For instance, if images are used without proper Alt tags or descriptions, they won’t appear in organic searches. 

A designer might also create pages with duplicate content without realizing it; this can confuse search engines and lead to poor rankings for those pages. The two professionals should communicate regularly during the design process so they understand each other’s goals.

Mistake #5: Using Illegible Fonts

Using illegible fonts can be one of the most damaging mistakes a web designer can make, and these fonts can be a major turn-off for potential customers and search engines. 

Viewers won’t stick around for long if a website is challenging to read.

And fonts are not just for humans. Search engines also use fonts to determine the content of your website. If a font is too small and hard to read, they may not be able to index all of the text on your site. 

For example, a specific font one of our clients used on their website had this peculiar issue. It looked great in our eyes, but Google thought otherwise!

The problem was that whenever our client used the font for their H4 titles in blog posts, Google could not serve the pages on mobile devices. Hence, we chose to do away with the specific font for H4 and said R.I.P. to the font a few weeks later.

The Lesson: Choose your fonts wisely.

Mistake #6: Annoying Pop-ups & Slide-ins

Pop-ups are like kids. They are cute at first glance but can also be very annoying. They keep coming back (on some websites), no matter how much you tell them to stay away.

There are good and bad ways to use pop-ups and slide-ins on your site. 

See how this website is using annoying ads in their website.

“The good way is to offer something of real value with the pop-up or slide-in so that visitors can’t wait to click on it. And the bad way is to use them so often that people are annoyed and start closing them without reading what you have to offer” says Waylon Foster, the Digital Marketing Director of

We recently stumbled upon an e-commerce site that uses pop-ups for almost every product page. It was like being at the movies, with all those commercials blanketing the movie. Sometimes, the exit mark was so small that it was hard to click. 

They used different exit marks and pop-up styles, but that was a bad idea.

We did not stay long on that site.

Please understand that disruptive pop-ups will lead to a high bounce rate for your site, impacting your rankings in search engines.

Mistake #7: Convoluted Site Navigation

Google needs to be spoon-fed and knows what goes where, as it relies on structured information to index pages. 

See how the website is using the menu section perfectly to bring in all of its product categories.

The search engine giant will not prioritize a site that has complicated navigation.

A Few Tips to Achieve Good Site Navigation:

  • Ensure that you have logical pathways between pages, descriptive subheadings, and breadcrumbs for larger sites with multiple levels of hierarchy (such as an online shop).
  • Ensure that all links within the navigation work correctly to avoid frustrating visitors.
  • Keep menus and submenus concise and easy to understand so that people know exactly where to go to get what they need.
  • Ensure all necessary pages are linked rather than relying only on dropdowns.
  • Group related pages together in categories.

Mistake #8: Having a Cluttered Design

A cluttered design can affect user experience, making navigation more difficult and overwhelming visitors with too much information or content.

When designing a website, try to keep everything minimalistic and organized. Prioritize the information you want visitors to see and organize everything into logical sections. 

Make sure all elements on the page have a purpose and avoid overwhelming visuals that take away from the main message of your site.

Mistake #9: Having an Ugly Color Combination

Some colors are matches made in heaven, while others are a recipe for disaster. For example, while sky blue goes well with white and beige, it makes the visual muddy when combined with orange or purple. 

Choosing colors that complement each other and make your content easy on the eyes is essential. You can do this by opting for colors from the same family or using complementary colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel.

If you do not want to get your hands dirty, use a tool like Adobe Color CC, a free online color wheel and generator that lets you easily select from various color schemes and palettes.

Mistake #10: Using Stock Photos

Stock photos can reduce credibility, make a site look unprofessional, and create a disconnect with potential visitors. In short, they don’t provide authentic content or value to the site itself.

They are usually generic and lack specificity to the website’s topic or industry. Also, they are often overused across multiple websites, decreasing their chances of appearing in SERP rankings.

On the other hand, relevant and original images (with accurate ALT tags, of course) help improve keyword rankings. Besides, using high-resolution photos helps keep users engaged, which is essential when Google evaluates where to rank websites.

Mistake #11: Using CTAs that Don’t Stand Out

No matter how great your website design is, it won’t deliver the desired results if visitors don’t know what action to take; this is where Calls-To-Action (CTAs) come into play.

Web designers must make sure the CTAs stand out from the rest of the page by using contrasting colors, bold text, or other visual elements (gradient, for example) that draw attention. 

They should place CTAs prominently, so they’re easily seen and have an appropriate amount of “clickability.” Ensure testing different placements and designs to determine which resonates best with your target audience.

And don’t forget to link the buttons to landing pages relevant to what was promised in the CTAs.

Mistake #12: Ignoring White Space

White space makes elements in a web page distinct from one another, guiding viewers’ eyes from one area to the next. 

It creates clarity and helps draw focus to certain vital pieces of content. 

Without sufficient white space, viewers will feel overwhelmed by too much information on the page, pushing them out of your site, increasing the bounce rate, and affecting SEO.

Website Design Mistakes & SEO FAQs

1) What Are Some of The Most Common Website Design Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Traffic?

Failing to optimize for mobile devices and having a cluttered interface are two common mistakes website designers tend to make. These mistakes can lead to navigational confusion and a poor user experience.

2) How Do I Avoid SEO Mistakes While Designing A Website?

Web designers must consider the optimization of critical components such as site architecture, content layout, and meta tags. Also, give attention to features such as image ALT attributes.

3) Does A Web Design Layout Affect SEO?

Absolutely! The visual and structural elements of a web page, such as text formatting, typography, page layout, and navigational structure, all influence how the search engine algorithms interpret and rank a website in results.


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