Top 10 Usability Mistakes in Web Design


The user experience or UX has become the focus of many site owners in the last decade or so, primarily because you don’t get a good ranking in search engines if you have a high bounce rate. Make no mistake, visitors will bounce from your site if they find it hard to navigate.

Good search engine optimization, and UX for that matter, is not just about content anymore, although it is still a big part of it. However, you also need to pay attention to usability in general, and that means a lot of things. Like many site owners, especially if you are a startup, you are probably making quite a few mistakes in the web design that negatively affects your website’s usability without you even knowing it. You should check out these 10 usability mistakes in web design to make sure you’re not making them.

1. Unscannable text

Content is important for a website for many reasons. It draws people in, provides information, and it spurs your visitors to action (hopefully). However, you should understand that people read web pages differently from the printed page. People tend to scan a webpage in an F-shaped pattern, and takes them just a couple of seconds to make a decision if they like it or not.

Thus, you need to make sure your content is scannable. Choose the right typeface according to the “mood” of your site, the right font size (the standard is 16 points), and the right colors. Line height is also important.

Edwin Mackie, a web designer of, says that you should allow for plenty of space around the words to make it easy to read, and nix the busy background. One look at tiny letters on a psychedelic background and most people will bounce off your page, screaming.

2. Unidentified links

Links are important for site owners because it helps them rank in search engines, but they are also important for visitors because these links will point them to other information they may need.

Most people identify links because they are underlined, highlighted, or colored differently from the rest of content, but you would be surprised at how many sites don’t make a point of distinguishing their links for their users. This affects the value of your content in terms of accessibility.

One the other hand, some web designers underline words for emphasis, not considering that users might think are links. When they aren’t clickable (because they are not links), they can cause frustration.

You should also fixyour links such that the anchor text changes color when the link is clicked, so the visitor knows where they’ve been and if they want to go back. Here are some tips for making your web links more accessible.

3. Tiny clickables

It isn’t enough that you make your links obvious, though. You also need to make them big enough so they are easy to click.

Some web designers don’t pay too much attention to this, but with the increased use of mobile devices, that can be a problem. The focus is on bigger buttons and larger fonts for the ease of the click. You can use padding to make the clickable area larger.

4. Not following conventions that work

Over the years, web design conventions have evolved as times and user behavior changed. Designers have figured out what works based on years of experience, and have established standards and conventions based on that. You might think that conventional is not exciting, but some rules should not be broken.

5. Links that quit your page

You don’t want your website to have links that quits your page to go to the new page. You want the link to open in a new tab, so your page is still front and center. It makes perfect sense, and you should make sure your links are designed to do that.

6. Not giving up the information

The Internet provides answers for almost anything, and that is what most people doing a web search wants: information. It may be the name of the actor that played Sean Bernard in Grimm, or the price of a haircut in the local salon. In your capacity as a site owner, you have to give visitors information about what they came in for when they arrive to your site. It’s okay to start with a little teaser or introduction, but it would be bad practice to hide vital information, or worse, not put it there at all.

For example, if you have a home cleaning business, you should make it easy for users to find out the cost for standard cleaning of a two-bedroom home. After all, that is one of the first things a potential client will want to know. Hiding that information will not only defeat their purpose, but yours as well, as this will probably cause the visitor to bounce. Give them what they need, and you are more likely to get what you need.

7. No contact information

One of the things users look for in a website before deciding to trust it is the contact information.

They look for a customer service number and an address that establishes legitimacy. It is not a guarantee, of course, but not putting it at all is a big red signal that can put off many visitors. According to this study, 51% of visitors consider “thorough contact information” an important element missing on many websites, and 44% will leave.

It may also be important for visitors that go to your website with the intention of getting in touch with your company. Missing contact information can mean a higher bounce rate as well as missed opportunities to convert.

8. Missing search tool

A good navigation bar is uber important, but most people will only drill down two to three levels to find what they need. If you have a website with many pages, several levels and/or many products and services, a missing search tool is a big no-no. It can be hard, if not impossible, for visitors to find what they need quickly without it, and many people will just leave out of frustration. A good, customizable search tool is crucial for enhancing the usability of your site.

9. Requiring registration to see content

How many times have you clicked away from a site that requires you to sign up before you even see anything on the page? Chances are, every time. It is a big mistake to ask users to register without giving them something in return. Give your users a reason to give you their email, such as giving them access to certain articles or products.

10. Long registration forms

That said, you may still make the mistake of asking for too much too soon. Registration forms that have too many fields to fill in is a hassle, especially on a mobile device, and might make the user nervous. One field too many and the user could bounce. Include only the most basic information you need to keep your forms short.

The prevalent style for web design is flat and simplistic, but that can change. What does not change is the importance of website usability. Keep an eye out for any of these 10 usability mistakes you may have made on your own site, and you should be fine.


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