So, you’re building a website, or you already have one online, and no one seems to be taking the bait. There are several reasons why some websites succeed while others fail. Some websites are filled with too much text, while others have hardly any text at all.
Creating an effective user experience is about catering to the user in question and finding the right balance between text, images, utility, and navigation. Avoid these common UX mistakes at all costs, so you don’t scare away your users.
1) Relying on Hidden Text
There are a lot of websites out there that try to use hidden text to their advantage. Back in the day, hiding text was considered a crafty SEO tactic, as websites would hide keywords and links to boost their search rankings without taking away from the user’s experience.
But today, Google considers these tactics spam more than anything else and your users will just be confused as to why your website pops up in the search rankings if it’s not related to their original search query. If you’re hiding text to try and manipulate your search rankings, you’re probably using the wrong approach.
You should only be hiding text if it makes sense for the user, your business model, and your website. Some common reasons to hide text include:
While you might drive users away, you don’t want to give away valuable content for free, especially if subscriptions are an important part of your business model.
If your content is just a regular blog post and you’re not a reputable news organization with the credentials to back you up, you’re better off showing your cards and letting users read your content for free.
Satisfying Mobile Users
Some mobile users may not have time to scroll through large chunks of text, so giving them the option to hide some content can work to your advantage. But only if you have something else to offer on the page.
No one wants to click on a webpage just to see a bunch of hidden text. Remember that some people may not realize that the text is hidden. They’ll just move along without giving your website a second thought.
Hidden text shouldn’t be a major part of your UX strategy unless you’re The New York Times or another subscription-based website. Keep it simple and show your users your content right off the bat.
2) No Text and Too Many Images
Web pages without a lot of text can be incredibly annoying, especially when people are looking for actual information. Turning your back on text also won’t help your SEO strategy, as Google’s web crawlers depend on on-page content when ranking websites.
Even if you’re not writing an epic blog post on some compelling topic, you can still add a few hundred words to help users make sense of your website, especially if they’re visiting your site for the first time. Adding some text to a simple contact page is an easy way to encourage people to interact with your business.
And let’s not forget about images. While visual imagery can pique the user’s interest and break up the text, going overboard with your images can distract from the overall message of your website. Your main goal is to sell your products and services, so refrain from filling up your website with images unless it’s part of your business model.
People can find dozens of images elsewhere. Instagram exists for a reason.
Too many images will also slow down your website. Images are much weightier in terms of data than text, so use them sparingly unless you’re prepared to use a content delivery network (CDN) to speed things up. Remember that 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if the images won’t load or take too long to load. Speed should be your first priority, not turning your site into a Google Image search.
3) Using Unrelated Images
While we’re still on the subject of images, let’s remember that images exist to supplement the message behind your business. Whether it’s an original meme, a stock photo from Shutterstock, or an infographic, every image should circle back to your business’s products and services.
If you run an e-commerce website and you use an image of a consumer shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, some of your users are bound to get confused. People make up their minds quickly when visiting a website and first impressions can make all the difference in the world.
Users spend an average of 5.94 seconds looking at a website’s main image, while spending an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written content.
Your images are bound to get the most attention, so if they don’t make sense for your website, you need to rethink your approach, or you’ll end up confusing your users before you can say Mississippi.
4) Engagement Desperation: Too Many CTAs
Everyone wants their users to do something, whether it’s a fill out a form, sign up for an email newsletter, or place an order online. But all those calls-to-action (CTAs) may be ruining your conversion rates.
Make sure you give yourself some time to make your case before you start asking your users to complete a certain task. If a stranger ran up to you on the street and asked you for your name, address, email, and phone number—you’d probably keep walking. The same idea applies to your UX design.
While you might be tempted to add a CTA at the top of the page, remember to add some basic information about your business before you start pitching your users, including who you are, what you’re selling and why your users should care. This is what’s called the value proposition. In fact, adding a CTA at the top of the page above your content can decrease conversions by 17%.
Users can also smell engagement desperation from a mile away. Telling someone to do something more than once isn’t going to help your cause. Instead, people will see your website as spammy and your content as having little to no value.
5) Too Many Headings, Not Enough Substance
Headings are great when it comes to breaking up large sections of text, but they’re not always a great source of information. Your headers should accurately describe the text to follow, but you need to make sure that your website actually has text in the first place.
Far too many websites will fill their pages with catchy headers that do little to drive the conversation. Headers are meant to lead your users down the page as they read or skim through the text. If you’re stuffing your pages full of headers with little text in between, there’s nothing for people to grab onto except a few empty promises.
Headers and subheaders are also commonly used for SEO purposes, but you don’t want to stuff your headers with keywords, especially if there’s nothing underneath them except another header. Focus on adding value to your website by creating useful, informative content.
Once you have some text on the screen, you can start breaking things up with sub-headers. While there’s no golden rule, try to use headers every 100 – 200 words, so your website doesn’t look barren.
6) Boring or Missing Landing Pages
Landing pages are an important aspect of web design and SEO. We typically define them as a single webpage that users land on after clicking on a search result or an online advertisement.
These pages should provide valuable information to your users as they look for specific information about your products, services, and business locations. But they’re also a valuable opportunity to rank for some additional keywords.
While having too many landing pages can get you into trouble, creating a healthy portfolio of landing pages is essential. Businesses with over 40 landing pages generated a whopping 12x more leads than those with 1-5 landing pages.
If you’re running an ad campaign or offering a special discount on your products and services, you’ll need to create separate landing pages for each campaign. But use them wisely. Your goal is to convert these users and lead them to your main website.
Like a billboard, landing pages will be the user’s first impression of your business and website, so you can’t afford to mess it up. If you want to convert these new users, add some eye-catching imagery, some basic information about your promotion or products and services, and a strong CTA. Otherwise, your landing pages are simply taking up space.
A bad landing page can cripple your advertising and SEO efforts or make a bad impression on your target audience. Invest in some quality landing pages, especially if they’re the backbone of your ad campaign.
7) Cluttered Homepage
Some homepages are just too busy for their own good. This page represents the main lobby of your website, so it needs to make the right first impression.
Filling your homepage, or any webpage for that matter, with too many ads, videos, headings, menu options, and images can send your users running for the hills. People only have a few seconds to absorb your content, and, if they feel as if they’re being pulled in too many different directions, your conversion rate will start to suffer.
Ask yourself what’s the first thing you want your users to do when they land on your homepage. Is it to fill out a form, click on your products and services, or contact you for more information? Whatever the answer, make this action your number-one priority from a design perspective.
Your homepage CTA should be front and center, encouraging your users to complete one, specific action, not five different things at once.
You should also limit your ads and images, so you don’t overwhelm the user. Otherwise, this central message will get lost in the shuffle.
8) Poor Legibility
If you add text and headers to your website, you probably want people to read what you’ve written. Makes sense, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of adding all this information?
If you want people to learn about your business, your text and menu options need to be clear and legible. Your text should contrast with the background, helping people see individual letters on the screen. Use normal, thick fonts instead of thin, faded letters.
Remember that some people may be surfing the web with the screen brightness turned down to save on battery life. Even if you think your text is legible, it may be hard to read on certain devices or in certain environments. Some people may also have vision problems, so make your text as easy-to-read as possible.
Mobile web traffic continues to rise, so some people may be outside in the hot sun, riding on the subway, or riding in the back of a car when they stumble onto your website. Use strong fonts and text colors to make sure everyone can read what you have to say.
If you’re not sure if your web copy is legible for these users, you can try loading your website on different devices and in different environments. Invest in website testing to make sure the average consumer can navigate your website with ease.
As you can see, there are plenty of UX design mistakes out there to avoid. Every decision you make can have major implications for your conversions, SEO rankings, and the overall accessibility of your website. Remember to test your website extensively before launching to make sure you’ve got all the kinks out of the way.
Mistakes are bound to happen. There are so many factors to keep track of that it’s easy to miss a few crucial imperfections. Give yourself plenty of time to design the right UX and keep these mistakes in mind every step of the way.
If you’re looking for more information on creating the best UX for your website, get in touch with SEO Toronto for a free SEO consultation today.