A few weeks ago during an interview for a magazine, I was asked, “what is the number one tactic behind all my business success?” My answer…


Quality design is more than pretty pixels. It's communication, credibility, and conversion. Good design to a consumer is great insight to how they might expect to be treated. It's vision into the quality of your products and how easy their experience will be. But design can't just look good, it must also be smart and intuitive.

And while many companies have elevated their design game in recent years, here are few common components we often mess up.

5 Common Website Design Mistakes

1. People don't know what you do
If people don't know exactly what you do within 5 seconds, you lost them. You don't need to have every detail explained on impact, but you must be sure users catch the general idea. Here is a screenshot of my new project StartupCamp, launching in two weeks:


As you see, I have clearly spoken to my demographic and clarified what StartupCamp.com is (an educational membership for aspiring entrepreneurs, bloggers, and dreamers). Additionally, do not forget how powerful a video is in furthering this communication. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.


Next, we have TOMS Shoes. A company who has been around for almost 10 years, yet they still have exactly what they do on their home page “One for one. With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need.” No guessing and no assumptions that every person already knows this.

Critical Question: Do people know what you do and how you're different within the first 5 seconds of landing on your website?

2. You are not capturing customers
Driving traffic is the first step of the marketing equation, but capturing leads and getting them to return is step two. Companies must begin placing the appropriate captures on their site. If you notice on my site, I have the Facebook Like button and the Twitter Follow button right next to my logo. This provides users clarity of “what” they're liking. I also include another option to follow me on social media on my sidebar below.


As for email, I offer 3 locations for signing up. My top bar below my header, my footer, and the pop-up many of you have seen. Remember, it's not how many people who come to your site today that counts… Rather, it's how many people you capture to come back tomorrow.

Critical Question: Are you effectively capturing social media followers and emails?

3. You forgot a starting point
Building a business often requires users to follow a trail of small steps prior to them becoming a customer. Marketers call this funneling. By not having a “Start Here” section on your website, you're likely letting qualified leads slip through the cracks. And yes, my site does not have this. I am working on one soon. Below is a great example of someone who does:


On this page, Pat has listed a few simple steps and resources on how to get new users involved in the Smart Passive Income mission and community. It's a place for him to capture emails and offer new users value to assure they should continue to follow his information and products.

Critical Question: Have you defined a funnel yet? Does your site offer a clear starting point?

4. You hide the contact information
If you're a product or service company with large numbers of users, customer support should be front and center. There is nothing more frustrating than having an issue, looking for a hidden contact page, then getting pushed to a knowledge base, then finding phone support, then clicking your issue type, then finally getting a freaking phone number.

If you're in business to keep customers (you know, those people who pay your salary), then start putting your contact number all over the website. Sure, you will get marketers spamming you, sure you will get calls that could have easily been solved through email, but your customers will be happy. And that's all that matters.

Critical Question: Do users have to search hard for your contact information?

5. Your fonts don't read like a book
We all know if you're 50 years or older, you use the increase font size function on your iPhone. But your website shouldn't need this function. Reading a website should read like a book. Spacing between letters and lines and the color of the font can make a dramatic difference in drawing customers into your content. Mikey Anderson, a talented web designer, has written a beautiful article explaining why. You can read it here. 



Critical Question: Does your website read like a book? Is your spacing and line height maximized for the best user experience?


What web design mistakes do you see often? Let me know in the comments below.

Awesome photo by Lightstock

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31 thoughts on “5 Common Website Design Mistakes

  1. Lillian De Jesus says:

    Thanks so much Dale! I will be revamping my site for 2015 and this will be my guide. Love it! Have an awesome day.

  2. Rafael Santos says:

    Always so truthfull and inspiring! The Font guide is awesome, sometimes i get tired of reading in some websites, on yourยดs that never happens! Thank you so much for the “guideline”. Rafael

  3. Kelsey McEvoy says:

    This is so great! Some common mistakes I see? They both speak to the number one item on your list: not knowing what to do because of (1) Too much stuff, or (2) not enough information. In both cases, I have no idea where to go to find what I’m looking for, become agitated, and leave.

  4. David Smethie says:

    Mistakes I come across frequently are slow loading sites and sites with poor navigation. Both provide a poor user experience and have a negative impact on SEO.

  5. David Ramos says:

    Love these tips. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from you so far is how much design really matters. I pay attention to it a lot more in every area of my life now. Good (and bad) design is all around us and its amazing how its almost invisible to most people. We know what we like and what we don’t like but when you break it down its usually as simple as good design vs bad design. Very cool

  6. Joshua @ Holiskin.com says:

    Wow, I just realized that I missed the no.1 mistake on my website ๐Ÿ™‚ People don’t know what I do differently. I need to fix that. Thanks!

  7. calebgalaraga says:

    Dale, design has always been a huge challenge for me…for years. How do you go about this when money is limited and your technical know how on creating a website is nil?

  8. Jordan Chamberlain says:

    So Dale, I just got thrown into redesigning the website at the company I work for with a two-day deadline, and IMMEDIATELY came to this blog post to help me out! You’re a life-saver. Thanks for being SO relevant to my life! haha

  9. Candy says:

    Websites that use flash! Big pet peeve! So many people use iPads now… And you can’t view websites using flash on them!

  10. Mantahoe says:

    Websites that auto play music. I’m a little conflicted about it. Do you think it’s a bad move? For example a Dj/Producer’s website. I mean, when you visit the website, more than likely you already assume it’s related to music. Your opinion?

    • Greg says:

      I’m guessing most musicians will have some music already playing through itunes or winamp etc…through speakers or headphones and if your site automatically plays music it’s gonna clash with the music already playing…If the visitor has medium volume on but your site auto played something loud it’s gonna give a good opportunity to swear at your site lol…Personally if I unfortunately land on a website that auto plays, I immediately “command+w”.

  11. NestDweller says:

    I am preparing to start my own business and the one mistake I realized I was making was that I was more worried about my website than the actual product. I could have an amazing website, but lack on what it was meant for in the first place.

  12. Worditude says:

    I love that you hate tiny font as it gives me the rage too. But oh the irony that your ‘about the author’ section is minuscule. It reads like you are whispering. Bump up the font size!

  13. Tony Chang says:

    Great read! We look forward to improving our website to make sure that people know what we do in 5 seconds!

  14. Jared Wilder says:

    #2 is a great point! I think many website owners and even developers, forget that the goal isn’t to trap or trick the visitor. I always try and shift the focus from merely capturing contact information to as you mentioned, “capturing” visitors’ attention. Be authentic and everything else shall fall into place.

  15. Wouter Blom - www.Stramark.nl says:

    Lot of websites also forget: where do my visitors come from? Did i ensure that google is sending me visitors?

  16. Robert @frugalbuzz.com says:

    #2 is what I struggle most with. I have a few locations for joining our social media pages and signing up for our newsletter, but all the locations are (apparently) ineffective. It’s something I am going to have to work on in 2016 to convert a few more visitors into regular readers.

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