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Fabrizio Van Marciano

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Are These 11 Web Design Features Ruining Your Conversions?

Here are some web design features that could be causing havoc on your conversion rates. If you have any of these on your website, consider either removing them or using a more suitable alternative or method.

Web design trends come and go. Some come along and last for a while, and even become game-changers, and some fizzle out and are forgotten about relatively quickly.

When designing or improving your website, it’s great to be able to delight your users and customers with new features, just as long as those new features are a benefit to them.

While there are some great design features that focus on improving user experience and adding functionality, there are also many features in web design that will actually do more harm than good to your website and conversions.

Yeah, I know it’s tempting when you stumble upon a new feature that you love so much you’ve just got to have to keep up with the latest trends and everything, I get that.

But – you’ve seriously got to ask yourself –

How are your users going to benefit if you add this new feature to your website?

Right, enough chit-chat from me, let’s take a look at 10 web design features that could potentially be ruining your conversions.

Just quickly before we start, actually – I’m not stating that you shouldn’t use any of these design tactics outlined below, but just consider them carefully before you utilize them.

  1. CSS and Javascript
  2. Thin content
  3. Poor typography
  4. Content sliders
  5. Stock images
  6. Intrusive none-interactive pop-ups
  7. Large, unoptimized images
  8. Too many options
  9. Advertisements
  10. Social media icons
  11. Inadequate white space

Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these design features and elements.

1. CSS and Javascript

Remember this:

Each time you add a new feature, perhaps in the form of a piece of code or you upload a new plugin, you’re essentially adding more resources to your website.

Whether it’s some new fancy CSS for creating dramatic hover effects or some JavaScript code for improving functionality, more code means a larger file size for your site, and large files take longer to load.

I think you know where I’m going with this. The longer your site takes to load, the more damage you will add to your conversions.

A second delay in page load can reduce your conversion rate by 7%

Things you can do –

  1. Keep CSS in one place – If you want to use CSS to customize certain elements in your website, ensure that it all happens in one place. WordPress has a cool Additional CSS feature under Customizer. Make good use of it, but don’t go mounting lines and lines of new code in there.
  2. Minify CSS – Clean up your CSS using this CSS Minifier tool. Simply copy your entire custom CSS template and paste it in here, then recopy and paste it back into your site. (Make sure you back up your site first)
  3. Limit JavaScript – Limit the use of JavaScript code you add to your site. Consider using Google Tag Manager to add your marketing tracking codes and scripts.
  4. Review your plugins – Make sure you deactivate and delete any redundant WP plugins you no longer require.

2. Thin “Unclear” content

Before I dive into this part, I want to stress that creating short pieces of content, such as blog posts, is not a bad thing. Creating thin and “unclear” web copy is bad.

Recently I changed my opinion, and strategy, for writing lengthy blog posts. For years I have been creating long-form content.

These days, I’m quite happy writing short blog posts that still provide a decent amount of value, but without the waffle.

That said, if your website’s homepage or any other landing page copy is a little on the thin side, then it can’t be providing a great deal of value, I think.

Think from an SEO perspective, if your content is thin and unclear, then perhaps it’s not ranking where it should be for your target audience.

Do you have thinly written and unclear web copy? Here’s how to check –

  1. Your message is not clear and concise to your intended audience.
  2. You fail to put the best parts of your content in the first few paragraphs of your blog posts, or web copy. Remember, website users have short attention spans, so unleash all your best stuff straight away.
  3. There are no clear call-to-actions on your site.
  4. You don’t make use of bullet points to highlight key points. Like I’m doing here.

Things you can do –

  1. Completely the opposite of what I mentioned in the list above.

3. Poor typography

Your website’s typeface is more important than you think.

Can your site users easily read the copy in your blog posts and sales pages? Or do they have to squint to make out the tiny 14px-sized characters you are using?

What about line spacing? And the font type you’re using on your website?

Comic Sans Serif just doesn’t cut it anymore I’m afraid. Check out this post for a list of fonts you should avoid using on your website.

The bottom line is this:

Poor choice and use of typography can lead to poor conversion rates.

Things you can do –

  1. Do some A/B split testing to test various font styles and sizes.
  2. Using multiple font styles can make your website design look inconsistent, so consider using two or three styles at the most.

4. Content sliders

Content carousels on a website are no longer a good trend. In fact, using them can overwhelm your visitors with information, which can cause confusion as to what action they should take next.

If you think about it carefully, content sliders provide little clarity and I wouldn’t argue to say little value too. And, it’s one feature that most users don’t even care to use anyway.

I’m not just making that bit up, just take a look at these authoritative blog posts on the subject –

  1. Why sliders make your website suck! – By Thrive Themes.
  2. Sliders suck and should be banned from your websiteBy Yoast
  3. Don’t use automatic image sliders or carouselsBy ConversionXL

If you’re trying to make your single most important message clear and concise to your website users, then you’re not going to achieve that by using a tacky slider that features various mixed messages and options. You’re just going to confuse your users even more.

Conversion killer? Big time!

What you can do –

  1. If you’re using a content slider, ditch it! Instead, consider creating a beautiful page hero section above the fold, with a nice relevant background image, your marketing message, and a call-to-action button.

5. Generic and overused stock images

I love using free stock images, mainly because I refuse to pay the extortionate fees for premium stock photos. I’m happy to pay a good price, but some images are ridiculously priced.

Nope, I personally prefer to use a combination of both my own custom images, often taken with my iPhone, or some free, high-quality stock images from sites like Pexels and Pixabay.

That said, if you’re using any kind of stock images, free or paid, just make sure that the ones you select for your project haven’t been overused.

Overused, generic-looking stock images can give your website a bad first impression, and definitely help towards diluting your brand, I think so anyway.

Things you can do –

  1. Mix it up – Explore different ways to create images for your website that reflect your brand strongly. Create your own images even.
  2. Customize them – If you want to use stock images, personalize them with text overlays, filters, borders, etc. Also, find stock images that aren’t overly popular, but still great to use, and relevant.

6. Intrusive pop-ups

Pop-ups are not only intrusive, but they’re also darn well annoying.

Especially the ones that fill the entire screen after a few seconds of landing on a website, and then you find it’s almost impossible to close them because you can’t find the microscopic close button.

I’ve been there, I’ve made the mistake of using them, and yes, I’ve been told off about them too, now I’m advising you against them.

Want your website visitors to convert better?

Don’t shove intrusive pop-ups in the faces of your website users that make them angry and turn away and close the page.

There are plenty of other more effective and less intrusive, and GDPR-friendly ways to offer subscription offers and incentives to your website users.

For example, a much better tactic would be to create an engagement element where a user manually clicks on a button to subscribe, then a pop-up appears with a form for them to fill in.

Recommended: Thrive Leads have some of those none-intrusive, GDPR friendly features built right into its list building plugin. You should check it out.

7. Large, uncompressed images

One thing that really gripes me, as a web designer, is seeing websites that use large, uncompressed, unscaled images.

Image files can take forever and a day to load, not to mention the resources it takes to serve them.

Your users and potential customers aren’t going to hang around to wait for your 5000 x 8000 px sized product images to load up… They’re just going to leave.

So, once again, a slow-loading website is a conversion killer, so get smart with your image optimization.

Things you can do –

  1. Scale your images to the right size, though you need to be careful how your images resize on mobile devices.
  2. Use smart PNG or JPEG compression. Check out this tool.

8. Too many options

Giving your users some options is great, but you don’t need to offer everything.

For example, your contact forms and other web forms should only provide the most essential fields and not a ton of options, checkboxes, drop-downs, etc.

Your navigation menu should be clean and not bloated with too many options.

Your Incentives and offers should be narrowed down to one or two relevant options.

Here’s another interesting statistic –

ImageScape was able to increase its contact form conversions from 5.4 to 11.9 simply by bringing down the number of form field options from 14 to 11.

Of course, you would have to do some of your own split testings to see what works best for your website. I appreciate that what works for one person or company will not necessarily work for someone else.

9. Advertisements

I know that ads are not a design feature as such, but you can obviously guess that using way too many of them can have a negative impact on your website’s ability to convert visitors into leads and customers, right?

Why would you even consider using ads, when all they do is take visitors away from your site anyway?

If you offer your own products and services on your website, then this is a bad tactic.

If you are going to use ads, make sure you don’t go overboard with them, and keep them somewhat relevant.

10. Social media icons

Now, before I get started on this. I don’t mean the use of social media icons on your site is bad generally, but certainly where you place them on your site matters.

I’ve seen many websites with ‘Follow us’ icons, for example, placed in the header section. This is a terrible tactic as clicking on them takes visitors away from your site, just like ads do.

If you want to include ‘follow me’ social icons on your site, consider leaving them in the footer section only. Your header should have a conversion element or feature, not a conversion killer.

11. Inadequate use of white space

Adding white space, or space around elements is an important part of a clean, modern website design. If your website is lacking white space or any space, then consider it as ‘no space to breath’ for your users and this can be damaging.

Damaging in the sense that your all-important conversion elements could be hidden amongst the tightly packed elements, making them invisible to your website users.

The solution is simple, ensure you add plenty of space around your elements when designing your website, and the best way to do that is by using page sections and divs to break up your on-page elements.

It’s a wrap!

Right, that’s it! 10 web design features and elements that might sound awesome to use on your site, but might also be the reason your website struggling to convert visitors into subscribers, leads, and customers.

  1. Have something to share?
  2. Do you disagree or disagree with any items I’ve covered here?

Let’s connect here and share thoughts.

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