Common Web Design Faux Pas Driving Customers Away

  • To be successful, a business must consider not just style but usability and load time too when designing a corporate or ecommerce site
  • Even if used with the best intentions, pop-ups are seen as intrinsically untrustworthy and can do more harm than good
  • It’s important to keep your site in theme with any offline presence you have for continuity

Designing a website for your business can be just about one of the most stressful things you do as a small business owners, having to juggle usability with upholding your brand image.
From the viewpoint of the user and potential customer, ease of use is high on the list of priorities so it’s well worth thinking about these areas as well as pure aesthetics when designing a web page for your business.
Getting it right is hard, but getting it wrong is easy. Aside from obvious faults (like yellow text on a red background), here are some more subtle design elements that affect usability and drive potential customers away.


Pop-ups are the bane of pretty much everyone who uses the Internet and they should be avoided as much as possible when designing your website.
Typically, pop-ups are associated with adverts for unwanted products, scams and malicious software or content. So even if you use pop-ups to advertise something genuine like an offer, they can give off the wrong impression.
Pop-ups are also viewed negatively by customers because they remove the control the user has over what content they view on the Internet. Essentially, for many they are an unwanted Internet menace!

Loading Time

Perhaps one of the worst mistakes to make when designing a website is to include lots of impressive fonts and flash content like videos. Features like this do make your website look cool and original but they can cause problems when the page takes a while to load.
Typically if the user of your site has to wait more than three seconds for the page to load they will take their custom elsewhere. It sounds silly – what’s four seconds to wait after all, or five? – but there is plenty of proof that web users are an impatient bunch.
It’s important to find a balance between style, speed and usability.

New Window

We’ve all experienced this one, I’m sure. You click on a link and think it hasn’t opened because the page in front of you remains the same, whilst the page you wantto be looking at it is hiding in a new window. The problem is exacerbated when all the links open new window or tab.
In much the same way as the pop-ups mentioned above, people view pages that open in new windows as though they are malicious content, not to mention just downright frustrating for users who are used to using the forward and back buttons to jump between recent content, not swapping tabs or windows.


Many consumers don’t have a problem with a website having music – after all, they would get the same experience if they went into most high-street stores. What many do have an issue with is a website that uses audio content that is difficult to turn down or mute.
Music on websites that is difficult to turn down or mute is one of my own pet hates, and I’m not ashamed to say that I have left sites with music and shopped elsewhere.
For many the experience can be awkward or embarrassing. As a History student I practically live in our University library, and I can only imagine how embarrassing it would be to blurt music out to the whole student population. It’s bad enough when someone’s phone isn’t on silent!


The colour and appearance of your website can also be a make or break characteristic for your customers. The last thing your customers want is an assault on their eyes when they click through to your site.
Customers like to see that you are using colours that match the rest of your branding, and an appearance that reflects the quality of your product. If you’ve got an offline presence too, consider what colours you use in stores and match that online.
White is often a great choice, but only if your brick ‘n’ mortar stores have an equally clean, fresh feel. If you specialise in dark, boudoir-style boutiques, a dark website to match it is then!
The key to running a successful website that attracts customers, gets them to stay and makes them want to return is thinking about these problems. If you tackle them well there is very little reason why your site can’t flourish.
If you have any other common faux pas made by businesses that frustrate you, why not leave them in the comments below. After all, the more mistakes that are aired the better surfing the web will be for everyone!

Featured images:

License: Creative Commons
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Chris Tilbury is a writer for The GKBC Creative Academy and the editor of The Tab Leicester, an online student tabloid, so he understands how to attract website views and custom.