How a Poorly Designed Website can Hurt Your Business

How a Poorly Designed Website can Hurt Your Business

Note: This post is about websites and customer interaction. The suggestions here may or may not help with SEO but that is not the focus of this post. The focus of this post is how visitors interact with your site.

As the internet evolves, so does the terminology.  “Design” is becoming an increasingly complex and involved term, no longer just referring to the look and functionality of the site, but also the user experience – on page elements that are more likely to make a visitor stay on a page.  For example, pretty colors and an easy-to-follow layout might fall way behind a site designed with more modern scripting languages like javascript and C#, which grant the site animated user interaction.  Even if the only difference between one site and another is the first site having a logo that turns into a fire-breathing unicorn when a user mouses over it and the other site just having a regular, old, static logo, it could mean a world of difference in traffic, or the number of people that visit the site. All of these things are taken into account when thinking about design.

Many times, people fall into two extremes:

Style over Substance:

The first extreme includes people who interpret impressiveness as a complex, flashy site.  This is almost always the wrong way to look at marketing.  Even if your site is the most technical and gadgety site in the world, you’ll lose your audience.  No one wants to experience sensory overload.  And when people do experience sensory overload, their first reaction isn’t to “Learn More”; it’s to get out as fast as possible, put on thick wool socks, and curl up in a ball of blankets.

Simplicity Without Elegance:

The second extreme, as you might have imagined, is to dumb down your site to the point of insulting the visitor.  Having one giant button on each page that links to more and more pages, but only by following an increasingly long line of breadcrumbs is a terrible marketing strategy, and will almost ensure that your business’s image takes a hit.  Be sensible.  Not obnoxious.

Examples of Wrong and Right:

One of the best ways to get an idea for how to successfully reach an interested audience is to look at the biggest corporations’ sites.  Being that 90% of people look online before making purchases in today’s market, it’s safe to say that big corporations (especially corporations that started in the last 30 years or so) achieved their success through online marketing.  And it all starts with design.

Take a look at this news resource site (for as long as your eyes can manage it):

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Instead of listing everything that’s wrong with it (because there are probably hundreds of things we could list), just compare your viewing experience with the likes of CNN:

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Notice how there’s SPACE in CNN’s site, but enough organized tabs to find anything you need very quickly – not crammed wall to wall with unimportant information.  Notice how there are only a few large pictures instead of a hundred thumbnails, and how there are visually appealing gradients and an overall color theme, instead of fifty neon colors so close together that you’re likely to need a few Advil after a couple minutes of viewing.  Also notice how CNN is the most widely recognized news corporation in the world.  Most people read the news online now, so it stands to reason that they must be doing something right on their website.  (Even despite the fact that there’s not a single fire-breathing unicorn.)

Companies must be very careful when selecting a website design and structure. If people are instantly turned away from your site or they leave because they can't find what they want, then your website is simply not doing its job.

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Brandon Swenson

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