Five common web design traps and how to avoid them

Elizabeth MacBride of Forbes.com spoke with two of Clicktale’s senior executives - Tuval Chomut, CEO, and Michal Harel, VP consulting services who told her about the top five website design mistakes they observe.

Clicktale’s algorithms, based on data science and behavioral analytics, make highly educated presumptions. Through recommendations for optimization, Clicktale can help its customers design and serve websites to help them achieve their business goals. Taking into consideration that conversion rate on most websites is only 3%, there's a lot that can be improved.

Part of being able to help customers create more effective and optimized websites relies on identifying mistakes that companies make when creating their websites. Chomut points out that web design, with its potential to create a great customer experience, levels the playing field between small and large companies. Though big companies have more resources to spend on development and testing, they face serious organizational challenges of siloed thinking and lack of consistency across different platforms.

Tuval and Michal have identified five common mistakes in website design and how to avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Taking an incremental approach: A/B tests are a brute force tool. For example, one of Clicktale's customers had a lower conversion rate than it wanted: credit card applications weren't being filled out. The problem turned out to be a block of text partway down the page that pushed people down to a feature chart at the bottom. An A/B test might not have revealed the problem, depending on what the website designers had chosen to plug into the formula. “At least once a year,” noted Chomut, “rethink one of your major customer journeys in a holistic way.”

  2. Making websites too complicated: When it comes to website design, focus on simplicity, and understand your industry's best practices. "If you have a gut feeling, go to the doctor," says Harel.

  3. Failing the consistency test: If your customers experience something radically different on their iPads versus their phones, versus their laptops, you're missing the chance to build your brand and limiting yourself when it comes to the uniform analytics you need to make good decisions. One of the ways the web levels the playing field between big and small companies is that it's much easier for a small company to know its brand and create a consistent experience.

  4. Taking control out of customers' hands: Always help your customers feel like they are in control. In a content website, short articles or sections of articles followed by “continue” buttons are often considered better than long articles, because they give the readers choices about whether to continue or not. Give customers a call to action at the top and bottom of pages.

  5. Overconfidence: If you never see your customers face-to-face, it's easy to get trapped inside your own thinking. Failing to understand that most users don't engage is a big problem. Just because you think you are offering the best possible experience doesn't mean you are. "60% of users don't scroll down," Harel says. Stay humble, and keep redesigning.

This post is a synopsis of an article published on Forbes.com in July 2016

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