9 Common Website Design Features That Hurt Conversions

When someone clicks onto your website they are a lead. When they take further action on your site so you can get in touch with them or they make a purchase that's known as a successful conversion. The numbers for how many leads become conversions are important...

9 common website design features that hurt conversions

If you care about your website dollars, you need to care about your website conversion numbers.

When someone clicks onto your website they are a lead. When they take further action on your site so you can get in touch with them or they make a purchase that’s known as a successful conversion. The numbers for how many leads become conversions are important.

Your website conversion stats give you feedback on a number of brand factors including:

  • How usable your website is
  • The trust users have in your brand
  • How relevant the site is to incoming traffic
  • The quality of your content
  • The effectiveness of product or service descriptions and pricing

Great conversion numbers mean your marketing and website strategies are working and ensure you get a higher return on investment.

With very little cost you can optimise website conversions to see significant gains in your sales, sign-ups and engagement levels, so for me, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

In this article, we want to highlight some of the most common mistakes businesses make with their web design that can really hurt conversion rates and I’ll discuss the key features and tips you can use to boost website conversions through design and user flow enhancements.

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Before you can work on conversion rates… 

Set your website goals

You won’t be able to check on your conversion successes if you don’t know what your business website goals are. Just about every business has an online presence, but these are all crafted with different purposes in mind. Even within the same industry, businesses will have different website goals depending on their size, target audience location (local, national or international), how many products or services they offer and how long they have been operating for.

When you set your website goals you can measure conversion success and optimise to get nearer to your targets as needed.

Centre your goals around what action you want your visitors to take. The actions should look to generate value for your business and help fulfil your overall business goal. This might not necessarily be financial, it could be willing leads you can nurture.

Some examples of website actions might be to:

  • Visit your pages
  • Submit Forms
  • Complete and share information (like quizzes, testimonials and photos)
  • Click on links (for yourself or a partner company)
  • Contact you with enquiries
  • Sign up for a webinar
  • Share an experience in the comments section
  • Attend an event
  • Buy your product/service

Having a goal gives you something to measure against and drive towards as well as the ability to reposition to find your target when things are not going to plan.

Get to know your visitor habits

I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to be consistent about using website data to monitor your website performance. These figures don’t lie and you can uncover surprising details that make a big difference in how you can attract and keep a loyal audience.

There are a number of telltale signs that you need a website audit. We can retrieve the data to understand where you are at with your current site and deliver a thorough analysis to get you back on track. 

Website data and insights are the only way to know where you need to optimise performance and what functions need tweaking or changing to get more conversions.

Key quantifiable data to track include:

  • Traffic/traffic sources
  • Landing page use
  • Average order values
  • Bounce rates
  • Click-through rates (adverts as well as marketing campaigns)
  • Net promoter scores (NPS)
  • Abandonment rates (for both web pages and forms)
  • Return customers
  • Any available customer details

As well as giving you information on your website’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll also get a great snapshot of your ideal customer. Who they are and where they hang out online. Armed with this intel, you can refine your website, or even your products to cater exactly to their needs and pain points as well as give them more opportunities to interact with your website.

Look for tools like HubSpot website grader or Crazy Egg to help you get started.

Analyse Your Competitors

As well as knowing your own website’s strengths and faults it pays to peek over the shoulder of your competition. What is attracting and repelling conversions on their sites? What are their customers looking for and how can you offer a better solution or meet a gap in the market through your unique difference?

If you can see an area where you are performing well and your competitors are failing, you have a sure-fire thing you need to hold onto and leverage.

Set a conversion funnel

You need to offer your website users a direction and pathway to follow. If your visitors are left on their own they’ll easily become bored, overwhelmed or confused. It’s up to you to point them towards the action that you want them to take.

The conversion funnel you need will depend on your business and website goals so you’ll need to research the available funnel routes to find the right fit and fix any hesitations you see buyers making through your website data.

In many cases, a call to action (CTA) is offered too fast or too aggressively, before a user has had a chance to get to know you and trust you. It’s a good idea to lengthen your conversion funnel and offer secondary CTAs that allow your visitors to take a step towards education on your site if they are not ready to buy just yet. If your offer is especially expensive or complex, then it’s even more important to offer as many background pathways as you can to give them a chance to experience what they are buying, rather than just rushing them to the payment. You can also offer something to your audience to gain their trust and confidence (more on this one later).

VWO Insights is a great tool to track conversion rates across your funnels and identify any areas you need to optimise to avoid drop off.

Know Your Why

Everything links back to your business why.

  • Why you started this business in the first place
  • Why your business is important in the market
  • Why people should come to you to get their needs met

All of these questions should come back to the same answer – your WHY.

Keeping your why front of mind helps create appealing, honest and driven website content that will connect to your audience on an emotional level. This is what is going to motivate them to convert from leads to loyal and lasting customers.

Your website content should clearly and concisely communicate your why to give visitors a real reason to make a purchase.

This will naturally set you apart from your competitors and offer a personalised point of difference buyers will latch onto and see real value in.

Look to capture what you do, who for and why in a punchy ten-word phrase.

We build stunning, user-focused websites that will wow your customers.

Are you a business owner in Singapore, Australia or worldwide? We work with clients across the globe to deliver beautiful yet functional website designs.

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Common Business Design Features That Hurt Website Conversions

Now that you have the right setup for your business website you are ready to tackle your conversion rates, find where it’s not working and make some positive changes to see better results.

When it comes to improving website conversions every website will be different, with some needing multiple changes and others just a few simple tweaks here and there. Look to your data to help guide you as well as check through our list of the 9 most common design features that hurt website conversions:

Not Enough Trust

Trust is the biggest influence behind a decision to take the next step. You need to show yourself to be as trustworthy, genuine and reliable as possible. If not, you’ll see hesitancy. Even a drop of uncertainty is enough to halt progress in its tracks. You need to win their trust first and foremost.

Make sure you have a high-quality website. While there are plenty of free website templates available they often look like cheap templates. If you want people to value your business you need to value it enough to invest in a quality website.

People buy from brands and websites they trust. If there is any doubt at all a customer will hesitate, and that usually means no sale. 

There are a number of ways to create trust and reliability through your website content.

  • High-quality website
  • No spelling mistakes or glaring grammar issues
  • Provide testimonials
  • Note any industry awards or nominations your or your team has received
  • Offer guarantees/cooling-off periods
  • Include case studies
  • Showcase your team with bios and pictures and include notable industry experience
  • Use a variety of personally sourced media such as photos, videos and drawings
  • Keep your website content current
  • Provide contacts and address details
  • List any memberships or associations you are part of in your industry
  • Avoid 3rd party sales links and advertising
  • Fix errors promptly including broken links and missing images

Social proof is the most powerful way to inspire trust. Testimonials, online reviews and case studies all provide real-life user comments that prove that your offer works and has practical applications. You need to make these as authentic as possible so include as much detail as you can about the person leaving the testimonial as possible including their details, photo or video of their review.

Before and after photos or screenshots are powerful visual proof of what someone can achieve with your help.

To get reviews, link to sites that contain feedback pages and make sure you ask satisfied customers if they are willing to have their feedback posted online directly to your website.

It should be apparent that your customers have enjoyed using your product or service. If it isn’t, your conversion rate will suffer.

You can also reference well-known and commended publications and source material. It’s not even necessary for people to follow the links, when they are well labelled the association alone will help boost confidence in your content.

Slow Page Loading Times

The biggest reason that website users bounce is through slow loading times – and when I say slow, I mean 4 seconds or more. It’s the fastest way to reject traffic and lose website conversions.

We’ve covered this topic a lot because it really does make a massive difference, especially now that Google has added speed as one of their core web vitals for strong SEO rankings.

Make sure anything that takes up a lot of space is optimised to reduce lag and do everything you can to increase speed.

9 common website design features that hurt conversions too many stock photos
How we feel when we see the same stock photos used across every new website

Too Many Stock Photos

Stock photos are glossy, happy and fake. It’s also going to be hard to find quality stock photos that don’t appear to be referring, alluding to or selling something else, the message is often deliberately ambiguous to allow more flexible use.

None of that is good for your website conversion rates. No one wants to see fake ambiguous images. Hiring a professional photographer to take the images you need, even if it’s only for your main parent pages is really important, and tax deductible as it’s a business expense.

Absolutely make sure you engage your audience with images on your website. They are quick to take in, powerful, colourful and emotive, so absolutely look to include optimised images, videos and graphics as part of your main content, just save the corny stock images for blogs.

Complex Site Navigation

Your site needs to be easy to move from first to last click. Make it clear where your reader is, where they are going and what choices they have to get there (direct, or the scenic route).

Keep forms as short as possible and look for ways to offer pre-filling data – this goes double for mobile sites. Where filling forms can be cumbersome and difficult.

Search fields help along with well-categorised content so it can be easily found if searched.

Multiple User Choices

Too many choices will overload the senses and cause confusion. Limiting the choices will limit confusion.

Give your audience clear and well-placed CTAs and the steps that will take them through your site in the most logical and satisfying order. Your conversion funnel will also help here by offering different audiences different buyer pathways to follow to meet their needs.

Your web data analytics will help show a heat map and pathways that work, and which ones get abandoned so you can tweak and adjust the areas that are not working as well as repeat and strengthen the patterns that have great results.

Have multiple points on every page where the reader can take the next step. Make sure the primary action is more prominent than the secondary one.

It’s not just about clear and easy-to-follow content, it’s also down to great use of white space and formatting so that visitors can see directions and next steps easily at a glance.

9 common website design features that hurt conversions distractions


Your website should only aim to achieve one thing. While you will have some supporting material to help enhance that, it should always flow in the same direction under the same name and with the same focus.

Anything you add in addition to your goal creates confusion and deters website conversions. If you are linking to or referencing other professionals or external products you also dilute your authority and show that someone else is the expert- not you.

Delete anything that is a distraction, from inappropriate images, fancy fonts and graphics to third-party sponsors, advertising and sales materials.

Also, make sure that you are only offering the most current and relevant products and delete anything that doesn’t harmonise with your current main offer.

Making your pages as light as possible makes them easy to read and increases your page loading and interaction times.

Too Hard To Buy

When people want to buy from your website it needs to be the simplest, quickest and most secure process you can manage. Payment buttons should be easy to see and click (especially for mobile purchases and you need to reduce clicks to buy in as many ways as possible as well as make your purchase point easy to view, review and refine from anywhere on your website.

It’s well worth paying for an additional intuitive shopping cart or payment experience system for your customers rather than leaving an imperfect template default in place.

Ask to fill as few fields as possible. There is no need to force users to sign up before they buy, their purchase will be the ultimate gain so capturing their details is an added step where you gain and they lose.  Guest sales are just as financially beneficial as member sign-in sales.

Find ways to make your purchase as generous as you can. Free shipping, bundled shipping discounts or bundled cart reductions can help reduce friction or increase purchase bundles if you provide shipping free over a certain amount spent.

All Take and No Give

You need to give your prospects something to sweeten the deal or get them involved, such as a free trial of your offer. It makes your services safe, reduces the risk and also gives prospects a chance to get to know you better. That familiarity and certainty will help them feel safe with conversion and lead to loyal repeat services.

Make sure your website content includes information that is genuine, practical and useful without any gates or requirements to start using.

Examples of giving back through content

  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • How-To videos
  • Community groups/forums/chats

Examples of giving back in your shopping cart

  • Limited free trial (i.e. 1 week, 30 days)
  • Low introductory rate
  • Free gift/offer
  • Discount coupon

In some cases you might have to give up some money and time, however, it’s worth it for what you recoup in your conversions and customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising.

Every time you ask for something from your user, try to find a way to also give back. You need to offer them a valuable reward for giving up their personal information and putting their trust in you.

Don’t offer something generic just for the sake of it or make an offer that is not in line with your business values and Why. The more tailored and personal an offer is to your audience and online services, the more genuine and appealing it will look to be.

9 common website design features that hurt conversions not completing website testing

Not Completing Website Testing

Anything new on your website needs to be tested and checked, not just to check it is working properly, but also for how your audience is responding. In the above point, we look at giving back to your readers with valuable content and freebies. You need to also check your data to see if these offers are working and what impact they have had on your landing page clicks, sales and subscriptions.

At the same time, broken links, missing images, shifting page information and poorly placed content is distracting and looks unprofessional. 

Make sure you test everything before you publish – especially on mobile sites and keep checking to see how things are rolling out.

A/B testing, AKA split testing, takes things one step further and reduces the risk of starting in a new direction your audience might not be interested in. With A/B testing you run both your existing website and your newly coded website at the same time, with visitors split 50-50 between the two. You can compare data between website versions to get a read on how effective and desirable your changes have been in terms of clicks, time spent on pages as well as website conversions.

Getting professional assistance on your business website

There is a lot you can do yourself to increase conversions on your website and see better website traffic numbers. Using data and analytics will give you accurate pointers on what to change and how. If you are time-poor, find it all too much or aren’t seeing results after your own changes, a professional website designer can help with redesigning your website, fixing issues and also testing.

Increasing your website design conversions gives you better marketing ROI, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’re also increasing web traffic, building your customer database and brand exposure, increasing your customer reach and inviting more happy customers to leave reviews for increased social proof and refer friends to your business.

Use the list above to iron out any glaring problems you may have with your website design that is holding you back from seeing great conversion numbers. Just be sure to start at the very top and build a solid website that’s based on your business goals, current and comparable data analysis and testing as well as connecting to people through your unique and genuine Why.

If you need help with any of the steps or to pinpoint what will resonate with your target audience, send us an enquiry and one of our Chillybin professional web designers will work with you to get your business website up to speed.

Shaan Nicol

I help business owners increase profits by bringing their vision to life with a world-class website and gold-standard website support. Let’s connect!