3 Web Design Mistakes That Can Hurt User Engagement

Content is king, but the presentation is just as important. If your web design isn’t five-star, then you may struggle to hold the visitor’s attention and drive conversions.

The taste may be subjective, but there are some web design mistakes that you should avoid at all costs. By scrutinizing your site for these common pitfalls, you can ensure that your web design is contributing positively to your engagement, rather than hurting it.

In this post, we’ll deep-dive into three web design mistakes that may be undermining your business. Along the way, we’ll share actionable advice on how to avoid these design disasters. Let’s get started!

1. Poor Navigation

An innovative and professional WordPress web design can create a great first impression. However, people don’t visit your site to admire its design

When someone lands on your website, they have a clear goal in mind. It’s your job to help them achieve that goal as efficiently as possible.  

The most engaging websites make the customer journey feel effortless. Ideally, visitors should intuitively know the steps they need to take in order to achieve their desired outcomes. If the visitor has to consciously think about what to do next, then your design isn’t up to scratch.

As a website owner, you’re likely fully aware of the importance of friction-free navigation. However, after spending days, weeks, or even months scrutinizing every single part of your website, you’re not the best person to judge whether your navigation is user-friendly. 

The more time you invest into a project, the tricker it is to put yourself in the position of a first-time visitor. For this reason, it’s important to get a fresh perspective on your website’s design.

If your company spans multiple departments, then you may be able to enlist the services of a colleague who wasn’t involved in the website redesign process. If you have the budget, you can even hire people to test out your site, using a service such as TryMyUI:


TryMyUI will provide videos of real people exploring your site. This can help you identify any areas of friction on your pages. Even if you don’t currently have the budget to invest in a full-scale test, TryMyUI offers a free trial, so you can still get some insight into your site’s weak spots. 

2. Unclear Call To Action (CTA)

A Call To Action (CTA) is the action that you want users to perform when visiting your website. Popular CTAs include signing up to your mailing list, requesting a callback, or adding an item to the shopping cart:

Unclear Call To Action

To drive user engagement, it’s vital that you clearly label the action that visitors should perform on that page. If your CTA is vague, then you’re forcing potential customers to pause and mull over their options, which is terrible for engagement.

You should also ensure that your CTA is easily accessible. Even if you’ve successfully convinced the visitor to take action, very few people are willing to spend time hunting around for a CTA.

The perfect CTA should leap out from the rest of your web design. This may mean using bold or contrasting colors, or it might also involve placing the CTA in prime position on the webpage:

CTA in prime position on the webpage

Often, this means placing the CTA above the fold. This ensures that visitors don’t have to scroll down the page in order to understand the next step in their customer journey.

However, you may want to bend this rule if the page contains critical information below the fold. In this case, it’s smart to consider the CTA’s relationship with the rest of your content.

We recommend you examine the webpage as a whole and consider the location where visitors are most likely to feel the urge to convert. Often, this is the ideal position for your CTA.

3. Lack of Web Accessibility

Not everyone will experience your website in the same way. Some users may be exploring your design using a screen reader or some other accessibility tool. When designing your site, it’s important to take these people into consideration. 

Designing a more accessible site isn’t just the right thing to do, it can also benefit your bottom line. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over a billion people have some form of disability. If you don’t design your site with accessibility in mind, then you could be missing out on a significant amount of engagement.

Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) state that people with disabilities have equal and fair access to the same resources. If your web design isn’t accessible, then you may find yourself in legal hot water. 

Accessibility is a huge topic. However, as a starting point, it’s important to provide an alternative to all of your site’s media by including captions and alt text:

wordpress alt text

You can also use the Website Accessibility Evaluation (WAVE) tool to scan your site’s design for potential usability issues. The catch is that WAVE can only analyze a single page at a time. For larger websites, you may want to install the WAVE for Chrome or WAVE for Firefox extension, which can accelerate the scanning process:

website accessibility evaluation

We also recommend referring to WebAIM’s accessibility checklist, which aims to condense the lengthy official WCAG 2.1 specification. This can be an effective way to evaluate your design’s accessibility, without having to read a detailed specification.


Every site is unique. However, there are some common web design mistakes that can derail practically any project.

With this in mind, let’s quickly recap three design pitfalls that can hurt user engagement:

  1. Poor navigation
  2. Unclear Call To Action (CTA)
  3. Lack of web accessibility

Do you have any questions about avoiding these web design hazards? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pexels.

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