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When designing your small business website, what looks pretty isn’t always what will convert the best. Here are some common ways you could easily kill your website with bad design without even realizing it:

Don’t use any directional cues.

Myth #1: Directional cues don’t really work – they are something designers and marketers made up to sound smart.

That would be incorrect. Directional cues, things like body language, eye direction, and arrows, all help guide the visitor’s eye around a webpage. Use them to point your visitors to the most important elements on your page (a video, your call to action button, a contact form and so on.)

Include a lot of competing call-to-action buttons.

Myth #2: You want your visitors to take action on your site. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a lot of different calls-to-action on each page, right? After all, not everyone will be interested in the same thing, so variety must be the key to increased conversions.


It’s true that not every call-to-action will be strong and compelling to the majority of your visitors. However, you should not include competing for calls-to-action on a page. Instead you should a/b test your calls-to-action to find out what the highest converting one is.

Including competing calls-to-action will only confuse your visitors and decrease your conversion rate. Visitors need to be focused in on one thing. By placing two (or more) different offers on the same page you include the opportunity for hesitation and lost conversions.

Add in many pictures and videos.

Myth #3: Pictures and videos play important roles on a website; however, the key is balance. Including too many pictures and videos can be distracting and remove focus from your call-to-action.

Pictures and videos should reinforce the call-to-action and never detract from it. Make sure all visuals on your site are relevant and serve a purpose (remember: eye gaze and body language in images work as directional cues).

Purposeful pictures and videos include testimonials, product demonstrations, a tour of facilities and so on. They all work to encourage conversion.

Use a lot of different colors.

Myth #4: This isn’t the 1940s, right? So why should everything be in black and white? It shouldn’t, but the use of color should serve a purpose. Use color to point out specific areas of your site that will help convert visitors.

For example, making your call to action button a color (like bright orange) helps it stand out (unless your site uses a lot of orange colors). The use of headlines in an eye-catching color pulls readers into the important copy. The user of color all over your site with no purpose is only a distraction. This particularly happens when the project team members have conflicting ideas about the use of color.

I wouldn’t exactly say use color sparingly, but I would say use it where appropriate.

Leave a lot of space for copy.

Myth #5: Words, words, words. You need them to describe your product or service, so your website should be full of copy. Wrong.

Just like with pictures and videos you want to have a nice balance and use copy with purpose. Say what you need to say with as little words as possible. And follow advertising genius, David Olgivy’s advice, and favor clarity over creativity. If your visitors don’t know what you’re trying to say with your fancy and fun words they won’t convert.

Give it to ‘em straight.

What design rules do you follow when designing or evaluating websites? Leave a comment below!

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.