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01

Outdated Design

02

Mixed-up Design

03

Inconsistent Design Elements

04

Mobile-last

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Bricks of Content

06

Overdesign

Gone are the days when we marveled at websites and patiently waited for them to load. Nowadays, a well-designed website is not just a luxury, but a necessity.

Yet, many businesses seem slow to catch on, struggling with outdated or inconsistent designs that fail to meet user expectations and industry standards.

In this article, we dive into the common and telltale signs of poor website design — from outdated aesthetics to a lack of cohesive design language and overdesign. These issues not only turn users off (thus affecting the metrics) but also drag down businesses of various scales.

As we explore each sign and the problems associated with it, you might realize that some of these issues apply to your site. If that's the case, it might be time to consider giving your website a new look or even a complete overhaul. After all, the ultimate goal is to transform your website into a smart marketing tool that drives new customers and boosts revenue growth.

Outdated Design → Diminished User Engagement

Problem 1: Visual
Branding Stagnation

An outdated design that has not been refreshed for 5-6 years can make a website look old and clunky, severely impacting user engagement and perception.

For example, consider a technology retailer whose site still reflects design trends from half a decade ago; out of the question, it does struggle to convince modern consumers that it offers the latest and greatest in tech innovations.

Users today expect visual elements that are sleek, modern, and easy to navigate. When they encounter outdated graphics and layouts, their initial perception might be that the products or services offered are equally outdated, leading them to seek alternatives with more up-to-date presentations. Don’t we all want to be on the same page with others and talk the same language and share the values of our community?

This visual misalignment not only reduces the site’s aesthetic appeal but also suggests a lack of commitment to keeping up with current trends, which is especially detrimental in industries that rely heavily on showcasing innovation.

Problem 2: Disconnection from
Current User Behaviors

Many websites fail to retain user attention when they attempt to overhaul navigational flows without considering established user behaviors or when they neglect to integrate modern, native interactions that are commonplace in users' everyday media consumption.

For instance, a media streaming service that does not update its user interface to allow for gestures like swipe-to-delete or long-press for more options may frustrate users accustomed to these interactions from other apps and platforms. This disconnection can stall the user journey, significantly slowing down the decision-making process and potentially leading to abandonment of the service.

Consequences

Both cases underline the critical importance of taking care of your website lifecycle and updating web design regularly to maintain user engagement and ensure the platform's competitiveness (as well as high performance).

Staying aligned with visual trends and user expectations is not just about aesthetics but also about functionality and ease of use, which directly influence the overall user experience and engagement levels. The delay in web responses and difficulty in navigating can deter users from converting, as the friction makes them reconsider their choice, often opting for services that offer a smoother, more intuitive experience.

01

Fails to Impress

The website fails to make the intended impact, undermining its role as an effective showcase for the product.

02

Retention Challenges

Retaining users' attention becomes challenging for the marketing team, leading to a potential loss of interest among potential customers and thus lower sales and conversions, directly impacting the business's bottom line.

03

Lower Search Rankings

Outdated designs are often penalized by search engine algorithms, resulting in lower visibility and reduced website traffic.

04

Damaged Reputation

An old-fashioned website can harm the brand's reputation, making it appear unreliable or outdated to potential customers.

Mixed-up Design → Spread User Confusion

Problem 1: Lack of Cohesive
Design Language

A website cobbled together with various design styles by different marketing teams and vendors often ends up as a visual mess — or more formally, it lacks cohesive visual and functional design.

Everyone sticks to the established color and font guidelines, but without a strict overarching design system, the result is a mishmash of styles that don’t quite gel — they clash rather than complement.

For instance, imagine a website where the homepage is sleek and modern, but the product pages are cluttered with an outdated look — or the other way around. Sound familiar? Don’t need to imagine? If so, you’d better know this inconsistency can really turn off customers who struggle to navigate smoothly between sections. Such an experience turns into a torture and can easily undermine users’ trust and push them to look for a more streamlined experience elsewhere.

Overly confused website

CONSEQUENCES

When UI/UX elements are thrown together by different folks for quick, short-term fixes, you end up with a kaleidoscope of legacy solutions that just don’t mesh, confusing users. What’s more, this mess makes it a real headache for the marketing team to figure out what’s hitting the mark and what’s missing it, throwing a wrench in planning future marketing strategies or tweaks.

01

Analytics Challenges

The marketing team’s struggle to measure what’s effective directly leads to misallocated budgets. Throwing money at strategies that don’t deliver won’t go a long way.

02

Dragging Out Marketing Campaigns

With a piecemeal approach to design and no ready-to-go templates, kicking off marketing initiatives means a lot of running back and forth between marketers, designers, and developers.

03

User Frustration on the Rise

As navigating through mismatched elements becomes confusing and tedious, frustrated users are more likely to leave the website quickly, leading to higher bounce rates and fewer interactions.

04

Brand Recognition Issues

Inconsistent styling weakens your brand's identity, making it harder for users to recognize and remember who you are.

Problem 2: Continuous Redesign
Without a Design System

Mid-sized business and enterprises often run into significant headaches when their websites lack a unified design system.

Without a cohesive design approach, different parts of the site end up being designed in isolation, basically starting from scratch each time. Such a “tactic” won’t pay off — it’s inefficient in nature and only lead to inconsistencies that are glaringly obvious to users.

Take, for example, a multinational corporation whose portal changes its look and feel depending on the region or department. This can seriously confuse users who are trying to access global services, making each interaction feel like stepping into a different world. Instead of building a consistent brand image, each redesign unintentionally whips up a whole new set of design rules, making everything more complicated.

Alarm bells should ring when users struggle just to find what they need!

Lato Font
Lato Font Button Examples

CONSEQUENCES

This kind of piecemeal design leads to a vicious cycle: marketing teams have to juggle hundreds of visual elements when crafting strategies, and designers end up having to reinvent the wheel with every project. The time to create even a simple landing page can balloon dramatically, and for bigger projects, this inefficiency is off the charts.

01

Slower Time to Market

It takes ages to get new pages or campaigns off the ground, dragging down the company's ability to keep up with market changes or jump on new opportunities.

02

Decreased Productivity

Designers and marketers waste tons of time figuring out designs and making decisions, which really cuts into productivity.

03

Increased Costs

Constant redesigns and the lack of a standard approach increase the costs in design and development.

Inconsistent Design Elements → Increased Costs & User Puzzlement

Problem 1: Inconsistent Facelifts
Across Website Sections

When you choose to only update or refresh specific sections of your website, such as the blog, while leaving the rest untouched, it results in a stark contrast in visual appeal and user experience across the site.

For instance, an updated, modern-looking blog set against outdated product pages can create a jarring user experience. Visitors might perceive the newer sections as more credible or reliable, while viewing the older sections as neglected or less important.

Such disparities can lead to increased overhead for developers tasked with maintaining multiple design standards and frameworks, complicating straightforward updates and potentially leading to higher long-term development costs.

Problem 2: Inconsistency in
Module Design During A/B Testing

Who doesn’t love experimenting? It’s all about how many hypotheses are tested to uncover fresh insights. Yet, in A/B testing, it's common to create more hassle than expected.

Design and marketing teams experiment with different layouts and styles to determine which is most effective. However, when these changes are implemented in a piecemeal fashion across various pages, it leads to a lack of uniformity that puzzles users.

For example, a website may use one style of product display modules on its homepage and a different style on product pages. Most likely, this inconsistency will confuse users who expect a coherent website experience, leading them to question the credibility and trustworthiness of the company.

Consequences

These abrupt and inconsistent changes in design undermine trust and hijack users’ attention.

Users might feel less secure entering their information on a page that looks significantly different from the rest of the site, which impacts their overall decision-making time and degrades the conversion rate.

In addition, design inconsistencies lead to increased costs. Websites with uneven design require more frequent updates, resulting in higher maintenance efforts and expenses over time. Moreover, such discrepancies not only require additional design and development resources but also increase the complexity of the site's underlying codebase, making it more difficult and expensive to manage and scale, thus contributing to elevated operational costs.

01

Increased Development & Support Costs

Confusion caused by design inconsistency entails more support queries, additional work for designers and developers, putting substantial strain on resources. It all also leads to higher long-term development and maintenance expenses.

02

Increased User Skepticism Towards the Brand

The more users catch discrepancies in design, the more they have to ask themselves whether they are still on the same website, ultimately beginning to doubt its trust and credibility of the brand.

03

Puzzling Navigation

Inconsistent design elements confuse users about where to find relevant information and how to interact with a website overall. Such puzzlement doesn’t work wonders for users — quite the opposite: it triggers them to rush off from the site.

04

Difficulty in Implementing Global Changes

When running an international, multilingual website, you risk falling prey to inconsistent designs, especially if the design strategy was overlooked or its importance was downplayed. The challenge arises when implementing global changes or updates, as they will certainly be more complex than desired and require more time, potentially leading to new errors or further inconsistencies.

Mobile-last → Lost Traffic & Mobile Revenue

Problem

In the mobile-first digital landscape, it’s surprising that some businesses still dare to neglect mobile optimization. This is particularly true for many older e-commerce platforms. Often, such sites fail to consider the mobile experience during the design phase or relegate it to developers as an afterthought.

Needless to say, neglecting the mobile version of a website represents a critical oversight, given that smartphones are the lifeblood of modern business operations. Overlooking the mobile aspect is critically problematic, considering the significant volume of mobile traffic and the more than 5 billion smartphone users as of 2024.

Websites that are not mobile-friendly are puzzling for users to navigate, browse products, or complete purchases with just a tap. Often, users interact with websites on the go — in the subway or even high in the sky, provided airlines offer connectivity. They don't want to engage in a game of hide and seek; instead, they expect full-width graphics, judicious use of space between texts, and large tapping areas for more accurate navigation. Lack of such features is a breeding ground for user frustration and anger.

Similarly, travel booking sites that haven't been optimized for mobile experience a drop in reservations. What looks brilliant and captivating on a desktop screen turns into a cumbersome booking process on a small one! Without collapsible menu widgets replacing bulky sidebars and header menus, and dedicated spaces for login credentials with fingerprint accessibility, these websites drive users away. Remember, users are potential customers. Without them, there’s no potential for a surge in revenue.

CONSEQUENCES

This mobile-last attitude leads to a direct loss of traffic and, consequently, mobile revenue. It’s as simple as that. Mobile users expect a seamless, intuitive browsing experience, which these outdated platforms fail to provide, resulting in decreased user satisfaction and diminished sales opportunities.

As mobile commerce continues to grow, websites that fail to adapt risk significant competitive disadvantage and revenue loss.

01

Lost Mobile Revenue

Failing to appeal to mobile users results in missed opportunities, closely linked to lower conversion rates.

02

SEO Penalties

Remember, search engines like Google (which holds approximately 95% of the mobile search engine market share worldwide) prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their rankings. Thus, a non-mobile-optimized site finds its place in lower search rankings with reduced visibility.

03

Competitive Disadvantage

Neglecting the mobile experience can put a business at a disadvantage compared to competitors who offer robust, mobile-friendly environments.

Bricks of Content → Shattered Storytelling

Problem

When website content lacks a cohesive narrative structure, it results in what can be best described as "shattered storytelling" or, alternatively, a lack of clear storytelling.

This issue arises when the content on a page — be it text, images, or multimedia — is presented in disjointed modules that either chaotically discuss the product, its capabilities, and benefits, or fail to align with the client’s content strategy.

The problem manifests as a confusing array of information that hampers the user's ability to grasp the intended message and visually complicates the perception of the content. For instance, an e-commerce site might have product descriptions, reviews, and promotional material scattered without a logical sequence, making it difficult for potential customers to understand the advantages of the product or how it fits into their needs.

Another example is an educational website where information is crucial; if the learning content is not sequentially organized, it can disrupt the learning process, leading users to feel overwhelmed or disinterested.

CONSEQUENCES

With no intuitive, clear path from point A to point B, users are left to their own devices to connect the dots between the product and its potential benefits. Ultimately, this fragmented storytelling not only diminishes user engagement but also significantly detracts from communicating key messages and fulfilling the primary objectives of the page in question.

01

Lost Opportunities for Education & Persuasion

Well-structured storytelling can educate users about the product and its benefits and persuade them of its value. When content is disorganized, these opportunities are missed, and users can be misled.

02

Difficulties in Content Optimization

Without a clear strategy, optimizing content for SEO and user engagement becomes more challenging, potentially affecting the site's visibility and effectiveness (e.g., heading hierarchy, product page structure).

03

Reduced Engagement & Stalled Conversion Rates

When there’s no cohesive on-page narrative in place, users are less likely to engage deeply with the content. Why? Confusion and lack of clarity can drive users away from taking desired actions, such as making purchases or signing up for services. The end result is lower interaction rates.

Overdesign → User
Entrapment in a Labyrinth

Problem

In their quest to offer users the best UX/UI experience possible, businesses often end up overdesigning — the opposite of what was initially intended.

The biggest threat is that overdesign creates a pure navigational nightmare for users: too many neon-colored calls to action, disrupted visual hierarchy and reading paths, excessive animations, and much more. What would a user think of it? All that glitters is not gold.

Design-wise, poorly placed emphases destroy the brand’s storytelling that should lead to the company’s offerings. Each step should be prioritized and play its role in building a connection between users and the services and products in question.

For instance, in e-commerce websites, overdesign can be associated with complex filter options and redundant product descriptions that overwhelm users. In mobile apps (and websites as well), overdesign could manifest as overcrowded interfaces with too many buttons, swipes, and gestures that confuse. Corporate websites might showcase overdesign through multiple conflicting visual styles and an overload of mission statements and values that muddle the company's message rather than clarify it.

CONSEQUENCES

An overabundance of content elements and an imbalance between visual and textual aspects only create fatigue for the customer and, more importantly, lead to user frustration, increased abandonment rates, and ultimately, a decrease in customer satisfaction and sales.

01

Users’ Disrupted Decision-Making

Too many design or content elements or overly complex visuals on a page undoubtedly confuse users, making it difficult for them to make decisions.

02

Diluted Core Message

While overwhelmed by too many competing elements and CTAs, users overlook the core message or value proposition you offer and leave the website instantly.

03

Fragmented User Experience

The clutter and complexity of the design make the website difficult to navigate and interact with.

04

Higher Bounce Rates

When users are overwhelmed by choices or confused by the layout, they are less likely to convert, impacting the website’s performance, and more likely to leave it abruptly.

The challenges of maintaining a modern and effective web design are manifold, but they shouldn’t seem to you insurmountable.

Timely recognizing the telltale signs of design fails — be it through shattered storytelling, inconsistent design elements, or an overdesigned home page — you can take proactive steps to revitalize your digital presence.

What if you found more than one of them relevant to your case? Then you’d better assess how critical your website’s need for a complete design overhaul through our Web Design Overhaul Checklist // Web Design Urgency Score // Web Design Health Score // Web Redesign Necessity Score that help you better understand how close to or far from a redesign your website is.

Check Your Current State
of Design Needs: A Complete
Checklist

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