10 Common Website Usability Blunders To Avoid

Whatever the purpose of a website is: business, information, or entertainment, it needs audience, the target users. Ignoring them from the very start, means web designing, leads to website failure.

As the definition given above reveals clearly that usability is all about satisfied site users from start till end, means from landing to making the deal (at ecommerce websites).

Websites having smooth navigation, easy to remember site working, relevant content, prominent call to action buttons- few usability factors- receive good response from the end users and search engines as well. All it means a user-centric web design helps grabbing the desired attention of the target audience and gives a real boost to the sales and ultimate business profit.

In this post, you are going to read few usability errors, mistakes, or blunders that should be avoided during web designing while making a website user-friendly. A sure good read for web designers and businesses at startup.

Jakob Nielson, a well-known usability consultant defines Usability in the following words:

“The ease with which users learn to use a web site, how efficient they are when using it, how easy it is for them to remember how to use it and how satisfied they are when they use it.”

1. Small Clickable Areas

There might be many hyperlinks used at a website, keeping them small would be killing for the website usability. The mouse movements are usually not that much precise to click such small hyperlinks. Bigger links make it easy for users to click and move to the desired page, hence removing inconvenience. Use CSS padding property to enlarge the clickable links.

2. Poor Use Of Pagination

Pagination is used at websites dealing in larger number of products (ecommerce websites), or having long lists carrying items, dividing them into several pages. This property is good for website efficiency because too many items or products at one page increase the website load time, hence leading to poor user experience. Pagination improves the website layout while making it convenient and easy to absorb.

How pagination is abused? At websites having larger content, like news or blogs, simple content or blog posts are split into several pages. The ulterior motive behind this tactic is to increase the page views, so that a site could charge high for the advertisements placed over there. The negative aspect of such misuse of pagination is user inconvenience because users do not really want to scroll down several pages just to read a whole article.

Another side effect of abused pagination is a fall in search engine ranking. Search engine crawlers index the content pages and then rank them. If a single article is spread onto several pages, it means content dilution. Keywords are also scattered, so the article could not impress search engines for the right search engine ranks. So, try to use pagination, if needed, like for long lists of items or larger number of products.

3. Difficult To Scan Content

Difficult To Scan Content

It is another usability aspect, usually ignored by web designers. If the content is hard to scan, means users don’t grasp the website information, it adds to negative user experience. One main reason for hard to scan content is poor content copy. While writing copy, know about the viewing behavior of users. Users switch from one to the other section of the content based on the interest factor and absorb the information available. Consider the following points while finalizing the web copy of your perfect web design.

  • Divide content into clear sections.
  • Use larger fonts.
  • Use high contrast colors.
  • Use appropriate images, icons along with text to support the desired response.
  • Use appealing, short, and descriptive headings to reveal what the section is all about.
  • Present the needed information only.
  • Use small paragraphs, as users do not like larger paragraphs and prefer reading small text snippets.
4. Duplicate Page Titles

Sometimes, web builders use a generic title in the web template and then use the title again throughout the website. It is a usability error that should be avoided. Why? The first reason is it fails to communicate to the site visitors what the page is all about. Visitors can judge from the title whether they have landed at the right place or not.

The second reason is SEO_based. Search engines, like Google and Yahoo, use page title as an important factor to present relevant information against certain search query made by a user. Better use keywords in the title people use while searching; it does not mean stuff the page title with too many keywords. Be relevant and concise.

5. Avoid Stuffing The Site

Avoid Stuffing The Site
REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

If a website has more to remember and visitors have to follow a complicated path while browsing, less are the chances they will come back or recommend your site to others. An easy to remember website browsing pattern adds to the pleasant user experience, improves page view statistics, and hence monetizes the site. Believe it, with high usability supporting loyal following, you can charge more for the ads displayed at your site.

6. Lacking Search Option

Instead of browsing the whole site for the desired stuff, people prefer using a search option. This option is good for the site users who know exactly what they are looking for and they do not have enough time to move through the available website navigation. Jakob Nielson explains the behavior of such search-dominant people in the following words:

“Our usability studies show that more than half of all users are search-dominant. The search dominant users will usually go straight for the search button when they enter a website: they are not interested in looking around the site; they are task-focused and want to find specific information as fast as possible.”

For any kind of website, search option helps the site visitors in finding some particular stuff whether it is an article or a product. You can use Google or Yahoo as the major search engine at your website. To limit the search of Google or Yahoo around your website, use the domain name of your website in the hidden field.

7. Lacking An Active Way To Communicate

Lacking An Active Way To Communicate
flickr.com: user-loubert37

The worst usability blunder is not providing the users with an active line to communicate at a website. Quickly replying to users’ queries means you have an efficient customer service and you care for those coming at the site. All it will bring appreciation from your prospects and loyal customers.

Many websites do not pay attention towards this important usability aspect, like Coca Cola does not have an email address or contact number. There is an automated FAQ page, a feedback form, asking for the visitor’s age, address, and a block of 500-characters limit. Visitors can submit any new idea by filling a 2-page long form with attached terms and conditions. That is not a good example of effective communication with the site visitors and customers.

Using a “Contact Us” form can help if you do not want to reveal your email address at the website. To avoid spam emails, you can need Captchas, which is considered as a strong barrier in way of effective user interaction. Use some other user-friendly alternative.

Online forums are also an effective mode to stay in touch with the site users. They can discuss their problems over there and get the best advice from experts and experienced site users.

Apart from staying alert for customers and visitors, active and effective communication channel also helps building a loyal community of followers. The better their experience is at your site more are the chances they will come again and recommend your site to others.

8. Useless Registration Requirements

Many websites have registration requirement for the users to access certain content or features available at the site. It is good for certain web apps like for project management, document editing etc. News websites usually do not have the registration barrier to access the information presented over there. Websites like Reddit do not ask for the user registration to browse.

Although, it is good for websites to offer registration, as and where needed to avoid spam, but putting too much website stuff behind registration barrier is not a wise approach at all. Like, at some blogs, users have to login before commenting, it leads to low count of comments.

To enhance the usability of a website, there should be more chances for users to interact with the website. Useless registration requirement can be a serious hurdle in way of user participation at the site. If there are regular visitors of your website, at some later stage, they will surely want to get registered. It is all about building trust with the site visitors. You can offer a test drive for an app, if satisfied, users will go for signup. Use innovative ways to enhance user participation at your website instead of putting barriers.

9. 404-Error Page

404-Error Page

Sometimes, users find 404-error page, means page not found, a usability blunder. They might have browsed the website in past, but it has changed the structure or got reorganized. Permalinks found on older website are pointing nowhere now. They need some action, a 301 redirect. It reveals instructions for the site users to move to the desired page. The redirect instructions are stored on the server. Implementation of 301 redirects depends on the server you are using. Whatever you do, make it sure that there are no 404-error pages to add to the user inconvenience.

10. Lengthy User Details For Forms

Whatever forms are used at a website, if there is too much information needed, it would be repelling, adding to negative user experience, a serious usability blunder. Short and smart forms consume less time of the users and they like filling in them. Forms, like to submit an idea, to get registered, to checkout at an ecommerce store, should not require lengthy information, which is a hurdle in way of successfully passing through the stage. What is the main purpose of collecting the form information? To identify the user? If yes, asking for email address, user name, password is enough. For checkout forms, keep the personal information requirement at lowest because it would be a big appeal for the customers to complete the deal.

A website is all about users, if users have a pleasant experience over there, the purpose of the website building is met. All the factors influencing website usability should help in removing the frustration of the site users as long as they stay and browse different pages. Pay attention to the minute details from presentation to the website functionalities; everything should be user-friendly. Believe it, a user-friendly website is search engine-friendly, and will receive good return in terms of high viewers count, boosted sales, and piling up profit.

What else you want to share relevant to the topic discussed above? Any usability blunders you have witnessed or experienced and corrected to improve the site performance? Feel free to mention in the comments section below.

Like the article? Share it.

LinkedIn Pinterest


  1. This one is a huge – Avoid Stuffing The Site. I find this happening a lot for SEO purposes, but its so bad for user experience. Thanks for the share, this was a great read.

Leave a Comment Yourself

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *