How to Find Exactly What’s Wrong with Your Website’s Design

The design and user experience of your business website can have a monumental impact on how successful your company will be. A poor UX can stop a sale in an instant, and even the overall appearance of your website can determine whether a customer will engage or not.

According to Adobe’s report on web design, customers are more likely to engage with a website that includes a beautiful and attractive design over one that is plain and boring. However, a few simple issues in the UX can quickly result in disengagement.

Nearly 40% of viewers will exit immediately if something stands in the way of the website’s usability. Most commonly, problems related to loading speeds, content length, and unattractive displays caused visitors to exit before converting.

Adobe’s report web design

Getting to the root of these problems is clearly necessary. However, identifying the issues that are causing customers to leave before converting can be tricky, especially if the culprits are not blatantly apparent. Obviously, a page not loading quickly or correctly is easy enough to spot. However, these more intricate details like the overall aesthetic or navigational functionality are trickier to pinpoint.

So, how can you figure out what needs to be fixed, changed, or totally removed for a better UX that encourages more conversions?

Let’s discuss.

Pay Attention to the Pain Points

Nobody truly enjoys reading negative comments that customers post online. While some negative feedback is certainly warranted, a lot of it tends to be an immediate reaction from an annoyed customer. Unfortunately, this has caused many businesses to follow an unhealthy pattern of ignoring or even deleting negative feedback from customers. However, the truth is that bad reviews can actually be a perfect resource for identifying the biggest issues with your website. In general, a customer will provide fairly detailed information regarding why they had such a negative experience – especially when asked. Although not all of the issues may be directly tied to your website, it could provide clues and insight into some UX issues that could be tweaked for future visitors.

The key here is to use a review gathering approach that encourages customers to leave more detailed descriptions in regards to various aspects of their experience, particularly the UX. It can be handy here to use third-party review sites that are intended for comparison shopping. Ask for detailed feedback on multiple aspects of customers’ experience, such as the user-friendliness of the site or program, how helpful customer service was, and the overall value for the price.

The feedback from these reviews should not be limited to just your customer service team. Be sure that these reviews are monitored and that any potential issues or recommendations from customers are relayed over to the proper departments, particularly in relation to website UX.

Trustpilot used their customer reviews to make a number of necessary UX changes to their platform. One thing that helped them identify the biggest issues was by asking customers to rate different aspects of the business (including features and functionality as well as ease-of-use) and provide details about the pros and cons of their product.

Pay Attention to the Pain Points

This negative feedback was used as a guide for changes to both the website as well as the platform’s UX.

If gathered and used properly, negative feedback can be an excellent starting point for changes to both your website and user experience. Be sure to take a look at the negative feedback from customers and identify recurring patterns. If a single customer complains about an issue, it might be an anomaly, but if several are reporting similar problems, it could shed some light on web design inconsistencies that need addressing.

Look for Common Mistakes

No one is immune to making mistakes, including even the most experienced web designers. Plus, customer preferences and behaviors change over time. For instance, the use of mobile search and browsing has dramatically increased over the past few years. The design principles that may perform quite well on desktop and laptops might not apply to a much smaller screen, so changes must constantly be made in order to accommodate the latest mobile design trends. What was once considered a smart design approach may be totally outdated after a few months when preferences and technology changes.

There are plenty of resources, studies, and surveys that have been conducted regarding UX and its relation to web design. Do your research and see what other experts say are major design no-no’s, but be sure that their claims are backed up with reliable data. Then take this advice and apply it to your own website to see if there are any little mistakes you might be making.

Even the smallest of design tweaks can have a major impact. For example, 160 Driving Academy conducted an A/B test on their website to see which design changes would have a bigger impact on conversions. Previously, their website had used stock photos on the layout, a practice that is quite common. Their team compared the results when an original image was displayed, rather than a basic stock photo. The real image brought about a remarkable 161% increase in conversions and a 39% lift in registration sign-ups. Moreover, customers reported that it made them feel more confident in their purchase.

Common Mistakes

Although this was a simple design mistake that many websites have been guilty of, a quick change brought about great results. This simple imagery issue was hurting sales, but the UX team may have never realized that this was an issue. This is why checking out basic design mistakes is so critical to do repeatedly as preferences change. Be sure that you haven’t overlooked the most basic of design flaws and stay up-to-date with the latest reports and trends.

Trim the Fat

In regards to the customer journey, your website operates somewhat as a map to guide customers towards their next destination. However, if a visitor is presented with too many options, it could cause confusion that leads to disengagement.

If a customer is a first-time visitor to your website, do they know where to go or what to do next? If there are lots of options or hidden navigational tabs, a visitor might get lost immediately.

One clear real-life example here is the menu options of the fast food chains Sonic and In-N-Out. If you are a first-time customer, the menu for Sonic can be extremely overwhelming. There are hundreds of food and flavor options, side dishes, and combo deals to choose from – and very little organization on their menu.

Sonic menu

On the other hand, In-N-Out’s menu is quite straightforward. There are still plenty of options, but they have trimmed the fat (so the speak) by keeping things simple. Their tagline exemplifies this perfectly: “Ordering as easy as 1,2,3.”

In-N-Out menu

When it comes to business websites, it is best to follow a simple and organized approach. A complex or confusing navigational system is a huge issue that will immediately result in a negative UX.

Simplicity is key for increasing conversions, so do your best to whittle down the extra content, unnecessary landing pages, and dead-end pages to make your layout simpler and easier to navigate.

If your website has lots of options, find a way to organize these pages in a logical way, such as dropdown menu option categories with subset folders. Adding a search bar is another great tool to include for easier navigation. Rather than displaying every single option on your home page, simplify your subpages into organized and logical tabs for easy browsing.

You should also take a look and see which pages are unnecessary or could be combined for a more streamlined layout. One way to do this is by taking a look at your Google Analytics data for your individual landing pages. If certain pages have low CTRs, high bounce rates, or exit numbers, it could be a sign that they are not providing much use to the customer.

Also, be sure that every page has clearly displayed CTA buttons that will lead to common landing pages. 86% of customers arrive to a vendor’s website to find product and service information, while 64% are searching for a way to contact customer service. Keep the focus of your website on the search intent of your visitors, and be sure that the most popular information links are only one click away from the homepage.


Use Analytics to Find the Core of Issues

Finally, you can discover the exact falling off points of customer engagement by using one of your most valuable website resources: Google Analytics. By observing patterns and changes in key metrics, your design team can successfully identify key UX issues and determine where changes are needed.

One of the best ways to use this information is to create a user journey map with exit rates for each step. This can be done by creating a sort of “choose your own adventure” type of behavioral flow report. Data from Google Analytics can then be applied to determine the exit rate for each page. If certain steps have abnormally high exit numbers, it could be a sign that there is a design flaw or UX issue.

You can also create a behavior flow title through Google Analytics under the Behavior tab. This will create statistical reports that show how users land on different pages within your website, what they do before and after, and the sequence of interactions that typically lead to a final action, whether it be a conversion or an exit).

This kind of behavioral tracking will also help to identify if there are any transitional pages missing. These pages serve as bridges that are typically clicked through fairly quickly, but help to move the customer along. If there is a clear fall-off point, including one of these service pages could be quite beneficial to make the transition a little bit smoother for the customer.

Use Analytics


When it comes to web design, the job is never truly done. There are always improvements that can be made and new trends to test out. Components should also be regularly optimized or reconfigured to provide a better experience for your visitors or to better meet their preferences.

In order to keep your website operating to its fullest potential, you will need to identify and resolve any problems that stand in the way. Pay attention to your customer reviews (particularly ones with negative sentiment) to identify possible UX issues. Stay up to date with current trends and preferences to avoid an old-fashioned design or layout that is unattractive to customers. Augment the navigational journey of your site by eliminating unnecessary options and use Google Analytics to optimize the path that customers follow to a conversion.

Be sure to keep these strategies in mind to help your design team make the kinds of alterations that will have the biggest positive impacts on your business’s website.

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One Comment

  1. Hey, very nice article. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.

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