And we don’t blame you! Your website is often the first thing customers check when researching your business, so you want to make sure it’s polished, modern, and sophisticated.
Unfortunately, we see many businesses fall into the trap of using trendy or abstract web designs solely to make their website look new and refined. Only to find out later that these practices aren’t doing their SEO campaigns any favours.
Some of the most troublesome (at least SEO-wise) web design trends we’ve seen recently include –
1. Using Extra Large Images
Yes, large HD images look amazing on-screen. And they certainly catch your attention.
But there’s a catch. Not only do oversized images take up precious screen space, but they also take longer to load. This can increase your website’s site speed, which definitely hurts your site’s user experience and, eventually, your SEO rankings.
Google has long since confirmed site speed as a signal for their search algorithm. Slow websites take longer to crawl, which could affect how your website is indexed. But more importantly, they harm your user’s experience. ‘Think with Google’ says 53% of mobile visitors leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. The longer it takes your site to load, the more likely users will leave it. That’s a big no-no for Google.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use high-quality images at all – because you should. Just make sure you optimise them correctly by compressing their sizes (without sacrificing quality as much as possible), including alt-tags, and adding them to your sitemap.
2. Hamburger Menus
Minimalist web designs are renowned for looks that are ‘clean and simple’.
Unfortunately, there’s such a thing as being too clean and simple – especially when it comes to your website’s navigation.
One trend in minimalist web designs is the use of ‘Hamburger’ menus on your desktop site, which hide your main menu and categories under the ‘hamburger’ menu icon.
While this can certainly make your page look tidier, the fact is, it introduces an additional barrier for your user when exploring your website. You’re essentially asking them to click on the menu icon just to see what else there is!
It’s hard enough keeping a user on your website – don’t make it harder for them by making them work more, just to see what else your website offers.
Of course, this problem is mainly for your website’s desktop version. Hamburger menus can be useful and practical in mobile versions of websites, where screen space is more limited. But even then, you want to make sure users know exactly where your menu is by making your hamburger menu icon large enough to stand out or including the word ‘menu’ along with it.
3. Pop-ups (and more pop-ups!)
Pop-ups may be great for advertising and generating leads (they’re a favourite among sales teams), but they’re terrible for user experience.
Pop-ups interfere with your reader’s website experience, preventing them from accessing your content directly. Best case scenario, your reader shrugs it off and closes the pop-up. At its worst, they annoy your readers so much that they leave your website entirely.
Almost everyone hates pop-ups, which is why Google discourage its use, especially if they interfere with a user’s ability to access content on a website. This is especially true on mobile where screen space is more limited. As Google says in its Webmaster Central Blog:
“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
There are exceptions, of course, when pop-ups are necessary and useful. Pop-up for legal obligations (e.g. age verification) or log in functions are important and required in many cases.
But in all other situations, you’re likely better off avoiding pop-ups altogether.
A Holistic Approach to Web Design
Eye-catching designs may be all the rage in today’s highly visual online world, but they’re not enough to gain you solid rankings in SEO.
Remember that Google is smarter and more discerning than ever. And most importantly, its search algorithm is tailored to users more than anything else. It’s about your users and readers, not you.
That’s why you need to take a holistic approach to your web design – one that considers how your readers will feel when they visit your website. If your site doesn’t give them positive experiences, chances are you’ll find it difficult to rank well and get the conversions you want.
Want an SEO-driven website design for your business? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help.