Common Website Mistakes in 2024

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Why Doesn’t My Website Perform Well

Sometimes, business owners need help with their websites.  When this happens, it can be caused by a few root causes.

  1. The website is poorly designed
  2. Potential visitors cannot find the website
  3. The messaging is not engaging enough

Over the next few posts, we will look at each of these root causes and some of the things we can do to mitigate them.

Poor Navigation

Your website’s navigation is often overlooked, but it is an essential element of any successful website.  If you ever went to a large shopping mall looking for a particular shop, you’ve probably found one of those maps near the entrance.  These are in predictable places and offer a simple way for a new visitor to locate what they are looking for.

Good website navigation should create a simple, intuitive way to find critical content.  Often, little thought is given to navigation, and you end up with the following.

If everything shows on the top level, it should be easy to find, right?  Not so.  Too many top-level navigation links will make things more challenging to find.  If you must pick the link for a product out of a list of 10 links, it will be more complicated than if you had four links and one was products.  You would intuitively know where to look.

The simplest way to do sub-navigation is to use simple drop-down menus.  If you add sub-navigation to sub-navigation, the user must trace a path to the desired link.  If the mouse comes off that path, then the menu collapses, and the user has to start again.  It’s a terrible user experience and should be avoided.  If you have a lot of content, you should employ megamenus, which opens a panel that can have many (well-organized) links.

If you use sub-navigation, you must ensure that links are nested in places where they make sense.  If you have an ‘about’ link in your menu, having subnavigation for things like our team, our history, our vision and values, etc., makes sense.  If you add your privacy policy or careers page to that menu, it doesn’t. I have seen sites with several sub-navigation links nested under the home link.  This makes no sense and also brings us to the next item.

This may be a hot take, but if you look at the websites for any major brand, you will see that they don’t have a home text link in their menu.  The standard convention is to use the logo as the home link. I have had push-back from other designers on this opinion, but I think that brands like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks spend way more on user interface research than most company’s annual budgets, and if they don’t think they need them, then I am pretty sure you don’t either.

Generally speaking, you want to use social media to drive traffic to your website.  The inverse is not true.   Visitors on your website have a much higher chance of taking your desired conversion action than those on a social media platform, where the conversion may not be possible and where the platform is actively trying to distract them and keep them with every shiny thing.  Relegate social links to the footer and contact pages, where visitors can find them if needed, but do yourself a favour and don’t make it easy for people to click off your site before they even scroll down the first page.

Critical Information is Missing or Hard to Find

Some information on your website will be more important to find than others. If you are a church, for example, service times and locations are critical. If you’re a dentist, it is vital that your phone number and office hours can be located easily. Critical contact information should be in multiple locations. It could be in the header, the footer, and the contact page.

Out of Date

Have you ever spent a few minutes on a website and then started to wonder if the business is still actually operating?  Nothing says you’re asleep at the wheel more than old and stale content on your site. How old is the copyright date in the footer? If your blog posts have dates, how long has it been since your last post? Are you promoting events or seasonal promotions that have long since passed?  The idea of a ‘set it and forget it’ website is a fallacy.  You need to at least look at your website monthly (or more frequently) to see if anything is out of date.

Focused on the Wrong Content

Your website will naturally have some main objectives.  Those could include.

  • Selling products
  • Generating leads
  • Promoting awareness of a cause
  • Generating traffic for ad revenue

The content on your site needs to further those objectives.  It’s not that you cannot have an eCommerce site with a page that talks about your core values, but you need to examine whether the time and effort you put into creating that content will help you achieve your objectives.  If you are marketing to individuals who are passionate about social justice, it might make sense.  If you sell aftermarket car parts, it seems less likely to move the needle.

The smaller the website, the more intentional you need to be in making sure that everything that is on your website needs to be on your website.

No Real Call to Action

Earlier, I mentioned the conversion action you want your visitor to take.  That action should be well-defined and consistent.  If you want people to book an appointment, an option should always be nearby.  You want to ensure it is clear (something Start Today may not be as clear as Book An Appointment).  If you have secondary actions (e.g. download our ebook), you should maintain a visual hierarchy, making the secondary action less prominent than the primary action.  The worst thing we can do is give our visitors information about the problem they may be experiencing without making it abundantly clear how we can help them solve it.


While this list is far from exhaustive, we hope it provides insight into why a website may perform poorly. Of course, this information is only relevant if you have traffic on your website. In our next post, we will look at some reasons why you might be struggling to get visitors to your website and what you can do about it.