November 18, 2021

Top 5 website red flags to avoid (beware these mistakes)

Learn the top 5 most common website red flags and design mistakes that you might be making in your branding.

The topic of branding, design, and what not to do is SO BROAD that this is focused *just* on website design so you can use these tips effectively and get results.

There are always adjustments to be made to get your branding exactly right (the rules of the internet change all the time!), but these are the BIG website red flags to pay attention to that are always tried and true.


These common mistakes are simple fixes, but may take a bit of time to streamline… so use your designer!

website red flag over crowded layout with too much information

RED FLAG #1 – Too much information in a small space.

Remember when websites were born and big bold text was everywhere and WordArt was a fad again? It was absolute chaos to read and digest anything, but we were so wowed by the internet we didn’t care.

Not so much today. If you have crowded pages, you overstimulate your audience and they WILL leave. Standards have been raised, my friend.

Websites are endless containers of virtual space, so please let it breathe. This is a wonderful world where you’re not limited by page count or printing costs.


And just like when you’re trying to read a book or a magazine, the hierarchy of titles, headings, and body copy still plays a role in guiding the reader.

Margins – should be wider than you think

Text – make it bigger than you think

Contrasting font choices – make it more obvious than you think

Spaces between lines of copy – should be taller than you think

All of this bigger / wider / more spacing is a visual trick to relax the reader. When we come across tight, tiny, crammed text, our brains read “clutter” and go into overwhelm. Help your website visitor by making it comfortable and easy to read.

Rules of thumb:

  • No text size smaller than 16pt font
  • At least 2″ margins
  • Space between lines should be 4pts larger than the font (For example if your font size is 16pt, then your line spacing should be at least 20pts)
  • One serif font paired with one sans-serif font
  • No more than 4 lines of text per “paragraph”

website mapping for clear navigation

WEBSITE RED FLAG #2 – Confusing Navigation

If you land on a website and you cannot easily find your way around… you leave. Let’s say you’re looking for a company’s contact information and it’s nowhere to be found. Or you’re trying to look for a specific T-shirt in stock but they’re all just thrown together without categories.


You lose faith and trust in the company immediately. It looks like they don’t have their shit together, so why put your money in the hands of people who may or may not deliver?

Simplifying your navigation into categories helps organize information for the consumer. The less digging they have to do (and the more guidance you provide) the better their experience and the more likely they are to stay on your site.

If you’re unsure of your website’s ease of use or clarity of information, get another set of eyes.

Rules of thumb:

  • You need navigation links at the top of your site for main categories (home, about, contact, products/services, blog, etc). Keep this as simple as possible, ideally 6 or less.
  • Within those categories, you can expand into other areas in drop-down menus.
  • Keep legal documents and notices in the footer (privacy policy, terms & conditions, etc) where they’re easily found but don’t detract from the main thing you want visitors to do

website red flag home page with hero image and text but no call to action

RED FLAG #3 – Missing Calls to Action

One of the biggest mistakes I see is a beautiful website, impeccably designed, but no “next steps” for the visitor to take.

You have to tell people what to do next. I know this sounds dumb, but people are so distracted nowadays, it’s no longer an obvious thing for them to seek services, sign up for anything, or ask questions. They’re literally waiting to be told what to do.

So help them!

Make it clear and obvious what to do next. Don’t leave them hanging and guessing about what to do, because chances are good they’ll be distracted in a minute and forget what they were doing on your site to begin with.

Rules of thumb:

  • Each page should have a clear CTA – whether its a button to the next page, an opt-in form, or a video message to upsell.
  • Use contrasting colors to draw attention to the thing you want them to do
  • Be clear, not clever. Use language that is direct and commanding (ie – download this now, sign up here, click to watch, etc)
website red flag forgetting mapping to organize content

WEBSITE RED FLAG #4 – Poor organization of content

Think of your website like an IKEA store:


There should be an intentional flow to your content, guiding people to take one action after another, eventually bringing them to purchase (and hopefully loading their cart with multiple items along the way).

If you visited IKEA without the guided path, you’d most likely miss a ton of cool stuff. You’ll make it out of there eventually, but what if there were no signs to even say “exit this way” or “here’s where you get meatballs”?

Not only is this a wise marketing move to create more revenue, but it helps people know what to do first/second/third.

Creating a path of steps through your site guides people to take a deeper look and become more invested in who you are and what you’re about.

This requires some thought on the front end before writing everything and designing your site.

For example, if there’s an opt-in for a freebie on your home page, then great. They’re in your email system now. But then what? Where do you want them to go next? Maybe it’s directing them to more free resources. Or maybe it’s pointing them directly to services that you know can help them right now. The choice is yours – the point is you need to choose.

Rules of thumb:

  • Plan out your website flow before creating content or design (a brand designer can help you with this too). This is called a web map.
  • Ask yourself: What do I want people to do now? How do I want them to experience this? What is the next natural step to take?
  • Use those CTA’s on each page to point them where you want them to go

website portfolio library

RED FLAG #5 – Slow loading speeds

Big images are amazing. Photography portfolios are divine. I love nothing more than landing on a full-page width site with a breathtaking view.


However, if I have to sit there and wait for that image to load? I’m not staying.

Neither is your audience.

There’s no excuse for this when internet speeds are as fast as they are today. Your images should be optimized for web viewing (your designer will know) so that they load quickly, even at large sizes.

The same rule applies to any forms or files you have available to download directly from your site. Save the high-resolution stuff for paying clients.

Rules of thumb:

  • Images resolution should be set at 72dpi (web standard resolution)
  • Image size should be set at 1200 pixels wide (minimum for full-screen viewing)
  • The higher the resolution, the larger the file, and the slower the lead time
  • Image modules like rotating banners, portfolios, etc can slow down load time – use sparingly.

Most website red flags are easy to avoid when you know what to look for. Use these above to gain better traction with your audience, keep them on your site longer and make more sales.

Need help? Let’s chat about optimizing your brand and website for your business. Shoot me a message HERE.

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