You have a website. Awesome!

It’s up and running, your products are displaying properly, sales are coming in, and all is well…right?

While those are all good signs, what if there was something hurting your sales –like your website design, for example? According to a study conducted by Stanford, 75% of users admit to judging a company’s credibility based on their website design. Even more staggeringly, users take only 50 milliseconds to form an opinion of your website overall! In other words, you’d better hope your website is making a great impression. 

Based on our experience reviewing and designing ecommerce sites, we’ve noticed some common design mistakes among small and medium-sized businesses that can be corrected to put your business on the right track to success. 

Mistake #1: Weak Branding and Messaging

Branding communicates your purpose and gives your audience a glimpse into your mission and personality. Colors, fonts and tone of voice are just some components that work together to create a brand. Refrain from constructing a brand that reflects your own personal aesthetic by putting yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and asking, “What is appealing to them?”. If your brand isn’t clear and succinct throughout your website, chances are shoppers will become confused or doubt your trustworthiness

The Solution

Make sure your logo is present and prominent in the header of your website 

This example shows a well balanced header— a logo with ample breathing room, a clear navigation and pink branding elements to attract the eye.

While you want to ensure your logo is clear and legible, you also don’t want an obnoxiously large logo screaming in your face. As long as it has ample breathing room and any surrounding information doesn’t compete with it (more on that later), then you’ll be in good shape. If you have a brand guide, now’s the time to use it. Refer to your brand guide to ensure your supplemental branding assets are in alignment. 

If you don’t have a brand guide, have no fear! After your logo (the face of your brand) is established and in place, use it as a guide to build the color palette and typography. 

Create a statement that communicates who you are and what you sell

This website immediately greets shoppers with a value proposition that clearly spells out what they sell and why it’s a superior product.

It takes 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on the area of a website that most influences their first impression. Extreme clarity and an attractive design will need to work hand in hand for your shoppers to understand and feel confident in your brand. In one to two sentences, focus on customer intent and deliver a convincing message about your brand.

Mistake #2: Unclear Hierarchy

As much as you may want to visually shout “Check out this awesome product!” or “Hey, have you seen this yet?!” to your shoppers when they land on your website, I’m going to advise against it. Strategically-placed merchandising slots are one thing, but if competing products and offers are screaming for attention throughout the page, you’ll leave the shopper confused, disoriented and ready to say “Adios.” With proper hierarchy, you won’t have to do any yelling. The user’s eye will naturally identify where and when to look.

The Solution

Assess your fonts and font styles uses thoughtful typography to create distinction between sections that draw the user’s attention accordingly.

Are your headlines and titles clearly distinguishable from your body copy and other text? Size plays a large role in establishing a visual hierarchy. Ultimately it depends on the fonts that you’re using, but as a general rule of thumb, aim for a headline size between 30-40 points and body text size between 18-21 points. Making a font bolder or thinner is another effective way of organizing text content on your site. Those visual cues tell the user the correct order of digesting information and navigating your site.  

Distinct Call-To-Action

This meal kit service uses a high contrast button to grab the user’s attention and adds a complementary color bar at the top to attract users to sign up for their first meal box. 

You passed the snap judgement test and a user is browsing your site… now what? Guide shoppers to where they need to go! Strategic CTAs instruct your shoppers to make fitting purchase decisions. Identify your motivation, whether it’s getting users to click into a particular category or to sign up for your email newsletter, and use size, weight and color to draw the user’s attention. 

70% of small business websites lack appropriate CTAs. Don’t leave your visitors hanging. Guide them down the appropriate path with concise directions— and include your contact information! A report by Huff Industrial Marketing found that 44% of visitors will leave a site without a clear phone number

Reevaluate your main navigation uses typographic cues like weight and font size to ensure that their navigation is more prominent than the other header information.

Your site navigation should be the “north star” of your site, an anchor point to orient your shoppers and help them get where they need to go. Does it stand out clearly against the rest of the header content? Is it styled differently than surrounding content to give it a higher value? As tempting as it may be to shove every shoppable link in your navigation, consider consolidating for an overall better user experience. Presenting a shopper with too many options can cause “choice overload”, resulting in an overwhelmed shopper who will find it much easier to leave and shop on a competitors site than to continue digging into yours.

Mistake #3: Not Responsive

A mobile-friendly website isn’t a “nice to have” or “maybe one day” sorta deal. It’s absolutely necessary. Experts predict that by 2021, mobile commerce will account for over half of ecommerce sales. In other words, if your online store doesn’t create an intuitive, easy to use mobile experience then you can say goodbye to potential sales. Google agrees, stating that shoppers who had a bad experience with your store are 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future. Pinching to zoom and horizontal scrolling aren’t just small inconveniences; they’re  surefire reasons for shoppers to leave your site. 

The Solution

Invest in a Responsive Design

This example illustrates the seamless shopping experience from desktop to mobile.

A knowledgeable designer will know how to properly format a design with mobile-friendly practices, but the magic really happens in the code. The code tells the design how to stack according to a user’s device, creating a pleasant user experience from desktop to tablet to mobile. Investing in a new design with fresh responsive code will ensure that your site is in tip-top shape and optimized for Google


A bad website design can hurt your company’s credibility, but a quality website with intentional messaging, focused branding, and a thoughtful and mobile-friendly layout tells users your company cares about its digital presence. This leads to a positive impression that can result in returning customers and more sales.