4 Websites That Say “Nope”: Lessons In Good Web Design

In my industry, we call it your “bounce rate”: the percentage of visitors who land on your homepage, then hop on down the bunny trail to some other website.

That means they never click on any of your links. Never look around. Never get to know who you are. And never become your client.

What causes it? Many things, even just typing in the wrong web address. But visitors also tend to switch channels when they see outdated content, eccentric design, links drowning in a sea of copy … visual blunders.

This is why smart web design is so important.

web design, graphic showing website bounce rates ranging from very good to poor, with very good in the range of 25 to 30 percent

Good Web Design Gets You Good Metrics … Relatively Speaking

Now, it’s true that about 55% of people spend 15 seconds or fewer on most webpages. So don’t feel bad if your bounce rate is high. We all seem to have a shorter attention span than a goldfish these days.

On the other hand, some websites do hold visitors longer. What’s a “good” span of time? Viewers who spend 3 minutes on your website are twice as likely to return as viewers who spent just 1 minute there, researchers have found.

Three minutes. Not really a long time. So, here’s the question: How do you grab them?

Generally, your website has to:

  • Interest your target audience
  • Answer questions with up-to-date content
  • Inspire trust
  • Be easy to use
  • Be visually attractive, with things like bullet points (see what I did there?)

You can find dozens of tips to make a website user-friendly on the web. But it starts by asking a basic question: At first glance, what does our website say about us, as an organization?

That said, here are 4 statements to avoid at all costs.

1. “We forgot to take our Adderall.”

web design

This is the Yale University School of Art, so we’ll give them a pass for the, er, outre design. However, a business needs to be more “Bill Gates” and less “Andy Warhol,” obviously. Being taken seriously is kind of a prerequisite to inspiring trust.

Here’s a far more powerful design from Cardinal Health’s website:

web design

A splash of color, some beautiful imagery, and a message that goes to the heart. Nothing wrong with this artistic approach.

The takeaway: It’s best if “artful” is also tasteful.

2. “We’ll give you 3 guesses to figure out what we do here. Ha! Strike one.”

web design

This is AintWet.com, and it takes several clicks to understand what they’re actually selling. (It’s hats and T-shirts, by the way. I think.)

This website is an extreme example of a communication breakdown. Forget brand identity: Your website can’t make any statement at all if the nature of your business isn’t clear.

That seems obvious, but it’s a basic step that gets overlooked. Compare Aintwet to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital:

web design

They could have picked a generic hospital building. Instead, they picked a kid. This really says “we’re all about children,” and it hits a home run. (Bonus points for matching the kid’s shirt with the U.S. News and World Report badge.)

The takeaway: Your website should communicate who you are, instantly.

3. “Working with us is as exciting as watching paint dry.”

web design

I don’t know Suzanne Collins, and I’m sure she’s a nice woman. But glancing at her website, you’d never know she authored the best-selling novel The Hunger Games.

You’ve got a great company with great people, products, and services. Don’t turn visitors off with a boring “opening act.” Put on your top hat and coattails, and have some stage presence.

When you get a second, pay a visit to Clarity.io:

web design

Air quality data could be boring. So could the technology that measures it. But Clarity launched a website with sparkling filaments, spinning globes, orbiting electrons, and other eye-catching animation. The Clarity website even won an award this year.

The takeaway: Even a “dry” product or service doesn’t have to mean a dull website. The sky’s the limit on design.

4. “Walk into our lobby and you might see Granny Clampett in a rocking chair.”

web design

This is Mortimer Lumber, a company in Michigan. If their website works for them, more power to them. But I wouldn’t recommend rolling out the “ye olde jalopy” look for your own website.

There are fine antiques, and then there’s old junk. Here are a few signs your website is evoking the Internet’s “Wild West” days from the early ’90s:

  • Busy, jumbled pages
  • Flash animation
  • Tiny fonts
  • Wild colors
  • Slow loading
  • The word “welcome” on your homepage
  • No call to action
  • A lack of responsive design for tablets and smartphones (Google actually penalizes you for this)

If you’re going for a “classic” look, try something like this, from Kraud.de:

web design

Basic, but sleek and beautiful. Just enough color to make you click. This website got it right.

Granted, Kraud is a home decor firm, so they’re starting with a visual advantage. But your website can soar creatively, too. Ask a web designer about the possibilities.

The takeaway: Simple, elegant web design is always welcome to the eye.

In the end, it’s your website. You can do whatever you want with it. But when you have only a few seconds to capture a visitor’s interest, it’s important to make an instant impression.

Your website says everything about you. Let it make a statement that says, “We’re smart, we’re savvy, we’re on top of the world. And we’re the company you want.”

Need to talk about a website revamp for your healthcare organization? We’re here for you. Get in touch with us and set up a consultation.