Web Design Mistakes that Make Users Leave your Website

Your website creates the first impression about your business. If the website visitors do not trust or like your website, they will leave immediately. This means you are losing potential customers. If your business relies on your website, you should care about bounce rate.

It really depends on website type, but the lower the bounce rate is the better. Having a high bounce rate to your site, indicates that people are leaving it after only visiting one page. If you want to find out more about how bounce rate is calculated and how can be improved, please read this article:

What is Bounce Rate and How to Reduce It?

In the linked article, you will find graphs of acceptable bounce rates for different website types.

But why bounce rate is important and why users bounce? Your website’s high bounce rate can have different factors:

  • irrelevant content (users does not find the information they expect on your page)
  • poor website navigation (providing good and relevant content to your audience is a must, but if they can’t access other pages of your site, they will leave after getting what they need)
  • bad web design practice (having an outdated and ugly looking design might send customers away; optimizing for mobile browsing is also very important and colors too)

If is important to keep your website’s bounce rate as low as you possibly can, not only because it is beneficial to your business but it is also an important metric in Google’s ranking algorithm. Google knows how much time people spend on your site or how many pages they visit and based on this information your site will go up in rankings or will disappear.

In the next part of this article I will show you some very common web design mistakes that will increase bounce rate. Learn from these mistakes and avoid them when building your website.

Ugly and Outdated Website Design

The first impression matters a lot, especially in the online world. In real life you might have a chance to change the impression you have created at first, but online you only have up to 3 seconds to convince a visitor to stay on your site. This is the time it usually takes for a user to decide if they stay or not on the website.

Having an ugly website is disastrous for your business. However, what we consider ugly is relative. If your website features some of the following properties, it might look ugly:

  • Random, low quality images
  • Animating flash and banners
  • Tons of irrelevant and inappropriate links
  • Overflowing content and heavy bordered tables
  • Bizarre choice of colors for background and fonts

Here is a screenshot of an ugly website:

ugly website example


Don’t know when this website was built and what software was used for it, but it is clear that it does not meet the web design standards of 2015. Here is a screenshot of a nice looking design, which is pleasant for the eyes as well:

clean beautiful website design example

Choice of Wrong Font Families and Font Sizes

Your website might have a cool looking design and useful content too, but your users are struggling reading it. This happens because the font size used on your site is too small or the font family you choose is hardly readable.

Back in the days the trend was to use 12px font size for websites and some designers are still going with this habit. Because more and more people use high resolution devices to browse the web, they will need to zoom in to be able to read the content. This is often a reason for users to bounce.

In 2015 the trend is to use a minimum of 16 pixels for the main text and 30 pixels for headings. Also note that some font families might look smaller even with the same sizes. Don’t be afraid to use higher font spacing and increasing the line height as well. Always check if your site looks good with the font family and size you want to use.

The following screenshot was taken from SmashingMagazine.com where the text size for main text is 18 pixels. In parallel I added the same screen with reduced 12 pixels font size.

what font size to choose for your website

Heavy Use of Many Different Colors

The trend is to use minimalist design. The combination of up to five different colors and the decent use them is what makes a website look good. It could be overwhelming for the reader to deal with too many colors and this could be a reason for users to leave the website almost instantly.

color scheme generator

How to choose the right color scheme? You can get inspiration from other popular websites and just copy their color scheme or you can use a generator such as https://coolors.co/ to find colors that can be used together. If you already have a logo, you could use your logo’s main color to choose the color scheme for your site.


Another great tool you might find useful in choosing the right color combination for website or icons is Color Supplyy. This is a very handy tool where you can play with the colors and get a live preview on different icons of the combined colors.

Just take a look to Apple.com’s website and see how pleasing is to navigate on their site. The main dominant colors and black and white and for the call-to-action they used light blue which is the symbol of trust and respect. Apply color psychology on your website to increase conversion and reduce bounce.

apple nice simple color scheme

Your Website is Not Ready for Mobile

Having a responsive website is a must, not only because the majority of online users is using a smart device to browse the web, but also plays a huge role in rankings. Earlier this year we wrote an article about the importance of mobile-friendly websites here.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, most likely you will experience a high bounce rate on your website. People don’t want to zoom in and scroll to side and struggle accessing your content. They will leave your page if it looks bad on their smart phone.

Use a responsive framework such as BootStrap to make your website mobile-ready. With the simple implementation of such framework, you can turn your current design into responsive with minimal effort.

Use of Too Much Text

You should not use less text to express yourself or to describe the products or services your website is offering. The solution is to break up the text-heavy content with visual elements: use nice related images, headlines, highlight important phrases, point out what is important in the content. Content that looks like a book from Tolstoy will scare away many readers.

reduce bounce rate with free stock photos

Adding images to your site is the best way to allow our eyes to rest and make the user scroll to the next part of the text. You can use premium or free photos from Pixabay or Unsplash.

Your Website is Too Slow

Probably website speed is one of the biggest factor which affects bounce rate. According to a study of kissmetrics.com, 40% of people abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. If your website is slow, almost half of your visitors will leave before they arrive. It might sound funny, but this is the truth.

What can you do to speed up your website? The good news is that there are ways to improve the loading time of your website:

  • Remove all unnecessary code from your site
  • Compress CSS and JS files to reduce file size
  • Compress images using TinyPng or similar tools
  • Upgrade or change hosting provider
  • Use a CDN to get even more speed

Wrapping it all up…

Bounce rate is something that you should really care about. If you have committed one or more of the above web design mistakes, correct them and try to reduce your website’s bounce rate. You should note also that the bounce rate depends a lot on the website type and industry. The following graph is a representation of an acceptable bounce for different websites:

acceptable bounce rate by industry

There are many tools you can use to track your website’s bounce rate. Google Analytics is great and free tool which enable you check the bounce for your whole website as well for particular pages.

So what is your website’s bounce rate? What are you doing to improve it? Have I missed anything from the above list? Please send your feedback below in the comments. Thanks!


David Cross

David is the chief editor at WebHostingMedia right from the beginning. He has a great passion for building and managing websites and creating helpful content. He is also interested in programming - currently learning python.