Website design is crucial in establishing a solid presence for your business on the Internet. A well-designed website serves as your virtual storefront and is the best marketing tool you have. It builds brand trust and helps your customers decide your business is worth their hard-earned dollars. As web searchers ourselves, we’ve encountered countless user experience issues, but often these memories get thrown out the window when it comes to designing your own website.

There are also website design problems that the average person would not even think of. Consult this list our website design agency put together to build a killer website design and ensure optimal user experience.

Stock photography is perfect for my website!

No, it’s not. Stock photography is lame. Your website visitors aren’t dumb. People can instantly tell when a website features only generic stock photography of overly cheerful office workers as opposed to unique, personalized photographs and images of your actual employees, customers and products. Don’t be lazy and don’t be cheap. The time and money you invest in your own photographs and images for your website design will pay off in the long run. After all, if you don’t value the unique offer your website provides, neither will your visitors.

Image sliders are fun and exciting!

This one is tricky, maybe even arguable, but image sliders are actually proven conversion killers. A Notre Dame test confirmed this, finding that the first slide was the only one clicked on, at a 1 percent rate at that! Sure, the movement attracts the eyes of visitors, but it also distracts them from the even more important aspects of your website, like your value proposition, content and products. Just because you think the slider is cool or pretty, doesn’t mean your visitors will enjoy it. In fact, visitors may get frustrated with the usability of the slider or ignore it all together. Save yourself the risk and listen to the data that image sliders just don’t work.

Visitors love being startled by auto-play music and videos!

Wait, what tab is that music coming from?! If you’ve ever been through this frustrating experience, then you should know how bothersome it is to your visitors. You may think that fun music or automatic videos make your website more exciting, but in reality, visitors are going to close that tab as quickly as possible just to make the noise stop. Rely on the excitement value of your website visuals, not the disruptive nature of auto-play music and videos. This leads to the next point, which is equally annoying.

Pop-up ads give visitors information they didn’t know they wanted!

Landing on a website and having an unwanted ad pop up is like walking out of your front door in the morning and having your nosy neighbor pop out of a bush. Both experiences are irritating. Don’t let your website be compared to a nosy neighbor. Pop-up ads only work when used sparingly and appropriately. In most cases, they annoy visitors and may even lower your website credibility. Many users now have pop-up blockers anyway. Save your time and money and forego bothersome pop-up ads. Instead, invest in perfecting your website design.

‘Contact Us’ forms are a perfect way to purge personal information from visitors.

Actually, a “Contact Us” form is the most basic way for visitors to contact you. Forms should be short, with as few fields required as possible. Get to know your customers personally before asking them how they spend their nights and weekends. Most importantly, don’t be sketchy and rely solely on the form – people may think you have something to hide. Provide all the necessary information for visitors to get in touch with you through email, over the phone and especially on social media.

Social networks have nothing to do with business websites.

Website Design Don'tsWrong. Social media is taking over. For many web searches, the business website is just the starting point. Personally, once I visit a business’s website, my next step is to check them out on social media. A beautiful website design is important, but potential customers also want to know the people behind the business. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs are the perfect opportunity to personally connect with buyers and humanize your business beyond your website. Make sure visitors can easily jump from your homepage to your blog and social media accounts and of course, keep these accounts active and engage with your audience. Extra bonus points if your blog allows readers to share articles on social media (it definitely should!)

If my website navigation confuses visitors, that’s their fault.

Actually, it’s entirely yours. The greatest offense in website design is over-thinking the basic elements. Your website navigation is a visitor’s road map to your most important content. It exists to subtly guide them through your website toward the valuable information they seek, not point visitors in the wrong direction and leave them confused and lost in the virtual abyss. Poor website navigation includes too many pages, unrelated links and orphaned pages. This leads us to the next point…

No one will notice broken links or 404 error pages.

EVERYONE will notice if your website has broken links or 404 error pages. There is nothing more off-putting for a website visitor than being redirected away from an important page they were trying to view. Keep tabs on the functioning of all of your website pages at all times. Check and double-check that internal links on all those pages lead to the right place. A dead page automatically equals a dead business in the eyes of a visitor.

If I have awesome graphics, page load speed doesn’t matter.

Page load speed ALWAYS matters. This one should go without saying, but still, so many websites have slow load times. And by slow, I mean longer than three seconds. That’s all it takes. If your homepage (or any other page for that matter) doesn’t pass the three second blink test, you’re doomed. Some website designers sacrifice page load speed for dazzling photographs and interactive features – don’t make this mistake! If a page takes too long to load, visitors won’t stick around to see your amazing design anyway.

Keep it simple.

While stunning visuals and interactive features will impress visitors, don’t attempt to do more than you are capable of, or incorporate elements that the page can’t handle. Most of the time, a simple design and clean layout will speak more for your business than flashy theatrics. All visitors really want is an easy-to-read website that clearly directs them to the information they seek.

Conquering these common website design misconceptions is your first step to creating a killer website. Put yourself in the mind of your customer and keep their needs first. Don’t succumb to the temptation to over-do every element of your website design and you’re well on your way to building a beautiful and successful virtual storefront.

Any website design don’ts we missed? Let us know in the comments!