Web design tips: 5 web design mistakes that could be hindering your website performance

The performance of your website means everything. You want to create a website that not only looks good but functions well too. Creating a design that is both visually stimulating and enhances your website’s performance is something many web designers struggle with when trying to reach that balance. Making web design mistakes can cause major issues and can have a negative effect on the user experience.

As web design continues to evolve and change based on current trends, websites have continued to implement a wide variety of styles and designs. While these may look good, the question begs do they work well too? Meaning, does the implementation of all these fancy design elements and features harm the performance of your website?

Speed is a big thing in generating a positive user experience. Yet so many websites continue to implement features that hurt performance rather than aid it. You may be wondering, what are some of these features that can hinder your website’s performance? Well, without further ado, here they are – 5 web design mistakes that could be hindering your websites performance.

5 web design mistakes that could be hindering your website performance

1.      Not optimising images or having too many

Too many images on a dislay
One of the biggest web design mistakes that could be hindering your website performance is not optimising your images. Too many images or large file sizes will dramatically increase the page loading time, as browsers need to download and render the images when loading a webpage.

Images play a vital role in the design of a website and can help make a real impact on your users. However, it is important to find a balance between images, text, and white space (the blank spaces between elements on your website). Filling your pages full of content will be off-putting and distracting. Plus, the more images you add, the longer the web page will take to load (which ideally should around 2 seconds).

The greater the file size of an image, the better the quality. But this does mean it can take too long to download if you want to optimise your speed. Fortunately, it’s possible to optimise your images and reduce the file size while maintaining the quality.

Optimising your images

The first thing you should consider is resizing the image to fit the dimensions that is required on the page. If you only need an small image on the page, do not upload a full-sized image. Relying on browsers to make these adjustments simply adds longer to the loading time. Either crop the image as required to remove any excess and whitespace. Also, change the dimensions in a picture editing software to help reduce the file size.

Secondly, the file type you save the image as will make a big difference. Limit your images to the JPG, PNG, and GIF file types for bitmap images and SVG for vector images. Find out more about the difference in image types. These file types will compress the images to create a low file size while retaining the quality of your images. Optimising your images will dramatically help to improve your website load time and performance.

2.     Too many widgets or plug-ins

Plug-in icon

The more elements you add to your site, the longer it will take for browsers to download the required data. Using too many plug-ins, widgets or special features is a big web design mistake that could be hindering your website’s performance. While you may want to try and create the best possible user experience, this is not the best way to go about it. Limit the number of plug-ins and widgets you use on your website and consider what each feature is adding to the experience. Chances are, some of these could be detracting from the user experience. As the saying goes, less is more.

Also, using old and outdated plug-ins and features can also hinder performance. Legacy features such as Silverlight, Flash, and Java not only take longer to load, but they are now outdated. Some browsers will not even display these features (goodbye Flash!) resulting in sections of your content not being visible! Using these legacy features is a mistake you’ll need to address to improve website performance.

Also, some of these features have limited support on mobile devices – another reason why you should design mobile-first. Meaning, again, some of the content will not be visible to users. As more people browse the web on their phones, this is a big mistake! Not to mention these features can also cause pages to crash and can result in security problems. Optimise your website performance by removing or replacing these outdated features.

3.      Invalid HTML, CSS, or JavaScript

Screen showing lines of code for a website

The code is the backbone of your website. All websites are written in code. Most typically, a website will use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Whatever you put within your website, there will be code to tell the web browsers how the page should look and work. Code comes in two forms, front-end (the code required for the design of a page) and back-end (the technical features of a website, such as chat or log-in functions).

The more code within your pages, the greater the loading time, as browsers will have to process the code in order to render the page. Coded elements for the design of a page, the CSS, and the interactive features of a page, the JavaScript (JS), are usually the common cause for slow websites when used in excess – another web design mistake that could be hindering your website performance. To improve the speed of your site, consider ‘minifying’ the CSS and JS elements.

Alternatively, an optimisation technique known as lazy loading is used by developers to make a website appear to load faster. It works by delaying the loading and rendering of the entirety of a web page. Instead, it only loads the code for the section currently being viewed and delays loading the rest until it is required. Using this method can really help to improve loading times.

4.      Reduce the number of custom fonts

Selection of custom fonts for download

Another of our 5 web design mistakes that could be hindering the performance of your website is using too many custom fonts. Custom (or web) fonts are fonts that are used in the design of a webpage not typically pre-installed on the user’s device. The more web fonts you use in the design of your page will increase loading times as each font needs to be downloaded by the browser before it can be used.

While using custom fonts can allow greater design choice, they should only be used sparingly. These fonts need to be loaded either from a third-party source or from the webpage’s server, which can hinder both performance and speed. Ideally, custom fonts should be limited to no more than 4 to avoid any significant harm to a page’s performance. If the custom fonts are saved on your own server, you could look to minimise the file size.

Strike a balance in your design by using minimal custom fonts with system (or web-safe) fonts. These fonts are readily available (including serif and sans serif typographies) to browsers as they are already downloaded or pre-installed onto the user’s system. While they are limited in variety, using these fonts does help to increase the performance of your website. Consider using some of these web-safe fonts:

Examples of web safe fonts

5.      Use animations and special features sparingly

Video and animation displayed on a website

Our final tip in 5 web design mistakes that could be hindering your website’s performance is an over reliance on animations and special features. These features can be fun and visually exciting by adding movement and interaction to your webpages. But where performance is concerned, there is a time and a place for these fancy features.

Animation, if used well, can add an extra touch to the interactivity or experience of a web page. However, these features should be used sparingly and only when it adds value to the experience. Don’t include a fancy animation just to show off! Examples of some high-performance animations to avoid include fancy loading animations and rendered 3D objects. Using outdated Flash animation is also a no-no.

Special features can also affect a website’s performance, and include elements such as chat bots, popups, social media feeds, or dynamic page sections. There is, of course, a time and a place for this type of extra functionality and in many cases they can add value to your page. The key is to balance the ‘added value’ against the potential added ‘load time’, as the more special features you incorporate into your website, the slower it will become.

One more thing…

On a final note, web pages that are rife with annoying pop-up animations and adverts are further mistakes that can hinder performance. These add nothing to the user experience and are likely to send the user to another (faster and less annoying!) site, which will also lead to an increase in your bounce rate. In turn, a high bounce rate and creating a negative user experience will hinder your SEO. Not to mention that they hinder your website load time and performance by hogging resources.

The performance of your website is vital in order to maintain a good user experience. Without it, you may as well go home!! Remember the 5 web design mistakes outlined here when designing a website to avoid unnecessary negative feelings towards your site and your brand! If you value your site in helping to grow your business, consider growth-driven web design to get the best out of your website.