Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

User experience: 5 common website mistakes and how to fix them 

By Hanneka Kilburn, Creative Director at Bolser

Websites are a gateway to a brand. For some customers, they might be their very first interaction, and for many brands, it’s their last chance. According to research, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. This means there’s more riding on it than ever before, but it’s also an opportunity to convert a one-off visitor into a long-term brand advocate. 

User experience is our bread and butter at Bolser. Some of the biggest mistakes we see time and again – that even the biggest brands are guilty of – have the simplest fixes.

Here are the top five mistakes and how to remedy them…

Creating websites for the wrong user experience

We see this frequently. Companies make a lot of effort, spending major money creating the best user experience for their desktop website… when most of their customers view it on a mobile device! The irony is that often their biggest audience is given an inferior experience and sadly, mobile users are ruthless – they are five times more likely to abandon a task if the website isn’t mobile optimised. As many of us will know firsthand, there are few things more frustrating than clicking through to a site with a mission in mind, only to find icons disappear out of view or buttons become unpressable. Few things lead us to click the little ‘x’ quicker than a subpar user journey.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

You need to keep in mind the circumstances under which the digital product will be used. Then test in those circumstances and test again. Companies need to use data, analytics, and research to help them prioritise their focus when designing a new user experience. Is it a mobile desktop kind of audience or are they viewing it in an app? Compiling a three-dimensional view of the user, driven by data rather than relying on anecdotal feedback. Think about the physical use of the product and how this experience could be impacted. Bad lighting? Is offering dark mode a good option? Bad signal? Keep the pages simple, so they load quickly… 

Not directing users to where YOU want them to be

Picture this. You’re an events company. Someone clicks on an event link to find out key info about it and to buy a ticket. The customer is instead linked to an About Us page or a merchandise shop. They click to another page and are met with a dense block of copy, only to get frustrated and abandon any intention of getting tickets altogether. Couple that with newfound feelings of frustration towards your business. 

What went wrong? You failed to grab their attention and lead them to where you needed them to be.

Users are increasingly short on time and ruthless in their decision-making. Understand this and don’t waste their time. Knowing that you only have a few seconds to work with – what is it you most need them to do and how can you get the result you require? Companies need to support users to help them make decisions quickly. Advocate supporting ‘scan reading’ by using colours and typeface to communicate the hierarchy of content. Most important goes first. 


Decision dilemma is a feature of our digital times. There’s too much to think about all the time and plenty of people trying to grab our attention to buy things, read things or engage on social media. Frankly, if you give a customer too many choices, you’ll scare them off.

My advice?

If something isn’t adding any value, even if it looks pretty, remove it. Removing it could add greater value by increasing conversions. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to sell a user something else when they haven’t emotionally committed to buying the first item. Companies should always make life easier for users by providing personalised recommendations where multiple choices are presented. Focus on making complex processes and decisions easier and more manageable. Break up tasks into smaller, bite-size steps. Always use progressive disclosure and contextual help to get the user to the next stage. The more stages a user willingly goes through increases their propensity to convert. Automate what you can with smart defaults.

Using non-universal design patterns and interactions (making you life harder)

The most effective UX design leans heavily on established interactions and designs that users are already familiar with. One of the biggest mistakes we see are websites that use too many trends and try to reinvent common patterns – ‘vanity’ changes based on what the company wants, rather than what’s best for the end user. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with how you appeal to users, but remember – the best experiences use common patterns as their base.

Forgetting about accessibility

It’s easy to cut out entire groups of people without even realising it because you’ve designed a website to your needs – not theirs. The key? Design with accessibility in mind from the very outset. Not only will it benefit those with disabilities, but it’ll also improve the user experience for everyone. This can include readable fonts, clear navigation, alt texts for images and many, many more things to suit a diversity of users. It’ll help boost your SEO too. 

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are established guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), that provide a helping hand and can provide a structured approach to ensuring your site is accessible. Bear in mind, that this is an ongoing process. Technologies and standards evolve, and maintaining an accessible website requires continual learning and adaptation.

The clue is in the title. User experience is about the user and working out what they want from their experience. Without getting into your consumer’s frame of mind, you risk losing them. And remember, if you lose someone, you risk losing them permanently. Simple rules can help circumvent some of these issues and your sales team will thank you for it. That’s what UX’s got to do with it.