A Beautiful Website Can Be Horribly Designed

Disappointed in Web Design

How can a beautiful website be horribly designed? It’s either beautiful or horrible, no? It depends on your idea of beauty and design. I believe beauty is not skin deep and a good design includes meaningful content, easy-to-use navigation, appropriate branding and a search-friendly structure. So, if a design is only about the pretty wrapping and does not consider the bigger picture, then it is horribly designed.

Read on to avoid some key pitfalls while designing your website.

Your website is gorgeous, but hard to use.

If you invest in beautiful photos and a striking color palette but visitors can’t find the most important information on your site, then your website is not well-designed. Design is about function as much as it is about form. In web design, we call this “user experience design” or “usability.” Sure, the website needs to look good. But it also needs to be useful.

Complicated site structure leads to frustration.

Your visitors get frustrated when it’s hard to find things quickly. A clear, simple structure requiring minimal clicks is best for keeping visitors engaged and taking action. A website holds a lot of information (robust, helpful content) and people interact with it to find what they need. A well-structured site offers an easy browsing experience so visitors find your great content.


By the way, you can start being found in search before you create your website. It’s a good idea to do this!

Download your Step-by-Step Google Business Profile Guide here.


If people can’t read it easily, they will leave the site.

If the type is too small or too light to read easily, readers will gloss over a great description of a product. In the quest for “oohs and ahhs”, you may sabotage your own words that should be read by people.

Additionally, for readability, be sure headlines are not obscured by surrounding images or backgrounds. No matter how “nice” it looks, if someone has to strain to read your content, they will read less of it and probably move on to the next site.

Fluff is distracting.

You need content on your site, but it can’t be fluffy content, i.e without substance. It needs to say something. A fluffy website won’t hold someone’s attention. A website needs to deliver on the effort someone made to go there and read it.

Content should not be “thin” either, i.e. not enough to explain something well. With thin content, you may avoid being wordy, but you are also not answering people’s questions. Say as much as you need to say to get good points across.

You lose leads without a call to action.

Guess what? People really do want to know what action you want them to take. If someone has made it to your site, has explored it and likes what they see, make the next step obvious.

Give them a clear call to action in an obvious place on your website. It’s annoying and just plain impolite not to do this. You simply need to know what you want them to do and then state it clearly. Call? Fill out a form? Get on an email list? Book an appointment?

It’s not pushy and it won’t ruin your website. People want to know, “What do I do next?” Don’t make it less noticeable just because you want to streamline your design. A strong, well-designed call to action is a welcome sight to potential clients.

You like the design of your website but your target audience does not.

Business owners often want designs they personally like. They want a website that reflects their taste. Instead, tailor your design to your intended audience who you are trying to attract. What will motivate them? Base your design on that answer.

On the other hand, you might want something that’s “just like” your competition’s website. Don’t aspire to be like your competitor or their website. Make something better than your competition that attracts your specific ideal client.

Here is an example.

Leave your own taste aside.

A business owner’s favorite color may be light pink. If they are a photographer specializing in baby portraits, maybe that’s okay. If they are an attorney? That would seem odd to people looking for legal counsel.

Instead, find out what colors are common in the legal profession. You will find that colors used for attorneys evoke the feeling of strong, clear, traditional, and neutral: often blues, reds, golds and grays are used. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be exactly like everyone else.

If you blindly follow industry standards you won’t stand out.

You can take it too far and simply create a website that looks like every other attorney’s website. Instead, stand out a bit and distinguish your brand from your competitors. From the common palette of colors, you can choose something a little different that distinguishes you and speaks to your particular type of client.

Your colors and overall design should reflect your specific audience and your company’s point of view. For example, if you are after the 30-somethings instead of the 50-somethings, maybe choose a bolder, less formal typeface and add a lighter, brighter blue to the mix.

Your stunning website has not been optimized for search engines.

Your website is incredible and you want the entire world to see it. But when people search for your service, your site is buried on page 10 of search results because it has not been structured and optimized for search engines.

I’m just going to say it: a beautiful website that has not been optimized for search is horribly designed. It’s all frosting and no cake, all fluff and no substance, a machine that won’t turn on. If no one finds your website, it doesn’t matter how good it looks.


By the way, you can start being found in search before you create your website. It’s a good idea to do this!

Download your Step-by-Step Google Business Profile Guide here.


“SEO will make my site ugly” is not true.

You might hear “SEO” and think of incredibly ugly, wordy pages that no one in their right mind will take the time to read. These websites are not wordy because they are search engine optimized. They are simply filled with either fluff or disorganized content that should be weeded out.

You can have a streamlined, concisely written and beautiful website that search engines love. Clearly organized, solid content is what allows search engines and happy human visitors to find you.

Instead of worrying that search engine optimization could ruin the design of your website, design a website where SEO and design work together.

Design without an SEO strategy is a waste.

Using key search phrases on web pages is a good start. But to be effective, SEO needs to be integrated strategically with the overall web design. Its entire structure influences how searchable you are. This includes:

  • The “sitemap” structure of your pages
  • Exact URLs of pages (page link)
  • Your heading structure
  • Internal linking structure
  • Image titles and “alternative text”
  • Behind-the-scenes content for search engines

Your SEO strategy needs to start with a thoughtfully designed skeleton of your site. It allows the visually beautiful and information-rich parts of your site to be discovered by future clients through search engines. Now that’s a beautiful thing.

A beautiful website is where people find you, learn to trust you and take action.

A well-designed website is visually beautiful and effective, bringing together content that people want in a way that search engines can serve it to them. A visually beautiful and strategically designed website brings everything together, including your company brand, all wrapped up with a bow. It will help your visitors appreciate you and take action.


You know it’s time to increase your online visibility. Here is an easy way to get started.

Download your Step-by-Step Google Business Profile Guide here.