Joe Dawson

Joe is the director of and oversees all of the design and technical work that we produce. Find him on Twitter.

You’ve hired a graphic designer to create your website or design your app. It looks great. At least on the surface. You rush to launch and sit back to wait for all those orders to come in. People are visiting your site and downloading your app, but they aren’t buying your product or hiring your services. Why?

The trouble is that a slick design and load of attractive images don’t mean you are living up to the your user’s expectations.

However brilliant your home page looks, if you haven’t designed it with usability in mind, you could be facing major problems.

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Here are five simple ways to tell if your web design is actually being detrimental to your user experience:

  1. The content is difficult to read

There can be a variety of reasons why content is difficult to read and it’s not always down to the standard of the writing itself. Poor font selection, bad placement or even lack of appropriate formatting can all damage your usability.

  • The accepted standard for writing online has been to shorten sentences and reduce large blocks of text.
  • Especially on mobile apps, content quickly becomes overwhelming if you are trying to get too many points across at once.

Where content is placed on the page also makes a huge difference. Setting your blocks of text out poorly can mean your user is not quickly finding the easiest route to buy your product or hire your services.

If your web content has issues, it’s a sure sign that your graphic designer has been more interested in the artistic appeal of your site than its usability.

  1. Too many graphic assets lead to slow download speeds

Not everyone has a super-fast connection and accessibility is very important for SEO. Internet speed will vary from location to location and device to device. Your site might have the most beautiful graphics in the world but if it’s taking too long to download that’s not helping usability or search engine visibility. This can often happen when the designer uses image files that are too large or the underlying structure of the site hasn’t been developed efficiently.

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The truth is that slow download spills can kills sales. We’re so used to fast connections nowadays that, when we do come across one, we simply abandon the site rather than wait.

Did you know that a quarter of users will leave a site if it doesn’t download in under 4 seconds? That should be a big wakeup call if your app or website is slow.

  1. The design doesn’t adapt to different screen sizes

All business owners should know by now that people are undoubtedly going to view your content on different sized devices. There’s the traditional laptop, tablets and mobiles, just for a start.

Responsive web design became best practice a number of years ago but some graphic designers who step in as web designers still haven’t quite got the hang of it. Bad coding or design issues can mean that you don’t have the coverage you were expecting.

Your site may well look great on your laptop when you first open it. But don’t leave it at that. Test the performance on every device you can get your hands on, including Windows, Android and iPhones, and on a wide range of web browsers. Don’t forget that half of web traffic nowadays is through mobile devices.

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  1. Navigation is difficult

Ideally, you want your user to get from A to B in as few steps as possible. Information architecture is a key part of proper web design. If you are selling a product, for instance, you want them to be able to press buy and go to the checkout without missing a beat. If your navigation is complicated then that same user is going to lose patience and search elsewhere if they can’t easily find what they are looking for.

Traditional graphic designers are great at what they do, but information architecture and user experience research may not be in their skill set.

  1. Your onboarding gets in the way

Part of the art of getting someone to engage with your app is to have a simple, attractive and effective onboarding process. Do they need to sign in? What vital information do you require? Get it right and people shouldn’t even notice you have onboarding at all. Get it wrong and they’ll soon get frustrated and turned off.

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Check out our recent post on how to get your app onboarding right first time.

Why UX and UI need to go hand in hand

More now than ever your graphic design needs to be undertaken with UX in mind. While that basic design is key to how attractive your website or app is going to be to users, it’s nothing without good usability. To get it right requires you to drill deep down into the user experience and understand the world from their point of view.

Web design and app design both require user research and a thorough digital strategy. As valuable as graphic design is, it’s a different skill set and a different kind of design.

The key is this:

Designs need to be both beautiful and functional. You can’t trade one for the other and hope to have a site that works on all levels for your users. There’s a balance here to be achieved and that takes a lot of skill.

If you pick a graphic designer, you’re often choosing someone who has a single specialist skill – they’re into the aesthetics of your site and how attractive it looks. They are not necessarily considering usability in enough detail when they design your site.

UX and graphic design: two sides of the same coin

If your current design is not working for your users, you need to review why this is so and put it right. And if you are planning to develop a new app or website in the future, then you need to combine graphic design and UX design intelligently. These two processes must work together and not against each other.

The good news is that our creative team combines the best of both worlds which means you get functionality and great design. At, we’ve long understood that great websites and apps require a balance between UX and UI.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you develop your web or app idea so that it ticks all the boxes first time.

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