As we all know, life is relentlessly competitive out there on the business landscape. What's more, governments led by politicians and bureaucrats who've never even been at the helm of a lemonade stand often make things worse, with policies and rules that can range from incomprehensible to counter-productive.

Yet despite these obstacles and challenges, a staggering number of businesses — I'd say 95 percent of them at least, but it might be 98 percent — actually make things much tougher on themselves by making a few, some, or all 8 of these costly website design mistakes:

  1. Option Overload
In the car industry, a phenomenon called "feature creep" happens when designers and engineers get so carried away with adding bells and whistles, that they end up confusing or frustrating the very people that they're trying to impress: paying customers.

Well, many businesses are guilty of the same website design sin. Yes, in theory it's nice to provide visitors with options. In fact, some degree of choice is mandatory. But there comes a point where enhancement becomes excessive, and websites that inundate visitors with buttons, widgets, banners and other attention-grabbing elements don't create a positive experience. Instead, they trigger rapid exits.

  1. No Back Button
Speaking of triggering rapid exits: arguably nothing irks visitors more and makes them want to flee faster than when they can't hit their browser's back button. Why? Because a web designer thought it would boost time-on-site and conversation rates if this option was disabled.

Unfortunately for them — and mercifully for visitors — there is a way to fix a broken back button: close down a browser entirely; which is precisely what most visitors do, right before they swear never, ever to return.

  1. Broken Links
Many business websites have multiple broken links; either because they weren't properly set to begin with, or because the linking site has changed or no longer exists. Businesses need to regularly monitor all of their links to ensure that they are active. It's much better to have no link than a broken one!

  1. Slow Loads
Even if visitors are willing to spend 15 minutes in line order a $10 coffee that has a lot of vowels in the name, they typically aren't willing to spend 15 seconds — or make that 10 seconds — waiting for a website to load. A study by found that a 1 percent reduction in load time can decrease conversion rates by a staggering 7 percent.

  1. Missing (or Elusive) Contact Information
The ultimate goal of every business website is to usher visitors forward along the buyer's journey. This is true for e-tailers and b2b enterprises. But what happens when visitors can't easily find contact information on a website? After all, web-based companies –– unlike brick-and-mortar locations –– can't enlist the help of professionals like Landmark Sign Company to build them banners to point customers in the right direction. However, you can think of your website in a similar manner to a building's facade. Put the most important information in obvious, easy-to-find places, and your visitors won't get frustrated with your design choices.

  1. Lack of Good Original Content
Websites aren't static — they're dynamic and organic, which means that they're either growing or they're dying. There is no middle ground. And on the digital landscape, growth (or lack thereof) is essentially measured by one thing: content. When content is good, original and there's a steady of stream (e.g. blog posts), then businesses send a clear and compelling signal that their best days are ahead. When the content is stale and the last blog post was published way back when people were asking the real Slim Shady to please stand up, then it sends a message that a business doesn't care much about its website — and neither should anyone else.

  1. Not Mobile-Ready
A few years ago, Google changed its ranking algorithm and rewarded responsive (i.e. mobile-ready) websites, and punished non-responsive websites. Yet despite this edict, many businesses are still making their website difficult or impossible to access and navigate through tablets and smartphones. Not only is this a SEO killer, but it closes the virtual door to a massive number of potential visitors.

  1. Lack of Graphics
Although the web is as much a visual venue as an informational one, many business websites look like pages from a prehistoric phone book: text, text and more text. Yes, text is fine (and in fact, it's necessary). But business websites should integrate graphics to create a more positive experience and, if applicable, showcase their products and services.

The Bottom Line 

While any of these mistakes above can and will frustrate customers and leave revenues on the table, the good news is that correcting them is relatively fast and easy. Unlike a brick and mortar store, there are no walls to tear down. It's all a matter of understanding that effective business website design is about visitors and enhancing their experience. It always has been, and it always will be!