Understanding How Web Design Impacts Your SEO

Whenever people hear the words “web design,” the first thing that typically crosses their minds is, “ah, that thing that makes a website look great.” While that observation is correct, it would be inaccurate and unfair to just put web design inside that box. Web design makes sites look aesthetically pleasing, and also creates quite an impact on their search engine optimization efforts, among other things.

You read that right: Web design impacts SEO, for better and for worse.

Let’s assume that your optimization work on a website is exceptional, with numerous high-quality backlinks, meta titles and descriptions in place, and all other SEO tactics implemented for some time now. Has your site shown any significant improvement yet in terms of traffic and rankings in the search engine results pages or SERPs? If the answer is no, then there’s probably something wrong with the website. It could be any number of things, including your web design.

So how can web design issues affect your SEO? Let’s look at some of the ways.


Top notch optimization work on a website won’t do much for its traffic and rankings if it isn’t pleasant to look at in the first place. A site’s web designer may have used color combinations that are too loud or fonts that are inappropriate or too small. Sub-par graphic design could also turn people off.

Looks will always matter, regardless of what people say about how it’s not that important. A well-optimized website that’s designed gorgeously is sure to draw people in, while a well-optimized but poorly designed site isn’t likely to keep visitors around.


Good for you if your site is as pretty as it can be. And if it’s easy to navigate, visitors are more likely to stay and explore everything it has to offer, and that should give your SEO a boost.

The opposite is true if your site’s navigation structure is cluttered at best. If it doesn’t have a search feature that works or easy-to-find and clickable navigation elements, people who find your site probably won’t stay long because no one has the time to get lost inside any given website because of poor navigation.

Make adjustments to your web design to make it easier to navigate.


When your content is a pleasure to read not only because of its quality but also because the font you’re using is big enough to be readable, visitors will stick around.

That is why it’s puzzling that some webmasters use fonts that are too small or are in a color that makes them harder to see, much less read. Visitors aren’t going to waste their time trying to make out what your content is saying. They’ll just bounce off to another site, giving your SEO efforts another blow.

Content quality

People come to your site to get something out of your content. They may want more information about your company, are curious about the products or services you’re offering, or just want to entertain themselves with the content you provide. If your content does not do any of the above well, people will drop your site because no one wants to spend their precious time on garbage.

Bad spelling, ubiquitous typos, and horrible grammar also turn people off, so you need to shape up in that regard as well.


Incorporating pop-ups into your web design is all right. They can be useful when you’re trying to encourage visitors to engage with your business more, on social media for example.

However, some webmasters overdo it when it comes to pop-ups, and that can annoy visitors to no end. In some cases, they pop up long before you can even open the content you want. Sometimes, users reach a page and just when they’re about to start reading, a pop-up appears and covers the entire thing.

Use pop-ups when you need to, but not to the point where it gets in the way of enjoying your site. Use it sparingly to annoy people less and make them stay longer.


Another source of annoyance that drives people away is automatically-playing music or video. Few things are as enraging as wearing headphones while surfing the net then suffering a near-heart attack as loud music suddenly assaults your ears.

Incorporating audio or video to your web design is nice, but just don’t make it play automatically. Even for people who aren’t wearing headphones, it’s annoying when you have multiple tabs open, and you’re wondering where that sound is coming from. Do the opposite, and your visitors can just close your page and move to another site, probably your competitor’s.


The world has gone mobile, and if your site isn’t responsive yet, then you are missing out on a lot of things.

Mobile users have very little tolerance for any site that does not display well on their devices. And when smartphone and tablet users readily close your page once your site’s mobile unfriendliness becomes apparent, you can kiss all that traffic and your chance at topping the SERPs goodbye. No amount of optimization work will be able to overcome your being virtually non-existent among mobile users.

Go for a responsive web design now if you want to get maximum results for your SEO efforts.

User testing

A person can be the most renowned web designer in the world, and still fail to see any shortcomings in his or her work. That’s because we sometimes get too close to our work. We need fresh and independent eyes to assess our output, and that’s where user testing comes in.

You can hire companies that provide user testing services. If you don’t have the budget for it, you can ask for honest feedback or suggestions regarding the web design from members of your family or your close friends.

With the kind of impact web design has on SEO, webmasters should put the same amount of effort they give SEO on their web design.

Still want more great info on web design and SEO? Check this out!

What You Don’t Know About SEO is Killing Your Business

Why An Outdated Website Is Costing You Business

How Do Citations Help With Local SEO?

The Importance and Benefits of Mobile First Web Design