If your business suffers from serious web design issues, the consequence could stretch beyond the occasional lost conversion. It might be tempting to assume that mere functionality is sufficient and that anything else is just a bonus, but the fact is that if your site works but still annoys its visitors, you may end up causing them significant amounts of stress. That in turn can create a potentially powerful, negative association with your brand, which has knock-on effects on your entire marketing strategy.

This was the implication of a recent study conducted by an agency called Cyber Duck UX, which is based in the United Kingdom. In preparation for that study, they made a list of 10 common web design issues and then deliberately built them into a series of websites that they would ask ordinary web users to navigate. Those users had their blood pressure measured throughout their period of participation, and it was found that there were spikes in the readings across the board when users attempted to navigate past each of the web design issues they were presented with.

Some web design issues created more stress than others. Slow-loading images were technically at the top of the heap, but they were practically tied both with auto-playing audio content and with multiple pop ups. If you think back on your own experience with those web design issues, you can probably remember times when they made you feel distinctly annoyed or angry. And if you’ve ever experienced those problems repeatedly on the same website, or on sibling websites, then you probably turned that annoyance against the site owner.

Obviously, you don’t want your website to suffer from the web design issues that make people think of it specifically as the place where they have to deal with pop-ups and annoying jingles. It doesn’t even matter whether or not those issues actually send users fleeing from your website altogether. They may have to come back for one reason or another, and just deal with their annoyance, in which case their negative associations won’t be immediately reflected in traffic patterns. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be having an effect.

Those sorts of negative experiences have an impact on public perceptions of your brand’s professionalism, accessibility, and responsiveness. If web design issues go undiagnosed and uncorrected for a long period of time, your brand image will degrade more and more. Fortunately, this can be avoided with a bit of professional help. Even if you don’t hire a professional web design firm at the point of your site’s inception, you may want to consider employing them for quality control purposes before an official launch.

Because a professional firm is used to checking for common web design issues across multiple operating systems and web browsers, it’s probably in a much better position than you are to diagnose those issues on your site. This is true on the day you launch and it’s true years down the line. If you haven’t checked for web design issues in a while, it may be a good idea to seek out expert help for a site audit. You might just discover changes you can make to increase both your site’s traffic and your brand’s reputation.