Why Does Everyone’s Website Look The Same?

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source issue 39

I don’t know about you but I’m finding it hard to tell one company’s website from another these days.

Why does everyone’s website look the same? And how can your business benefit from it?

When I designed my first website in 1997 the technology was basic but very quickly we started seeing some innovative and creative websites in the marketplace. To get visitors’ attention designers and developers were taking a lot of time to make websites that were different. Now there are more websites than ever but it’s rare to come across one that stands out from the crowd.

Commodity

These days most companies have a website and the options for making one are plentiful and varied. Websites have become a commodity and rather than investing in something unique and effective many companies just want to get something online because all of their competitors are.

Pre-designed templates

As websites have been commoditised more ways to make them quickly and cheaply have appeared. This has led to the proliferation of pre-designed templates and as a result websites have become homogenised.

Any free website or one that you can build yourself by dragging text and images into predefined areas are templated. But it’s not just these DIY websites that are templated. WordPress and many other templated solutions are offered by designers and web developers too. In fact there are many professionals offering website design and development services that don’t have the technical knowledge to create a website without using templated solutions.

If you’re looking to stand out online your website needs custom design and development. Rather than shoe-horning content into a pre-determined structure and accepting default functionality, the design should be specific for the information you want to convey and the functionality developed to make your website an effective business tool.

Price

The web industry has matured and every project is priced to make a profit. If you spend $5k on a website you get a $5k website. Gone are the days when designers and developers would commit more time than they were paid for to create something special, and why should they?

With this in mind if you want your website to make an impression and be remembered over your competitors you need to invest more in it. For most businesses their website is the primary piece of marketing and communications collateral and under investment can easily lead to lost sales. When you consider that all your competitors’ websites are only a click away and are regularly viewed alongside yours it doesn’t make sense to cut corners.

Stock library imagery

Stock library images have become inexpensive and as a result everyone is buying images for their websites from stock libraries. With little thought to the selection process the images often have little relevance for New Zealand businesses and tend to look similar, resulting in more homogenisation. I see images with one particular model used so often I could be mistaken for thinking she is employed at a dozen different companies!

Stock imagery can be useful but it needs to be curated carefully to look convincing. Rather than use stock images as they are supplied you should consider having them modified in order to take some ownership of the images and create a little originality.

Branding

Branding is the most overlooked aspect of website design but it is one of the most effective ways to make your website stand out. Many web companies don’t have enough branding knowledge to consider anything more than your logo and what colour to use. Without this knowledge your website becomes little more than a collection of insubstantial words and pretty pictures.

By aligning your website with your brand you will present clear messaging with a coherent and professional image that builds trust with your prospects and helps to create brand recognition that benefits your business both on and off line.

Posted 8 February 2019

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