Whether you’re a new business or you’re thinking about having a bit of a brand refresh, one of the most important considerations you’ll need to make is how you’re going to design your company website. Of course, it’s tempting (and easy!) to borrow ideas from your competitors, and from other established organisations within your sector, but is this really the best way to attract and engage with audiences?
Some say that there’s no harm in using other websites for design inspiration – as long as you’re not breaking any copyright laws, of course! In fact, it’s estimated that between 50 - 79% of websites use the same design approach, which means that this approach has become the norm; it’s expected by users. Users will automatically look to the left for navigation, for example, becoming frustrated if it’s not there.
Therefore, a simple way to give your audiences what they want and meet expectations is to incorporate elements of well known design into your own website. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that famous web design is famous for a reason; it usually comes attached to high performing sites and hugely successful brands.
But there’s another side to the coin. Let’s start with the notion that a website ‘must’ have a good design if the company is succeeding. There are plenty of examples that definitively prove that this isn’t true.
Consider the embarrassingly poor web design for Berkshire Hathaway; Warren Buffett’s company that owns massive brands such as Fruit of the Loom. And, of course, the less said about Craigslist the better! Just because a company is well known doesn’t mean that it has a website that’s worthy of replicating.
And that’s not all. With Web 3.0 beginning to dominate, we all know how important context is in terms of SEO, but it’s also something we need to think about in terms of website design, too. Website design — no matter how famous or well utilised it is — won’t necessarily translate well to different industries.
Apple was once notorious for hiding its ‘buy’ buttons in the most random of places, yet the products had such a reputation that visitors were willing to put in the hard work to secure an iPhone or iPad. This design simply won’t work for a new or less well known ecommerce business; audiences will give up.
Ultimately, there needs to be a bit of give and take here, and that’s what we always recommend as a web design company. There are a number of ‘website standards’ today that are well worth incorporating into website design for usability, but we must also remember that interface standards stifle design creativity. Even when copying certain elements, brands need to put their own stamp on their website; they need to add personality through their own ideas, to ensure they’re engaging with their target audience.