There’s no doubt about it – the web is a crowded place. With thousands of new websites springing up every day, your site runs the very real risk of being lost in the shuffle amongst all these competitors.
So how can you make your website stand out against others in your industry? Start by asking yourself the following questions…
Does my website have a unique visual brand?
Your site’s “visual brand” refers to all the different graphical elements used on your website, including your primary colors (both your background color and any other tones used in your site’s design elements), your logo, your images and the type face you’ve chosen.
As an example, think about the Coca Cola website. Whether or not you like the company’s products, you can’t deny that the distinctive red color and white script font used on its website give it an immediately recognizable visual brand.
Obviously, Coca Cola’s familiar branding come from decades of experimentation and market research. But even if your company’s brand isn’t quite as established, you can begin to create a similarly memorable look by choosing the right colors for your website (in accordance with the principles of color psychology) and carrying your chosen visual elements through to every part of your marketing strategy.
Does my website design convey my company’s personality?
If you run an established, traditional law firm, your company’s website shouldn’t be bursting with bright pinks and purples. At the same time, if you’re a young startup, staid burgundies and forest greens won’t tell potential customers that you’re a hip, “with it” organization.
As you’re designing your new website, keep your company’s personality in mind and allow this vision to flow through to every design element you choose. Then, check back periodically after your site has been launched to determine whether or not your design aesthetic still suits your company’s brand. Branding initiatives and priorities change, which is why regular updates that bring your website’s design into alignment with your company’s personality are so important.
Is my website too similar to my competitors?
When it comes to attracting and retaining a website audience, visual distinctiveness is huge. The last thing you want is for your viewers to have an image of your site in their minds, but then find that they are unable to distinguish between your site and your competitors.
This can become especially challenging when industry design standard are relatively set. Imagine that you run the conservative law firm mentioned earlier and that you’ve chosen a design that relies heavily on the burgundy color featured on many other sites within your industry. If a potential customer is trying to remember your website, how will he be able to differentiate your site from any competitor pages that utilize the same color scheme?
The key – again – becomes good branding. While your colors and design elements play a major role in this process, they aren’t the only things at work when it comes to making your website stand out from the crowd. By featuring unique content, engaging multimedia files, logos and other branded features, you can retain a sense of individuality while still taking advantage of established design principles.
Does my website rely too heavily on templates or stock imagery?
But that said, they should really be used as more of a jumping-off point. How can you expect your website to stand out in a crowd if you’re using the same exact template that hundreds of others have used before you?
The secret to using templates – or stock imagery, for that matter – is to make these items your own. Spice up your Homestead SiteBuilder template by adding an image-based logo or by tweaking its color scheme to suit your needs. Modify any stock imagery you download or purchase by cropping the images, modifying their color palettes or adding descriptive text.
If, at first, you only have the time to add your business’s information to a stock template, that’s fine. Start there, but commit yourself to setting aside time in the future to modify your website’s theme to create something that’s more uniquely yours.
Has my site been built for me or for my audience members?
Finally, when it comes to differentiating your site from its competitors, remember that visual appeal is only part of what makes a site successful. If you want to make your site memorable, make it easy for your target audience to use!
Once you’ve added your information to your website’s template, step away from your computer for a few hours and come back once you’ve had a chance to clear your mind. Now, look at your website from the perspective of one of your audience members. Is your site visually appealing? Is it easy to use? Is the content that you’d want to see as a site visitor easily accessible?
There are hundreds of thousands of poorly-designed websites online today and it’s likely true that all of these sites could be performing better if they paid more attention to their user experiences. Website visitors don’t like to go back to sites that frustrate them, giving your pages the opportunity to stand out by providing an enjoyable, informative on-site experience.
If you take any one thing from this article make it this: it’s not enough to simply have a live website. By taking the time to ensure that your site is visually appealing, distinct from your competition and easy for your visitors to use, you’ll dramatically increase your odds of standing out from the crowds and reaping the business benefits that come along with a well-designed company website.