By Seb Wals
'What the f*ck are you talking about?! They have a stunning website!’ I can hear you scream across the fibre optics. And before the creative world sends in a S.W.A.T. team with skinny jeans to teach me a lesson in humility, please hear me out.
Yes, you're absolutely right. It's a brilliant, beautifully designed, amazingly branded website and the guys who designed it should get a funky design award and they probably did. But for brand developers like myself that's exactly the problem.
Near enough every single client that now briefs us starts their conversation with: ‘Do you know the Apple website? Yeah, can you design ours like that, it’s really cool isn’t it?’ In fact, the main web design trend in general over the past few years has been Apple-inspired; Big hero image or video background at the top with a simple headline, followed by long scrolling pages split into panels with crisp pictures and small amounts of copy with 'find out more' buttons. Sleek, simple and sexy. And, I’m shame-faced to admit it, but even our own site follows this pattern to a certain degree.
Don’t get me wrong, in essence there’s nothing wrong with this approach as it almost guarantees clients a great looking website. The trouble is that in most cases it’s doing very little for the client in terms of developing a solid, stand-out brand presence. They just become another good looking but highly forgettable, cloned website without any real brand substance behind it.
Look at it this way. A Lamborghini is a thing of absolute beauty and tends to turn heads wherever it goes but if 80% of the population drove one everyone would soon lose interest. And if the sole reason for buying one is to attract people’s attention, it’s not exactly money well spent.
So what's the answer? Do we all need to re-design our site again?
Well no, not necessarily. But it is worth taking an objective view at your existing site and really figure out what it is that you’re trying to get across with it and whether it’s doing the job well. In the end your brand messaging and the user-journey is far more important than the design around it, so focus on getting this spot on first. Sometimes changing just a few headlines, words or pages can make all the difference. Are your calls to action clear and strong enough? Is your messaging different enough? And are you making it easy enough for visitors to find the information they’re after?
Also take a good look at your successful competitors and see what they’re doing with their websites. What do you think makes them so attractive to a potential customer? Is it how they look or what they’re saying, or a perfect combination of both? What elements can you copy, enhance and introduce to your own site?
And finally, when it comes to the design, work with a professional designer or agency and ask them to try and create a real point of difference that can truly set you apart from the clutter. Who knows, your site might be the next one to be cloned.
Latitude Solutions Ltd
t: 0208 920 3435
London N21 1LE