Why do so many websites look so similar?
This is one of the most common questions a designer might hear over the course of their careers. Well, while we’re at it. Lets also ask why cars and houses are so similar? Sure they come in different sizes, colors, and styles. But the core aspects are always the same. There is a very good reason why cars, houses, and websites are so similar. Because we know they work.
Depending on your type of business there is always a good reason not to venture too far off the beaten track. A business that specializes in jewellery would be silly to have their website laid out like a law firm. You want the jewellery to be the focus of attention, so you have a gallery-oriented design. As opposed to a business in accounting or legal services, where you want a more professional and neat layout so the content is clean and readable. The amount and significance of the content and what functional elements are called for are the guiding principles behind layout.
It’s all about the nature of the content and communicating with clarity. Making sure the key message is accurately and clearly presented to the audience. If you visit a site where the layout is cluttered or confused you are less likely to spend the time and mental resources deciphering the information into something useable, you’ll just leave.
For the design to be successful you need to identify the objectives for the page and apply the right design principles to support them. It takes an understanding of your audience and their needs and expectations. We hear the words ‘user experience’ a lot these days but it truly is the most crucial aspect that should govern the design.
Think about how your audience will access and use your site. For a law firm chances are the audience is looking for detailed information on their services, experience and the lawyers themselves. But for a jeweller they are more likely to be purely interested in the quality, beauty and variety of the pieces.
It is now easy to see why many websites look similar, particularly in similar industries, as the design is a natural consequence to the content objectives and best user experience.