When embarking on a new website design process, many businesses make the mistake of playing it too safe.
Sadly, the end result is a new site that lacks that special something to stand out from competitors. With an overabundance of pre-designed themes and website templates, it’s not uncommon to see new websites that look eerily similar to others in the same industry.
These five tips can help you set the bar higher and showcase the latest trends on your new website.
How to Avoid a Generic Website Design
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold
From a design perspective, your website needs to be memorable not only compared to competitors’ sites but also to the numerous sites that every customer looks at in their daily life.
Since your website is the online representation of your company, a redesign project is a great time to evaluate your branding. Niching down to a specific target market and creating a strong brand will help you stand out from competitors.
A skilled web designer will guide you through choosing a color scheme and discussing your brand personality. One aspect of color selection is the psychology of colors; each color is associated with specific emotions. A certain selection of font types and colors may convey a more serious and professional tone about your company while others may give your site a fun and modern personality.
Be as bold as possible in your choices and make sure that you are considering the psychology and identity behind the website design. If you aren’t focusing on these bigger concepts, then you may slip into more basic colors and styles.
Your web designer will often create a web style guide that has the list of colors, fonts, and iconography used on the site. This style guide can be a great resource for future marketing campaigns in order to present a consistent brand identity.
2. Focus on Your Web Visitors
Another common mistake that can lead to a generic-looking website is to focus entirely on what your company wants on the site. In the end, the website needs to cater to and engage your visitors. At the beginning of a website project, start by considering the primary visitors to your site and their goals. This can help you customize everything from the messaging to the design.
Web visitors only spend an average of about 10-12 seconds on a website, so you have a very short amount of time to connect with web visitors. Creating a really strong value proposition is a great way to quickly convey who you are.
A web-based value proposition is often placed on the home page and it is made up of the headline, subheadline, and call to action in the first section of the page. Since most visitors enter the website through the home page, the messaging in this area plays a large role in whether a visitor decides to stay or leave the site.
When evaluating your target market, there’s often a tendency to want to go broad and capture as much of the market as possible. However, sticking to general platitudes in your messaging and trying to cater to all possible needs will make it harder for you to communicate specific reasons why visitors should choose your business.
Focusing on your visitors can also help you create an emotional connection in the design and interactive components of the site.
3. Invest in Custom Design & Imagery
Your design approach is one of the biggest factors in the uniqueness and quality of the final website.
If you utilize a pre-designed template on a website builder platform, then it will be more challenging to create a website that stands out since there may be hundreds or thousands of sites using the same template.
A custom design approach, in which a web designer is creating unique mockups based on wireframes, can deliver a high-quality result with more flexibility. However, some businesses may not be able to invest in a custom design since it can be more expensive and require a longer timeline. Regardless of your design approach, you can elevate the quality of the site by customizing the images and iconography on your site as much as possible.
Image selection is a critical part of the web design process, and most websites need to use some stock images. Investing in a few paid stock images from professional sites like Getty Images and Shutterstock can make a big difference in the site design, especially on key pages like your home page, About or service pages.
A skilled web designer can help you select high-resolution images and can customize the images further with filters and overlays. While there are free stock image sites online, avoid placing these types of generic stock images on the site as these can undermine the legitimacy and credibility of your business.
4. Find the Best Inspiration
When starting a website redesign, you’ll often begin by looking at other sites for inspiration. However, websites don’t come with publication dates, so unless you’re a designer or a developer, it can be difficult to know when a site was designed.
Since most businesses update their websites every 3-5 years, you also want to utilize the modern trends and ideas, or your launched site may look outdated very quickly.
When looking for inspiration, go beyond your industry and competitors for new ideas. Some industries may not have a lot of cutting-edge sites, so opt to look at technology-based and design companies instead. There are also online resources available, such as Awwwards or Dribbble, which showcase web designers’ latest work.
After compiling a list of sites you’re inspired by and what you like and don’t like, discuss all of these ideas with your web team. Your web designer and development team can guide you on the latest trends.
Lastly, a great way to avoid a generic design is to be open to new ideas and listen to the experts. Similar to fashion, the latest web design trends may not be found across numerous sites because they are brand new. By the time tons of sites have a cool feature implemented, it might already be outdated.
5. Add Interactive Components
Even with a custom design approach and high-quality imagery, a static website page can look a bit boring these days. In the last several years, interactive components have become extremely popular and easier to implement in website designs.
When adding interactive elements, there is always a balance between engagement and distraction. Avoid adding too much movement to a website page that could detract from the overall experience and downright annoy visitors.
Instead, modern design best practices use micro-animations and scroll animations that add subtle movement and encourage visitors to scroll and move through the site. There is also a balance between animation and website performance, so be sure to discuss your ideas with a web developer to make sure the interactive components don’t undermine your site’s page load time.
User experience, which refers to the overall experience that a web visitor has on your site, plays a large role in conversion optimization and time spent on sites. In fact, the next Google update in 2021 will emphasize user experience. One strategy for the next update is to improve your site by boosting the dwell time, in other words, finding ways to keep visitors on the site for as long as possible.
While animation and video can play a role in this, you may also want to consider interactive components such as portfolios, quizzes, or video blog content. These elements can reinforce the conversion goals and make the experience more interesting for visitors than just clicking through traditional pages.
An effective website design is crucial to the success of your outreach efforts. It can impact the traffic and user engagement on your site. So, you must hire the best website design companies for your business website.