Home Forums Tech talk Why does every website look the same?

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  • #1212764
    LukeHally
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    • Total posts: 150
    Zava Design, post: 263953, member: 34615 wrote:
    I wouldn’t neccesarily equate quality to price. I know of organisations that charge high but their quality doesn’t match

    Yep, not just quality of work either. Just worked on a gig where the agency didn’t wait for client approval of frontend work before proceeding with backend integration. Feedback comes late, there’s another three weeks for 2 FTE and $40k out of the client budget.

    #1212765
    arrowwise
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    • Total posts: 641

    As said it is multi-pronged situation

    – fashion / trend of what most web designers are pushing (including what is the easiest to knock out with minimal effort)

    – people look at their competitors and then tell their designers I want to be like this.

    – then we have all the design parameters so the site looks and responds best on most devices – this it itself forces a level of conformity.

    – I remember when 1 minute + plus flash animations were the must have thing at your landing page. It created plenty of work for the animators :)

    Nothing is a standard or best practice for too long both technically and aesthetically.

    #1212766
    bb1
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    • Total posts: 4,485
    LukeHally, post: 264028, member: 68089 wrote:
    Yep, not just quality of work either. Just worked on a gig where the agency didn’t wait for client approval of frontend work before proceeding with backend integration. Feedback comes late, there’s another three weeks for 2 FTE and $40k out of the client budget.

    If I read this right the agency did the work without client approval, why should the client be down $40K, the agency should suffer the pain as they did the work without approval.

    #1212767
    LukeHally
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    • Total posts: 150
    bb1, post: 264039, member: 53375 wrote:
    If I read this right the agency did the work without client approval, why should the client be down $40K, the agency should suffer the pain as they did the work without approval.
    That’s a good question [USER=53375]@bb1[/USER]. Lack of process transparency, lack of process, lack of knowledge and therefore power on the client side, greed, the list goes on. I didn’t have visibility until after the fact, but it was a deciding factor in me starting this ‘web consultant’ gig.
    #1212768
    bb1
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    LukeHally, post: 264040, member: 68089 wrote:
    and therefore power on the client side, .

    Hang on it appears there was no power on the client side if they coughed up $40k because the agency stuffed up. If I was the client I wouldn’t have paid, and dumped the agency.

    #1212769
    LukeHally
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    • Total posts: 150
    bb1, post: 264041, member: 53375 wrote:
    Hang on it appears there was no power on the client side if they coughed up $40k because the agency stuffed up. If I was the client I wouldn’t have paid, and dumped the agency.
    That’s what I meant, maybe I could’ve punctuated that better. I meant there was a lack of knowledge on the client side, which meant a lack of power to them.

    There were some pretty serious operational reasons why they couldn’t be dumped, plus progress payments had been made as it was about 75% through a $500k+ job. Plus the blame could have technically been shifted back to the client. My view is that it should have been picked up agency side and work held in the name of customer service.

    #1212770
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
    Greg_M, post: 264026, member: 38207 wrote:
    I agree that consumers have expectations about both websites and houses…but I’m old enough to remember when the dunny was near the back fence and websites had sparkly backgrounds and weird little men carried flags across the screen.

    At some point, someone takes a risk and pushes the envelop in design, otherwise it would be a very static world (and I’d still be checking for spiders under the seat).
    But this is the point, the experimentation when we knew nothing has mostly occured (front end visually anyway), and now we’re at an informed stage where we know for the most part what works best for users.

    One area where I think standardised website design is failing badly is in the mobile space. Most are crap on a phone…increasingly the primary device of the majority of users.

    I think the mobile interface is the new frontier, how it evolves should be interesting.

    This is playing out the exact same way desktop design did, exactly!! Started off with experimentation, but we are now entering the era when we are starting to know what works best and so mobile interfaces will also start to become more uniform, with small (and sometimes important) unique features across different sites/apps.

    #1212771
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
    arrowwise, post: 264029, member: 54026 wrote:
    Nothing is a standard or best practice for too long both technically and aesthetically.
    I can’t agree. Consider the “interfaces” of non-computer items, the ones that have been around for decades.

    Let’s take car dashboards for one… yes, there are some slight stylist differences across different car models, but the general interface is fairly common across all. Sure, new technology (ie, computer screens) are being added, but again for the most part – due to the high understanding we have on what works best for a driver – they are positioned in the same place for the most part.

    These aren’t trends, this arises from years of extensive user research, and are based in our natural behviours over a long period of time.

    So “flat” design, drop shadows ;) …etc, will come and go. But the underlying rationale for how elements look generally, and where they are positioned within an interface, will – and many would argue should – remain consistent.

    #1212772
    bb1
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    • Total posts: 4,485
    Zava Design, post: 264049, member: 34615 wrote:
    and now we’re at an informed stage where we know for the most part what works best for users.

    In who’s opinion, the user has no choice in the matter they are looking for a product or service and Charlie, Stewart and Peter’s website all look and feel the same (example guys) because they are just all a copy of Fred’s. They all look the same because the site owner or developer just assumed that Fred’s was ok. But what if one of them got out of the lets just be a clone mod, and mad some real steps forward and used some innovation.

    #1212773
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
    bb1, post: 264051, member: 53375 wrote:
    In who’s opinion, the user has no choice in the matter
    From the many, MANY hours of user & usability research that has been, and is continually being done, on web (and all digital) interfaces. No, majority of small businesses will not be a part of this, but they will see it with how the major sites appear, those businesses that can afford to do this research (as well as those that can afford to pay for the research where not published publicly).

    And much of this is available if you research the area, loads of usability studies, case studies, user research available. Some you need to pay to access, but there’s plenty publically available too. I was involved in some of these user tests in the early says for companies like Toyota, who were one of he first automa

    20, 15, maybe even 10 years ago, there was a lot of guesswork in what worked, and thus more experimentation to see what would work (and in the early days because there simply was no research to base interface design on). But now – thankfully – for the most part we do know what works, and what users expect from an interface.

    So, to paraphase part of your post, the user has had close to 100% of the input into what we now know, though these tens of thousands of hours of user research.

    Now is this a perfect science? Of course not, individual people are all different. But a little like other fields of psychology (and a lot of it is based on similar areas), we do have some very good ideas of how people react and engage with interfaces, and what elements are likely to work better than others.

    #1212774
    LukeHally
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    • Total posts: 150
    Zava Design, post: 264050, member: 34615 wrote:
    Let’s take car dashboards for one…

    So “flat” design, drop shadows ;) …etc, will come and go. But the underlying rationale for how elements look generally, and where they are positioned within an interface, will – and many would argue should – remain consistent.

    Great example! I’ll put this alongside mobile phone form factor.

    The sameness I see on a lot of websites (several of mine included) is the ‘horizontal bar’ layout: full width sections, each with a different background (image or colour). In the absence of previous user behaviour knowledge and some fairly serious tracking, for me, it overcomes the challenges of:

    • do we make people click or do we make them scroll, by making them scroll but refreshing and maintaining interest in each section
    • on desktops, what do we do with the ‘dead area’, the area outside the main content area
    • whether you are using a framework or not, it’s easy to maintain consistency across devices.
    #1212775
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463

    This is a summary of ONE aspect of usability research, eye tracking:

    [MEDIA=youtube]ConsSlIf6n4[/MEDIA]

    (found from just a 2 minute Youtube search, as an example only)

    Multiply this by dozens and dozens of other aspects that are also studied, tracked, compared with other studies, replicated (or not, and thus dismissed), and done my tens iof thousands of organisations around the world over the past 20 years… yes, we know a LOT about online user behavour & preferences now. A lot.

    One example from Luke’s post above: Do users prefer clicking or scrolling?

    In the early days, when you had to move the mouse to the sidebar to scroll a page, clicking was the preferred option. But with the advent of firstly mouse wheels, and later touch screens, we now know – yes, know, from literally tens of thousands of hours of research – that the overwhelming majority of users prefer scrolling to clicking where it’s applicable.
    (and part of being an effective UX designer is working out where scrolling is appropriate versus clicking, along with a lot of other stuff obviously ;) )

    #1212776
    LukeHally
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    • Total posts: 150
    bb1, post: 264051, member: 53375 wrote:
    the user has no choice in the matter they are looking for a product or service and Charlie, Stewart and Peter’s website all look and feel the same (example guys) because they are just all a copy of Fred’s.
    Fair point, I’d recommend Charlie, Stewart and Peter need to look at what differentiates them from their competition and focus on that instead of relying on design to stand out. Budget pending of course, if Charlie has money to burn and an appetite for risk, go for it.
    #1212777
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
    LukeHally, post: 264056, member: 68089 wrote:
    Fair point, I’d recommend Charlie, Stewart and Peter need to look at what differentiates them from their competition and focus on that instead of relying on design to stand out. Budget pending of course, if Charlie has money to burn and an appetite for risk, go for it.
    Also keep in mind that the interface design of a site is just one aspect of why a site will work or not.

    Edit: Which is actually what you wrote in effect :)

    #1212778
    Tom ISW
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    • Total posts: 180
    Zava Design, post: 263953, member: 34615 wrote:
    I wouldn’t neccesarily equate quality to price. I know of organisations that charge high but their quality doesn’t match, they are simply very good sales people. I also know of independant very high quality designers that don’t charge a huge amount.

    There is some correlation, but don’t be fixated merely on price.

    100% this. I worked for a not-for-profit and they dropped 100K on a website that looked awful (in my opinion, the CEO said otherwise) and barely functioned at the end of the build. Then they had the audacity to charge for maintenance to fix issues they promised to resolve beforehand! Some agencies are great, others are “take the money and run” type of operations.

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