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

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  • #1212688
    Zava Design
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    Hassle Free Website, post: 258962, member: 105019 wrote:
    That there is a gold nugget. Form follows funtion.
    I would hope the past two decades have taught me at least one thing… ;)
    #1212689
    Greg_M
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    Zava Design, post: 258954, member: 34615 wrote:
    Google are pretty transparent on what they use to rank websites on, hence why SEO isn’t really a mystery just a lot of work. Look how long this tool takes to “analyse” a page, they’re not running this kind of test on every site they crawl they don’t have time for that. I’ve worked for companies that had personal contact with people within Google, and their messages on what to focus on were pretty similar to the public comments from people like Matt Cutts. So obviously we all try to improve our websites every way we can, but to get too caught up on the technical side outside of the main two (load speed and content quality) would in many cases be a misuse of what for many small business’s would be a limited budget.

    There are shysters in every service industry, but I would hope anyone trying to help non-technically literate clients would be providing ways for them to recognise that, rather than making comments that in some ways suggest you need to be “wary” of all web designers, as some comments in this thread would seem to suggest (and the only reason I chose to step back into the conversation).

    More mobile-centric design actually means LESS interface experimentation not more. But there is a lot of experimentation going on, however most on this forum won’t see much of that outside of visiting a resultant site as most of that experimentation is happening at the higher budget level, where designers & developers have the budget to conduct user testing to determine if something more “experimental” will work better for a project.

    But in the end, if we’ve learnt nothing else over 20+ years of public-facing internet use, it’s that users first and foremost want to achieve a task, over and above a “cool” interface. So overwhelmingly the majority of “experimentation” is focused on improving that outcome, where most may not appreciate the hours and hours, sometimes weeks and weeks, of research and experimenting that may have gone into creating an interface that may not seem “cool” to some but simply just works very, very well.

    I think we’re pretty much in agreement on all points.

    I’d never even consider mentioning a tool like lighthouse to a client as any sort of selling point for website, and of course it’s way to slow to be part of any indexing process, but I do wonder whether something like it may evolve into same as the quest for security and speed get’s tougher in the future.

    I do think it’s a handy tool to occasionally put a designer or developer “back in their box” a little if they’re making claims that just don’t stack up in reality.

    Like so many services today ascertaining who’s the “real deal” when it comes to designers is tough for newbies…but I do think any so called “professional” in any field should be subject to scrutiny and not just accepted on face value (something that is done far too often with online business services whatever they are).

    The “cool” interface has the issue of often being very “entertaining” which sucks people in (including me occasionally), but I agree it’s generally a distraction in transferring information not a benefit. It must be awfully tempting for a small studio to leverage off it when a client walks in determined to have some form of whiz bang widget they’ve seen.

    My comment about layout etc in the mobile space is not so much about reinventing the wheel, but about more subtle interface tuning that mobile users are already using (swipe actions come to mind).

    I’m fortunate in some ways that I have the time to experiment and play with tools that are challenging conventional paradigms on the web…BUT I realise some of them won’t go the distance and will just become flavour of the month and I would never use any of them for a client unless they were game to try something out (and the development cost is on my head, not their’s).

    I’ll continue to stir the pot occasionally, it’s in my nature when I see wanna be’s bullshitting themselves a living on the back of naive consumers but when it comes to conventional websites I think I’m pretty much done personally. I’m enjoying experimenting with what’s coming far too much.

    Cheers

    #1212690
    Hassle Free Website
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    ScarlettR, post: 258961, member: 37483 wrote:
    They’re template, yes. It grinds me that the creativity around these sites has died a bit, but I have to be realistic- they work. They’re beautiful. They’re functional. They’re easy to navigate, and for the layman who doesn’t know websites- they’re easy to use.

    Agree with this. Ideal for the entry business that just needs to be well presented online and test the waters before if needed investing in a more result driven website.

    #1212691
    Zava Design
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    ScarlettR, post: 258961, member: 37483 wrote:
    Brief opinion here: There’s a reason book covers are designed for a specific genre- because they attract a specific audience. The audience knows what they’re getting.

    Just like websites. They’re template, yes. It grinds me that the creativity around these sites has died a bit, but I have to be realistic- they work. They’re beautiful. They’re functional. They’re easy to navigate, and for the layman who doesn’t know websites- they’re easy to use.
    There is one major problem with off-the-shelf templates:
    With more websites becoming more “standard” in their general layout and certain elements, it becomes more and more important to consider how very specific elements within the interface can impact on usability and user outcomes.

    Hence elements such as colour, the position & size of elements, copy, calls to action (copy + UI), and a myriad of other items become key elements that can make a measurable difference on a site’s performance even within what may appear a very similar interface to the layman, and may differ for different target audiences as well as different website objectives.

    Hence the off-the-shelf template that works okay for one small business, may not do so for another small business that needs to communicate a different message to a different target audience and/or achieve a different outcome. And even for the business it works “okay” for, further customisation of various elements can improve the business performance even further.

    But of course all this can take time & money, which is where the off-the-shelf templates come in, and are the right solution for some business with very tight budgets. But just be aware of why organisations with the budgets are spending more on website design, it’s not just for a “pretty” website to look at. ;)

    (also note that it doesn’t always cost as much as you may think for custom design and development… ;) )

    #1212692
    Zava Design
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    Greg_M, post: 258964, member: 38207 wrote:
    I’m fortunate in some ways that I have the time to experiment and play with tools that are challenging conventional paradigms on the web…
    I did too, but 15-20 years ago. ;)

    BUT I realise some of them won’t go the distance and will just become flavour of the month and I would never use any of them for a client unless they were game to try something out (and the development cost is on my head, not their’s).

    Thankfully for us (possibly not for the clients spending quite a lot of money back then) some of our “experiments” made it live, which was very “educational” on many occasions… ;)

    #1212693
    Zava Design
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    Tip for layperson clients looking for a web designer/developer:
    Ask them questions about the sites they’ve designed/built and what was some of the thinking and rationale behind the elements, colours, calls to action and so forth on any of their clients’ websites. They should be able to explain this to you in layperson terms, in a way that any small business owner should be able to understand and relate to what they’re looking for for their business website.

    And if they can’t – to your satisfaction – find someone else…

    #1212694
    karensaid
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    Gosh I think that’s an unfair comment toward web designers and online marketers. But of course, this is a forum and it’s my opinion only.

    [USER=53375]@bb1[/USER] “don’t let THE web designers say that what XYZ is doing so just follow?”

    That’s not the message of all web designers or marketers but maybe you don’t mean it collectively.

    I think your wrong, general or not, “that those who try to follow, fail.”

    I’ve written a few responding posts about my opinions on current web design and aligning this with a marketing strategy because without one, I’m assuming we all agree, the site no matter how pretty or ugly it is, or fast or slow, template or custom, is dead in the water without one.

    I’ve written some reply post’s on how to see what your close, SUCCESSFUL competitors are doing in terms of their web design, layout’, content and other elements and mirror these, NOT copy, mirror. Different in a clever way of doing what already works because it does for a reason specifically better performing conversions.

    However, I may have neglected to emphasize in previous post’s, that what works for another in your business space, may NOT necessarily work for you. Yet if they are successful because of their design elements and I judge that by testing, traffic volume, time on site, google positioning, consumer on page engagement and other aspects, then I encourage subtle elements changes, not full scale website copy.

    [BTW, I’m just saying.]

    >>> BUT one MUST – take it to another level, improve upon it, make it better than what is already working, and end uniqueness can and has been developed from this. I don’t think I elaborated that, and that’s where innovation comes in.

    What also, maybe working now, will not soon enough and again, innovation creativity should take the lead, come out and play.

    Today everything is harder and more expensive to reach our preferred audiences and engage with online. But there are always ways to meet this change and challenge. And that’s what I do and others, as marketers.

    Those who follow fail?? Copy?

    I don’t think Apple failed, or Amazon, Gillette, or Ebay, and many more. I don’t need to text that out, google is word. All their early stage data was paid for, researched and applied by their closest competitors now left in no man’s land.

    Thousands of successfully run ecommerce stores rampant online, spend hours, days, months, years trawling and monitoring Amazon and Amazon changes. For what reason? Explanation not required.

    I have advised many clients on this strategy and other strategies and their results have been far from boring or less innovative. Competitive analysis for me, is a golden must. Every circumstance and variable is different where I adjust, and I never just leave it there.

    Testing is key for me, for them. It was never just build and leave. [ I don’t web design anymore] Whether you use templates or not, or custom design or not, free websites or not. There are pro’s and cons longer than my arm for each.

    My opinion, it’s 100% about testing client web pages always.

    How else can I determine what to improve for them? Visitor retention, engagement, and taking a preferred action on the site. I market and bring them the traffic their website needs. Flower + Water = Beautiful Flower.

    Sites that are custom, perfectly fine, but for me, it becomes near impossible for marketers to get in there and do what they do. Should they work together?

    YES. Do they? Seldom, and that’s where I see the major breakdowns.

    No one can control that, we can only control our own professional behavior within this industry.

    Visitor movements within the site are everything. Where they are clicking through to, why they are leaving, which information did they skip over, what did they consume, how long for, did they enjoy that piece of content? great, write more, what colours are they resonating with and why, why did they not click the call to action and so forth.

    Heat maps, tracking software, mouseflow for reducing any turnaround time and ultimately converting more traffic. All sounds fancy pants, but it is not. Fundamentals executed and tracked and adjusted to, exceptionally well.

    This subject is broad, that makes it what it is for designers and marketers, well for me and colleagues now friends, within the industry. Exciting, challenging, difficult, time consuming, failing, having successes (testing) and so much more.

    Websites can’t be just websites anymore, they must be exponential growth machine$.

    #1212695
    Paul – FS Concierge
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    Hi [USER=110616]@karensaid[/USER] – I read every word and agree:-)

    Especially about building on what successful businesses are already doing – making something better.

    I am a member of a web designer group (lol) and some of what a lot of them do is beautiful work. There have been many discussions around the rise of WIX and others and how much they are pouring into advertising.

    And they are worried.

    But, the answer is in front of their nose – add value, team up with or learn, local SEO, buyer behaviour and conversion techniques, copywriting, Advertising platforms etc.

    All of those things that generate more sales for their customers.

    #1212696
    Hassle Free Website
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    Paul – FS Concierge, post: 259000, member: 78928 wrote:
    Hi [USER=110616]@karensaid[/USER]
    WIX and others and how much they are pouring into advertising.

    And they are worried.

    If you are good at what you do then there is no need to worry if you can really help a client out. Advertising is good when combined with an overall plan.

    Sometimes people don’t have that knowledge or advice and just get swept up into the adverting funnel.

    On a side note, one time a client spent $1500 on a basic website then spent $13,000 on advertising, telling people to go to their website.

    Now that’s a worry ;)

    #1212697
    Greg_M
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    This post started out as a tongue in cheek shot at pseudo designers and layout templates in general. It was about LAYOUT, UX and UI with some tech stuff thrown in (and in an appropriate thread), not content marketing….which combined with SEO has gone a long way to destroying the usefulness of this forum for many micro businesses (just look at who no longer posts and who does).

    But here we are yet again being given “growth” strategies for online business.

    Guess what, if you read FS own survey of the type of businesses this forum is aimed at, the vast majority are happy just ticking along, they don’t want to be Ebay or turn over millions.

    Some, believe it or not, only want a website for informational purposes, a bit like a digital calling card (what a decade ago would have been called a phone book)…in the process of getting one they don’t want to be robbed by a designer who’s not really a designer, they don’t want to manage C Panel, do updates and maintenance, and especially don’t want to spend hours generating useless content on the off chance that Google will lift them 2 spots in the index.

    No problem, if you keep this stuff in an appropriate thread or in answering a question but when it leaks into every thread it’s just “noise” and very boring, so boring in fact it’s done my head in.

    Cheers

    #1212698
    Paul – FS Concierge
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    Hassle Free Website, post: 259003, member: 105019 wrote:
    If you are good at what you do then there is no need to worry if you can really help a client out. Advertising is good when combined with an overall plan.

    Sometimes people don’t have that knowledge or advice and just get swept up into the adverting funnel.

    On a side note, one time a client spent $1500 on a basic website then spent $13,000 on advertising, telling people to go to their website.

    Now that’s a worry ;)

    Only a worry if the ROI could not justify the advertising cost.

    Using Adwords, I calculated my overall ROI at x 231 my spend.

    #1212699
    Hassle Free Website
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    Greg_M, post: 259005, member: 38207 wrote:
    This post started out as a tongue in cheek shot at pseudo designers and layout templates in general.

    No problem, if you keep this stuff in an appropriate thread or in answering a question but when it leaks into every thread it’s just “noise” and very boring, so boring in fact it’s done my head in.

    Cheers

    I see what you are saying but I learnt some interesting stuff from a thread which just began out as something that was just a tongue in cheek shot at pseudo designers ;)

    #1212700
    Hassle Free Website
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    Paul – FS Concierge, post: 259006, member: 78928 wrote:
    Using Adwords, I calculated my overall ROI at x 231 my spend.

    Only a worry if the ROI could not justify the advertising cost.

    Sounds like you are using the right formula. Would love to hear more about the success of that, but maybe another thread.

    With ROI the thing is though sometimes there is low lying fruit which is easy to pick.

    Though if not knowing you might be using a technique which isn’t maximising the success rate of picking that fruit.

    Eg

    You picked 100 apples in 1hr
    I picked 250 apples in 1hr

    #1212701
    Paul – FS Concierge
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    Greg_M, post: 259005, member: 38207 wrote:
    This post started out as a tongue in cheek shot at pseudo designers and layout templates in general. It was about LAYOUT, UX and UI with some tech stuff thrown in (and in an appropriate thread), not content marketing….which combined with SEO has gone a long way to destroying the usefulness of this forum for many micro businesses (just look at who no longer posts and who does).

    But here we are yet again being given “growth” strategies for online business.

    Guess what, if you read FS own survey of the type of businesses this forum is aimed at, the vast majority are happy just ticking along, they don’t want to be Ebay or turn over millions.

    Some, believe it or not, only want a website for informational purposes, a bit like a digital calling card (what a decade ago would have been called a phone book)…in the process of getting one they don’t want to be robbed by a designer who’s not really a designer, they don’t want to manage C Panel, do updates and maintenance, and especially don’t want to spend hours generating useless content on the off chance that Google will lift them 2 spots in the index.

    No problem, if you keep this stuff in an appropriate thread or in answering a question but when it leaks into every thread it’s just “noise” and very boring, so boring in fact it’s done my head in.

    Cheers
    Hi Greg,

    Yours is an interesting post.

    It made me a little bit sad on the inside.

    When I was recruiting, we would knock on doors and meet many soloists who did not want to grow – more power to them I used to think. Many had no need to advertise and if anything, some would complain about having too much work.

    At the same time, the internet is responsible for creating so many opportunities that did not exist for soloers just a handful of years ago.

    I have looked through the profiles of many past members who are not in the same business they were when active on this Forum and I always wonder if they closed the doors through their own choice.

    I will never know.

    On the upside, experts are working out “what works” and services are available to soloists that give them choice around their future if they get their fundamentals right today.

    So many don’t.

    Sometimes I wonder how many person-hours and what kind of emotional investment, family time together and other costs failed ventures are responsible for.

    I think it is great that we can come together and share what works in a friendly environment. And good internet marketing (which works well when the overall business is competent) can mean difference between staying in business or closing the doors.

    To me it is not boring at all – it is very exciting.

    A tale of two cities huh?

    #1212702
    karensaid
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    I get where your coming from [USER=38207]@Greg_M[/USER]

    But I never implied anyone wanted to be as big as Ebay or whatever, or be a millionaire, it was just an example.

    There are a ton of smaller business examples, but obviously, I cannot name these otherwise I would have.

    Like yourself, I’ve been in this industry a long time. Why I say that is because, MOST people in this industry, well, are great people who work their butts off for their clients, are ethical and hardworking like everyone else. So when I read, interpret seen as, negative connotations aimed at the industry, I’m gonna fire back.

    If people are happy to plod along, good god, that’s all good right? SME are the backbone of any Nation but from what I see in this forum, they’re hungry for workable online advice.

    Do I have it? That’s not up to me is it. Everything I wrote about, no one has to believe an ounce of it.

    I am aware now, that you are not interested in any growth strategies or any type of online marketing, so I do apologize for entering interrupting your tongue and cheek party. It won’t happen again.

    All the best.

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