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

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  • #1212748
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463

    The “social media” experience only works if you have the budget for it, both in terms of building and maintaining, and in monitoring, as you are responsible for the behaviour of your users. I’ve actually worked with a few small to medium business clients that initially started out – and in a couple of cases we built – a social media type web presence, who eventually went back to a non-social media web presence once they realised two important things:

    1) A social media type platform doesn’t work if there are no or very few users, and it can be expensive to get to a level of enough users.

    2) It takes a lot of manpower to monitor users on a social media type platform.

    So it may be great for certain big players, but unlikely for small to medium sized players.

    The cross platform/integrated side of things on the other hand will be essential for every level of company…

    #1212749
    Zava Design
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,463

    Randomly came across this article which nicely covers the stuff that I and a few others were trying to convey in this thread: https://conversionxl.com/blog/why-simple-websites-are-scientifically-better/

    In summary: User expectations.

    #1212750
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Zava Design, post: 263423, member: 34615 wrote:
    Randomly came across this article which nicely covers the stuff that I and a few others were trying to convey in this thread: https://conversionxl.com/blog/why-simple-websites-are-scientifically-better/

    In summary: User expectations.

    Good article. Thanks.

    I’d agree that “less is more” in good design and that “prototype” expectations of the user are also important but I’m thinking that those user expectations are changing rapidly with the increasing importance of smartphones in accessing and searching the web.

    I still see many sites that are designed on a desktop for what’s really a desktop experience but are completely crap on a mobile…too busy, too far to scroll to get the right info etc etc.

    Something I’ve come up against recently is stuff like page transitions on a mobile e.g. swipe up, down, sideways…this is “prototypical” of a mobile users expectations imo, but counter intuitive to desktop users. How do you reconcile this problem?

    Personally I’ve just abandoned worrying about desktop at all. I think it’s a very secondary market for most micro businesses, certainly mine.

    Just as an aside but relevant to the UX, UI experience I wish someone would finally fix the flashing header on this page! It’s been doing it for ages (on Chrome) and it’s become almost impossible to use…if it’s not the header expanding and contracting in milliseconds it’s F@#$ing ads bouncing around around.

    It’s beginning to feel as if the forum is just lying here as a series of click bait traps until it finally dies.

    #1212751
    Peter – FS Administrator
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,889

    Loved that article, thanks for the share. We’re working on an overdue redesign for Flying Solo and simplicity/less/focus is at the core of the feedback and design process. Lot’s to think about, but as with many/most things, less is more!!

    #1212752
    El Arish Tropical Exotics
    Member
    • Total posts: 227
    Zava Design, post: 263423, member: 34615 wrote:
    Randomly came across this article which nicely covers the stuff that I and a few others were trying to convey in this thread: https://conversionxl.com/blog/why-simple-websites-are-scientifically-better/

    In summary: User expectations.

    It’s interesting seeing the “science” of webdesign evolve. I would say that user experience is also influenced by age, how tech savvy they are and possibly other factors. My 17 yr old son is much more intuitive than I am when it comes to technology as he has grown up using it. Where as I prefer an easy to navigate format.
    This is where eccomerce software excels, most of their templates have done the work for you in regard to easy to read layout, mobile friendly, top left logo, bottom right abn, contact, etc. The user experience is pretty seamless although you can customize automatic emails, etc. I’m seeing more and more sites that are using ecommerce software (invoice formats, call for customer reviews, dispatch notification, etc are all pretty much the same format so it’s easy to pick up). I wonder if it’s they are the wave of the future and what that means for design. Will it kill creativity because designers will have to work within a framework or unleash it as the clunky stuff will be already done?

    #1212753
    ContentCreative
    Member
    • Total posts: 24

    One of the elements that has been touched on in previous posts, but not fully dealt with, is that original design takes time. This means it is expensive.

    Whilst most people say they like good design, or good photos, or well-written copy, or any other creative output, when it comes to the cost many businesses baulk.

    This is why templates do so well. Many templates are extremely well thought out and designed, but they are not original. Hence some level of sameness appearing.

    Another consideration for the sameness is that the underlying technologies for designing and operating a website, to a certain extent limit what is possible. Yes, sites can be created that sometimes break these molds, but sometimes they are not effective in achieving their end goals. When you look at print design, there is much more flexibility in what is possible and it shows in the end results.

    #1212754
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    Peter – FS Administrator, post: 263425, member: 1 wrote:
    Loved that article, thanks for the share. We’re working on an overdue redesign for Flying Solo and simplicity/less/focus is at the core of the feedback and design process. Lot’s to think about, but as with many/most things, less is more!!

    I just hope you aren’t going for the same as the rest of the crowd, lets stand out from the crowd, be a inspiration not a follower, we know where all the sheep that follow end up.

    #1212756
    John Debrincat
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    Zava Design, post: 263423, member: 34615 wrote:
    Randomly came across this article which nicely covers the stuff that I and a few others were trying to convey in this thread: https://conversionxl.com/blog/why-simple-websites-are-scientifically-better/

    In summary: User expectations.
    It is a nice article and relevant to modern web design. But it’s ideas and principles stem from the work at Bauhaus, a German art and architectural school founded in 1919, there the principle was “form follows function” and it is as true with webdesign as it was with chairs and buildings. Superfluous stuff on websites detracts from a good user experience.

    John

    #1212757
    SydneyWordPress
    Member
    • Total posts: 4

    This just from my experience, hopefully give an insight from designers perspective.

    Template vs custom is like…

    Building a custom home with every room tailored and materials VS a Masterton Display home (blueprint all ready for builder like a template).

    Designers are like cooks: You can get McDonalds chefs vs local restaurant vs reputable restaurant

    Designers is like footy:
    General level: people who understand the game (new starters, bloggers trying to be developers)
    Medium: people who play on weekends and decently fit (local companies)
    Pros: NRL level (design agency big $$$)

    Where a template works well is when the persons skill isn’t really high level or clients budget is low $$$. It provides a design road-map kind of like directions like a GPS when you are driving.

    Where would a custom site be of good use?
    A existing businesses that has a market.

    I had one client with 2 million in online turnover.

    You spend extra $10-20,000 on design agency level website with the right place. Got 10% extra conversions of total $1 million turn over. = $100,000.

    Same with service based businesses for example: You a lawyer firm. You get 20000 visits are year. Poor website means your risking conversions & market share. Lets say only 400 become actual customers, proper website might double that and it already justifies the initial cost and you competing in the market at top level.

    If you are paying big money for your website, what to watch out for.
    High cost of a website doesn’t equal to quality, one that understands your business & direction. Some big $$ agencies outsource externally overseas <-- that's the mine field in my eyes & also the factory line based ones. Should I get a template based or custom?
    If you are just starting out or your website does not directly relate to your business making money, I would recommend the template way. If done right… it can be pulled off like a properly tailored website. It all depends on the skill of your person & time he has for the project, some are pumped like a factory line.

    Even some of my team get it wrong… they good designers and developers but that doesn’t mean you going to be good at branding, same image styling, perfect white spacing, font sizes, colour profiles throughout the website. That’s when I have to step in to make sure my kitchen is performing my way.

    From being in the industry perspective and advice for new freelancers:
    Generally most clients are low budget as we target small to medium businesses & some clients compare prices to outsourced India work as they don’t know the market price then you have some clients that see a $10,000 website and expect you to deliver the same with $2,000…

    Always be upfront, gauge the client. Never make the website live until fully paid from your staging website.

    I used to undercharge low but not anymore, the ones who do just dump it on the client. Go AWOL, take a week to do updates, let bugs go on for months, delay deadlines for a year sometimes, no hotel 5 star service with emails setup + hosting, client becoming the tester, bloated slow loading websites with no optimisation (bad for Google), answer calls right away only. Respect your time and provide a good service, you should be proud of your work & don’t dilute the industry rate.

    I’ve had so many jobs done where they didn’t pay their old developer it was because the client kept changing their minds or just bad client, slack on my competitors.

    Sometimes you have to take control, you are the expert or you will make the job 4 times harder it’s a fine balance that you should respect. Ferrari or Porsche don’t get coached by the customer they advise them.

    Hope no one is offended, just wanted to give my insights in a transparent way.

    #1212758
    businesstrade
    Participant
    • Total posts: 210

    I think website design has gone in this direction due to the fact that the standard template website layout/design is familiar and easy to use. If you look at startups and their websites, they are also quite similar as well.

    #1212759
    Zava Design
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,463
    SydneyWordPress, post: 263500, member: 113280 wrote:
    Pros: NRL level (design agency big $$$).
    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.

    #1212760
    Zava Design
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,463

    A very relevant text here around the idea of “External consistency”, which appears to be the formal term for what I described previously: https://developer.paciellogroup.com/blog/2017/08/inclusive-design-principle-be-consistent/#culturalconsistency

    “No interface exists in a vacuum. It’s informed by the culture of interface design to which it belongs. External consistency means consistency with patterns external to your own work, belonging to the wider discipline of interface design. Solutions become conventions and later traditions that form part of our shared language of digital communication and interaction. We all drink from that well.”

    I found the above link from this article, another worthy read on the topic:
    https://alistapart.com/article/paint-the-picture-not-the-frame

    #1212761
    Tom ISW
    Member
    • Total posts: 180

    This is gonna get a bit philosophical, but…Memetic design.

    Most things in our culture, be it media, design, language, etc. is “good” (i.e. useful or high quality) information that gets shared and re-shared by many people. The more functional the design, the more “memetic” it is. Think about your house – it’s likely the design of your house is identical to most other houses you’ve been into. It has a lounge, a kitchen, a dining area, bathroom, etc. That’s because that idea of a house is a unit of information that’s been transmitted over and over and “embedded” itself in a majority of people. It’s similar to natural selection.

    Viral marketing works along the same principle – the good ideas (or content, or designs) survive, while the bad or non-functional ones perish. [USER=34615]@Zava Design[/USER] touched on it with his post. It operates on such a base level, we don’t think “this is what a website ought to look like” or “this is what I’d like my website to look like” but more “websites look like this, and if my website doesn’t, I don’t have a website by definition.”

    #1212762
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691

    [USER=34615]@Zava Design[/USER] enjoyed the articles, cheers.
    [USER=54379]@Tom ISW[/USER] Philosophical is fine and to be encouraged imo.

    You’re both on a similar theme to some extent i.e. rocking the boat is dangerous (and possibly costly to a soloist).

    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).

    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.

    Some companies are “onto it” and creating genuine “mobile first” sites but they’re still pretty rare and I think this provides a disservice to small businesses whose customers are primarily mobile consumers.

    I don’t think mobile first is any longer an exclusive with to young users. Anecdotal I know, but I’ve just had a conversation with neighbours (both in their 60’s) and they’ve just done deal on new mobiles and thrown out every computer and laptop in the house…and they do everything online and so do their mates.

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

    #1212763
    LukeHally
    Member
    • Total posts: 150

    It’s an interesting one, there are trends of course, but I think what we’re seeing with bootstrap (and other css frameworks) is the web medium is maturing to the point where design patterns are emerging that work across all devices (or most of them). The novelty of the web has worn off to the point where a website, for the most part, is a source of information.

    Also something to note, may have been mentioned, is that bootstrap isn’t a template (base templates exist of course – happily admit I used one for my site), but it’s a framework of elements, styles and layout tools that make it faster to create a consistent, flexible and modular website. Also means it’s easier to ditch your web person and go to someone else because most people are familiar with how it works.

    Content is king and all that, best express yourself with your brand, not some quirky layout, interactivity or structure that makes users have to think about what they are doing – unless that is your brand.

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