Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, in the pursuit of web design perfection, copy and pasting ideas from someone else isn’t always the best strategy. Yes, you should learn from what’s around you. When something works, it starts a new trend and that becomes commonplace across the internet. When that happens, it breeds an air of familiarity that users like. In tandem with borrowing design ideas from others, there are certain concepts that make products appealing.
As we’ve outlined in our guide to websites, we’ve espoused the values of consistency, user-friendliness, and useful content. When you’re building a website, you need to embrace these ideas. However, there’s a culture in web design that leans towards copy and paste features and page elements. Let’s take Facebook as an example. As well as LiveRail, Oculus VR, and FriendFeed, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
The Facebook Effect
Since purchasing these platforms, certain features have been added to the mix. Instagram now features a messaging service. Flip that around and you can say Facebook has made more of its messaging service because of its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp. Then, on WhatsApp, you’ve got stories and status updates, which have been directly taken from Instagram. Then, of course, you’ve got the same feature on Facebook. In fact, crossovers don’t always have to be between platforms under the same ownership.
Look at YouTube. Alongside videos, users can now upload stories in the same way Instagram users can. From Twitter, the use of hashtags has become common on other social media platforms. None of this is a problem. Borrowing features is not only a form of flattery but something all successful brands do. As we’ve said, users love familiarity. Add to this the notion of brand consistency and you can see why this culture of copying is on the rise. However, to stand out from the crowd, you should always go the other way. When everyone is using the same features across a network of sites, try to mix things up.
How to Avoid Homogenization
To avoid homogenization, you need to draw from a range of sources. By using a variety of influences, you get away from this culture of having a site that looks like everything else. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are great but, more and more, they’re starting to mirror each other. To avoid this, you can incorporate a range of features. VegasSlotsOnline has shown how this is possible. This platform avoids homogenization by featuring games from multiple software suppliers. The 10,000+ games are drawn from a variety of companies, including IGT, NetEnt, and Microgaming. By pulling 290+ games from Novomatic, and 330+ from Playtech, there’s a definite sense of diversity.
Lemonade is another website that takes ideas from a range of mediums and blends them into one. The insurance broker works on the basis that you can get a personalized quote in seconds. In this sense, it sits among the plethora of comparison sites out there. However, to differentiate itself from the crowd, it contains some neat touches. On the homepage, there’s a video that speaks to the social media community and YouTube users. When it’s time to get a quote, their chatbot, Maya, is there to help. Once you’ve entered your address, a Google map appears. Then, to complete the process, one-click boxes guide you through the rest.
Borrow from a Range of Sources and Be Unique
All of these features have been taken from other sources. However, the important point is that they’ve been knitted together in a way that works and, most importantly, gives sites like Lemonade a unique look. This is why working from a variety of sources is the way forward. Copying and using standard templates is fine, but it’s not always the best way to do things. The sites we’ve mentioned are a great example of that. We’re not saying you can’t imitate. You can. But, if you want to stand out from the crowd, it pays to do things your own way.