Why does every website look the same
I am sure by now you have started to notice that most, if not all website look the same from design agencies, designers, and personal blogs.
But we think that is OK!
Over the last couple of years, a common visual trend has started to be noticeable online. You’ve seen it before; a full-width website, with a full-width photo or video background slider, usually it has centered text overlaid, logo always on the left, and navigation on the right.
THIS IS NOW… A REFLECTION OF WHAT USERS EXPECT FROM A WEBSITE THESE DAYS.
Does this sound like your website? This is now, a reflection of what users expect from a website. Design patterns exist to give an interface a proven and recommended layout for its function and controls, while having to bear in mind the expectations of its users.
What has happened is the user is now very used to this kind of layout. It is recognisable and familiar, it feels comfortable to use. Designers knowing that this formula works, continue to apply it, repeating the loop and avoiding innovation. Sticking too much to the same patterns over and over again ends up limit creativity, and we’d all like to avoid it where possible. However, a user expectation is something that has always been considered when designing a website, because at the end of the day, they are the ones who matter.
SO, HOW DID WE COME TO THIS?
There are a few reasons how this happened. The sudden boom of interest in flat design online — due to its simplicity — the evolution of responsive websites, and native video with HTML5, were all things that helped this visual trend become mainstream. All these technologies grouped together made it easier than ever to create more interactive, creative and appealing websites; but the biggest irony is that it has also helped to create the ‘standardised look’.
SO, WHY REINVENT THE WHEEL?
Another reason that helps with this similar look are the creations of front-end frameworks. To simplify the creation and development of websites, a bunch of front-end frameworks have been created. They come with prebuilt layouts and styles for forms, text and buttons, grid systems, and media queries to make it easier for developers to create a responsive website.
Frameworks such as Squarespace and Foundation from Zurb are used by web developers and web designers all around the world for their projects. This makes for quicker development, and lower budgets for their clients, all while avoiding the trouble of reinventing the wheel for common website requirements.
Templates and themes are being built, sold, bought, and used more now than ever. Nowadays, you can find really well developed, good and flexible templates that you can use and adapt to a variety of different designs and purposes, allowing designers (and even non-designers) to build websites without having an in-depth knowledge of web development.
In a way, frameworks and templates are just helping to skip a step in the process of building a website.
THE INTERNET FOR EVERYONE, BY EVERYONE
Nearly everyone uses the Internet nowadays. It has evolved to the point where it’s almost considered a necessity comparable to electricity and water, because the Internet is knowledge, and we all know that knowledge is power!
It is evolving in such a way that a “user” isn’t just a “visitor” anymore. They now can be a creator as well, creating content and sharing their own ideas and points of view, be it through text, sound or video. And while everyone can create and share content, not everyone knows how to design or develop a website. So it’s for those people that resources like themes and templates are especially useful, but even then what we have found is the novice do run into problems with pre-designed and built websites.
IS CREATIVITY DEAD?
Even though a lot of websites look really similar these days, it doesn’t mean that creativity is dead. On the contrary, these are very exciting times for developers and designers, web technology has never been so powerful!
It’s not about the fullscreen background video, it’s about the concept and content, and the creativity behind an experience. Focus on the abilities of the devices, focus on the reach and potential of these technologies to create a different and engaging experience. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, don’t follow the trend just for the sake of following the trend. Be creative and unleash that creativity through fullscreen and responsive websites, using video and audio, to create experiences, not just websites.
SO, IT’S OK THEN?
I’m not worried that so many websites look alike. It’s simply a product of the common resources we have today, and I believe it’s a good thing that designers have more tools online to create their own content and to express themselves more easily.
There’s actually a lot of great work being done everyday. Just keep an eye open for the award winning work on websites such as Awwwards; you’ll be surprised by how much creativity is not being lost.