Websites that stand out from the crowd

 

Websites that stand out from the crowd

Posted on June 8, 2016

 

Apple and Google have created design guidelines that many web designers now follow. This has led to many websites looking very similar – you can at the very least tell in which camp the designer belongs. To make a website visually stand out from the crowd web designers need to be more creative and challenge what they know.

Flat and material

Apple, in its IOS operating system, pioneered flat design. Apple has published a guide for app developers which they call the IOS Human Interface Guidelines.

Inspired by Apple’s interface guidelines, web designers have created websites that incorporate these elements. These websites look clean, clear and uncluttered. They also seem very familiar to Apple users when they visit them, which isn’t a bad thing – it helps with usability.

Google has created its own design guidelines which it calls material. The goal of material design according to Google is:

“Create a visual language that synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.”

Because of Apple and Google’s influence, many web designers have created sites based on flat and material principles. This is something which is very much ‘on trend’ right now.

Does it all look the same?

Non-designers can build websites that incorporate flat or material design by purchasing either HTML or WordPress templates whose menus, buttons and other graphic features follow material or flat design principles. Some of these templates are even free, but most come at a small fee of around $15 – $50.

This has led to many websites looking the same or similar, using identical icons, buttons and typefaces. Essentially they’re all using the same theme, so you can imagine why they look the same.

This trend is not necessarily a bad thing. Flat and material design websites that use familiar graphic elements can encourage users to feel at home. Navigation is clear and easy, and familiar icons mean that users know what they stand for.

What these sites do not say is that the company and its products are cutting edge, original and revolutionary. If this is the impression that you want visitors to have, then this needs to be reflected in the design. The website needs to look original and to stand out from the crowd, not use the same template everyone else is using.

Organic design

For a website to stand out it cannot be based on an off-the-shelf template. The site needs to have a sense of soul and emotion. One way to achieve this is through organic design.

The phrase organic design was first used to describe a type of architecture popularised by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. Organic design is inspired by nature.

Flat and material design focus on clean minimalist bold graphic elements. It emphasises usability and features bright colours, open spaces and crisp edges. Organic design in contrast uses textures that look like organic elements such as paper, wood and leaves. Textures copy the flow of nature, with non-symmetrical curves and lines.

Colours are influenced by nature with subtle browns and greens. The challenge of organic design is to combine nature inspired elements with ease of use. Organic design can have flat elements in the menu and button system so that users instinctively know how to navigate the website.

Originality

Organic design is just one way to make a website stand out. It is quicker and less costly to base a website on a template, but it is usually better to increase the budget and employ a professional web designer.

For many potential clients of a business, the company’s website is the first point of contact. A business website needs to reflect the image of the company. Whether a business sees itself as conservative, wacky, trendy, dependable or fashionable, no company wants to be regarded as boring or ‘just one of the crowd’. This means that the website must not be boring or ‘same-old same-old’. A website needs a web designer who is creative and original so that the site stands out from the crowd of flat and material websites.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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