When it comes to website design (or any of your marketing materials), the unique, different and unexpected can work against you. It’s the marketer’s paradox.
Being different is your biggest advantage in standing out from your competition. In fact, being better than your competition is nice but rarely noticeable to clients. Being different, on the other hand, gets noticed.
Here’s the problem. . . When it comes to your website design the “being different” advantage works against you when it doesn’t comply with visitor expectations. Different can confuse and frustrate your visitors. When your navigation options are at the bottom of the screen, yet almost every website has it at the top, your visitors won’t understand how to get around your site and leave. When a button uniquely says “The Connection” instead of “Contact Us” or “Contact” like every other site uses, users may never find it.
Effective site design requires that you are consistent with what visitors expect, yet different enough to be memorable. Here are a few key lessons:
1. Put stuff where people expect it (same), yet engage them unexpectedly (different). Clients become confident in your brand when they find what they expect, where they expect it. Then, when they get there and something different happens it engages them. I do it with mouse overs on my home page. Zach Galifianakis does it with the best under construction site ever.
2. Less is more (same), and great pictures break the mold (different). Attentions spans are shorter and shorter (in fact, it is a little mini-miracle that you have even read this far). Design your website with as few words as possible and use powerful pictures to convey your message. I suspect, after looking at this site for about a 1/2 second, that you’ll know what business they are in.
3. Persistent navigation (same), done with a touch of flare (different). Simple, consistent navigation is arguably the most important part of your website. It is like the steering wheel in your car. If the wheel disappears or moves every time you take a turn, you probably won’t ever use that car again. Your navigation is the same. It must be where it is expected for every page the user navigates. But just putting the same navigation at the top doesn’t make you stand out, so do it with flare like this new entrepreneur awards event I am putting together with some good friends.
Want to dig deeper into website design? One of my favorite books (for non-techies like me) is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.