A good website and the website copying syndrome

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Graphics, animations and other such things are an integral part of a website. But more than these there are things like content, ease of use and ease of navigation. But these important aspects of a website are somehow shadowed by the graphics part of the website. Make no mistake your colours need to be immaculate, the graphics need to be relevant and professional and animation needs to be subtle. But are graphics and animations and image sliders absolutely necessary for the website. Absolutely not! There are few websites for which these things are absolutely necessary. In case of hotel booking website, you need top-notch quality graphics but for a corporate website, it’s not an absolute necessity. Whereas, content, ease of use and ease of navigation are not optional. They are a necessity of a good site.

“I want a website like that one” syndrome

Web developers hear this many times from their customers. I want a website similar to infosys.com or autodesk.com. When such big brands develop their website, they put a lot of effort into designing the user experience. Therefore these websites have every image, every slider and every such thing for a purpose. Nothing on such websites is just for the sake of it. Whereas, when copying a website we are putting things on the website that are sometimes not required. When we are copying a website, what we are really copying is their user experience. And there is absolutely no certainty that their user experience design will be good for our website and our website visitors.

So why we are trying to copy big brand websites? Simply because these websites are good looking. But the reason we forget as to why these websites are good looking is that, first, these websites are good sites, they provide an excellent user experience. One such example is sliders. Everyone is so obsessed with sliders that they do not even think whether we need image slider or not. So copying big brand or any other website for that matter ultimately culminates into probably a good looking website and but definitely not a good site.

“I want a site like microsoft.com. No, let’s change design a bit, let’s build a site like intel.com”

When we are trying to copy a site, what we are doing we are shortlisting a number of sites and then asking the developer to build like one. But after seeing multiple such sites, we change our opinion midway and now we want a site that looks like some other big brand site. This goes on and on and ultimate product is a disastrous one.

“I want the navigation menu like microsoft.com and the slider like autodesk.com”

There is one oft-cited example in management. Bringing best parts from different products and using them to make the similar product with the best quality is not possible. Like you cannot possibly build a car using the engine of a BMW, doors of an Audi and chassis of a Mercedes. The car built using these parts may not even start. An engine of BMW performs best because it is fit in a BMW. Every part of these carts is meticulously selected, a lot of designing consideration has gone through. Same goes for the website, you cannot mix and match the best parts of other websites and then make our website. It’s not going to work.

From where does this urge to copy sites come?

We want our site to look good. So with our human nature, we try to take a shortcut and try to develop a good looking website. We do not want to invest time and money in developing a good user experience that will ultimately lead to both a good site and a good looking site. But we are never trying to make our site, a good site. We are obsessed with developing a good looking site. While doing this, content is nowhere in the picture.

Our focus should be on developing a good site which will ultimately lead to a good looking site and not the other way around.

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