Something I find increasingly annoying is the fear most companies have when developing a new web site. They don’t dare to try new things, and more importantly, they don’t even want do offer something good. It’s a copy-cat syndrome holding us all back.
Let me explain what I mean, and I’m sure many of you have been in meetings similar to this:
Yeah, we want to have a web site exactly like [insert very large and well-known web site here]. They have millions of visitors every day, and we want that too!
Then the meeting continues, discussing what the web site will actually will be about, the desired target audience etc. But as soon as you reach a point about actual implementation, they’re immediately back at square one: how does the popular web site do it?
And the problem is that this attitude in turn stifles all kind of creativity, usability, nice designs and accessibility. But, and listen carefully now, I have news for you:
Most of these were built some years ago, and design on the web, technology and web browsers have moved on, a lot, since then. The reason above mentioned web sites, as well as most other large ones, have such wide user bases and myriad of visitors is because of a few reasons:
- Content is king!
- They’ve been around for a while, so people know they exist.
- Communities are built around friends, virals and hypes – not through Crappy Web Sites Weekly. Their design and practices have almost exclusively had nothing to do with their way to the top.
When updating an already popular web sites, other rules come into play. But if you build a new web site/completely redesign an existing one, please please don’t mistake what you see on famous web sites as a recommendation. Instead, focus on content, taking care of your end users and generally choose the design and interaction that is most suited.
Who knows, if you actually release something good as opposed to just following suit, you can be the next major player.