Finding Inspiration from Other Websites

January 6, 2016

Finding Inspiration from Other Websites

In this blog I'm going to give you my top tips on how to find inspiration in other websites. As well as discuss feature sets to give your website developer.

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Tip #1 – Make a list of Websites which you like

This is the first piece of research that you're going to undertake before you approach a web developer. It might be one of first things which they work with you once you have chosen to go ahead and start working with them. All I want you to do is to list half a dozen websites or find half a dozen themes which you really like. This helps us see inside your head and work out exactly what it is you like from how it looks and how it feels. You should be looking at layout, colour schemes, position of logos, images, and things like that and deciding what you like and what you don’t like.

There are some really great theming websites out there which you could look at, such as Envato ThemeForest, which there are thousands of themes out there for a variety of different kind of CMS platforms. Another theme resources is W3 Layouts, which has some very simple responsive themes. One my favourite is a website called WrapBootstrap, which has got some naked themes, which you can plug into pretty much any website.

In terms of getting inspiration from specific websites; these can be any websites which you like the look and feel of. From your local competitor right through to Apple, BBC and blue chip websites.

I tend not to ask clients for websites which they dislike because what we're trying to get a feel for are features which they like and we're going to include on their website. We don't want to get distracted by poorly designed and poorly laid out websites and themes, because we're not going to use those anyway.

Tip #2 – The Ideal Feature Set

Next up, create a feature set which is a list of features which you like. This isn't an, "I would love it if I could have this on my website” list. This ideally needs to be a list of features which will most engage your potential customers.

You can still look at other people's websites and themes in order to get a feel for what your competitors are doing and start to make a list of features on their websites which you might like to have on your own website.

Creating extra features on a website to be stand out and be different is not acceptable. A lot of small businesses create a wish list of features they want to put on there with all the associated bells and whistles. What you need to think about is the customer journey and the more features you put onto your website the more confusing that customer journey is going to be. Examples of this include animations, slide shows, Twitter feeds, things scrolling, things flashing, loads of videos, loads of bells and whistles, and extra whizzy things. Don’t forget all of these extra features are going to cost you money when you have them built into your website. Ask yourself the question, "Are they really necessary?" And secondly, “Does it form part of the customer journey? Or is it going to be a distraction to your customers rather than something that they're going to interact with?”

The features you add onto your website should lead on to them buying products from you or buying your services. Have a look at your competitors’ websites and list features on those sites which you like. When I say features it's not necessarily bells and whistles or interactive things. It could be something as simple as their logo, the position of the logo or size of the logo, what colour schemes they're using throughout the site, what colours really stand out on their website that draw your eye in, and how their branding is used throughout the website. Is it all consistent? Have they used three or four colours very cutely so they’re not overused and your eye is drawn into a very specific button on that page that then leads you to submit a contact form or buy a product?

Ask yourself, are there any features that your competitors don't have that you want on your website, and do you need those? Like I said, those could become a distraction to your customers.

Tip #3 – Include a Call to Action – What Do You Want Your Customers to Do?

Finally, ask yourself what's the core message running through your website? The typical customer journey starts when someone lands on your homepage and then you have determined at what point they're going to do something on that site. It might be buying a product, it might be submitting a contact inquiry or a brochure request or signing up to an email list. But there needs to be a clearly defined call-to-action which you’ve decided you want your website visitors to do.

Ask yourself, “What's the core message running through the website that's going to take your customer from the homepage to one of the main calls to action and to submit that form?”

Good websites have a consistent theme and message running throughout the site, which leads the customer on very specific journey. It might be the way they've used images, fonts, or colours throughout the website to take people on that path. All of the call to action buttons might be one specific colour that is different to all of the other colours on the website to draw the eye into that very specific spot on the website.

In Summary

To summarise the key points for getting inspiration for your future website:

  1. Find half a dozen or so themes and websites which you really, really like.
  2. List the features on those websites and themes that you like, then go and have a look at your competitors and work out what features they've got on their websites which you also like.
  3. Finally ask yourself, what's the core message running through your site that is going to take your customer from landing on your homepage to complete one of your calls to action?


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