Why one-size-fits-all design is rarely the best fit

Relying on social networks and stock templates to create your web identity rarely lets you create a strong brand.

stand out from the crowd

Today, it’s incredibly easy to stake out a place on the web without creating a website. You add your employees to LinkedIn, create a company page on Facebook, have your team participate on Twitter, and start a company blog using a blogging site. Using the customization features of these social networking sites, you can inject some of your company’s personality into your profiles.

But the convenience that comes with pre-packaged design does little to help you distinguish yourself from the rest of the companies doing the same thing. If you really want to stand out, you need to go the extra distance to create a look that’s truly your own. Creating a custom website can be the difference between clothing your company in a one-size-fits-all t-shirt and suiting up in an outfit in just your size and style.

Unless you’re completely average in every way, you need to stake out a presence on the web that’s uniquely yours. Don’t rely on social networks and stock templates to create your web identity. Take the time to create a full-featured website where someone can get to know your company.

So, how do you tailor your website for a perfect fit?

1. Express the real you. A well-designed site should convey your company’s culture, your position in your industry, and your point-of-view on your market. Avoid standard templates and layouts in favor of a design that shows who you are. If your site is well designed, it shouldn’t work for another company, even one in your industry. There should be enough of your company’s personality in the design to make it work only for you.

2. Don’t over accessorize. If you use a stock website template to create your site, chances are there’s a really pretty pattern or geometric image in the design. But if it doesn’t reinforce who you are or what your company does, a graphic should not be on your website. Also, be sure to include links to all your social networks,  but avoid adding endless widgets and functionality to your site unless they are needed to get your message across.

3. Stand out from the crowd. Your company has a unique story to tell, something that sets it apart from the rest of the companies that do the same thing. Use your website to put that story front and center on your site. And, don’t be afraid to have your site look different from your competition. This is your chance to differentiate yourselves from everyone else.

4. Dress your age. Make sure the style of your site matches your company. If you want to be seen as a trusted business advisor, skip the grunge type fonts. If you’re trying to appeal to teens, throw in the wild colors. Make sure that your website’s visual design supports the message you want to convey to your customers.

5. Wear clean underwear. Make sure that underneath the stunningly beautiful exterior of your site, your web code is clean. Optimize your site for SEO, use CSS, and eliminate bloated HTML code. Your site will run better and you’ll be easy to find in search engines.