There is something that I noticed while designing web apps and user experiences. The client sometimes has particular requests about what font to use, what images and colors, and how the interactions should happen.
And if I probe why do they want things to be done like that, I most of the time get the answer that this is how they like it.
In a way, it makes sense. It is your site, your brand, and it should represent what you stand for and show your brand’s personality.
But when you are offering a service, and you want to help your visitors achieve something, you need to put their needs above your desire to have the website a specific way.
Your visitors expect to read your site easily. They expect a button to look like a button. And a clickable link to obviously be a clickable link. It would help if you found a balance between being familiar and being unique. If you go all the way on the “unique” side, your visitors will be very confused by your offer and wander someplace else. So this very distinct design is not really serving your customers, is it?
What is a better way to go about this?
You can ask your visitors for feedback and listen to what they have to say. If they find it challenging to make use of your offer, you need to change that, even if it’s something you like a lot about your web site.
You also need to ask more people, not just one. How many more? It depends on the size of your business, but the more you can ask, the more reliable the data becomes. And then, you can build a design that both showcases your brand and what is unique about it but also serves your customers in a way that they expect and understand.
I know this is not always easy. I’ve been guilty of this approach myself, many, many times in the past. I was blinded by how “elegant” I thought my solution was that I disregarded the feedback that showed it was not working for my potential customers.
If your web presence is just a way to express yourself, your art, your ideas, then it’s OK to break the rules and do something “crazy.” Just know that serves your need to express and bee seen. But if you want to provide a service, the marketplace will quickly teach you a lesson, when very few people engage with your content, because it is too hard, or too different.
In today’s world, it is easy to create a website where you can have both worlds: customer-centered and another that is “self-expression” centered. And they can both work together and support each other. But now your audience has a choice. Do they want to explore the new, edgy thing, or they want to benefit from the offer that will serve them quickly?
In conclusion: ask for feedback from your user! And be grateful for the feedback you get, especially if it’s “not good,” because it points you to things you can change that may lead to dramatic improvement of engagement with your offerings.