5 Ways to Make Your Website Stand Out

November 12, 2020

As a freelance web designer, I'm always researching new ways to make my clients' website stand out without jeopardizing user experience. What’s the point of an eye-catching website if it’s not easy to use, right? Working with small businesses, it's essential that their websites tell a different story— a more personal story—than their corporate competitors.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Animated Interactions

There’s something about a smooth page transition or a fun {button hover} that makes a website really stand out from the crowd. From scrolling to mouse clicks, animations triggered by how your visitors’ interact with your webpage can help guide attention and add an element of whimsy. Interactions can even change the entire expectation of how one might go about exploring a web page. An example of this can be found in parallax scrolling, a trendy interactive animation which triggers elements while scrolling up and down.

An example of parallax scrolling featuring hiking and camping products.
Quecha 2016 lookbook

In a 2016 lookbook by a hiking and camping equipment company, the parallax scroll interaction is used to add a depth of field that you probably won’t find in any other hiking and camping equipment lookbook. Interactions can demonstrate that you’ve really thought about enhancing the user experience, making the static websites of your competition bland and forgettable in comparison.

A word of caution: it’s easy to overdo it. Let your web interactions compliment your website rather than take centre stage. Unless the interactions are a pivotal part of your design, too many can make your page look busy. This in turn may distract from content and cause confusion. If you’re new to web page interactions, or are the type to overdo it, ask yourself if the interactive animations actually aid your visitors in achieving what they set out to do.

2. Beautiful Graphics

There’s something about digital (or even hand-drawn!) illustrations that can put your website on another level. As any child can tell you, cartoon images are better to look at than text. Graphics can give your website and your brand the personality it needs to differentiate itself from the rest, while also communicating important aspects of your business. There are a few ways you can get your hands on some good graphics. 

     Make Your Own

This may seem like an obvious answer, but unless you’re already a graphic designer or have a knack for Adobe Illustrator (in which case, I have the utmost respect for you with equal amounts of envy), then this can get more complicated than originally expected. Instead of frustrating yourself by attempting graphic design yourself, there are several free graphic design platforms, like Snappa and Canva, that make it so you don’t have to start from scratch, ultimately making it easier to add some oomph to your designs.

     Hire a Graphic Designer 

It’s always great to support fellow creatives. Afterall, if you’re great at web design, it’s likely because you focus most of your time on web design; the same logic can be applied to a good graphic designer. Sometimes it’s best to just leave it to the experts. If you already know someone who specializes in graphic design and like their work… lucky you! Set up a meeting for an opportunity to collaborate. If not, you can find freelancers on websites like Fiverr, or for a more personalized experience, try Bark.

3. Original Photography

Stock images can be great when it comes to landscape images. However, A/B testing shows that photos featuring humans help with a website’s performance

So why not stock photos of humans? Although they are easy to find, staged images with models can come off as inauthentic. Some research suggests that you can increase conversions by 35% simply by replacing your stock photos with real images of the people running your business. Photos of real aspects of your business will convey a warmth that many of your competitors might not have.

Hiring a photographer who specializes in corporate photography is a great option. And again, why not support our fellow creatives?

4. A Unique Color Story

This is where market research can come in handy. Find out what colours everyone else is using, and if it’s practical for your branding message to choose something different. Although it’s great to stick with industry standards, studies show that we perceive colour at a subconscious level. A colour story that is different from your direct competitors can be a great way to stand out with subtlety — a concept which sounds counter intuitive, but can definitely give you an edge!

Four screenshots of health food websites
Applegate Products, Banza, Pacific Foods, Amy's Kitchen (clockwise starting at the top left).

Many websites for health food brands, for example, feature the colour green. Contrary to this, the chickpea pasta brand Banza uses bright blue and orange. Despite the lack of earthy greens on their landing page, the message of health still comes across via different elements, such as high contrast images of their products. You can tell that they are a healthy brand, even without the common use of the colour green.

Which website do you think stands out?

5. User-Friendliness

I know, I know… this one is a bit obvious. But it’s really worth being reminded of. Before hiring a graphic designer to create beautiful images for your website or even before choosing your colour story, user experience is king. 

Put yourself in the mindset of your website’s visitors: what is their goal? If you’re in a competitive space and a potential client ends up on your website wanting to purchase your product, but can’t find the “add to cart” button, it won’t be long before they find someone else to buy something similar. The internet rarely falls short on alternative options. Before standing out in any visual way, you need to make sure your visitors’ experiences are seamless in your digital storefront. If their experience is anything less than easy, you might end up standing out for all of the wrong reasons.

Montreal-based web designs

About Pop

Hi! I'm Arianne. I'm a freelance web designer. I created this blog page not only to compliment my business, but to share information with other aspiring web designers who wish to be successful in this rich and evolving space.

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