Out of 100 websites you’ve recently had the chance to visit, I bet about 90% of them looked “kinda the same”. The layout was similar – a full-width hero image or looping video and a big tagline overlay with a big orange button CTA.
Especially when it comes to websites from a certain branch, such as startups or SaaS, the similarity among the websites keeps on growing.
There are many reasons behind this, and most of them actually have more to do with improvement, rather than regression.
Is Innovative Web Design Officially Dead?
The answer lies between the Yes and No.
Innovation as a concept will never be gone. With the improvement of technology, the innovation has mostly shifted its core to other elements of innovative web design.
However, the websites are starting to look very much alike, and this situation has been mostly caused by the 3 syndromes below.
1. The Same Layout Syndrome
No. 1 Cause: Using Online Templates
An unlimited budget for creating a website is not something most businesses can afford. That’s when online templates come in. Usage of online templates makes it super fast, super easy and super affordable to just launch a website.
Easy as 1, 2, 3 – just download, install and add your own text.
Preparation work involves quickly skimming through ThemeForest for a web template that fits the given industry best.
The costs are measured in double to triple digit costs, all mere peanuts compared to thousands of dollars worth of spending on a web design agency.
Sounds good? Not so fast.
The problem with this approach is the rigidness of the template. The template has to be crafted to suit so many different users. That means little to no customization options, generalized content, and layout, with no room for creating something unique.
Cause No. 2: Conversion Rates Are Number One Priority
Web designers as artists are not always fond of this idea, but the templated websites mentioned above are converting.
The thought of these standardized websites may not excite the designer – but they excite the business owner who is more interested in measuring conversion rates.
Now, conversion doesn’t always come down directly to buying actions.
It can also be that a visitor has signed up for your newsletter, created an account, downloaded your app or ebook, etc. These conversions do not matter solely to e-commerce shops.
Conversion is also important for other types of websites, such as online portfolios. Imagine being a graphic designer, and having an artist portfolio website. At the end of the perusing, you would like for the website visitor to contact you for his next project.
As Dave Cudmore from Crazy Egg says: ”While you may not be able to brag about your fancy website, I’ll take the ugly site that makes money over the less profitable beautiful website any day.”
2. Flat Design Syndrome
Cause No. 1: Flat design speeds up the loading time
Most rewarded websites are those that can load fast.
Both Google and Bing have included the speed factor into their website ranking algorithms, and you do need both of these big guys to bring in the traffic.
To achieve better loading time, you will have to have smaller sized graphics and minimal design elements. This means no drop shadows, gradients, leather textures, etc.
Cause No. 2: Flat design puts accent on content
Reducing the number of complicated elements on a website helps the visitors to focus on the content of the websites.
Simple shapes, clean typography, and flat colors are the trend in the recent years.
The minimal visuals do not distract the visitors from consuming the content, which can be rewarding – the users will also stay longer on your website.
3. The Back in The Days Syndrome
Cause No. 1: UX design Took The Throne
Back in the 2000s, the web design seemed to be wild and creative. There were effects all over the place, and the creativity behind each of them seemed unlimited.
The whole point back then was to create a unique website, in the peak of Flash of web design.
Empowered web designers were combining different effects such as animation and video content.
However, as the complexity of web design matured, it started putting the user experience at the forefront. That way, although some of the creativity has been lost, the UX has become better.
Cause No. 2: Form Follows Function
Although some designers may complain that the web design has gotten less dynamic and interesting, the reality is less “romantic” than that.
If the cool effects are distracting the user from performing the action you need them to perform (buying, downloading or signing up), then they serve no actual purpose.
The websites themselves are built to be functional, instead of a piece of art.
The Innovative Web Design is Dead – Long Live Innovative Web Design!
Aesthetics of a website are still important as ever. It gives your visitor a sense of your brand, as well as tells a visual story about your company.
The most important thing to factor in is the target audience, as each demographics will demand a different website style.
Therefore, the innovative web design is all but dead. It is actually the complete opposite – it should be all about innovation and creativity.
Just like any other design, its purpose is to serve the audience’s needs. That said, things like usability, branding, and conversions may limit the innovation, but that is where the good designers come into play.
A great web designer can work with the limitations of today’s web design, and still create a unique and lucrative website.