Does Your Website Look Like Any Other House on the Street?

Does Your Website Look Like Any Other House on the Street?

This year, opportunity knocked-… or rather, John did.

John’s a rather fantastic man who said he’d be honoured to have me and my family become part of his life. And while I liked the life I had just fine, I decided the upgrade he offered sounded pretty good. So I took advantage of the moment, packed up my belongings and my family, and we moved in.

There’s really nothing better than a love story with a happy ending, after all.

Now my place of residence sits squarely within the urban-modern section of town, where brand-new homes line trim, neat streets. They’re all model homes, nearly identical, of course. It’s all the rage out here. People might have blue shutters instead of green, a garage instead of a terrace, or two steps instead of seven, but the structures were built with the same general shape and style in mind.

And as I gazed around the neighbourhood the other day, the row of nearly-identical houses reminded me of all the nearly-identical websites that exist. One site might have a white background, a pink flower and an extra sidebar, but it looks a darned lot like another white-background site with a blue cloud and just one sidebar.

And that’s fine. Really, it is. If being just a little bit different from your competition attracts people who like blue versus pink, and you want blue-liking people as clients, then go you. You’ve succeeded.

On the other hand, relying on those tiny little differences to stand out in a marketplace and pull in clients isn’t going to get you many sales.

It’s kind of like the way every person who visits me first gets lost because they can’t tell my house apart from the next. I’ve told them we have beige stone (not the grey) and a three-gable style (versus two) and that we’re second house from the corner, but it’s no use.

“The houses all look the same,” one friend pointed out. “Only way I found your place is because I recognized your car. It’s the only black Protégé on the whole street!”

Thank god for Mazda.

Of course, every single person noticed the three-story, bright yellow, red-shuttered house down the street. You can’t miss it. It stands out proudly amongst the beige and grey stone and draws the eye before you can say sunshine.

Some people like the house. (It’s fun and fresh.) Some don’t. (It’s pretty garish.) But whether they like the house color or not doesn’t matter.

What matters is that every single person notices that yellow house because it’s different.

And no one forgets it.

I’ve even overheard someone using that home as a point of reference to give directions. “We’re to the left of the yellow house with the red shutters.” (I winced. Imagine if you had to point out someone else’s specialness because you had none.)

All this talk of houses comes down to one thing: If you want clients and customers to notice you, then your business, your branding and your website need to stand out on the web, just like that yellow house stands out on the street.

Your business should look different. Your branding should be memorable and remarkable. Your website should be bright, stunning, and full of wow.

Just imagine. Imagine what you could achieve if your website was the best looking site on the web. If it was stunning and memorable. If it drew eyes and comments and attention. If it stood out as different, credible, better.

Imagine the results you’d get if by looks alone, your website pulled in customers hand over fist.

After all, it makes sense. The way people perceive you is in direct proportion to your results and success. And if visitors think your website is plain, subtle, or nothing special… well, those are the kind of results you’ll get.

Plain. Subtle. Nothing special. Like any other house on the street.

Is that really what you want?

Tired of having web looks that don’t get enough results – or enough customers? Contact us today. We know how to create the detailing that counts, put the wow in your website and help you skyrocket your sales.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Hey, congratulations! John is a lucky, lucky guy. 🙂

    Also, I’m with you on websites — I’ve come across way too many blogs that use the default WordPress or Blogger theme. I get that it’s tough to “redecorate” … but an eye-catching design really does make a different (even for folks like me, who claim to be more interested in words than pretty pictures ;-))


    • The ones that get me are those where people have paid someone to “design” their site… but it’s some white, minimalist thing that you can’t tell apart from the next white minimalist thing… sigh.

      (And I agree! John IS lucky! *preens*)

  2. James and John sitting in the tress, k-i-s-s-ing. (sorry couldn’t resist)

    Who wouldn’t want a spiffy new website? I know I do.

    But for the moment I am happy to have one or two unique features. Just like those houses that are remembered for there coloured doors.

    Because we have to start somewhere


  3. Design sure does make a difference! And it’s certainly something I aim for when I have more capital to “renovate” 🙂

  4. Congrats on the new beau and new house!

    Your story reminds me of a place I once visited in Florida. Just East of Orlando is a town called Bithlo. It’s known as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” because 1) it’s a scary redneck town and 2) if you go further East, you end up in Christmas, FL (where everyone mails their Christmas cards).

    Directions to anything in Bithlo involve “the crane.” There’s this giant crane that you can see from anywhere in town. So it’s “Pass the crane, take the 2nd left.”

    Also, a friend of mine gave directions to her house by saying “Mine is the only house on the street that isn’t flying the Confederate flag.” And she wasn’t joking.

    • LOL, your story reminded me of how I learned forest trails (back in the day…) My boss would hand me a map and I’d blink at it a bit. Then he’d sigh and say, “Okay, there’s a white tree just before this left turn, and an old fencepost at that right turn. Go along for a bit until you see the house with the tin roof…”

      If I could see the landmarks in my mind, it was a no brainer.

      And likewise, I describe websites the same way. “Remember that green one with the black cat picture and the yellow box?”

  5. I’m from Levittown, NY – one of the first mass-produced suburbs – so I am all too familiar with cookie-cutter looking houses and, unfortunately, mediocrity in general. Luckily, some people (including my family) are beginning to expand on houses, repaint them, and make them a little more fresh and unique.

    For the most part, I think standing out is a good thing, especially if it reflects who you are. At the same time, doing things different just for the sake of being different can also backfire. It’s important that your uniqueness is authentic (and I believe everyone has something unique to offer, so this should apply to everyone).

    Now on the subject of website design – I think that is one of my blog’s strengths. Even though I actually use a free WP theme, I don’t see ANYONE ELSE use it, and it happens to fit well with my blog theme. Although recently I’ve been thinking about getting a redesign so its a little more “user friendly.” Randomly-changing colors sometimes pisses people off. 😉

    • Excellent point here – standing out just to stand out is a recipe for disaster and it can backfire badly. There has to be good reason for it, and that image has to support something beyond just getting noticed.

      That’s why your whole brand has to support your look – the way you write to clients, speak on the phone, carry out business… all part of bringing a good online presence together!

  6. Happy Ever After’s are the best. Congrats, you deserve the best.

    We live in a condo. Talk about everything being the same. The upside is the county tax adjuster recently went up and down the street and assumed we had one less bedroom and bath because that was what our neighbor’s house has. Shhhh don’t tell him. 🙂

  7. Oh James… how much you must love moving. hehe. Okay, let’s just say it together, “moving sucks”.

    Well, until it’s done, right?

    Glad you’re settled in. Is that picture your street? Maybe you should take a picture of that yellow house. I wrote a blog article way back when about a pink, yes that’s right, PINK house here in Vegas. Most everyone knows about it and it sticks out just like the one you mentioned in your post.

    About the web design, I totally agree with you on the whole sticking out thing. I know my blog REALLY needs to be updated, because it totally falls into the boring category.

    One thing though, there is something to be said about being extremely simple. The trick is making it stand out while not making it all confusing n stuff. But that’s why we have Men with Pens, right?

    • Moving sucks. Definitely. Needed a few weeks to recover. (And lots of Shiraz, but that’s another story…)

      Being simple is important. Cluttering a site with color and bling doesn’t do anything but create an eyesore. But done WELL, simple doesn’t have to mean a plain site with nothing that stands out!

      Oh, and feel free to come see us when you need that redesign… 🙂

  8. So speaking as someone with a site my own father described as “garish”… I totally get this. My design makes eyes pop… and sometimes bleed… thanks to the MwP crew.

    But the main thing it does is achieve BUSINESS RESULTS – that’s why y’all are awesome.

    • Your design is the perfect example. Everything was so carefully thought out for a very specific look, and it’s a design that’s brought you fantastic results (and changed your life, if I do say so myself!)

      What always makes me grin is when people refer to your site as reminding them of House… wasn’t that in your specs? 😉

  9. Congrats on all of the above James!

    Don’t worry about the house too much — you can always make that stand out one weekend when you’re so inclined. But I’ll bet of all the people on the block, yours is the *life* with the bright yellow paint and red shutters…

    Isn’t that what’s most important?


  10. I’ve redone the website a few times, and I’m about to tweak it some more. This time take it from the regular web to more of a blog template so I can update it more regularly. Make it interactive in a way. I’ve tried to make it stand out, yet be clean, offer good information, but there’s really no reason for anyone to come back more than a few times a year (if that, and only if they want to see info on upcoming books). My hope is to craft something that allows me to interact more with visitors and have regular updates and new reasons to come back. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

  11. I’m very lucky to share my life with a web designer, so I have a fantastic looking site that’s full of me. And I often get compliments on it.

    I know having a website is better than not having one, but with some of the sites I’ve seen around, I wonder why they bothered at all.

  12. James, you make a really good point. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The fact that will your site stand out from the crowd or blend in – is much, much more important than most people would like to believe.

    If you’re serious about your site, hire a designer. Really. I speak out of experience. I’ve spent countless sleepless nights trying to learn how to code and design a site for myself. Then I got really lucky. One web designer decided to give the design of his own site only to me. He was redesigning his site and didn’t need the old design anymore. I was blown away. The same design had been featured in most CSS galleries and was brought up almost every time when there was an article about hand drawn web design. I still use it.

    I know there’s not a single site on the entire internet that looks like mine, and I’m really proud of it. Sure, I must update the code myself, and take care of things myself when adding bits and pieces, but I’ll gladly do that. Actually the design eventually inspired me to create the content to the site, so apparently it can work that way too.

    Look for some designers that could help you in creating an unique site. Prepare to spend some cash, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be expensive. Just have a clear idea what you want to accomplish with the site. Keep it minimal if possible. Skip the ads. Really. If you have the visitors, then you can work out a proper deal with ads, that does not look like crap. Break the rules. Forget whats popular and “in” at the moment. Create something that doesn’t change the next month. Create something timeless. Just by thinking about your own thing and your site, you can pretty much create something one of a kind. Don’t copy others. Don’t steal just ideas, steal their attitude and bring the old ideas to new level.

    That’s just my double of cents, just trying to participate on my behalf in the conversation and try to help people out.


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