Of course, Craigslist is waiting for the old school trend to return!
Same Old, Same Old!
Craigslist may be an exception, but for all other web sites, you may find a few menu items on top right followed by a HUGE rotating image (or low-res video) covering your entire screen, a catchy punchline and a BIG action button. Look under the image, you will find multiple (grid based) sections, most probably another large image and finally, a big fat footer. This is what we call a template and it seems this is the ONLY template available at the present time.
That’s a Good Thing, Isn’t It? Consistent look and feel, consistent behavior, easy to develop and super easy for the users to locate website content and features!
Buy One, Get One!
We don’t “design” websites anymore, we just pick one. The term web designer can now be defined as a developer with a color palette. A modern designer must have an eye for the best web template available for a specific client. If you are able to find a suitable template for all your clients, congratulations, you are a Designer!
Super Consistent Approach
Consistent look and feel is critical for a company’s website and applications. However, it seems now we are making the entire internet consistent.
The question is, should we really be looking for the uniqueness among websites or should we only focus on the consistent look and feel (AKA selecting the most popular template)?
The answer is the most boring one: it depends! Needless to say, if you are on a limited budget/resources, go for it. But if you can afford, do invest in custom design. However, even if you hire a team of (talented) designers and developers for custom design, be aware of the following two outcomes:
- It is very much possible that your “custom design” will end up looking exactly like one of the templates available.
- You will have such a unique custom design; it will be unusable for most of your users. It will rather be categorized as “experimental” design. Keep in mind, there is a very fine line between unique effective design and not so user friendly experimental design.
Take as Prescribed
Templates/themes in general would give you best result if used as is. For your template/theme to work seamlessly with all the plug-ins and add-ons, you must keep your customizations to the minimum. This is where it gets frustrating for designers, they work with the layout provided by the template and try to “fit” clients content in, rather than designing a layout specifically for the client’s content. For an example, Hamburger menu may not be needed, but designers will use it regardless.
Phones Deserve Better (Including Samsung)
The problem is even worst on mobile site designs. Other than the company logo, most of them look identical when it comes to general layout, interaction etc. Again, it may be great for the users but the generic template based design does not always represent a company or brand.
Of course, there are too many valid reasons for the generic design for all, but end of the day, it gets boring. At some point, users will start appreciating the diverse and creative design thinking and that is when companies and designers may have to rethink the entire generic and bulk design process.