Earlier this year, freelance web designer Dave Ellis (based in West Yorkshire, England) noted a similarity with many of today’s websites: they all look similar. Strikingly similar. He created a generic, wireframe template (pictured below) that anyone in the marketing industry would recognize. I’m sure some of us are even guilty of creating this same layout for client sites. The post went viral, and many accused web designers of copycatting.
I have no doubt you’ve also seen a website that looks exactly like the template below. You’ll even notice elements from that template on Salty Key, even though I built this site from scratch. So what gives? Are we all just imitating each other?
I will argue that a number of factors have led us to “design convergence” and created an entire galaxy of clone websites. Are some designers just lazy? You bet. But if we begin to address the circumstances that got us into this mess, maybe it’ll lead to more imaginative web design in the future.
It’s a rough time for marketers in the digital age. Ad-blocking software has resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue, leaving companies struggling to market themselves with radio and print media in steep decline. Even cable TV subscriptions are beginning to nosedive.
Consumers have always resisted advertising. Over 200 million numbers have been registered for the FTC’s do-not-call list to avoid telemarketers (which we’ll discuss later). People will prerecord television programs to skip commercials, and they’d rather listen to Pandora or their iPods than radio ads. People just hate ads.
So how can it be advertisers fault when people are inclined to dislike ads? Advertisers are responsible for driving Internet users to the point of insanity, and every “solution” they propose just makes the relationship worse.