At Imagine Monkey, we often get web design requests framed around imitating another company’s site. It’s understandable… people see something we like and, almost instantly, they think, “I need something like that!” All told, imitation isn’t a bad way to discover new things, expand your horizons and understand what is possible. But, like most things: there’s a time and a place for it.
We understand the urge to imitate a successful competitor… if they’re successful, it means they’re doing something right! And that’s true, however, right for one business is not always right for another. By imitating another site, you’re not positioning yourself as an opposing competitor, you’re casting yourself as a parallel competitor.
What is a parallel competitor and what does it have to do with my new website?
A parallel competitor, in this context, is one whose services, products, philosophy and goals are identical to their competition. By casting yourself as a parallel competitor, you’re failing to capitalize on your differences, on the things that make your company unique. You’re essentially saying, “Attracting new customers is less important than taking their customers.” In short: you’re appealing to a vastly smaller audience and, typically, one that has already decided where to spend their money.
Your website, like your business is a unique, one-of-a-kind entity. By hiding your differences inside familiar designs, you fail to appeal to the widest audience and, worse yet, you back your business into a corner that is already occupied. Besides, if you’re hiring a web designer to create your website, shouldn’t you aim for something that is distinctly, unmistakably yours?
Your custom website is exactly that: yours!
When you hire a designer to create a custom website, it’s okay to look at your competitors for inspiration. It’s okay to generate ideas based on what’s been successful in the past. The important thing, however, is what you and your designer do with these ideas. Rather than combining them, unmodified into a directionless Frankensite, look at how they fit in with your brand development. Ask yourself: how can I take what others have done and use it to highlight my small business’ unique characteristics?
At Imagine Monkey, that’s what we do! We don’t simply create custom sites, we look deep into the heart of every company and try to discover the driving philosophy that defines who they are. We want our sites to be built upon that philosophy. More than anything, we want to identify what makes your business special and use your site to present those special characteristics to the world.