ashley rocha creative director

education

Why Do Websites Look the Same?

MAy 22, 2017

You know the look–large, full-width background image with a slight color tint and overlaid text. Scroll below the fold to find a short block of copy and the obligatory icon call outs. It’s a clean look that functions well when the right design sensibility is applied, but it doesn’t feel unique by any means. It’s played out and lacking a unique personality, perspective and aesthetic.

So, why do so many modern websites have such a similar layout and style?

There are two reasons: Bootstrap & Templates

Bootstrap

Why Bootstrap? Websites must work and look good on mobile. Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS and JavaScript framework for developing responsive, mobile-first websites. It’s the best tool a web developer has to create smooth, responsive websites.

Here’s how it works. You design to the Bootstrap grid, and then use Bootstrap ready classes when coding to bring the site to life. When designed and coded properly, Bootstrap sites work seamlessly across all devices. Bootstrap comes with in-built icons, buttons and UI elements that you can quickly drop into a project. That leads to clone effect if a designer uses the default CSS styles provided. It’s not surprising that a common style has emerged.

The Bootstrap style is the Web 2.0 of this era. Gone are the days of drop shadows, glossy buttons and spiffy 3D effects. The current style uses flat buttons, broad areas of flat color and full bleed photography. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then the current web design trend is a definite reaction to the 3D glossiness of the Web 2.0 aesthetic.

Templates

Often called “themes,” templates are a visual skin for your WordPress site or a Squarespace module that you fill in.

Designers with no development knowledge can purchase pre-designed templates (or find free ones) and create websites. If they lack coding skills, designers are restricted to the layout provided and end up with the exact same layout as hundreds or thousands of other sites. For a designer, that really goes against their DNA. No one became a designer only to be forced to use other people’s designs. But it’s not the designers’ fault. It’s a lack of the right tools.

Designing Around the Web, Not For It

Web design isn’t as developed as other design mediums, such as illustration, branding and print design. Web design was only born in the 1990s. Many “traditional” graphic designers did not study design for the web in the same way they learned other design applications. Web design has really been an afterthought for graphic designers.

A lot of graphic designers view websites as a holding device for the actual design or content. We have tools to create whatever custom art we want for the content, but we have not had the ability to completely design for the web–unless you’ve spent considerable time learning code or have a developer to rely on. As such, we have been designing around the web, not for it.

But, at some point, most designers have to design for the web. Finding a nice template has been good enough for some projects. Because it had to be. Many designers may not even realize how much their website looks like others. If they do, there hasn’t been much they can do about it.

Until now.

A New Era of Web Design

Luckily, we’re at an inflection point in web design. Technology has matured and is no longer a barrier to non-technical creativity.

The Brandcast Design Studio is the industry’s first code-free web design platform that meets the needs of professional designers. The platform makes it possible for ALL designers to create brilliant design-first websites that stay true to their original vision.

Brandcast combines ease of use with complete creative freedom and precision. Intuitively move elements around the screen like in any print design program and clean code is created in the backend that you don’t have to touch or see. There’s no generic templates. Instead, there’s a complete visual interface, pixel-level control, real-time collaboration and one-click publishing. All of this enables quality design execution that can be fast enough to meet the demands of the market.

Web design has reached this new level just in time. Brands and consumers now demand memorable, responsive websites. With Brandcast, designers are empowered to create websites that reflect their true visions and differentiate the digital experiences of the brands they work on.

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