K.I.S.S.Of course you want your site to stand out from your competition, but what exactly does it mean to 'stand out'? Dancing penguins in lighted vests would certainly be unique. Perhaps a fluorescent green background with red letters scrolling left to right would be captivating. Hey, how about Freebird plays with each page load? Rest assured any of these solutions would get you remembered, but would it be for the right reasons? Would it compel your visitors to dig deeper into your site? Would these gimmicks relay the message and purpose of your site? Are visitors going to pass it along to their friends? Welllll, probably not on any of the above. When you design your site, you need to keep focus on the message and intent of your site. Have fun with the design, but remember your purpose - to drive sales or convey your message. This is our philosophy, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid).
I'm not here to say that your site needs to resemble a single-line, five-page economics essay format. Throw some photos in there. Splash some color. Use captivating fonts (sparingly). Express yourself, but remember you are not your audience. You are designing to appeal to the masses. Too much artsy-fartsy is going to convolute your message and leave visitors confused. The imagery, fonts and colors that you use should complement your business model/logo. A clown website can use purple Comic Sans font, though we despise that font ... urghh, whereas an attorney could not. An aquarium exhibit might get away with the vested penguin, but you wouldn't associate that with a site for computer repair.
When you sit down with your designer, and we hope it's us, your number one focus should be relaying your message in a concise manner that drives traffic and encourages your visitors to dig deeper into your site. Your site should be constructed to be SEO compliant and definitely mobile friendly. The message that you're trying to convey is your number one priority, NOT how many flashing, obnoxious bling-blings you can cram into five pages. Many times we have to ground clients who come in with extravagant ideas that look good on paper, but serve no purpose to further their message. It can be discouraging, but when they look at the big picture - the PURPOSE of the site - they invariably (and sometimes reluctantly) agree, but are always satisfied with the outcome when the inquiries start coming in and the phone starts ringing.