When you’re starting out on a new website with Roundpeg, we kick off with a few brainstorming activities. These help us understand your needs, wants, likes and dislikes, etc. While most of them are a breeze, one request seems seems to be a frequent hang-up. During kick-off, we’ll ask you to “make a list of websites you like.” I get blank stares a lot from small business owners on this one.

Sometimes they say, “Well, I don’t look at a lot of websites.” Which is totally fine, actually. Running your business is arguably more important than surfing the Internet. And when you do comparisons of other local competition, the website may not be as high on your list as price, response time or quality. But you should be looking at their site and looking to develop your opinion.

Your opinion about other sites gives me a better idea of what you like. It helps us pick out possible trends and choose a direction for your web design. We’ll learn from your competitors’ mistakes and pick out the bits you want to emulate. Take a little time today to visit three websites in your industry, competitors or not, and take a couple a notes. That way, your web designer won’t have to draw that opinion out of you on the spot.

At this point you might ask, “How am I supposed to even know if I like a web design? You’re the expert.”

How To Even Know If You Like A Web Design

When you first load up the website, does it make your eyes bleed? No really. If your first impression is bad, that website’s done. Our attention spans are so short online that a bad first impression amounts to a bad website. There are some notable exceptions like craigslist and other data-driven, function-first websites. But a website used for marketing needs to look and feel right.

Search your feelings, dude.

Emotions play a vital role in web design. They inform motivations and motivations lie under decisions. Your website is in the business of helping customers make decisions. If it triggers the wrong emotions, it won’t be effective. When you’re looking at other people’s websites, ask yourself: How do you feel about the website? Would you trust the people behind it? What does it make you want to do? If it’s a good website, you’ll feel good about taking action.

Test it!

Push all of the buttons. Click on the different features to see how they display pictures, how the blog works, and maybe discover the gee-whiz feature that you just gotta have too. Exploring other websites in your industry is a good way to see a range of different options.

Get your friends to take a look

We are influenced tremendously by our social circle. We like what they like. So get a friend, preferably a peer in the industry or even another competitor to look at sites with you. Get another pair of eyes and figure out what you like together.

By looking at your competitors’ sites, you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to keep up and maybe overtake them with your own. When it’s time to work on your own web design, bringing an opinion will make your web design decisions that much easier.