When new design style or interaction pattern is developed it will spread across the internet faster than the Millennium Falcon jumping into hyperspace. A few years ago it was homepage carousels, now it is the hamburger menu, parallax scrolling effects, and the card UI. Carried away by the excitement of a new interaction pattern, companies copy it without stopping to think deeply about their own customer’s experience (CX). Cloning someone else’s design is seductive because it is so much easier than doing your own research and figuring out your own solution. Good CX requires that you spend time understanding how the design will affect your customers.
Some aspects of ubiquitous design elements are beneficial for customers. Consistent placement of logos, search, and navigation elements mean that customers don’t need to learn entirely new paradigms every time they show up on a new web page. It is wise for sites to leverage standards that have a proven track record and are known to work for their customers.
It is important to recognize when an element is a known standard and when it is just a hot, new trend. Exciting new styles can be a great thing if you are a trendy design agency and want to demonstrate that you understand what is current on the web. However, you need to be careful to avoid the bandwagon effect. Often, these trends have not been properly tested with the audiences they are supposed to serve, let alone your specific audience. It is critical that you know your audience and make sure that you test new ideas with your customers before you unleash them. Do not subject your audiences to a cloned experience. There is no substitute for deep customer empathy.
May the Force be with you,