A Site Apart
Websites are much more than pieces of digital real estate. They're product brochures, information hubs, and vehicles for marketing. They can do a lot of things, simultaneously. But how does one separate themselves from the other hundreds of millions of sites published online?
Well, to start, much of it depends on you. You and your company are unique entities, so bring some of that to the Interwebs. Rather than follow the trends, become a trend-setter. Show the world your vision of the perfect representation of your business, organization, or service - in website format. Don't have the skills? Hire out. Don't have the funds? Use existing software. No software that matches your requirements. Learn to code. But do it.
While our vision is key to defining ourselves on the Web, creating the digital version of an identify isn't always possible. There are limitations, rules, and standards set forth that may slow your progress, and usually do. Luckily, there's something called branding, and more specific to this example, copywriting. While it would be nice to be able to execute any type of feature and structural layout for your site, when it comes to image, quality of content is often more important. In other words, what you say on your website is what your website says about you. And if it's good, it sells.
On the subject of selling, countless sites in almost any industry actually offer great content, and free too. But they're often short-lived since products and/or services aren't part of the equation. A consistent means for sustaining their current model isn't present - which can become cumbersome for website publishers from the very early stages. While we're all about minimalism, to remedy this, affiliate marketing is something beginners especially should consider; entry into associate programs costs nothing, they're quick to set up, and they convert well given contextual ads (whether text-based or graphical) are positioned well throughout their website.
Until recently, enterprise-level sites kind of sucked, for lack of a better word. They were powerful, utilizing the most advanced and complex on-premise software, but they were missing a vital component - that being user-friendliness. They presented everything they had to offer in a structured way, but links were broken, related content was arid, and community was not part of their vocabulary. With recent upgrades, their assets have moved to the cloud, mobile-responsiveness is supported, and most importantly, they put the visitor/customer first - or at least more so than in previous iterations of their website.
Unbeknown to most people, the majority of the above-mentioned changes were influenced by individual bloggers and e-commerce store owners who simply listened to their audience (and, consequently, had tremendous success given their current resources). Many of these independently-published sites were even acquired by billion-dollar corporations for the purpose of eliminating the growing competition.