If you run a website, then you will no doubt be familiar with the way you can get quite protective over your creation. Often you will feel almost fatherly (or motherly) to your site and want the best for it not only because you want to make money, but also because you are genuinely proud of it.
As such then, it can be a rather upsetting experience when you find your site is getting bullied by another one. When a new site crops up on your turf and starts steeling your visitors and making your site look bad, it can be quite hurtful and you might find yourself bristling and getting ready to meet the website’s parents for some stern words.
Before you get too up in arms though, note that a little competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Actually, having a rival spring up can sometimes be almost a good thing, as it can provide you with a great learning opportunity and push you to become better. Competition breeds progress, so here’s how to learn…
Take a Look Around
The first thing you need to do is to get behind enemy lines. Head over to the offending site, and examine exactly the way they do things so that you know precisely what you’re up against. In most cases, the site will do a few key things differently to you, so try to identify what those things are and whether or not they’re worth learning from. What works and what doesn’t, and which particular elements might you want to borrow?
What’s important here though is to understand the difference between taking cues and inspiration versus copying or steeling. It won’t pay for you to head to the site and simply start lifting elements that you’re a fan of, because that will only blur the distinction between your two sites and take away your USP. There’s no point in becoming a carbon copy, because you’ll end up being just a cheap imitation.
Things you might borrow from the competition though could include elements such as menu items or colourings that work well within your niche, or perhaps features such a ‘links page’. Keep your own distinct style, but don’t be one-upped.
Find Ways to Improve
As well as finding things that you like on the site, you should also look for things that you don’t like and that perhaps aren’t as impressive as you would like them to be. These will be the ways in which you can potentially seek to differentiate yourself and offer something additional to the competition. If for instance their articles are generally quite short, then perhaps offering longer and more detailed articles could be how you set yourself apart? If they use a very simple and linear navigation, then perhaps you could try to make yours more complex and interesting to create the illusion of having more content. Find their weak points, then hit them where it hurts.
As well as web design, you can also learn a great deal about promotion from your competition. One way to do this is simply to look for all the links that they have built for their site around the web. If you can find all the blogs and other places that they have posted their links, then you can find new promotional opportunities for yourself as a result.
The trick is then to keep an eye on your competition so that you can stay one step ahead. Just don’t lose your sense of identity in the process.
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Today’s contributor, Jackson Mosby, is an employee at Webfirm, a leading mobile website design company. Jackson loves to go on road-trips with his friends on weekends.