The Tragedy that is Generica


Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, I remember family vacations, most notably the subtle differences that would greet me in each city we visited. Like how Standard Oil was called "Sohio" in Ohio but "Boron" in Michigan. Or how each state seemed to be blessed with its own distinct telephone company, Florida's Southern Bell being my particular favorite. And the restaurants, like Dutch Pantry, Royal Castle, Burger Chef, Arthur Treacher's Fish 'n Chips or Howard Johnson's which although were franchises, were sufficiently regionally isolated so as to signify "we're not in Kansas anymore" to me.

Alas how times have changed! I remember my first warning shot. A 1970 visit to a Lum's restaurant in Michigan, by the Summer of '71 it has transformed into a Wendy's. Sohio and Boron had all dissolved into Amoco stations by the 1980's, and are today BP. The Savings and Loan where I saved my lawn mowing money is now a branch of JPMorgan Chase. To be sure, other colorful names have fallen prey to the same inexorable trend -- Deusenberg, Remington-Rand, Ipana to name a few -- gone and mostly forgotten.

So how does this apply to website design? That connection is easy. For a corporate citizen to make an initial foray into the online world, there is a great temptation to use a template or an instant website service that will get you a running website in a matter or minutes -- maybe an hour or two max, and at a comparatively trivial cost. Problem is, these instant websites are nothing more than what you've put into them; a cookie cutter copy of every other site that was made from the same template. Search engines are wise to this kind of site, after encountering five or six hundred clones of the same thing, they may severely penalize every subsequent clone, if they even bother to index them in the first place.

Strive for novelty and originality. Don't settle for an online presence that tells your visitors that you're just like the last ten sites they've visited. Give them a reason to talk about you, to come back, and, of course, to buy your stuff!