Why Doesn’t My Web Site Look Like the Demo Site?

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You’ve finally decided to update your web site and have even gotten approval and the funds available to do it – a very exciting time, to be sure. Whether you are working with a design professional or doing it yourself, there will come a point in the project where after selecting a design for the site, that you will start to build an actual site.

The demo sites always look gorgeous. Their layouts are generally very well thought out and the images are perfectly composed to maximize the impact of the design.

So why doesn’t the site look like that anymore once you start adding your own content?

The biggest reason we have seen over the years is photography. Demo sites (and this is true for themes you buy for WordPress or the site templates you see in tools like Wix or Squarespace or GoDaddy’s site builder tool) use professional photos in their layouts.

These photos are of very high quality and have been chosen to work perfectly in the available space within the site’s layout. Most organizations do not have access to this type of photography, at least not within their own photo libraries.

Stock photography is, of course, always an option. There are varying opinions out there as to whether its use is a “best practice” or not. And while that is a fine topic to debate in theory, in reality, stock photography is a resource that many organizations will utilize, especially on their web sites.

The problem is not finding attractive, subject-appropriate images, as there will be many for most industries available. The problem is often finding images that have the proper composition to work in the design selected.

The most difficult area to conquer in this regard is often the most visible – the “hero shot” or slideshow on a site’s home page. These images are often quite large on the page and demand high quality photos.

But, unless you are doing a photo only (no text) slideshow, finding an image that can also accommodate text overlaying it, gets hard. This is probably the number one reason we have seen for sites “not looking like the demo” as we work on them.

So how can you get the site to look more like the demo version?

Working with a designer can certainly help. Designers can advise you during the selection process if there are elements in your preferred layout that might prove challenging. They can also help you to find images (stock or your own) that work in the actual layout.

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Julie Friedman Bacchini is the president of Neptune Moon LLC, a full-service internet marketing and web design firm. She and her blog are regularly included in many top search marketing influencer lists. Julie has presented on topics such as web site experience, local search visibility and paid search both locally and at national industry conferences, including SMX East and PPC Hero. You can find Julie on Twitter @NeptuneMoon or reach her via email at info@neptunemoon.com or telephone at 484-341-8181.

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Top photo credit: Marc Wathieu WJ-S (Remix the web) via photopin (license)

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