Website Design PT4: Competition in a Digital World

Shift CollaborativeWeb Design


In creating an event website for the SEPG North America Conference, we researched what features other event websites were implementing.

by Therese Joseph, Shift PR Fellow

Just as technology is advancing the way we do business, so it is also advancing who we are competing against.  In order to retain your competitive edge in the digital landscape, you need to be aware of who your new competitors are and how you are measuring up against your competition.

Who are your competitors?

Competition is a major part of doing business.  It always has been.  However, when you enter into the digital landscape of social media and websites, your competition is no longer limited to other businesses in your industry.  When one of your customers is on your website, they are looking at more than just the services you provide in comparison to other industry competitors.  They are also looking at how your website compares to every other website they’ve been on.  And because your customers are making these comparisons, it means your competition just grew a bit wider.

Industry competitors

These are the people you are accustomed to competing against.  You know who they are.  Your competition extends into the digital world whether they are there or not.  If they’re not, all the better. Get there first!

Amazing, user-friendly websites

In the mind of your customers, these websites are the easiest to use and navigate.  Their questions are answered before they ask. Information is always located exactly where they expect to find it.  It can include companies like Google, Facebook, and more.  The secret behind these websites are their user-centered approach to designing their website.  To learn more about that approach, check out our previous article, Website Design: You Have Users.

How do I compare to my competition?

The easiest way to find this out is to check out what your competitors are doing and then compare with yourself.  This is often called competitive benchmarking.  Competitive benchmarking allows you to look out into the world and see what others are doing.  This provides you with two important pieces of information:

1//  What everyone is else doing that your not.  In order to stay competitive with your competition you  need to be aware of where you are falling behind.

2//  What everyone else is not doing that you are.  This outcome has two possibilities, depending on circumstances.  It can either mean you are wasting time and money towards something that is not worth it.  Or it could mean that you have the competitive advantage over your competition, and this is an area where you can invest to completely blow everyone else away.

What should I compare between websites?

Again, this can vary specifically between industries and business-types.  You have to decide what are the most important comparisons to make for your business.  Comparisons in a competitive benchmarking study can range from how the information is organized to the amount of time or clicks it takes to complete a task to comparing interesting features on each website.  To make an informed decision on what to compare, you should have previously considered the needs of your users and reviewed the existing state of your website.

Remember that in competitive benchmarking you could be looking at good and/or bad examples.  Don’t adopt everything you see until you’ve figure out whether their solution would help or hurt you.

Our Previous Posts…

This post was the fourth and final post in a series of posts on website design being published this month.  If you missed our first post, Website Design PT1: 5 Wrong Assumptions, check it out to learn about 5 common assumptions about website design that couldn’t be more wrong.  Our second post, Website Design PT2: You Have Users discusses the concept of users over online audience, and how understanding users can help you create a more effective website.  Our third post, Web Design PT3: Learning from Your Mistakes explains how to analyze your current website for how it does/does not meet the needs of your users.