Web Design, Art, and Making Things Look Different When People Want Them to Look the Same

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As I sit here looking at my portfolio, one thing stands out to me – I’ve done a great job of diversifying my work. Over the last five years I’ve made a lot of websites and I’m proud to say that none of them look the same.

In this templatized world there are so many websites that are nearly identical. From a technical standpoint, templates make sense – it’s easier to modify than to build from scratch. While my websites may not look the same, I’ve used plenty of WordPress and Webflow templates and undoubtedly there are other sites on the web that are nearly identical.

But from an artistic standpoint, I hate the thought of giving two or more of my clients the same look and feel for the web presence. Especially if there is proximity – competing businesses, geographically-close organizations, or overlapping social networks. I don’t want any of my clients to get feedback that their site looks like somebody else’s. I know I wouldn’t like that if it happened to me.

So when a client was browsing my portfolio and asked me to make something that looked like one of my existing designs, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel – I’m glad to have their business and I want to deliver a site that meets their needs, wants, and expectations. But as an artist, how can I differentiate the two sites from each other?

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Too similar? Different enough? I’m conflicted. I’ve only been working on the latest project for a day so I’m sure I’ll continue to find ways to make them different *enough* artistically, but I want to be sure that my client’s vision is brought into reality.

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