Anyone who plans to build a website for his products or services aims for differentiation. We, as human beings, strive to feel unique. In so many senses, we are. There are plenty of nuances: from our culture to our backgrounds, from our experiences to our families, from our way of looking at the world to our approach to raising kids. Beauty lies, indeed, in diversity.
In 1980, Snyder & Fromkin, two writers and psychologists whose names have an echo among folks interested in the concept of uniqueness(they even invented a scale for measuring it), came up with something labeled as The Theory of Uniqueness.
Uniqueness theory deals with people’s emotional and behavioral reactions to information about their similarity to others. According to the theory, people find high levels of similarity and dissimilarity unpleasant and therefore seek to be moderately distinct from others. via
We tend to compare ourselves with others based on various attributes, such as personality traits, status, even opinions, and physical characteristics.
Sometimes, if we feel too alike in multiple areas, we experience threatening. We need to tango between being somehow similar, which comes with a comforting feeling of familiarity as well as being distinct, making us feel special.
This need translates as well in the digital realm. Each picture we share, article we publish, or Youtube video we distribute is a means to put ourselves out there to showcase our unique experiences, perspectives, or simply the things that match who we are.
Of course, all of these taken individually are not unique. Many other people went to the exact place, read the same posts, or listened to the same music. However, we experience them differently. It’s almost impossible to grasp precisely, in the same way, our adventures or interests; therefore, we distinguish ourselves from the pack.
The same is applied when it comes to building a website for yourself or your business. You look around at various examples, create a mental list of the elements, colors, shapes, and ideas from all over the Internet and map out an image of what might make you stand out.
One of the main challenges is that, at least with WordPress, the search begins with finding a theme that serves your vision.
How can something prebuilt (that many other people buy) make you feel special and get the right kind of attention?
Yes, it might check many if not all the boxes you have in mind, but the challenge still stands—can something predesigned make you shine?
Before jumping to specific examples of businesses from the same industry that have websites made with the same WordPress theme but look highly different (thus, your uniqueness is safe and sound), let me put some ducks in a row within the WordPress ecosystem. It’s essential to have a broader understanding to make the best decisions.
🦆 WordPress theme demos are a blessing and a curse
Some time ago, we ran several customer interview sessions. For a few months, we scheduled calls to determine their decision process when choosing a WordPress theme.
We had our fair share of data gathered along the way, our gut feeling was sharp, but it felt like a wise idea to find out their truth.
During the conversations, most of our customers were loud and clear that the demo highly influenced their final decision. They looked at the demo first, then the features and the price. One crucial need they wanted to fulfill was finding a theme demo as close as possible to their desired outcome. Folks already had in mind a crystal clear result. If the demo was too far from what they planned to achieve, they would have to dig deeper.
There was a catch. Looking at the demo was the equivalent of I want it exactly the same. Which, I admit, can feel honorable. We managed to match our product precisely with the needs of our customers, but it’s not cool at all mainly because the demo is, well, just a demo.
We thought people would treat it like a canvas, a starting point to get going with ease. We knew that we offered far more and expected customers to take advantage of this creative freedom. We built a playground to put together a website that made them stand out from the crowd.
It turned out customers did not have the time, energy, or mental bandwidth to imagine things. They wanted the dish already cooked, not just the ingredients. On top of that, they aimed for something unique, special, built for them. Oh well, we felt like complexity was only increasing.
The apparent conclusion seems to be that having as many ready-made dishes available (as in the case of multipurpose WordPress themes) is the answer to achieving uniqueness, right? Not quite.
We designed a container with everything you need to create and run a website safely and efficiently.
🦆🦆 Niche WordPress themes are the real solution
There’s no news that we’ve been creating WordPress themes that solve particular pains. We’ve been believers in developing products for specific niches that have the power to help creatives (food bloggers, travelers, photographers, videographers, small business owners, etc.) get the job done and focus on what they love most.
We created Rosa2 for restaurants and coffee shops. We developed features that bring real added value for those running a bistro, a taverna, a gourmet family business, you name it. We designed a menu that’s easy to create, highlights the best dishes by the blink of an eye, and does not require effort to maintain it in the long haul. The same is valid for a handy reservation form in tune with the overall visual mojo of the theme. Or the stylization of the WooCommerce add-on to provide a coherent digital experience if you plan on selling online.
We designed a container with everything you need to create and run a website safely and efficiently. Internally, we refer to this approach as Decisions, not options. It is our mantra in everything we build.
Of course, choosing a multipurpose theme (aka one that claims to fit almost any need) can seem like the best option if you want to be truly unique. Since it’s adaptable to nearly anything and you can cherry-pick what you like from each niche, you surely have the best chances of making it your own, right?
Every business has its own branding, font family, color palette, storytelling, logo, and photos that create its unique personality and style.
The problem is that when you buy something that can do “everything,” it almost always means that it can do most things average. It’s a hustle to get it to work and navigate through the multitude of settings and options that you need to dial up and down. A job surely not pleasant nor easy if you don’t have solid design or coding skills.
Here’s an example—think about a swiss knife. It can be many things: a knife, screwdriver, can opener, bottle opener, scissor, and so on. So, how come we don’t just have one around the house and get rid of those many other items it replaces? I think it’s because, although it can do a lot of things, bringing it to work is not easy (how many of us lost fingernails trying to pull out the knife?) and the way it’s built (thick, not ergonomic, small for some jobs but too big for others) makes doing a single task more complicated.
The same is true with themes that promise it all. Since they want to please everyone, they do it at the expense of your time and frustration for how complicated it is to maneuver and get it to simply work.
You could say that too many people using the same niche theme (like Rosa2—our restaurant WordPress theme) will lead to similar websites. In the end, there are around 14K+ folks around the world who spent their money on this WordPress product alone.
How could they even possibly differentiate themselves? It’s the same chassis that supports everything. How many times can you reimagine it?
Well, I would dare to say that such a perspective does not reflect reality.
On the one hand, every business has its own branding, font family, color palette, storytelling, logo, and photos that create its unique personality and style. You cannot (and should not) copycat others, nor can you aim to achieve the same look and feel. It’s just a useless concern to carry on your chest. Let it go.
On the other one, who’s to say that you need to fit within the bounds of its initial layout? We noticed first-hand how customers take Rosa2 to the next level and make it shine on their terms. Since the theme is built on the new block editor, the freedom that comes with that demonstrated that people can constantly surprise us with the combination of blocks used on their website.
With these two takeaways in mind, I want to walk you through a few drooling food businesses within the same industry—restaurants. All of them use Rosa2, our flagship product, to present their work, products, services, philosophy, and team in a unique way.
They all started from the same demo and niche product and made a little extra effort to detach from it and adjust the WordPress theme to their personality and context.
It’s not about custom work, hiring designers or developers, nor it’s about spending countless hours in forums about website creation. All you will see it’s just a combination of the tools we offered out of the box and their mojo added into the mix.
You are a drop in the ocean, and to make ripples and keep momentum, you need to amplify your uniqueness in a sustainable manner.
Images and fonts can set you apart in a meaningful way
Often, when you want to build a website, you bend your mind to find the right ways to differentiate yourself. But in most cases, there’s a simple answer: choosing the right photos and fonts representing your business. Take the two examples below.
One of our clients is Bistro Biocity from Germany who welcomes its visitors with the screen below:
Without even reading about the ingredients used, their philosophy, or way of going things, you instantly understand the kind of meals they serve: healthy, rich in vegetables, balanced, full of nutrients.
Their choice of fonts provides hints on how they want to be perceived—modern, professional, set in doing things a certain way but playful and fun to be around. It doesn’t take long to scroll and see the same unique elements repeated with each block added to the page.
Now, let’s take a look at another website by our client Modesto from Denver, US:
By looking at the first image, you instantly feel the type of place Modesto is: fun, family and friends friendly, a place where you can eat great food, laugh out loud, and have a great time among a welcoming staff. You will feel comfortable the minute you walk in.
The font choice is also on point—it’s in line with the logo displayed at the top and overall vibe—loose, chill, relaxed, fun.
As you can see, even though both websites have a similar approach to the homepage, the things that set them apart make you overlook the fact that they (in essence) use the same WordPress editor blocks from Rosa2: the Hero of the Galaxy.
Even though the structure is similar (big background image with text on top), by adapting the fonts and images to who they are, these businesses manage to differentiate and communicate their unique way of doing things.
Colors and a bit of creativity can show your uniqueness
You might think that almost all restaurants need to display their menu online—and since it’s the same feature used by all customers who purchase Rosa2, the menus will look the same.
This is not true in the slightest. Although you get the same Food Menu block, adding your unique dishes can make room for a lot of creativity.
To illustrate my point, I’ve chosen Modesto’s website once again. Take a look at their menu:
The great choice of fonts instantly sets them apart and makes them unique. Combined with the background color, their menu gets even more pleasing to the eyes.
Besides that, with a bit of creativity, they created a colored marking system that highlights various details about their food. With a single glance, you can see which dishes are Gluten Free (marked GF), Vegetarian (marked with a V), or Gluten Free Upon Request (GFR).
Now let’s look at another customer—this time is Spice Room from Denver, US.
Honestly, at first glance, it’s hard to think that both Spice Room and Modesto use the same editor block at the core. The difference is almost palpable.
Spice Room nailed the font choices, while the color combination and the highlights for certain food items make it easy to scan the menu.
Another great way they stand out is by using a list of icons to signal various specifications about the food they serve.
With the help of a legend at the top, you can quickly skim through the menu and choose an item that matches your taste. Let’s say you are vegetarian—you don’t have to read all the ingredients to understand which is which. All you have to do is scan for the corresponding icon.
As you can see, with a bit of imagination, both businesses managed to use the same feature from Rosa2 to present their menu in a unique way and set themselves apart.
When it comes to the digital world, things come with higher stakes. We not only make comparisons with our colleagues, neighbors, family members but with the world out there.
Your website is no longer something to brag about within your local community or to put it down on your business card. It gained far more meaning. It’s on the world-wide-web, it’s searchable, it’s shared on social media, it’s linked, it’s part of a spiderweb. It has a bigger role in your business success, however you want to define it.
So yeah, having the strong desire to build a website different and truly yours makes perfect sense, especially in the crowded digital field. The truth is that you are a drop in the ocean, and to make ripples and keep momentum, you need to amplify your uniqueness in a sustainable manner. This could mean to make a step further and put more of you out there. It might be enough.