I recently Tweeted the following:
Stop obsessing over your competitors. Make the best game you can, have fun doing it, and let THEM worry about you.
and I wanted to take a moment to reinforce that <140 character rant.
Why is everyone trying so hard to copy everyone else? We spend meetings pouring over how other websites display their information, setup their account structures, implement their systems and I have to say, just because that’s the way someone else is doing it, doesn’t make that the right way for you to do it.
Sure if you want to let the big companies spend bazillions of dollars on market research, focus groups, heat maps, design panels and all that, go ahead and let them throw their money away. Some of the best customer oriented interfaces come from unexpected places like little indie sites that simply cater to clean design.
Know your audience, really truly understand them by being IN that audience. You’re not going to learn anything from hiding backstage and throwing set pieces and actors out into the spotlight in the hopes that something magical happens. Your audience will be confused, frustrated and predictably disappointed. Be in that audience and look to the stage – what needs to happen up there for everyone in that audience to leave the show talking about how wonderful it was and that’s how it should be done. (or better yet, never leave the show – but that breaks the metaphor)
And guess what? What you do and what your competition does do not and should not match. I disagree with the idea that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. It just shows you’re not unique, you’re not paying attention to what makes you and your audience special, you’re simply echoing the actions of another, and we all know that an echo always pales in comparison to the original voice.
Be that original voice.