Know your key function
By defining the functionality and the goals of your new website you’re not only working for your marketing positioning, but also setting one of the most important features for your team of designers and developers. This will bring clarity in establishing a technological and visual approach and prepare the ground for the further web design features. What is the major purpose of your website, what would you like your users to do when visiting?
References – the best from the web
The key here is to make clear by each reference what exactly you point at – what specific features appeal to you. Take a look around and get inspired by sites and apps across the web – don’t restrict yourself only to your competitors. Yes, it’s important to know what they’re at, but keep in mind that it’s completely normal and even recommended to look at websites of other business areas – this will enlighten you with new approaches that might be applicable and solve some of the technical issues (for example related to the website functionalities) faced by your team.
Don’t neglect the other business areas
This can also give you a fresh look over the style you have, no matter if you already have one established by a professional agency (time passes, sometimes updates are needed), or you’re in a process of developing one.
Every designer would be very grateful if you provide them with as many references as possible (but remember to point out the best one for you) – this is the only way for the creative team to sense your way of thinking – not only visually, but functionally. So don’t worry if you’re in the restaurants business, but have a sparkle with that beauty shop website – give it a go and feel free to refer to it.
It might be also misleading when clients are only providing examples of their competitors because the reference is meant to let the team know about the taste, the features and the details that move the client. Very often they get confused by examples that don’t match the description given in the brief or certain elements, described by the client, just because the competitors approach is not related to them at all.
Feel free to look at examples, provided by your web designer – just to get an idea. You can always reject, but why restrict yourself?