The more competitive the industry, the greater the need for a business to stand out in order to succeed. In super-competitive industries, having solid content just isn’t enough anymore. These sites also need to work extremely hard and catch the eye of visitors right away using the latest design trends and ideas.
One good example of this comes from the world of online poker. The massive popularity of this card game in recent times means that there are now many sites jostling for the attention of players. What can we learn from the design tricks and tips that this level of competition has led to?
Online gaming has capitalized on strong design features to remain competitive.
Why and How Online Poker is Such a Competitive Sector
The game of poker has been around since it was first played in the US in the early 19th century, although it may be based on earlier card games from Persia and France. What is certain, though, is that during the majority of the long history of poker, games could only ever be played on a face-to-face basis.
That all changed at the end of the 20th century, though, as online poker sites began to attract huge numbers of players. Films based on poker, high-profile players, and televised big-money tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) have all helped to attract many new players to the virtual poker tables online.
It is impossible to say how many people currently play poker online or how much the industry is worth. Back in 2009, it was suggested that 40 million people around the world play poker, with 15 million of them playing online with real money at stake. This number is almost certainly far higher now, with some estimates reaching over 100 million players.
In terms of total revenue, there appear to have been few attempts to quantify the total money moved by this industry around the world. Back in 2004, it was reported that online poker revenue was some $1.4 billion. Around the same time, a figure of $2.4 billion was mentioned by other sources. Again, it seems safe to suggest that the current figure is higher.
We also have to take into account the fluctuating fortunes of different gambling markets, as new laws and suggested regulations from the American Gaming Association and elsewhere shape the industry in each country. Regardless of the exact figures, it is clear that this is a huge business that is now very important in the global economy.
The signs all point to this being an industry that will keep on growing as global interest in poker continues to expand. Part of the evidence for this is in the new poker sites that we see springing up in different countries. How do the designers of these sites attempt to stand out from the crowd and get their products noticed?
What Does This Mean for the Visuals on Poker Websites?
All of the previous points mean that there is now intense competition among poker sites. They all want to attract the new players that they know are looking for somewhere to play online. Since the game of poker is pretty much the same wherever it is played, there is little innovation in terms of gameplay that can be used to attract more players.
Therefore, these companies have decided to focus on producing eye-catching websites. They need to make a strong visual impact that makes first-time visitors want to hang around and play for a while.
What kind of features do they tend to have in common? Well, it is probably worth starting off by considering what players are looking for. In general, they want to play somewhere that is friendly and welcoming, but also exciting.
Players also need to instantly feel that they trust the site to play fair and look after their money for them. Overall, they want to feel as though they are joining a positive poker community where they can play without fear. They don’t want the cold, soulless feel of an online business, but rather a place to relax and feel at home.
It is important for poker sites to display a lot of information on them too. This includes how they are regulated, the types of game they offer (Texas Hold’Em, Caribbean Stud Poker, etc.), banking information, bonus details, and more. The challenge for website designers in this industry is to display all of the relevant details without confusing visitors with a wall of text for them to wade through on the homepage.
As for the color schemes, it is common to see simple black and white designs. This is probably seen as being a way to keep things simple and avoid confusing images that annoy or delay new players. Since red is considered by many to be a lucky color, especially in Asia, it is also widely seen on poker sites.
An example of how these design elements are pulled together can be seen at 888poker. This poker site has a simple but welcoming home page, with a group of card players pictured enjoying the excitement and emotion of a hand of poker. It also follows the typical poker website style of putting on a lot of useful information without it looking cramped.
What Can We Learn from This?
Can other types of online business learn something from the way that poker sites are designed? The main point to take away from this is that of understanding your market. You need to know what type of person is going to visit your site and what they are after.
Poker players don’t want brash websites, cartoon images, outrageous claims, or fancy video presentations. They want to open up a website that immediately feels familiar and that makes them feel that they would like to play a few games here among new friends.
These exact design tips and tricks don’t apply to every other industry. After all, they each have their own target audience to cater to. However, the core principles of understanding the market and delivering what the people want can be applied to just about any type of online business that you care to think of.