The digital environment today has become so awash with mindless copies and stereotypes of other major web players that the consumer simply ignores you. The single most important factor you can invest in capturing your customer's attention is finding a 'novel' way of doing it. What ever you're selling, talking about, building or sharing, make the experience fundamentally different to how it's done now, and you can expect a flurry of interest.
Whilst the web offers a multitude of opportunities for marketers to explore new ways at connecting with their consumers, the thinking or strategy in how to do it is now becoming a commodity. Instead of beginning with 'how can we develop a new way to deliver this?' many are beginning with the question 'who does it well, can we use it?' Although looking at best practice has merits, the idea of mimicking others methodology doesn't create any compelling reason to hold the consumers attention.
If they've seen it before, they've seen it before.
We're left with a plethora of great websites that look similar to each other. The consumer typically spends 90% of his time on the same 10 websites he always does. The challenge to have your site become part of his daily life becomes harder as more 'imitators' converge online. What gets the user to stop? A Purple Cow of course (as made famous by Seth Godin). A new way at delivering your product that's remarkably different to what's currently out there.
Evidence suggests focus on creating a fun, simple to use and engaging product without over stimulating or alarming the consumer. Keep it primal, and keep it relevant. The brain welcomes things in when it's easy to digest. Keep the messages clear (including language), design with space and use a novel approach. The combination of these elements will deliver an experience worth stopping; consumers will embrace your brand like a new born.