Not all websites are created equal; in fact, they can land all over the spectrum. On one end, you have the sites that haven’t been updated since 2005, with load times that remind you of the era of dial-up internet. On the other end, you have sites that are given awards and attention from the people who really know their web designs.
If you keep reading, you can find out about a few of the second kind of website – the kind that are experiences in and of themselves, almost regardless of what they’re trying to convey. It’s about more than just the high-quality photography or cool fonts; it’s about the overall user experience, and how all the elements combine to make a website perform better than the competition.
- Fuse Animation
Here’s an example of how being on-the-nose with your website can be an advantage. You can’t take this approach with everything, but when you do it right, it really works. The web design services behind Fuse Animation’s site created photorealistic 3-D animations with an embedded video showing some of their projects. Users are treated to a variety of engaging animations as soon as they land on the home page, and scrolling reveals photos of more animations. However, the use of videos and photographs never feels heavy-handed; there’s plenty of breathing-space in between each graphic element so you don’t feel rushed.
It’s hard to make earbuds the focal point of anything – unless you’re using macro photography, like Revols does with their products. By super-sizing the earbuds on each web page, the site transforms them from a commodity to a fashion statement for both the wearer and the website. Between the huge earbuds and the extra-big typography, users can stay immersed in an experience that presents itself right to their faces.
Any website that deals with interior design needs to look just right; Homecult looks even better than that. Of course there are the sharp, well-lit interior photos that you’d expect, but your eye is also guided by subtle overlaid lines that lend structure to the viewing experience. Users can swipe through examples of Homecult’s designs on the home page, with each new example arriving with a subtle ripple effect that adds the perfect three-dimensional touch. Their projects page is more minimalist – it’s simply a grid of photographs, separated by brief white spaces in between. Hover the mouse pointer over one of them, though, and you’ll get a few relevant details about the design in question.
The bar was already high for Beauvoir’s website, given that they’re a creative agency; spend a minute or two on their website, though, and you’ll quickly realize that they exceeded the standard. The first thing you’ll probably notice is that, as you scroll, you don’t just keep going down like you’d expect; there’s a horizontal scrolling effect just a short distance down from the top of the home page. And the best thing is, this isn’t disruptive at all; it actually serves to differentiate one section of content from another. Another unique feature of the site is the sidebar menu, which integrates well with the unconventional feel of the website. You can expect to stay on your toes on Beauvoir’s site, but not in a stressful way; it’s really just fun to see what’ll happen next.
- Burger & Sauce
Have you ever drooled over someone else’s food pics? Burger & Sauce knows the power of food photography, and they leverage it quite well on their website. Every page has photos of their menu items, which look all the more stunning because they’re frequently set against a black background. About 82% of people place orders for food based solely on the pictures they see, and looking at Burger & Sauce’s site, it’s safe to assume that they’re fully aware of this. The entire site is like a virtual buffet of gourmet burgers, going above and beyond the average scope of “a menu with pictures” to offer an experience that’s almost satisfying.
Black-and-white color schemes are cool, but they can get even cooler with just a few touches of color. That’s what Buero112 has done on their digital design/branding agency website. Users are greeted with an embedded video that tells the brand’s story, and they can scroll down to explore the sparse monochrome aesthetic with occasional pops of color. The monochrome color scheme isn’t the main point of the site, though; it’s about how it supports the level of storytelling that the home page accomplishes. By the time you’ve explored for a couple minutes, you already have a feel for what the brand is all about.
- Frans Hals Museum
What do you expect when visiting a museum’s website? Whatever it is, that isn’t what you’ll get with the Frans Hals Museum. Yes, you’ll find examples of their star exhibits, information about opening hours and location, and all the other pertinent details that you’re probably there to find out. However, all this information is cleverly laid out among digital design elements that look way more hip than just your average museum website. Nearly-pastel shades of pink, yellow, and green brighten the page, with the perfect amount of black accenting (mostly in the form of lettering) to maintain the structure of the look.
Another study in the effective use of color, this website is mostly in muted grays and whites – except for the call-to-action buttons, which are bright orange. And guess why this is actually brilliant? The color scheme mirrors their products: skateboards that are mostly gray or black, with orange wheels. Not only is it effective, but it’s clever to boot.
Browsing a website isn’t always that exciting…but why shouldn’t it be?
These are all examples of sites that have pushed the boundaries of “good enough” to create a unique experience for their users. They’re all pretty different from each other, but they have something in common too: each site offers much more than just a product.