Inspiration comes in many forms and fashions. For me, envy is often the trick. I see a great piece of writing and actually become offended that the ideas didn’t come straight from my mind. Such spiteful jealousy drives me to improve my craft. I read and write more and more every day, and in turn get more jealous of the excellent content being produced by the talented professionals that proliferate within my field.
It’s a vicious cycle. Vicious, but productive.
In an effort to share “my process” (which is a nice way of saying “mental illness”) with the world, I thought to write an article showcasing examples put forth by some of the most affluent web designers/design firms around.
Even if you don’t get quite so green at a glance of something far beyond your talent level, as I do, you can still draw inspiration and motivation from any and all of the following.
It seems fitting to start off the list with A List Apart, seeing as it’s a go to resource for web designers of every color and creed. Designer, Jason Santa Maria showcases his trademark use of blank spaces and prominent typography to present the day’s most relevant content for A List Apart’s designer audience.
Well to do design firm, Ablysoft, really strikes an aesthetic chord with the Xopso website. With unifying musical imagery throughout, and trendy flat design highlighting interactive menus and graphics, Xopso is a visceral treat.
3. Hudson – Sky IT Group
Hudson studios aims to impress with a high quality corporate website designed for Sky I.T. Group. Impressively sized drop down menus respond to your mouse hovering, bold contrasting colors warm the experience throughout, and a sticky bar assures easy navigation regardless of your location within the site.
Cuban Council is a big name in the industry with many A-list credits. Among these is Epitaph records which enlisted CC to design and develop its web presence, which prominently features artists under the label’s umbrella with a nifty media player prominent featured, and various important content pieces interspersed throughout an uncrowded grid layout.
Happy Cog, the firm founded by the incomparable Jeffrey Zeldman, designed AECF.com with smooth, subtle animations which enhance the site’s content without overshadowing it. I particularly enjoyed the image slider on the homepage, which colors the featured image while fading the other images on the slider into greyscale.
6. Information Architects (IA), Supertext
Information Architects is the brainchild of Oliver Reichenstein, an extremely affluent designer perhaps best known for his “Good Design is Invisible” philosophy. IA’s design for Supertext, an online copywriting firm, echoes that idea quite nicely. By economically utilizing bright colors among tons of white space and black lettering, the Supertext website’s design emphasizes what’s most important to those seeking high quality copy: text.
A full screen image is always fun, add 5 to a slider and the aesthetic value multiplies. A semi-transparent menu and logo sit unassumingly at the top of the page, while a triadic color scheme lures users into a state of comfort and increasing interest.
Freelance designer, Meng To, proves that you don’t have to work for a big firm to make big designs. HeyZap’s website is an artistic marvel. Using whitespace, a fixed navigation bar, flat design, embedded video, and high quality vector graphics to pepper the front-page with trendy appeal, HeyZap is a masterful work of design savvy.
9. Fantasy Interactive (Fi), Wacom.com
Fi is another industry big fish and their design example shows exactly why. On-hover animations, and scrolling induced color changes abound across the website, and it’s sticky bar sits comfortingly on the side just in case you find yourself lost inside the engrossing UX.
Ted talks wanted big things for its first redesign since 2007, so naturally it looked at the Huge design firm. They delivered in, predictably, a big way. To clarify, Huge worked closely with the Ted UX team to put together a content heavy, internationalized, and extremely usable website.
Focus Lab finishes up our list with their storytelling-centered design work on the Sebonic Financial website. They worked to meet conservative industry standards via tons of iconography, mucho white space, and a soothing color scheme.
What are your favorite designs? And who designed them? Sound off in the comments.
About the author
Kyle Sanders is an ecommerce entrepreneur, design junkie, and co-founder of CWR, an Austin-based SEO company that specializes in conversion-driven web design and organic search marketing. Outside of the office he enjoys writing, craft beers, and the local music scene in Austin.