How great design can bring your content to life

Killer content and awesome navigability are great assets to any website. But to make that critical connection with site visitors — and to turn the casual guest into the repeat customer — your site needs compelling, eye-grabbing design. When all the elements come together, the results can be beautiful (and profitable too). Here we’ll take a look at a few winning website design examples, and examine how the right design can bring new life to the content it supports.

The Best of East London

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If you’re planning to visit a place you’ve never been, you want clear and simple guidance from someone with firsthand experience. The Best of East London is a site that presents just that — courtesy of an Aussie ex-pat who’s done the legwork for you.

The site is about as clear and convenient as one can get, with content organized by Food, Drink, and Miscellaneous (everything from workout spots to open-air markets). And each recommended business is represented a street photo, cross-referenced to pertinent content and even a map. So if you want to visit more than one spot in a day, you can plan your route.

The images have the cozy neighborhood feel of a walking tour, and the design fits the site’s informal reviews perfectly. There are no icons that swim around the screen, or images that take two minutes to load, because if you’re a first-time visitor, you’re probably going to be confused enough already. So the clarity is greatly appreciated.

Jack Daniels Holiday Select

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There are three things to remember about distilling: tradition, tradition and tradition. And if you want to take a virtual tour of one of the world’s most successful distilleries, this site has it all. From a folksy illustrated home page (fully interactive and navigable) to embedded videos, the content describes the history, process, and dare I say it, love, that goes into every bottle of the product.

If you like Flash, this site has it in abundance, but remains very easy to navigate. Even the white-on-black isn’t distracting because the site uses a sufficiently bold font. Moving from building to building at the virtual facility is fun (they even make the cursor red so it’s impossible to lose sight of it), and if you like whiskey, the videos will make you thirsty.

The site does a great job of conveying a mood and a message — that it takes pure water, quality ingredients, time, and skill to make a great Tennessee whiskey. Even if JD isn’t your brand, by the end of the tour you’ll want it to be.

MeCre (Mechanical Creatures)

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If you’re an artist with a unique set of creations, you’re going to want a unique website that highlights those creations. German-born artist Gaby Wormann makes mechanical creatures.

No, not drone bees to spy on your neighbors. But fascinating ornamental objects that, while made from what look to be discarded watch parts, seem quite alive. Picture a steampunk scorpion and you’ll get the idea.

The site is easily navigable and uses remarkable high-resolution macro images to highlight the detailed nature of Wormann’s creations. The text pages use a slow “Ken Burns effect” on the background image to add a dynamic element to the block text. But the gallery is by far the most fun part of the site — illuminating the stunning level of precision detailing that goes into each creature.

PBS Kids

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Designing and maintaining a successful website for children — one that’s both fun and educational — may look easy but it’s not. One of the best in the arena is PBSkids.org.

Bright, bold, and easy to navigate, the site features apps and merchandise (in the top toolbar menu for the adults) and videos and games (marked with BIG buttons for the kids). There’s a featured game that changes regularly, and games related to favorite PBS children’s characters.

Everything is big, bold, bright, and geared to beginning readers (if your children know the words game, play, and pause, they’re all set). Most of all, the site is engaging, full of movement, and super easy to use. And there’s enough variety to keep kids coming back for return visits.

Those are a few of our faves. What site designs keep you coming back?

The author

Cecily Kellogg
Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg became an accidental designer when she worked at a short-handed non-profit and although she now prefers designing with words, the lessons she learned from doing graphic design make her work in content development more well-rounded. She writes about the intersection of family, technology, and social media for Babble Tech and runs her own web content business. She is also known for her raw tone and humor on various social media platforms including her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Cecily lives in the Philadelphia area, is happily married, is mom to a fierce and amazing daughter, and has occasionally been called a bad ass.

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