Favorite Websites from a Website Designer
As you can imagine, surfing the web as a website designer and developer can be both enthralling and painful, as I travel through really great or poorly designed websites. But focusing on the positive, I wanted to talk about a few of my favorite designs, and why I like them.
If you have ever seen the television show Good Eats on the FoodTV cable channel, or on the American version of Iron Chef, then you are no stranger to Alton Brown, and his quirky food-meets-science approach to food. I think his shows would easily be entertaining to non-cooks, since they are full of funny visuals. In one, he compared steak fibers to garden hose cut and lined up in a two foot sections into a large section. He went on the explain that cutting across the grain shortens the fiber, leaving the steak easier to eat. The cutting method could affect the final food, even though it had nothing to do with prep or seasoning! And he did a whole show on beach food with a tiki theme. It was a take-off on Tom Hank’s movie Cast Away, complete with oh-so-silent volley ball.
Alton Brown’s website is a retro Americana theme, with background, left side bar and header images that change by the page. The cow image stays constant, however. I love the funny doodles in the side bar. It’s well organized, and simple to read. There is a lot of space around the design, so one doesn’t feel exhausted just looking at the page. The American theme fits one of his television shows, Feasting on Asphalt, where he travelled on a motorcycle cross-country, cooking and eating his way through small diners. The shop link probably goes to another website, the theme is maintained on that one, too.
The New York graphic design company Lounge Lizards uses a sideways Flash website, based on a bar theme. One is looking down at match books, small candles, menus, coasters, notepads, and more, some of which are used as links. Its a very clever design.
The artist and illustrator Frank Grau has a very creative website. I love the retro rocket and moon theme. He has a lot of info there, and yet its very clear to navigate. It looks heavily sliced, which means the pieces of the design are cut up into segments and reassembled. (Watch how it loads at first to see the slices – ) Designers started building websites this way because they were very stable over different platforms. These days, the design community is moving to separate the text from the design, which means the text is styled to look like a button using code. (This is faster to update.)
PBSKids.org, a children’s media website, is very well designed for kids who may not yet be literate. When the child rolls over a link, they hear an audio translation of the link, whether its the word “games” or “videos,” or the name of a television show. I think the navigation would be very clear to even a five year old. Many of the links either have audio on the roll-over, or they bounce. The color is bright and friendly, too. On the “Super Why” Television show sub-page, the navigation continues to be clear, with four link choices on the left hand side. (View Super Why television show webpage)
On the website Slow Food USA, I really like the cork board background, the school bell image, the the type face that screams “legible.” The look and feel evokes a 1940’s or 1950’s classroom setting, doesn’t it?
I am a huge fan of the television show Pushing Daisies. It’s a hard to describe mix of romantic comedy, sleuthing show, and fairy tale. The music, camera work, costuming, and script are all very well done. The Pushing Daisies television show website design shows the characters dropping down into place and bouncing – and this design is light and fun. The website design really captures the feeling of the television show itself. You can find the first season now on Netflix as well as on sale as a DVD set.
The Pirates of the Carribbean Online game website design has changed since I first saw it. The links on the left-hand side of the pages were formatted as wooden signs, connected down the side of the page with old chains. It totally fit the feel of pirates, sea-faring, and spooky. It was really unique its design.
Hope you enjoyed this little trip around a few of my favorite websites.