Web design examples and inspiration
May 2, 2017 5:13 AM   Subscribe

What would be your response if I asked you about the corporate websites that you like?

I am looking for design inspiration for classy corporate website designs. My thoughts/requirements are:

1. Websites that showcase companies with multiple services, solutions across different industries would be ideal
2. Designs that can display different content pieces, news, events in a clean layout
3. Responsive layouts OR different website templates for web, mobile and tablet devices
4. Designs that are modern with a pleasing color palette and hopefully not a 1990s layout (medu bars with drop downs), unless tastefully done

I have looked at multiple inspiration galleries such as awwards.com, behance, fromupnorth, themeforest etc, but most of them are about startups or small businesses such as fitness centers, graphic design agencies etc, which don't have a lot of content/business lines.

I have also looked at larger companies such as GE, Accenture, E&Y etc, but is there anything much more pleasing AND also provides a visitor quick access to the information they want instead of hierarchical structure.

A sharp layout with modern fonts, dynamic elements etc would be welcome, but if you think a classical approach is best, do tell me that as well!
posted by theobserver to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is less about fonts and more about content and navigation.

Look at the data. Get heavy into Omniture. See where employees go, where investors need to go, where clients need to go, and where suppliers need to go. Cookie the snot out of visitors and use their ip and domain to classify them and see what group they belong to, then see what they use on your site. Learn what sections of your site they utilize and how frequently / how many visits they make. Prioritize the prominence of your messaging accordingly.

How hard is it to find the information they are looking for?
What should they be finding that they aren't?
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:29 AM on May 2, 2017


Walmart.com.

And Nanukthedog is exactly right. The driver behind--well, any website, but particularly large ones, is supposed to be usability. Finding the sweet spot between how you want to present your brand, and how users want to use your website. That should be informing the design and architecture of the site. The "best" design is going to depend heavily on one's audience and what they're using the site for.

So if your question is, "What's the prettiest way to design a large website", that's a different direction than, "What does a well-designed large website look like?"
posted by Autumnheart at 5:54 AM on May 2, 2017


Agreed. Architecting the information structure is key, but I am also looking at ways to present that information clearly and in a pleasant way, but also information that is relevant to the content being displayed.

@Autumnheart - you are right that my question is more towards the prettiest design, but I want that design to be professional than loud.

I guess the real question could be "What do I tell my web design agency on how I want my website to look and function?"
posted by theobserver at 6:21 AM on May 2, 2017


Nthing the above — the first stage of the design process is knowing your users, what they like, and how they use your website. Tell your agency who your users are. And if you don't know exactly, or you've been going on assumptions, start with user research and testing what you already have. Maybe your users hate tag-based or search-based navigation and a well-organized hierarchical structure is the best way (or part of the best way) to give them quick access to the information they're looking for.

Once you have that, you may want to look into "design systems," where a company creates its own visual language/style guide and library of components that it uses to build multiple different websites/apps/other digital products. These can be really helpful at breaking down how an organization has developed the look and feel of a complex site system to suit its users' needs.

Examples:
- Shopify's Polaris
- IBM's Carbon
- Google's material design
posted by fifthpocket at 7:23 AM on May 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I mean, if you just want a layout that you like, you can go search through Wordpress's template offerings for inspiration. They'll fit the bill for a starting point, in terms of a clean and appealing responsive design. But the overall point is that saying something like this:

A sharp layout with modern fonts, dynamic elements etc would be welcome, but if you think a classical approach is best, do tell me that as well!

is basically word salad when talking about what you want your site to do. It's the web design equivalent of saying that you want to "perform a deep dive to discover how to maximize the synergy in your key performance indicators, incentivizing your employees in creating a truly disruptive paradigm." Buzzwords.

First, you need to answer questions like:

1. Who is your audience
2. What devices are they using to view your site
3. What are you trying to tell them
4. Where are they clicking and not clicking on your website
5. What are the common factors in the elements that get clicked? In the ones that don't get clicked?

I think it would be a much better approach to come to your agency with as much information about your business, and your audience, that you can come up with, and let them start working on the design. Yes, you are the client and you obviously have a voice in whether the design they create evokes the brand you're trying to convey...but YOU should not be making design decisions like "no menu bars". It's their job to create a design that meets the usability requirements of your audience. I say this because it's an ongoing frustration in my job to come to leadership with all kinds of user research, and still get overruled in design decisions because some director or VP wants to see their personal preference instead--only to complain later about drops in site performance, conversion, complaints that the site is ugly, etc. Instead, tell the agency WHAT you are trying to accomplish and let them determine HOW it will be accomplished.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


"It's the web design equivalent of saying that you want to "perform a deep dive to discover how to maximize the synergy in your key performance indicators, incentivizing your employees in creating a truly disruptive paradigm." Buzzwords.

Needed that :)

I should have clarified - the website is being re-designed, so we have analyzed our server logs on what pages gain the most page-views, what content is being read most, how are people arriving on those pages etc. We have also hired a different agency to perform user research based on different personas and how they would interact with the site.

The trouble is that the design agency keeps giving us designs that meet the usability needs but A/B testing is showing us different results - the designs are reducing page-views and we are kind of frustrated about it. One option was to show them some websites that perform a similar function, so that there is a frame of reference for us.

But I agree on all of you have said - maybe I should take a deeper look at our internal process.
posted by theobserver at 8:49 AM on May 2, 2017


I guess the real question could be "What do I tell my web design agency on how I want my website to look and function?"

Yes, this. This is a good, answerable question.

You go find sites you like that have a large information architecture (many categories, or at least more than the startups you've been looking at), no matter the industry. Write down what you like about it. Don't use words like these:
clean
simple
dynamic
flow
modern
classic

Do instead use words like these:
It's easy to find specs on these product pages.
I want to feature real customer testimonials like this, because I have xyz data showing it increases our sales.
I don't like carousels. People don't buy from the 2nd and 3rd slides.

Let the agency you hire propose how the information should be organized. They need to do user research to find out if it will work for your customers, anyway.

Last piece of advice: Make the agency do user research, including usability testing, of proposed prototypes.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:53 AM on May 2, 2017


I was writing my answer as you were writing your update! I agree that you need a deeper look at your internal process.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:55 AM on May 2, 2017


From my reading, you're not looking to build a storefront, so the comparison isn't going to be the best, but mcmaster.com is the greatest website in the world.
posted by booooooze at 12:10 PM on May 2, 2017


In your follow up, you mentioned that usability tests from them conflicts with A/B testing page views. Be mindful of what you are measuring and if that equates success. If I'm lost and try six places before finding my answer, page views are up, but customer satisfaction is down.
posted by advicepig at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, remember that hardly anyone reads a corporate site like a book. Most users are going to search to some deep link and if its not what they want, poke a few related links.
posted by advicepig at 5:43 PM on May 2, 2017


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