Examples of good web design?
January 12, 2004 1:47 PM   Subscribe

As a budding web designer, what are good sites to steal ideas from? Hopefully ones that update frequently and cover a wide range of style / technologies, though minimalism/CSS is where I'm at right now.
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Off the top off my head: Zeldman.com, waferbaby.com, StopDesign.com, Mezzoblue.com, Matt's a.wholelottanothing.org, meyerweb.com, simon.incutio.com, web-graphics.com, and Simplebits.com
posted by riffola at 1:54 PM on January 12, 2004

riffola, you took the URLs right out of my mouth.
posted by oissubke at 1:55 PM on January 12, 2004

Look through the work done by the companies listed in Digital Thread's Designhaus and Design gallery sections.
posted by dobbs at 1:57 PM on January 12, 2004

it's interesting how this design shift occured... almost all the sites mentioned by riffola look exactly the same. as do 99% of the sites people love.
posted by edlundart at 2:05 PM on January 12, 2004

All my good links for that are on http://del.icio.us/mrbill/webdesign.
posted by mrbill at 2:07 PM on January 12, 2004

almost all the sites mentioned by riffola look exactly the same

a drawback of the current css trend :) It can be avoided, of course, but it takes some effort to break out of those simple box models.

Myself, I prefer the pixely, playful, kaliber10000.
posted by GeekAnimator at 2:11 PM on January 12, 2004

agreed, GeekAnimator. CSS is great for a lot of reasons, but it has really stifled creativity in design, imo. most other designers disagree with me though, so i guess i'm just cranky. k10k is definitely good for finding links to other sites.
posted by edlundart at 2:15 PM on January 12, 2004

You cannot do without A List Apart.
posted by will at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2004

CSS Zen Garden
posted by darsh at 2:17 PM on January 12, 2004

CSS is great for a lot of reasons, but it has really stifled creativity in design, imo.

See darsh's link to the CSS Zen Garden -- that will help show how CSS can be used creatively.

The people making weak CSS designs are generally the same ones that would make weak table-and-font-tag designs, they're just using a different technology. :-)
posted by oissubke at 2:22 PM on January 12, 2004


should keep you busy for a little while.
posted by specialk420 at 2:33 PM on January 12, 2004

I check out Design Interact's Sight of the Week, well, um...weekly.
posted by Mick at 2:35 PM on January 12, 2004

CSS is great for a lot of reasons, but it has really stifled creativity in design, imo.

I think it has more to do with sites borrowing too heavily from Movable Type's layout.

From gmtplus9, I found this great collection (updated regularly) of Japanese personal sites:

:: オ○ンコ同盟オフィシャルウェブサイト :: (???)

... I've seen a lot of creative web designs that I wouldn't have thought of myself, some of it really horrible and garish looking but creative.
posted by bobo123 at 2:55 PM on January 12, 2004

i've seen the zen garden, and some of that is nice, but it is still pretty much the same layout. bobo123 is touching on something by mentioning Movable Type. perhaps the culprit is not CSS as much as the revolution of the Blog Format. everyone used to make websites, now they make blogs. what defines a blog is somewhat narrower than what defines a website. this is both good and bad in terms of design. there are fewer truly horrible designs, because it's harder to really screw things up within the blog format. but there are also fewer truly interesting designs, because the blog format, to some extent, dictates a certain look or layout.

thanks for the link to the Japanese sites, i'll make sure to check those out.
posted by edlundart at 3:24 PM on January 12, 2004

I dunno... I think edlund's closer to the truth with the CSS thing. Yeah, we've all seen the same old MoveableType and Blogger templates a million times. But we might be able to put a lot of blame with Little Boxes, for teaching so many of us how to use CSS in ways that aren't broken (which, if you count, includes 16 possibilities for basic layout).

Essentially, with web design you have a problem of arranging an information hierarchy. You've got a lot of choices in doing this, of course, but I think you can break down designers into people concerned with form and people concerned with content. When we come to the web, most of us are concerned with content. The formalist designer, a subset of designers, is very interested in looking at and creating sites that really manipulate that data architecture, but they are very much a minority. I think of myself as someone interested in those formal aspects, but I really don't have the time or skills to implement that interest to great effect - I'm definitely more interested in working on my content.

But what I'm getting at here is that yeah, CSS gives us about 20 ways to arrange a bunch of boxes with information in them. The prevailing trend right now (either out of preference or laziness) is to make those boxes very clearly delineated, and then focus on graphics and color combinations. Not much wrong with that except that, yeah, it will get boring after a while, except for those cases where the graphics are really eye-catching.

For CSS to really take off as a medium we can push, I think we need to be sure that when we push the limits, it won't break on 90% of browsers. (See the IE centering 'trick' in Little Boxes. This is fucking ridiculous that in one of the most popular browsers, you need specialized code to create a centered box...)

Those thoughts were kind of scattered, but I hope intelligible.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:10 PM on January 12, 2004

netdiver is still a fantastic resource for visual design inspiration.
posted by poopy at 4:26 PM on January 12, 2004

The point of CSS isn't that you can make cooler designs with it than you can with HTML. That's never been its goal. In fact, it's often more difficult to accomplish some "basic" things in CSS than it is HTML.

If the primary goal of your website is to show off amazing web design tricks, then CSS isn't the way to go.

The place where CSS shines -- and the reason its been the focus of so much attention in recent years -- is flexibility.

A website comprised of tables, font tags, and all sorts of other HTMLy goodness is great until the site is 10,000 pages, content is being provided by a team of writers who hardly know HTML, and the marketing department decides to completely change the company's look. It would take an army of tech-weenie interns weeks, if not months, to convert that mess, and even when they're done the writers still won't know how to use it right.

The HTML code in a properly-designed CSS-based website, however, consists of almost nothing but , , and the occasional . The structure and markup is relatively obvious even to people who've never seen HTML before, and entire websites (whether 10 pages or 10,000) can be drastically overhauled in a matter of seconds, not months.

That's why you've got so many people playing around with CSS. That's where the future is, and -- perhaps more importantly -- that's where the money is.

posted by oissubke at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2004


, , and the occasional .

I naturally mean:

[p], [h?], and the occasional [div]

Note to self: Check the preview, cracka.
posted by oissubke at 7:06 PM on January 12, 2004

Most buildings are rectangular because most people live in rectangular rooms, and have furniture, cabinets, doors, etc. that are much easier to place in a rectangular setting. Not every building can--or should--be the Guggenheim.

Or to put it another way, when my paragraphs are squiggly, you can build me a squiggly page. But otherwise...
posted by gimonca at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2004

Strange Banana sometimes can kick out a good design or two, and is easy to parse out the CSS and tweak to your heart's content.
posted by jazon at 8:48 PM on January 12, 2004

go 'head and steal my css if you wish. it was featured in this week's "a list apart" article on same.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:44 PM on January 12, 2004

Funny thing about CSS/HTML is that it's easier to do some things that used to be really complex, or that you used to have to use images for (see A List Apart's Sliding Doors of CSS series) like backgrounds, or even layered backgrounds. It also became really hard to do some things, like basic layouts.

Because basic layouts are so hard to do without pre-made things like noodleincident's little boxes, you find a lot of designers that just start there and don't try to, uh, think outside the little boxes. (*dodges rotten tomatoes*)

Personally, I'm past minimalist and moving towards dense but easy to use information... and even more challenging, trying to convey information via design without relying solely on colors, due to accessibility guidelines. Of course, I also do a lot of web applications, and the requirements are VERY different. Web apps are challenging in the first place, because a lot of people are going to be accessing them via palms and weird things like that ... and it just gets more complex when you add in accessibility guidelines and then try and make it stylish...
posted by SpecialK at 11:40 PM on January 12, 2004

I got a bunch of links and stuff here.
(It's me trying to get teenage girls into web standards and stop using the feckin' iframes and IE-only CSS. Unfortunately, now they validate their splash pages and then keep on using the iframes. D'oh!)
posted by Katemonkey at 12:13 AM on January 13, 2004

kaibutsu, yeah I'd forgotten how complex css was for boxes and stuff and that's probably a big contributor to all the pages looking the same.

Personally I prefer the Simon Coggins hack for centering a column. It's almost as if css is a bit of a black art right now with so many bugs and hacks that one has to know.
posted by bobo123 at 1:05 AM on January 13, 2004

I go to Linkdup whenever I'm trying to get away from the standard weblog look.
posted by jga at 11:17 AM on January 13, 2004

oissubke - wouldn't it make more sense to separate the content and the html completely? why should someone providing content have to know about div tags?

i'm starting to wonder whether css is a good idea. it was one solution to the problem you decide (separating content and presentation), but it still leaves you with content in html. doesn't a decent template-based cms (inserting text from a db into html; the text is entered by appropriate tools that need have nothing to do with html) make css redundant? (i'm no web designer, so am happy to be corrected here :o).

[on edit - is this too chatty and off topic? maybe personal email if anyone cares enough to reply?]
posted by andrew cooke at 12:36 PM on January 13, 2004

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