Fame Foundry - A Charlotte Website Design and Marketing Firm

Wednesday, 3rd December, 2014 | By Kimberly Barnes | Category: Website Design and Development

14 for ’14: The Best of the Web

As the year draws to a close, we shine a spotlight on those who make the time we spend online more elegant, more fun and more productive through websites that set new standards for creativity and innovation.

Best Product Tour: Tinké by Zensorium


This site is as innovative and original as the health and wellness gadget that it serves to promote.

The parallax design takes visitors through a brief but highly informative product tutorial, with a minimalism of design elements and content that mirror the device’s simplistic plug-and-play functionality. For those wanting to delve deeper, the “read more” option adds a new layer of content right on top of the current page, and one click returns the reader back to their original position in the vertical parallax scrolling timeline, causing no disruption or distraction from the seamless progression through the product demonstration.

Best Digital Magazine: Yahoo Style


It’s no secret that print publications have long struggled to make optimal use of the paperless web, and many have yet to catch up with today’s web design trends. This year, Yahoo, one of the pioneers of digital media, gave the old stalwarts an object lesson in how to marry form (design) and function (content) into a beautiful interface with the debut of its own native digital fashion magazine, Yahoo Style.

Launched just in time for September’s New York Fashion Week, Yahoo Style looks like it belongs on a newsstand next to traditional fashion glossies like Vogue, InStyle and Elle and incorporates everything readers would expect to find in these publications, including fashion editorials, shopping guides, essays, celebrity interviews and designer profiles.

As editor in chief Joe Zee told AdWeek, “The emotion you get from a tangible magazine we’re replicating online – everything from a cover to beautiful ads. The special part is that we can interact with our readers with live programming, videos and original storytelling.”

Most Man-Friendly Subscription Service: The Mr. Collection


From cosmetics to groceries to diapers, subscription-based services have been a hot e-commerce trend over the past few years. While the majority of these services, have been geared toward female consumers (think Birchbox, Stitchfix, Blue Apron, etc.), a growing number are now catering to men.

Perhaps none of these services is as in tune with the male psyche as The Mr. Collection. What do men like? Convenience. Looking stylish. What do men hate? Shopping. Paying attention to fashion trends. Putting any effort into looking stylish.

Enter The Mr. Collection. Their stylists search for great pieces and curate monthly boxes featuring a mix of designer labels, everyday brands and key essentials, ensuring that their customers always have a fresh new look that they didn’t have to shop for themselves.

Classiest Content to Commerce: Shop-Bazaar.com


Harper’s Bazaar isn’t just setting trends in the world of fashion. As one of the first print brands to get into the content to commerce craze, ShopBazaar.com is trend-setting in the world of the web, too.

The magazine is partnering editors with designers to create capsule collections that seamlessly guide users into e-commerce. Visitors to the site can peruse the pictures of models, clothes and fashion accessories in a sort of virtual window shopping, or dive deeper into content about latest trends.

Most Techie News Site: Re/code


Started by two of the country’s leading tech journalists who broke away from The Wall Street Journal, Re/code is an independent news site dedicated to keeping things fresh with tech news. The site publishes articles and reviews written by respected journalists about all things tech: from general tech to mobile, science, enterprise, policy and culture.

Re/code’s site boasts a clean and modern design, with headlines, blurbs and images organized in an easy to skim column format. Despite the focus on tech topics, the website has an inclusive feel. There’s eve a spot featuring must read stories from other websites.

Most Aww-Inspiring Overhaul: The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium


Although the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a popular destination with over 2 million visitors annually, their old website was a headache to be avoided at all costs. Information about hours and ticket prices were nearly impossible to find, especially on a mobile device with no responsive design to speak of. That wasn’t even the worst of it. The zoo’s vice president of technology services, Gregg Oosterbaan, knew they needed a change when he realized there were no animals to be seen on the zoo’s website.

So the zoo decided to modernize the website and shine the spot light on the zoo’s stars –the animals. All the information you could want about visiting the Columbus Zoo is easy to find at the first drop-down menu on the navigation bar. And pictures of wild animals are prominent on the new site, along with pictures of human animals enjoying a day at the zoo.

Best “It’s About Time” Revamp: about.com


Everyone’s visited About.com a thousand times — it pops up as a result in almost every Google search. But until this latest makeover, no one would remember visiting the site. The last design up- date was seven years ago in 2007. The old site was cluttered with ads and photos that interrupted the flow of text, and clicking on internal links led nowhere due to redundant pages that served up re- hashed content.

The current redesign does more than just prettify the website. It represents a mentality shift from creating content to boost placement in Google search results to content that focuses on user experience. And it’s working. Page views have increased by 10% and visitors are spending 12% more time on the site.

Purest Rebranding: Stoli Vodka


Stoli didn’t just update it’s website, it updated everything except their age-old method of producing vodka. Stoli intends to set itself apart from the competition with a complete revamp of the brand and a marketing campaign touting Stoli as THE Vodka. The campaign is a juxtaposition of authenticity vs. superficiality and iconic vs. commonplace.

Lori Tieszen, CMO of Stoli Group USA, sums it up best. “This campaign represents what people crave from their vodka: something authentic; something bold; something real.” That description certainly applies to the brand’s new website. A simple layout combined with bold colors entices users. The site features savory descriptions of Stoli’s many flavors and authentic cocktail recipes using, of course, THE Vodka of choice.

Most Engaging Makeover: Style.com


2014 seems to be the year of website redesigns. Yet Style.com is the only site to be openly vocal about its makeover and to provide a public forum for feedback. An Editor’s Letter posted on the blog gave a detailed reflection of what Style.com is all about and an explanation of how the changes to the site are a reflection of those values. Users left comments brimming over with what they do and don’t like about the site’s new design, and many of the comments received replies from the editor.

Style.com streamlined its website and made it more mobile-friendly. There is a new shop section and culture channel, as well as year-round street style coverage. The overhaul introduces an increased emphasis on news and trends while staying true to the beauty and fashion show coverage that made the site so popular in the first place.

Most Talked-About Rebranding: Airbnb


Last year, Airbnb went through a massive overhaul. This year’s changes were about creating a new look and feel to the website and mobile apps without changing functionality. The lower-case cursive “a” has been replaced with a fresh logo that looks somewhat of like an uppercase “A” — a puppy or a myriad of other things, depending on who you ask.

The site’s new design seems to be following the mantra, “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Gone are the shadows, gradients and overlays. The focus is on the hierarchy of information users want when they’re trying to decide whether or not to book: images of what the place looks like, ratings, and info about accommodations, amenities, and the cancellation policy. Visiting the new website is like a mini-vacation itself.

Most Sophisticated: Viyet


A leader in interior design, Viyet’s newly launched website strengthens the company’s position as the best online source for finding high-end, pre-owned designer home furnishings. The fully responsive site includes new features that enhance user experience. Design partners can showcase their portfolios on the home page and curate their own virtual showrooms.

With higher quality photographs and robust product descriptions, shoppers will have a good grasp of a product even without seeing it in person. The shopping experience itself is more intuitive. Users can now shop by type of furniture, price, designer, color, materials or style aesthetic, so their homes can be as sophisticated as this website.

Most Fashion-Forward Online Ad Campaign: Freetown by Sass & Bide


For New York Fashion Week, clothing label Sass & Bide launched an eye-catching 360-degree interactive ad that customers can also shop directly from.

Located in a sunny warehouse, the Surrealist scene includes forty versions of the same model posed around the room, sporting items from the Spring 2014 collection, which visitors can tour through the panoramic shots.

Most Colorful: Adobe Color


Formerly Adobe Kuler, the newly re-launched Adobe Color CC web app gives designers a powerful tool to capture inspiration from the world around them and easily bring in into their creative process across desktop and mobile devices.

Most Motivating: Turn Your Miles (RED)


There’s nothing that motivates runners more than having a goal, whether it’s a setting PR, medaling in a race or finishing a marathon.

Nike harnessed this hunger for goal-setting and put it to use for the greater good with its Turn Your Miles (RED) campaign. The web-based app challenges members of its Nike+ community to pledge miles run each week of the 8-week campaign toward helping the fight for an AIDS-free generation. For each pledged mile run with the Nike+ app, Bank of America donates 40 cents to the global fund to fight AIDS with (RED). To date, Bank of America has donated more than half a million dollars toward the cause.

Kimberly Barnes
Kimberly Barnes is a digital marketing specialist turned freelance writer born back when Apple was called “Apple Macintosh,” floppy disks were actually floppy, and #2 pencils were the best way to rewind unraveled cassette tapes. Most days you'll find her summoning her muse while drinking a non-coffee beverage in Starbucks.