Fame Foundry - A Charlotte Website Design and Marketing Firm

Saturday, 1st December, 2012 | By Steve Kelly | Category: Website Design and Development

Best of the Web 2012

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 website design that sets new standards for creativity and innovation.

Best Redesign: USA TODAY

usatoday

USA TODAY has always been one of the best designed print publications out there. Their heavy use of graphics, color photos and infographics make reading their paper a real pleasure.

They’ve carried this attention to design over to their website and mobile apps, consistently having one of the most popular and useful news apps.

This year USA TODAY went through a major rebranding and a bold redesign of their website – one that throws out all conventional wisdom and instead caters to the way people really use the Web today. Through the use of side-to-side navigation, a plethora of modal windows and responsive web design, they’ve set a new standard in news presentation.

Best Touch: Fifty-Three

53

The people at 53 seem to have the golden touch. Every aspect of their company is simply stunning, and everything they produce is beautifully done. Their incredible iPad app, Paper, is a gorgeous sketching application that makes drawing on your iPad a truly amazing experience. The beauty and care they’ve applied to this app is also readily apparent in their website, with its wonderful large photos and videos that will truly inspire the artist in you.

Most Scrollicious: Zensorium

tinke

Every designer has been subjected to the “above the fold” objection – the slavish insistence upon forcing all important content to fit above an imaginary line of demarcation beyond which information quietly disappears never to be seen or heard from again. Despite UX studies that debunk the fold theory, it doggedly persists as the bane of web designers everywhere.

The people at Zensorium nobly said “to hell with the fold” when they designed the site for their new product tinke. The site presents the product and its features beautifully through compelling animations that would only be possible with such a design. If you want to learn more about tinke, you’re going to have to scroll for it. And that’s okay because they’ve made the experience so pleasurable and rewarding for the user – the key to UX success.

Best Use of the Pinterest Model: Punchfork

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The popularity of Pinterest proves two things: A, people like pictures and B, simpler is better.

This belief has been wonderfully applied to Punchfork.com. For anyone who’s ever tried to find a good lasagna recipe, you know that you can easily lose hours of your life going down a rabbit hole of digging through an endless array of websites and blogs. To save you from this fate, Punchfork takes all the best recipes from all the best sites and presents them in mouth-watering simplicity, putting the secrets of master chefs right at your fingertips.

Best Infographic: Dangers of Fracking

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This being an election year, there are plenty of hot topics to be discussed and debated. The problem is getting people to pay attention.

Fracking is an issue that’s affecting people from North Carolina to Alaska and has plenty of advocates on both sides of the issue. And no matter where you personally come down on fracking, there’s no denying that opponents of the practice have put together a beautiful website to tell their side of the story. The site presents their argument in an informative, interactive way that makes it easy for the layperson to understand while telling a visually compelling story along the way.

Best Interaction: MoMA – Century of the Child

moma

I’ve never been to the MoMA, but I can only imagine that it is awe-inspiring – an experience that simply can’t be replicated. But that doesn’t stop them from trying with their virtual “Century of the Child” exhibition.

Just as I image the MoMA to be, every nook and cranny of this site leads down paths of discovery and historical adventure. Every item in this virtual exhibition has several layers to be unveiled, including artist information and enlarged views.

Best Online Magazine: The Verge

verge

Web-based zines have been around for a long time, but few can match the beauty of The Verge.

It first hits you with bright, colorful blocks encompassing the latest stories of the day. Then it becomes a pleasure to scan and read with its great use of typography, photographs and call-outs. Perhaps its best feature, though, is the number of new articles for the day in the upper-left corner, which allows the frequent visitor to quickly find fresh content.

The site does not shy away from big headlines or images. As a result, when reading an article, especially on an iPad, you really feel like you’re looking at a magazine. Elements are beautifully placed and positioned with just the right amount of white space. The Verge has set a high standard for any online publication to follow.

Best Minimalist Design: Fontsmith

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Dieter Rames once said, “the best design is as little design as possible.” Fontsmith’s “10 Years in Type” website holds true to that principal with a beautiful site dedicated to telling the story of their font library.

Content and imagery pop right off the plain white canvas. Visual cues to navigate and scroll are at once subtle yet bold. The use of modal windows for displaying article text allows the content to remain in a minimalist setting while maintaining an engaging presentation style. The site is also very responsive to browser size and doesn’t sacrifice usability regardless of the device you’re using.

Best Surprise: PanoramicPanoramic

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When researching this article I came across one site that I just couldn’t leave out.

PanoramicPanoramic is a website dedicated to the panoramic images that are now so easily created with an iPhone or other smartphone device. I’m a huge fan of the feature myself and use it regularly. When I stumbled upon this site I couldn’t help but get sucked in. From the most obscure subjects to gorgeous landscapes, PanoramicPanoramic features wonderful user-submitted photos that will keep you scrolling for days.

Best Charlotte Website Design: Mint Museum

mint

The Mint Museum tops our list of best websites in Charlotte. Through the use of a strict grid, big geometric blocks of color and fun, interactive features, the site is clean, fresh and a pleasure to use. Information is presented in a clear and concise manner. The event calendar in particular is a very useful tool to find exactly what you’re looking for. Never does the site deviate from its unique style. Even the donation form – always a challenging element of design – stays true to the geometric aesthetic.

Steve Kelly
With over 10 years of design experience, Steve Kelly has worked with small businesses and national brands, building creative websites that get customers. Steve currently serves as Creative Director for Fame Foundry.