Gaming Websites

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I talked about children’s websites, tourist sites, political campaign sites, and even websites for vegans. Now I decided to look at gaming websites, and what makes their design so perfect for their audience – gamers.

I took a look at Hawken, which is said to be the best game website out there in terms of design, and it brings a somewhat different approach to video game websites because it blurs a video game site with a community website. This site features an great looking slider, a blog, video portal and community driven pages. Hawken’s website truly brings a unique experience.

Dead Island: Riptide is the next on the list, which is a pretty impressively designed site because it has great “flowing” animation to it, with a few unique features that can be played around with using your cursor. As you navigate through the website you will find that the animation and graphics are really tailored to the user’s viewing experience.

A popular gaming site, Halo: WayPoint is the third best designed.  Waypoint brings the creativity and the style of the Halo games right into the website with its design, menu and beautiful fonts. It features a slider with a fresh Halo look and Halo styled video players, which allows for easy and simplified user engagement. This site brings the Halo experience online with leaderboards, game stats, forums and blogs.

One I am familiar with, Animal Crossings: New Leaf, is the fifth on the list. This magical life simulation children’s game has a colorful and artistic design with music, animation, guided tours and even has a built-in community website. As you navigate through this website you may just get inspired to create a unique colorful, animated website design of your own.

And finally, one I know most people have played, Plants vs. Zombies, is also on the list. This website really brings all the information and content you really need on one page; no need to navigate through unnecessary pages. The website also has integrated the actual game on the homepage with links and images linking to full versions to the game.

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Magazine Websites

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Now, I’m going to look at the best magazine websites based on their usability and design. Because I did news websites, I thought it would only be better to do magazine websites, seeing how most of what we read is online now.

First on the list is Time Magazine. At a time (no pun intended) where the world needs access to a reliable news source, Time magazine has stepped up to the plate. They have built a site that is both easy to read and responsive. By displaying the featured news items on the left and the latest headlines on the right, Time Magazine has found a great way to balance the screen space.

Second is GQ Magazine. It’s no secret that GQ is one of the most popular men’s magazines out there, so why not try and achieve the same for the website. Right off the bat, you’re hit with fashion imagery with a banner that stretches from edge to edge. As you scroll down, you find a list of articles laid out beautifully in a stylish grid.

Third is National Geographic. Known for their beautiful photography, National Geographic spared nothing in bringing these images into their website. The site boasts simplicity and showcases big images with large, easy-to-read fonts. Each article is not limited to just one large image but comes with a variety of powerful photographs, some of the things that we’ve come to expect from this brand.

Last but not least is Newsweek. Newsweek’s website not only looks amazing on a desktop, but it also comes in a responsive version so you can access it anywhere on the go. That’s great since their website is full of amazing imagery and intriguing news stories. After clicking on an article to read more, you’re given a navigational bar that gives you access to all of Newsweek’s featured items.

Campaign Websites

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So I realized that I mostly only know how to design websites based on a mainstream audience, which is people my age or older. But I only recently thought of specific audiences, such as children for their websites for games or even people that need to travel somewhere. But what about political campaign websites?

I searched ideas on what are the most important elements to include in a political campaign website, and this is what I found.

According to a blogger on Brick Factory, there are five great campaign websites that he considers the most effective. First, he talks about Ed Gillespie (R-VA), and his campaign from 2014. He believes that Gillespie had the right idea with his use of photography and the site’s responsiveness. But, he does criticize the video that comes on as soon as you visit the site because it throws off the viewer and makes them think that it was just put there randomly. But what about the political aspects did he like? He mentioned that the Take Action bar on the left that encourages users to volunteer, donate, share or sign up for the email list. It is unique and nicely implemented, just as it should be for a campaign website. Nathan Deal is fourth on the list with his campaign website. This includes bold photography and minimal text, which the blogger believes will always work. What I’m noticing among these sites is the theme of using red, white and blue along with bolded words that have a lot of meaning for their campaign, such as “Donate,” or “Volunteer,” or even their slogan, such as “We can Do better.” From these examples, I can tell that designing a political campaign website relies heavily on appropriate photography with the person running, as well as them actively out and speaking to individuals. I also think that color themes are crucial because, as I have learned in my other classes, colors can make or break a site depending on the shades and blends that you use. Clearly, light greens, blues, whites and browns are usually a go-to. It’s interesting to think about designing a website for a campaign – never considered it to be a future career for me!

Websites for Kids

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After all my research on websites for businesses and portfolios, I didn’t think about kids as an audience. I thought about what designs are trending for children, and how do designers know what to add? Smashing Magazine has the answers.

According to them, websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in Web design articles, “but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis.” The first step to designing a site for a kid is thinking about the 5 senses. “Humans are mentally stimulated by a number of factors, and this is especially true with children.” This means that successful children’s websites use a number of elements and design principles that create an environment suited for a child’s personality and interests. Such as bright, vivid colors, or the characters’ body language on the screen. Something I never thought of was to add elements of nature, “because children’s experiences in life are limited, some of the things they are most familiar with are found in nature.” Natural elements such as trees, water, snow, and animals are used in a lot of children’s websites. Smashing Magazine also notes that i many cases nature elements are overemphasized through size or simplicity of design. Another thing to consider is large fonts and images. “Large design elements have proved to be effective in all types of Web design, demonstrated by the fact that large typography, large buttons, and large call-to-action areas have become commonplace in modern design.” This means that because children are naturally drawn to simple and obvious objects websites designed for children will increase their effectiveness through the use of large design elements. This seems like a fun task, maybe I’ll make my next project one for kids.

Trendy

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I like to stay in the know about certain trends. When it comes to fashion or food, I’m always on top of it. But with websites, I feel like things are constantly changing, and I want to make sure I can keep up.

According to the http://www.csswinner.com/monthlywinners, there are certain sites everyone must look at to get an idea of what a great website is, and how it can make visitors feel. The best site of the month of December 2016 was http://www.pellmell.fr/

This site is for Pell Mell Agency, a management agency founded in 2010. They are known for their creativity and awards on their designs. The homepage is an automatic slideshow, changing images and bouncing them to the left as I just get used to how beautiful and unique the image is. It’s basically their page of the work they’ve done, and they showcase it well. Below are a few examples of the images that appear when you reach the site.

Each of these are different images they worked on as a design team, something I’d love to learn how to do. They say so much with such little design. This trend with the use of the screen to let the business speak for itself is exactly what I want to carry out if I were to make a minimalist website.

Best Weebly Websites

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Previously, I talked about the best SquareSpace websites out there. Now I am going to talk about the best weebly websites. I have had experience in designing a weebly site but it has always been difficult to find a design I like and can stick with because of the wide variety of options that it has.

http://www.douksnow.com/#

This site is a snowboarding business that sells skiing equipment. They have their logo set at the top of the page, right above the navigation bar (see figure 1).

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 1.34.50 PM

(figure 1) source: http://www.douksnow.com/#

Although it has a lot of options, the design is simple and easy to read. You can tell the difference between this site and Squarespace’s websites because it has the option to include a parallax feature, something that is trending today in design.

http://ctevents.biz/

This website also has the parallax on the top part of the homepage. However, what separates this website from the squarespace websites is the use of color. On Squarespace, there is only a select few colors you can choose from, whereas this user has decided to use different colors because of the whimsical theme of events such as circuses and escape artists. I can see why someone would choose weebly over squarespace in terms of what their business is. Clearly, Squarespace is better for portfolio purposes, whereas weebly can provide for all sorts of businesses and people.

 

Inspiration Web

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There is a website that I found that’s purpose is to inspire web designers and entrepreneurs  with web designs and templates all over the internet (webdesign-inspiration.com) It includes fonts, templates, mockups, icons, vectors, textures, graphics, and more. Siteinspire.com serves the same purpose, except they showcase more interactive design and have a directory to find agencies. Thebestdesigns.com is another place to mark as a place to stop and look for people who may experience a creative block. Believe it or not, admiretheweb.com is yet another destination for inspirations on web design and trends that a designer might want to visit for an extra push on a project. And, of course, there is pinterest, filled with pinned templates and website designs that someone could come across to help them make that first step in creating a website. Of these websites, I enjoy the siteinspire.com the most because it has a random generator of websites that anyone can look at. I also keeps the sites organized on variety and not just one specific style that stands out online today. These are all important places to bookmark in case I am in need of inspirational creative design when I become a freelance web designer.