Design Students’ Favorite Websites – Fall 2013

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Each fall, I teach Typography 2 at Lasell College. One of the projects I assign is a re-design of an existing website. In preparation for this project, I ask the students to show their 2 favorite websites and explain what they like so much about them. The presentations always generate interesting discussions and provide good inspiration for solutions they might explore for their own designs.

Here are the favorite websites of this year’s typography students, along with snippets of our discussions:

billionaireboysclub-300Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream

2 clothing lines by Pharrell Williams and Nigo. Urban, gritty, comfy style for rap music fans. Lots of information presented very clearly with distinct categories and easy-to-use shopping cart.

deborahcavenaugh-300Deborah Cavenaugh

Artist’s website. Beautiful hand-rendered artwork for background and navigation. Problem: background image ends abruptly beneath the “fold”. Suggestion: meld background image smoothly into flat background color using a gradient. Main container is a bit narrow and could be widened.

dimepiecela-300Dime Piece L.A.

Co-creators Ashley Jones and Laura Fama developed this brand for girl power, nonconformist streetwear, and contemporary graphics. Straightforward navigation at the top, combined with unusual and cool navigation devices with images on the Home page.

games-espn-300ESPN Fantasy and Games

Great interactive site for sports enthusiasts.

hnhh-300Hot New Hip Hop

This site is jam-packed with what’s trending in hip hop music. Impressive organization of a large number of topics and articles.

jimcarrey-300Jim Carrey

A muli-faceted site with lots of cool stuff to choose from. The landing page is a well conceived portal to different sites that showcase Carrey’s various interests and career paths. Looking at this site led us into a discussion of how to showcase the different aspects of our own professional lives. Do we combine our design portfolio with our fine art or keep them on separate websites?

laurenconrad-300Lauren Conrad

A young, chic, magazine type of blog with content that merges fashion, beauty, craft projects, and cooking. I noticed that most of the navigation links are categories within the blog. “Community” and “Boutique” are the exceptions, which I think should be differentiated with a unique style or placed into a secondary nav bar. Grouping of information is a key responsibility of a designer.

lionandlion-300Lion and Lion

Digital marketing company specializing in online branding. Simple, clean, contemporary design and navigation. There’s lots of white space, which enhances the brief, clear messaging. It’s comprised of a single page, navigated via downward scrolling

manrepeller-300Man Repeller

Fashion, beauty, shopping, and culture blog for independent woman. The primary navigation sticks to a fixed position at the top of the browser screen, a very useful feature for this content-rich site with deep pages. When hovering over the categories in the drop-down menu, thumbnails and summaries are revealed. Although page load speed is slow, the site is very popular (over 130,000 likes on FaceBook).

mechanicaldummy-300Mechanical Dummy

“Art, Music, Technology and Style from a Young Genius Perspective.” Content-rich, user-friendly, fascinating site about cultural trends. In addition to the fixed primary navigation, the Home page employs sliders to show thumbnails and summaries of content in the other main sections of the site.

pinterest-300Pinterest

Given the visual nature of this site, it’s no surprise that it’s popular with design students. It started out as a personal sharing site, but has evolved recently into a forum for business-associated sharing.

reddit-300Reddit

Appreciated more for its content than for its design, Reddit is a social media community where users submit news links and posts. The community votes on the content to decide what is good and what is junk. The quality content gets pushed to the front page so even more members can view it.

refinery29-300Refinery29

Trending fashion and style inspirations to lead a hip, creative, beautiful life. Portfolio/magazine format with effective thumbnail images and attention-grabbing headlines presented in an organized grid structure. Nifty mini-scrollbar that floats on the left as you drill down into the page.

shinedown-300Shinedown

Music group’s website. Bold graphics, saturated colors, and well-organized content.

oatmeal-300The Oatmeal

Comic book ramblings of Matthew Inman. The hand-drawn illustrations are fun and the site design reflects his style well.

What are your favorite sites? Tell Us!

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