Here’s a question I’m asked quite often: “What makes a site look good?”
The answer might surprise you, because it’s about way more than white space, fonts, or color.
And that’s why I ordered you to “halt!” Because great design is not achieved when you fly by the seat of your pants. Design done right takes time, effort and planning.
No duh, right? But I do see more than a few blogs out there going through multiple iterations and sometimes wonder how much planning has gone into the changes.
So this post is all about stopping, looking and paying attention to the elements of these redesigns.
As I set the wheels in motion for a site revamp of my own, I’ve been focusing on more than a few choice blogs.
And here I want to highlight four blogs that have gone through a fairly recent redesign.
I’ve helped craft B2B websites for years, but this little exploration is all about blogs done right.
So, why do I think these four redesigns are so successful?
Please read on to find out …
Paid to Exist
With Paid to Exist Jonathan Mead not only changed designs, he changed domains. The destination once known as “Illuminated Mind” recently became Paid to Exist.
So here, we have a complete rebranding and in my humble opinion, the design is stunning. It’s clear a ton of thought went into crafting the site.
A distressed background, centering on a stylized illustration, works so well. A textured, cohesive blend of elements from top to bottom.
The design is also responsive, so it looks just as nice on your mobile device.
This is an extensive redesign, and you can read about it here. A project like this is not for the faint-hearted, but it is inspirational to see what a great designer can do with the Thesis theme.
Why is it so crackin’?
Do I need to explain this one, really?
Well for me, it’s the richness, the layered look of a design that is full of negative space. The combination of copy and design make it very clear what the site is about. And when it comes to eyeballs, it’s very sticky, from the sign-up form to the resources at the bottom. A beautiful design, built for conversions.
Customers That Stick
Just like the above site, this was a rebranding. In March of 2012 Adam Toporek’s IntenseFence.com became CustomersThatStick.
I think you know how I feel about white space and to me this is a spartan yet polished look that does so many things right.
Minimal color adorned with a very cool logo (is that Don Draper leaning on the “C”?) and an uncluttered top navigation bar with only four links.
I especially like the way Adam’s bio is incorporated into the feature box at the very top. A lot of content in a very small space, but done oh, so well.
I’d say Adam kinda rocked the orange too.
I’ve made no secret that I’m a BlogcastFM junkie. Srinivas Rao’s podcast is thoroughly entertaining and informative. I enjoy the show and I’m also a fan of the fairly recent site redesign.
I’m sure David Crandall could explain this better, as he’s the guy who built the new space, but here’s why I like it so much.
The site packs a ton of information, from recent guests, to blog posts, to offers just below the fold.
Recent shows are highlighted with a mix of screened back head shots of varying monotone colors.
There’s even a little teaser just below the photos, which highlights an upcoming show.
There’s a ton of information packed in here, but it’s done effectively. The site promotes the podcast, houses a blog and because of its layout, is a stress free information hub for bloggers.
The Rise to the Top
Here’s another podcaster with an entirely different approach.
You know I’m big on showing your true self to the world. Well, David Siteman Garland has no problem showing his personality here. In fact the design captures the true spirit of the show. It’s essence is brought forth with a crafty mix of color and offset, bold typography.
There’s a strong focus on the email sign-up form at the top, but it blends in. I don’t even mind the blue cyan mixed in throughout.
This is a great example of a site that captures the essence of the personality behind it.
So, what’s the recipe for a bitchin’ site?
Well the sites above do more than a few things very well …
a. Each contain design elements that work in harmony (Balance is good).
b. Solid design principals, such as continuity and figure-ground have been built in.
c. Effective use of something called negative space.
d. And a cohesive blend of design elements and copy for a message that is spot-on.
So you see that clean, functional navigation, balance and clarity of message are all elements that make the site.
We call that functional design and when it comes to attracting eyeballs, it’s the only way to go.
Seen any great sites lately?