No. 120
September 2nd, 2008

The “Randys” Website Design Awards – August 2008

Honoring Great Web Designs

Continuing on with my monthly design awards series, here are seven terrific websites I recommend everyone take a look at.

August 2008 Winners

James Toseland – Yes, this site has a LOT going on, but in my view, that’s OK — it’s for a professional motocross racer! And I really wanted to highlight the totally unique CSS effect of a fixed background image and a scrolling content background. Vibrant colors and stunning photography. Very cool. Designed by RBP.

Pacific Benefits GroupBeautiful, usable, clean, trust-inspiring. This site has pretty much everything I would look for in a mid-tier business. I’d like to see the “Talk to Us” call to action a little further up the page, but that’s really about my only gripe, and I know that sometimes clients don’t like that advice :). Visually, though, this site is stunning. Designed by Copious Creative (right here in Portland!).

Kent District Library – This is just an exceptionally well-designed site for a non-profit organization (the Kent Library in Grand Rapids, MI). Additionally, their blog and wiki take on the same look-and-feel as the rest of the site, which doesn’t always happen. The oversized navigation is an excellent idea for a library website, which probably has a higher percentage of seniors or otherwise sight-challenged people visiting than most commercial portals. This was surely designed by an outside agency, but I didn’t see it listed on the site, nor in some cursory Google searches…

Design Reviver – In general I’m not a fan of the “grunge” backgrounds because they distract non-design types from content too much. But this site does a nice job of containing them in the header to set the tone for the rest of the page without cluttering the main content areas. The tabbed navigation makes perfect sense. And I also enjoy the “boxy” listing of articles on the front page. Designed by Henry Jones.

The Westminster School, London – Not only one of the most beautiful liquid layouts I’ve ever come across, but one of the most functional. The classic crimson-and-navy color scheme is augmented by subtle grays, baby blues, and pinks. The ever-so-slightly rounded corners provide visual interest while keeping it easy for the visitor to focus on the content. The conventional navigation areas are reversed a bit (main is vertical, secondary is horizontal) but it is still exceptionally easy to get around. Designed by LiveWire.

Coudal Partners – Coudal Partners was one of the first sites I came across when I started my business back in 2005/2006, and it hasn’t changed its look much in that time. It’s just a classic, newsy, grid-based layout with GORGEOUS typographic choices. Times New Roman (the headline font, if you click through) has never looked so good. My only complaint is that it is difficult to identify links, because they’re not underlined or in a sufficiently different color to call attention to themselves.

The Heads of State – The Heads of State is a bi-coastal, predominantly print design shop. Which shouldn’t be surprising, given the somewhat posterized look of their website. What makes it so appealing has to do with its unique, bold typography so I’ll cut it a lot of slack for using Flash. Its messaging is gloriously kitschy and over-the top. Visually, it’s one of the most memorable sites I’ve ever come across and despite being in Flash is pretty easy to get around.

Previous RANDY Award Winners:

May 2008 Web Design Awards
June 2008 Web Design Awards
July 2008 Web Design Awards

About the RANDYs:

These should be pretty self-explanatory; there’s no official nomination process, so feel free to email sites you’d like me to consider for September at davidmihm (-at-) Rather than critique each site per se (these are AWARDS, after all, not reviews) I’ll highlight what makes is such a successful site in my eyes. Where possible, I will credit both the site and its designer.