No. 112
July 31st, 2008

The “Randys” Website Design Awards – July 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.

July 2008 Winners

Wilson Miner Live – Hands down, the most attractive site ever done in Verdana. I’m amazed at the seeming variety Wilson is able to create by using just one dominant font. I also like the “hero” photo’s location at the righthand side of the page, thereby freeing up the major content area to move further up than it might otherwise have a chance to, were the hero shot to stretch all the way across the top. The subtle changes in greens from background-to-sidebar and quasi-overlap effect created by the bottom border are just a few more titillating subtleties. Designed by Wilson Miner, obviously.

NexCore Healthcare – There are a TON of things I like about this site: the unique proportionality of its columns (reminds me a little of the print version of The Oregonian, for all you Portlanders), the subtle gradient background, and the typography, among certain things. But what really stands out to me is the gorgeous, dominant “Quick Contact Form” – it’s consistent location at the top righthand side of every page is reassuring and the utter lack of content around it makes it really leap off the page at visitors for maximum conversion. Designed by FL2, Denver, CO.

Opera Colorado – I’ve always had a soft spot on my delicious list for this website. It looks a little too simplistic for my current aesthetic preference–these days I probably prefer something closer to the 5th Avenue Theatre featured last month. But it’s still DARNED attractive and just gives you exactly the content you want, exactly where you expect it. I used this site as a model and a reference point as I’ve refined my own design sensibility and strategy over the last couple of years. Designed by Havoc Interactive, Denver, CO.

AllThingsD – Maybe one of the few websites whose content pages are more attractive than its homepage (and I mean that as a compliment). The tabbed navigation reinforces exactly what section of the site you’re in, and the large, crisp portraits add a personal flair to the writing. Nice typography as well.

UC Berkeley Spanish & Portuguese Department – From a usability perspective, this site leaves a little to be desired (maybe an expert like Dr. Pete Meyers could give specifics on how it could be improved). But I’m willing to cut it some slack just because it is SO beautiful to look at–bridging the gap between CSS design and true art. What a unique typographical combination and dramatic columnar layout! I’m also a big fan of the oversized logos at the bottom of the page. Designed by Miguel Ripoll.

Bay Area Rapid Transit – I’m actually not a fan of BART at all; I think it’s one of the least enjoyable public transit systems in the country due to its limited number of stops and disgusting fabric “bacteria-trap” seats. But its recently re-designed website is amazing, in my opinion. It’s fantastically easy-to-use, with a standard three-column layout and a Trip Planner right where the visitor’s eye is drawn on the homepage. The unique rounded trapezoid shape is seen throughout the website, turning what could have been a banal rectangular look into a cool branding element. And the color scheme is just right: muted, allowing focus on content, with flashes of brilliant electric blue for variety.

MacAllan Ridge – In general, this is just a nice, clean, easy-to-use website that evokes a relaxing, slightly rustic feel. It uses a similar “theme” to my own homepage, e.g. a solid main content area whose visual interest comes from the background photo which the visitor just glimpses behind the content. But what sets it apart for me and makes it worthy of special attention is the footer, where a solid black vector drawing “grounds” the entire layout and creates a gorgeous layering effect I’ve not seen anywhere else. Designed by Paramore | Redd, Nashville , TN.

Previous RANDY Award Winners:

May 2008 Web Design Awards
June 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 August 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.