A New Frontier for Design

19 Nov

The Internet is something that we all use daily. It has forever transformed the journalism industry and has created a new frontier for design. Website design is a trendy field in the graphic design industry and thus websites have some unique and diverse layouts. Here are four websites that I find both visually appealing and successful.

Abstract Mall is an online clothing shop for alternative and extreme sports attire. It goes beyond the typical brands of Hurley, Quiksilver and Billabong which can be found in any mall across America. Instead, Abstract Mall focuses on niche brands which have shunned the corporate world to remain true to their alternative roots.

Abstract Mall has one of the cleanest website designs I have ever seen. As a viewer, your eye is instantly drawn to the feature image, which scrolls to show different clothing items and brands. This image is the only color element on the page, giving it significant weight in the design. There is a clear visual hierarchy with the clothing product image dominating the layout while smaller drop-down menus provide the text content near the bottom of the design.

I like the usage of drop down menus to avoid cluttering this elegantly simple design with too much text; however, I wish Abstract Mall had made its name more visible on the website homepage rather than simply featuring it in the scrolling graphic.

Waterlife is a website showcase for the documentary film of the same name. The film focuses on the story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on Earth, The Great Lakes. This website offers its audience a wonderful preview of the breathtaking cinematography and rich storytelling found in the film.

The true genius of the Waterlife’s site cannot be captured in a simple screenshot. Sure the layout is visually stimulating and the typeface selection creates a strong visual hierarchy, but that is just the surface of this website’s design. The beauty of this site is found in its fluid navigation that mimics the gentle motion of a lake. This type of strong visual and verbal linkage is something difficult to create on the web. Perhaps that is why Waterlife’s website was named one of the Top 10 Best Flash Websites of 2010.

Knockaround is a sunglass brand that began as a side project for aspiring artist Adam Moyer. Moyer set out to create a down-to-earth sunglass line with classically designed shades at affordable prices. Through Facebook marketing and word of mouth Moyer’s brand has expanded to include 3 sunglass styles in a variety of colors as well as belts and t-shirts. Needless to say Moyer’s sunglasses have become his art.

Knockaround’s website is similar to that of Abstract Mall. It begins with a clean white background and overlays text and photos. Knockaround has improved on my critique of Abstract Mall, prominently featuring its name on the homepage. This is done is a way that does not detract from the scrolling product-shot image below, aiding the strong visual hierarchy. If I could change one thing on this website I would contain the content on one frame. As evident from my screenshot, Knockaround’s website is scrollable; therefore, you must scroll down in order to see the full design. As a viewer I hate having to scroll to see valuable information on a website and in general I just choose not to. Consequently, Knockaround’s viewers are not getting the full website experience because of this design flaw.

MarcEcko is a well-known fashion designer. His life’s work, from fashion to art to gaming are all contained in this extremely successful website. MarcEcko.com is a wonderful example of using the vast possibilities of Flash to accurately reflect the entirety of a consumer brand within a website. Even visitors unfamiliar with the Ecko brand will feel they understand the art and philosophy it symbolizes within a few minutes of touring the site.

The sheer volume of content that is crammed into this site while still remaining clear and intriguing is a testament to the powerful design. I like how Ecko has encapsulated his brand, using boxes to represent each arena in which he designs and also each segment of his website. This, along with the different box sizes and usage of spot color creates a strong visual hierarchy. If I could change one thing from this site I would simply make the top banner remain constant rather than transforming into a drop-down menu. This drop-down menu seems to detract from the artistry that fills the rest of the design, overlaying a text heavy drop box above the strong visual layout.

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One Response to “A New Frontier for Design”

  1. A Graphic World II November 26, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Nice work, but I you are really talking about layout in each of these and I wish you would have dissected unique parts to each site that stood out, like type or color choice.

    -Bridget Streeter

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