I don’t say too much about my day job because, well, my design work and my day job are very separate in my world, but once in while I definitely find an overlap. We’re researching and coming up with ideas for a website redesign at work these days. Pretty fun project overall and I’m getting pretty excited to combine some of my print designs with the smarties at one of my favorite local design firms that I’ve been following since college (name and firm info to be disclosed later) since I’m not the web guru I could be, just yet. We’re looking to get a little more modern, flashy and outside the proverbial “box” that is the average construction industry website. Our company prides ourselves on being a little different and more approachable than a lot of other engineering consultant companies, at least in our region. The owner is a big personality, and though we have grown to a medium sized firm by many standards, we still operate very much like a big family. In our circle, we are known for great hospitality, fun get togethers and people who really take pride in their work, their community and our company.
Image courtesy of VDOT and borrowed from the NXL website.
The research has been fun. I’m collaborating with my Marketing Specialist and we’re spending some time brainstorming and looking at examples within and outside of our industry. What can we do to create an informative and memorable website that is creative, classic and just a little bit less “engineery” (that’s a technical term!) than other sites our clients see every day?
There are some great resources out there for ideas and cutting edge inspiration. Frankly, we don’t want to go too crazy, confusing or with too many bells and whistles. Most of my print work has been creative, but still concise and classic. I think a lot of our users are going to the site for very specific information (project examples, staff info, contact info, etc.) and prefer to be in and out in a hurry. My thought is to keep splash pages out and loading time to a minimum, have very clear navigation on all pages, but still have enough creative juice, hopefully, to encourage users to hang around a bit longer than usual. Keep with the purpose, but potentially add a new element of creative intrigue. It’s important to set a tone and purpose before you set out on a web crusade. Websites have come a long way and they aren’t just for staff photos and phone numbers anymore. What do you want those potential $1,000s in design work to buy you?
But back to the resources. I have really enjoyed looking through Communication Arts Webpicks in particular. Communication Arts also has a great web design Annual every year. I also write down every example I see at seminars and conferences, good and bad.
Pentagram has a great file of their web design work that’s wonderful for inspiration. The Web Marketing Association also has a pool of some of the best stuff out there. And last (for now) is the Webby Awards website with links to many years of winners. Happy exploring!