Your website’s the primary face of your brand online and its design plays a key role in how your visitors experience the site. Incorporating smart and creative website design ideas gives you a way to stand out and provide a unique, positive experience for your visitors.
If you’ve been considering a web design makeover, but you haven’t decided yet what you really want, these creative website design ideas can provide some inspiration.
1. Make It Interactive.
Ideally, you don’t want a visit to your business website to be a passive experience. You want visitors to be engaged with the information on your pages. One way you can pretty much ensure that will happen is by adding interactive elements to your website.
This can include anything that gives the visitor the power to change their experience on a page by scrolling and clicking certain parts of it. One good example of this is the Nurture Digital homepage:
Instead of a typical menu, their different services are labeled alongside a cute animation. Scrolling over each option changes the animation slightly, and clicking opens up a page within the page that provides more information.
Even though the page is different than what people are used to on a homepage, it’s intuitive to figure out and still makes it easy to find all the information a visitor needs.
2. Use Original Illustrations.
An interactive site won’t make sense for every brand, but there’s a much simpler step you can take to make sure your website shows a unique brand personality. Hiring a graphic designer to create original illustrations for your website and content can help you develop a unified visual experience for your brand.
Illustrations that are in the same style and color scheme across the website will tie all the different pages of your website together visually and tell visitors something about your brand personality without them even realizing it’s happening.
This is a web design tactic we use here at HostGator. You can see a unified style between the images used on our homepage, our product pages, and our blog. Each one is relevant to the context on the page, but also fits in with the larger visual whole of the site.
3. Incorporate Product Photos
Let’s be honest, product photography often isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting. But it can be.
And if you take an approach to your product photography that makes it more artsy or attractive, you could make photos of your product the center of your web design.
People Footwear does a good job of this. By positioning their shoes in visually aesthetic and creative ways, they create images that both serve as good backgrounds for their homepage and communicate something about the products – and not just how they look, you can tell right away from the images that they’re good for activities like walking and tennis.
4. Use a Unique Font
Most of us that aren’t web designers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts, but they have an effect on how we interact with different websites we visit. Choosing a unique font is a small way you can add some additional personality to your website and create a design experience that feels original.
There are a lot of resources online for finding new fonts and if you want to mix things up by using different fonts on one page, Font Combinations is a useful tool for helping you pick out fonts that look good together.
Caava Design uses a mix of different fonts to create a visually compelling homepage that tells you something about their style as a brand and as designers. The design all works together naturally enough that you might not notice the different fonts if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice you can see how well they all work off each other.
5. Make Your Content the Star
If you’re putting a lot of work into creating high-quality content, then you want people to find it. One option for making your content more visible is to build your website around it.
Content-centric websites, sometimes called content hubs, put your valuable content front and center. They’re designed to make sure people easily notice the content options they’re most interested in.
Websites that are built to center content make the most sense for media companies that have a business model based on content or for brands that want to give high priority to their content marketing programs.
Makeup.com from L’oréal falls into the latter category. The entire website is focused on drawing attention to the content the brand has created around makeup subjects. People can also find the company’s products by scrolling down some, but they’re not the main focus of the website. The website clearly follows the content marketing principle of providing value first and promoting products later.
6. Leave Visitors Wanting More
Sometimes less is more when it comes to great web design. If you can keep your main landing page simple but intriguing, it can make your visitors want to keep scrolling or clicking to figure out what the site is all about.
The restaurant Maaemo uses this principle. At first, the only thing you see on the website is the name (in interesting font, see tip #5) with a beautiful moving landscape in the background. The only clue at this point as to what the site is for is the “Book a table” in the top left corner.
You have to scroll down to learn that the website is for a restaurant that specializes in using natural, local produce as a way to help people better understand the local landscape and culture through food (which makes the initial image relevant to the brand’s positioning).
It’s beautiful and interesting enough to catch your attention from the first moment, but it makes you do just a little but of work to engage with the website and learn more.
7. Dare to Be Colorful
While a minimalist style can be just right for some brands, for others your personality will be better represented by a burst of color.
Wistia’s website is full of vibrant colors, which makes perfect sense for an artsy brand that presents a playful personality.
You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic color scheme that just uses a small part of the color palette, as long as you choose your colors wisely so they all look good together, you can make your website stand out and make its mark by using vibrant colors.
8. Use (Silent) Video
To start, let me be very clear that I don’t mean using loud autoplay videos. That creates a bad user experience and will inspire many visitors to quickly x out of the window and find another site to visit instead. But you can use silent video as a way to make the background image on your website do more by showing more.
Mediaboom does this by having a video in the background of their homepage that shows people working and browsing the web. It’s subtle enough not to distract from the positioning or CTA on the page in text (the most important font and CTA button are in yellow, while the video’s in black and white), but it does some extra work to humanize the brand and provide visual information about what the business does.
9. Make Your CTA Bold
A lot of the web design ideas on this list are about providing an experience that’s visually interesting or unique. But it’s important that whatever else you do with your website’s design, you also make sure it does the main job you need it to: communicating what your brand is and what makes it special.
For that reason, you should make sure that your web design centers your main positioning. You want everyone that comes to your website to quickly learn what makes your business valuable.
Freshbooks does a pretty good job of this on their homepage. The first thing you notice when you visit is the big blue writing that tells you they provide “Small Business Accounting Software that Makes Billing Painless.” You know what their product is, who it’s for, and why people should use it.
10. Use Parallax Scrolling
Parallax scrolling is when the website changes as you scroll down. Sometimes it’s the background that changes and sometimes your scrolling triggers animations. Either way, it makes for a memorable experience that gives the visitor a lot to look at as they navigate the page.
The Make Your Money Matter site uses parallax scrolling to let you control the pace of an animated story that makes the case for choosing credit unions over banks. It’s an intuitive and entertaining way to take people through an argument that might have sounded dry and boring if delivered in another way.
11. Make Your Navigation Fun
Remember the “choose your own adventure” books you read as a kid? Getting to pick where the story went next was exciting. You can design your website to provide your visitor a similar experience by letting them pick the version of your website they want to see as they go.
This can be as simple as letting them choose which persona they fall into before delivering up the correct version of the website for them. Or it can be something more fun like the “choose your own adventure” experience provided by Lower Junction.
The site lets you choose between options like “Follow the Smell of Java” or take a “Tour of Moca.” Each option takes you on a different path of learning about the Lower Junction community in Toronto. It’s an innovative way to introduce people to an apartment community.
12. Use Gamification
While this option won’t be a fit for every type of website, in some cases incorporating gamification into the design of your website can be a smart way to get your visitors more engaged and drive the kind of actions you want them to take.
Gamification involves providing a system of rewards in exchange for the actions you want your visitors to take – like in a video game. For example, you could devise a points system that adds up to discounts or upgrades.
Dropbox uses gamification to encourage users to start using the program more actively, and to share the program with other friends. In exchange, users get more space for free rather than having to pay to upgrade.
Gamification plays on the human desire for competition – even if it’s not against someone else. Feeling like you’re earning new levels and winning feels good. If you can create that feeling, you can get people to take action.
13. Pack More In With Mouseover Text
We’ve established that clutter is a bad thing on a webpage, but sometimes you have a lot to say. Figuring out how to get all the most important points onto the page without making the page look too crowded is a challenge. One handy design feature you can use to solve this issue is mouseover text.
Stink Studio provides a collection of images with basic textual information over them on their homepage, but when you scroll over each, you get more detail on what you’ll see if you click. That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.
14. Provide a Virtual Tour
If your business has a physical location you want to give visitors a taste of, you can use a 360 virtual tour to provide a feel for what a visit will be like. Even if you don’t have a storefront, it can be a way to humanize your brand and staff for your visitors by bringing them into the headquarters where you work every day.
Virtual tours are a neat way to allow visitors a new way to interact with your brand and get more out of visiting your website.
Agora Gallery uses virtual tours to give website visitors a view of the art that’s likely to entice them to want to see it in person. For someone on the fence about making a visit, a glimpse of what they’ll see when they get there could be enough to tip them toward coming in.
What’s the Right Design for Your Website?
Providing a unique or cool experience is nice, but it should never be at the expense of your site being easy to navigate and clearly communicating what you do. Balance creativity with function.
Whatever creative web design ideas, or website builder tools you decide to use, make sure you always make it clear what your business does, why visitors should care about your brand and products, and what you want them to do next.