Unlike art, websites are given awards because they not only look great, but also achieve a concrete goal and deliver an exceptional user experience. Design and usability are critical elements to running a successful website, but site owners often don’t take enough time to learn from the best or adapt effective design principles to their own offerings.
So, today, take a look at these innovative award-winning websites and pinpoint what parts of their designs you can emulate to make your own site more effective.
The web design award ecosystem can be a difficult one to navigate. If you’re encountering it for the first time, it’s hard to tell whether a given award is actually legitimate.
While there are many prestigious accolades out there, The Webby Awards are the gold standard. Established in 1996, the Webby Academy (which consists of 2,000-plus web experts) votes to award nominees in more than 100 categories every year.
See what you can learn from previous Webby Award winners:
1. Make your purpose clear
Refugees Welcome was the 2018 Webby Award winner in the Activism category.
This website’s straightforward design is its greatest strength: it explains what the organization’s purpose is as soon as you land on the homepage. Don’t keep your visitors wondering: make your brand’s mission as clear as soon as possible.
2. Experiment with web standards
Not Your Standard was the 2018 Webby Award winner in the Lifestyle category.
One of the most common website practices is to feature your site’s main menu near the top of the page; it’s considered a mistake not to place it there.
Not Your Standard (no pun intended) puts its own spin on the idea by featuring the menu to the side, with its text running perpendicularly. This makes the design more interesting and, surprisingly, makes the menu more useful by keeping it accessible yet still out of the way.
Take a look at your own website. Ask yourself, does it strictly adhere to conventional web standards? Could your user interface benefit from a bit of experimentation?
3. Shine the spotlight on content
A little publication you may have heard of, The Washington Post, was recognized with the 2018 Webby Award for News & Information.
The site puts content above all else, which is the hallmark of its design. Aside from the logo (which serves to tell visitors where they are), there are hardly any branding elements on the page. This makes the content that much more digestible for the reader and makes it the sole focus of attention.
Remember, content is king. Your visuals should only serve to support it, and your branding should not distract from it.
4. Put the headline center stage
Explore Parts Unknown is one of those sites that has a lot going on, but perhaps the most noticeable element is the huge, bold headline visitors encounter as soon as they land on the homepage.
One of the reasons it was a 2018 Webby Honoree in the Travel Websites category is that it combined a substantial text headline with a video backdrop. This made the above-the-fold area of the site interesting on its own — not just an area you scroll past on your way to something else.
What you present visitors with first will influence their impression of your site, so you need to make it count. If you’re publishing posts, make your headlines stand out; if you’re selling products or services, display compelling images of them.
It’s safe to say that learning from the best is an effective way to grow your skills by leaps and bounds. Even though you might not win an award for your design efforts, you (and your audience) can still gain a lot by borrowing from the pros.