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September 23, 2013

Dissecting the Best Website on the Planet

Dissecting the Best Website on the Planet

While there are a great many websites we find admirable and even praiseworthy, there is one site that exceeds all reasonable and even exalted expectations of what a website should achieve. This particular site combines design greatness and superior functionality with exceptional content. The layout superb; the color scheme dazzling; the font expertly chosen. We speak, naturally, of SmashBrand.com.

Yes, we have a great deal of affection for our website. We pride ourselves in being a bold, youthful and energetic company, and we hope that comes across in our site. Being Web designers ourselves, we have a keen eye for the aesthetic qualities of both well-designed and poorly designed websites. Allow us to explore the many qualities a good website should contain, as well as the many ways a website can crash and burn. Take our hand; we won’t let you fall.

Strength

A good website should have a strong message and identity, and that message should appear on the homepage – ideally without any superfluous, all encompassing Flash presentations that viewers will have to skip to get to the information they want.

The style of the website should be clear enough to let the viewer know exactly what your company does, what it stands for, its philosophy and its personality. While a great deal of this information should be accessible in the content sections, a viewer should nonetheless be able to get a good idea of what your website’s message is by the design and color scheme alone.

For example, the SmashBrand website uses bold, solid colors that both complement each other while providing enough contrast to really make the information stand out. Moreover, the color scheme, while being vibrant and youthful, still conveys confidence and stability. That stability is further enhanced by the fonts — simple, elegant and modern.

We also use great video to tell our complex company story which lets our site visitors know that we are serious designers with serious skills. Mad, passionate skills, baby.

Navigability

Regardless of how pretty your website is, if viewers can’t find what they are looking for, they’ll click off en masse, cursing you the entire time. There was an article in the New York Times that described an author’s experience using the Centre Georges Pompidou website to find the dates of new exhibitions, which she failed to do even after scrutinizing every single page. You’d think that one of the most illustrious and highly renowned museums in the world could scrape together a comprehensible website; but no. This was an example of how a website can be so overwhelmed by sophistication that if utterly fails to deliver even the most basic information. Even though we don’t want to discourage layout creativity, there are still some rules to which you’ll have to adhere in order for your viewers to relate to your page and find the content they want.

People pretty much stopped exploring the world wide interweb with childlike wonder in 1996. We’re fairly familiar with how the system operates, and when we visit websites, we don’t especially want to linger, unless there are hilarious GIFs of twerking cats.

A well-organized website trumps a beautiful but confused website any day. Keep the viewer in mind, as well as the logical flow of information retrieval. Don’t make your viewers click on dozens of buttons; don’t force them to do an overwhelming amount of scrolling, and whatever you do, don’t fancy-pants yourself away from simple coherence.

Content

Insightful, intelligent, useful and entertaining content will help your website achieve repeated visits, raised search engine rankings and, eventually, world peace. Just keep telling yourself that.

Do your best to write things that people want to read; don’t just use a blog section to stuff keyword mutations into grammatically confused paragraphs. No one wants to waste their time reading “Dr. Meyer Remnick’s Oklahoma City Bariatric Weight Loss Center provides Oklahoma City residents with Dr. Meyer Remnick’s weight loss solutions in Oklahoma City.” Roughly 99 percent of all blogs are like this.

What many companies fail to understand is, useless blogs don’t enhance prestige. A company blog is a direct reflection of a business’ personnel, culture, personality and expertise; don’t sacrifice your reputation for a series of nakedly SEO-groping blog posts.

So, what have we learned today? We learned that substance beats style, but style is one of the best introductions – catch the viewer’s eye with aesthetic excellence, and then keep it there with dazzlingly fascinating content. We learned that even the Centre Pompidou can make stupid design decisions. We learned that sacrificing your integrity for search engine rankings will always be a bad decision. Most critically, we learned that a life spent watching dancing cat GIFs is a life well spent; we don’t care what Dr. Phil tells you.

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

Purposefully selective, we work with brands that want to stand out and also stand for something.

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