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Favorite Websites of 2014

2014 was an interesting year for websites. So many things that were anathema a bare year before became “unique, innovative and wanted” for our own sites . A perfect example of this is the Parallax scrolling. It was much vaunted and then much maligned. Slammed for making the users of the iPhone 7 nauseated, it became one of the top design trends of the year. So many new trends, new colors, new texts,  and interesting new designs appeared to capture our imagination that it was difficult to examine them all.

More brands than ever before invested in vast amounts of content, changing what had once been a content thin site into a valuable and valued online magazine site that brought in users hand over fist. Many sites went from good to great this year. Pinpointing just a few is difficult at best.

What is it that makes a great website? In some minds, it’s the all-around attractive site design. There’s nothing more to it than that. We tend to disagree. The sites that give us web design inspiration are great looking, but they have that little something extra that makes you want to stick around and dig a little deeper into the site.

To our way of thinking what makes a great website is:

  •     Clean design and visually attractive images.
  •     Fast and sleek coding that allows for speedy load times.
  •     Easy navigation so that you can find what you want readily and don’t waste time searching for it.
  •     Interesting and unique content that makes someone want to stay and to keep reading–just a little longer.
  •     Small bells and whistles like a video or two that add to the things we have to explore.
  •     Outbound links to quality sites that contain more content that may be interesting. Rather than try to contain your visitors to one site, find them more of what they like and you’re a great site.

    The kind of websites that interest and attract us vary from person to person.  Colors, styles, bells and whistles also change from person to person, but nearly anyone can get behind a site that just says style, no matter what the content is about or the images portray.

    Let’s take a look at web design inspiration from 2014 and early 2015 and see what’s trending, what’s hot, and how it was done.  Taking a lot at some of the top commercial brands and the most visited sites online last year is always an education. Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit, most of them stand out in our minds–and really– isn’t that the overall goal?

    Just in case you were curious, not too many people agree on the top ten websites of 2014. There are hundreds of top ten website lists. At best, they share five or six websites, while disagreeing on the rest. We’re not offering ten, but we are offering a glimpse of some very valuable and attractive sites from 2014.

    Here is our top site list, as well as a little of what we liked about each one.

    Dangers of Fracking—

    The color play, the continuity and the innovation sell the Dangers of Fracking site quite well. The seemingly endless scroll appears troublesome at first when  you realize that you’re still going down, down, down. The truth is, that despite all of that, the information continues to draw you in. You’ve become so invested in the site and what it has to offer that the scrolling isn’t in the least troublesome—a perfect example of what compelling content and images can do. Inspired design takes many forms. Dangers of Fracking is well done.

    World Food Clock

    Are you interested in the food that we use, the food that we eat, the food that we waste and learning a little more about it? World Food Clock offers great information all of which is housed in a sleek, clean and very stylish layout. The design is easy on the eyes, speedy and quick to navigate. The information is shocking and eye opening. There’s something for everyone here.   As much as we’d love to say that animation and moving graphics have nothing to offer—as much as we’d like to say it makes a site look outdated, we’d have to eat our words on this one. Pete Nottage  voiceover site  has it all. Great looks, great style, clean lines, speedy load, and yes—animation. Inspirational design and wonderful use of color and design innovation, Pete makes the cut.

    Simple as Milk Designers and marketers, Simple as Milk hit a home run with this easy, simple, fast and clean site design. Primarily designers for startups, the site that brings them in and wow’s them did the same for us. Clear, concise text and easy loading images as well as the helpful information on the site make Simple as Milk is among the most understated, original and nicest sites we’ve seen this year.

    Who What Why

    It’s trendy, it’s contemporary and its attractive. Not to mention it’s easy to navigate, the news is laid out for you and aside from all of that, it’s just downright interesting. The site offers less news and more investigative reporting than many sites, really trying to find the truth behind the hype. What’s not to love about a website like that?

    War is Boring

    We’re a little up in the air on this one. The look is clean, contemporary and stylish. The site is sleek and lightweight and the images are compelling. The only real down side that we see on this site is the use of white text on the slider that isn’t readily visible in every area.

    These are just a few of the sites we reviewed that really hit a high note with us. They aren’t the traditional, forcibly trendy top slider and lower content sites, they are creative, they are innovative and they are nothing if not original. That’s what puts them at the top our of list of favorite sites.

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