Where did all the interesting websites go? Here are two companies still doing cool things.
Either I'm a jaded New Yorker, or websites (and their designs) are just boring me now. I feel very uninspired by most websites out there. A few years ago, there was an emergence of new best practices:
There was a good period of time in which all the major companies worked feverishly to upgrade their sites to include these kinds of features. But these days, it seems like I'm hard-pressed to find sites that inspire me. My own company has a couple of very innovative sites for some major brands that will be coming out at the end of this year, but they aren't live yet, so I can't use them as examples.
Plus, I feel like in this economy, people have kept their heads low, concentrated on day-to-day issues, and have been thinking less about major design evolution.
What do you do when most of the commercial websites out there bore you? I start looking at what the tech folks are doing, to see if there is anything cool and interesting in that world that we could use in ours. To that end, here are a few links that are currently inspiring me. I hope they inspire you too.
This is a jQuery plug-in that enables visual sorting. Play around with it for a moment. It's hard to believe that this functionality is not Flash, because it is so smooth. It's based on the jQuery library, which is a great front-end library for development. The demo page shows how sorting and rearranging items on the screen can be done in a visually stunning way.
How can you implement this? In a million different ways. Sorting products on a page is the first. But this could also be used in a gift finder (in which products appear or disappear based on your answers to questions about the receiver of the gift you are buying). Or, do you run a SaaS company, and have a million little applets in your user dashboard? Use this tool to let the user organize them in a meaningful way.
This example is more fun than functional. The page shows birds flying across the screen. Each bird represents a tweet that was sent out, and you can tell it what to search for (your company's Twitter name, for example).
The point of showing you this page is that the company took a common idea (showing tweets) and reimagined how to represent them. What items do you have to visualize? Products? Colors/size choices? Best-selling merchandise? How can you create a more visually interesting way to display these mundane things? If this site can do it for a standard Twitter feed, then you can do it for elements in your own world.
These are just two examples of tech types who are out there and doing cool things with new browser technologies. Are there existing retail or B2B sites that you think are equally inspiring? Who is really doing cool things right now? Leave their link below and we can all check them out.
But if you are like me, you've become a little jaded and are no longer impressed with "quick look" and zoom/pan. It's time major sites enter a new evolutionary phase and really start impressing us again!
Until next time...
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Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.
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