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9 Ideas for Building Great Websites With Less

9 Ideas for Building Great Websites With Less

We all know how laborious web work can be. It’s not a task for the faint hearted and generally requires a year or more of study to really grasp. As our era has progressed we’ve seen brilliant ideas and innovations ushering the online community towards open source and sharing.

The construction of a website has truly evolved into a multi-layered process. You must consider the webpage graphics, coding front-end styles and layout, server hosting, and possibly back-end programming to boot. Developers have been toying with these systems for years and finally we’ve reached a point of interest, but it will be extremely exhausting if you are going to handle all these works completely by yourselves.

Below I’ve shared some helpful resources for planning great website designs efficiently. These come in many forms throughout the entire creative process. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list I hope to touch upon resources helpful to experts and beginners alike.

 

1. Leave it to the experts

From icon designers to programmers around the world we’ve all got differing skill sets of varying magnitude. We don’t frequently envision ourselves as super heroes looking to build skills beyond the point of mastery. However to become a creative artist and programmer is a true gift.

For those of us focusing into a specific niche, external help should be warmly welcomed. It can expedite the process of building a website tenfold and offers a unique experience to work within a team setting. Some of the best PSD to HTML services include psd2html and xhtmlchop.comGoogle “PSD to HTML services” to get more, or check out a list of 100+ services here.

psd2html service

The physical process of sitting down to code a Photoshop document into HTML/CSS can be annoying. Especially if you’ve been coding for many years as the repetition becomes dull and almost antiquated. Many of these services promise 24 hour delivery and will even offer discounts for sub-page designs.

If you’re interested in coding but fall behind with design skills I’d recommend browsing some of the digital artist networks. These include Dribbble and DesignMoo where graphic designers can post and share their latest works. Generally you’ll also find a portfolio display page for each artist including contact information such as e-mail, Twitter, or IM chat.

 

2. Outsourcing Solutions

There are great examples of freelancers offering their services to support project studios. But with today’s current level of communication there are many instances where freelancers will be working hand-in-hand to complete project work. Even possibly from two distinct locations around the globe!

With the release of so many freelance communities it’s never been easier for designers and developers to meet up and work together. A great community Programmer Meet Designer allows for both web developers and designers to message and share ideas for projects. This is a relatively unknown network and still works as a small ring of professionals.

programmer meet designer

Alternatively you may be looking for work as a freelancer and finding jobs difficult. This is where the many job boards from around the Internet show their use. Such companies as Fresh Web Jobs and Krop are only a few examples of the many freelance opportunities. Each is updated daily and offer full descriptions along with contact info.

3. Utilize Open Source

One of the best inventions from today’s web development community has to be open source software. There are countless efforts being worked upon every day to supplement and improve existing libraries. jQuery and MooTools are two of the hundreds of JavaScript libraries which stand out from the rest based on simple tutorials and reputation. However, JavaScript is not the only open protocol having been worked on. Literally hundreds of thousands of developers are sharing and contributing packages of code on GitHub every day. Languages include PHP, CSS, SQL, ASP, Objective-C, Java, and so many more!

github

WordPress, a blogging platform developed by Matt Mullenweg and has grown historically over the past few years, is possibly the epitome of open-source success projects. It seems impressive looking at so many smaller packages being sifted through the web, but WordPress powers millions of websites and hosts thousands of developers working on their backend. The whole package is free to download and very simple to install. The official company website wordpress.org offers links and tutorials for developers interested in building WP themes and plugins. We’ve also sponsored an introductory tutorial on WP plugins for beginning programmers. Similarly there’s an official gallery boasting an impressive amount of free plugins for all WordPress users to enjoy.

For those of you who are looking for open source e-commerce scripts, check out this post.

4. Designing Own Icons – Not required

Moving towards the graphics and animation side of design we still see an open and sharing community. Web designers enjoy not only sharing their artwork into the world but helping others to promote their ideas.

Graphics are some of the most complicated aspects of a website. This holds especially true since top-notch graphic designers are tough to come by. Many of the free icon sets such as FamFamFamWefunctionFugueand more, disclose their downloads as free to use upon retribution links or crediting their work. This seems like a simple trade-off for unlimited uses!

iconfinder

Another fantastic service Icon Finder behaves as a search engine for the most popular icon sets. Often if you’re browsing through Google search results there are hundreds of web design blogs showcasing the best free icons. These have also been shared into such engines as Icon Finder to make building websites even quicker.

5. Better deal in Hosting & File Sharing

We can all use some extra money these days. Even as web designers it’s important to seek out those companies which offer deals and support the freelance generation.

better hosting deal

Web hosting is just one of the many expenses to be considered. Often times you can find coupons on related websites which save money on purchases of domain names and server space.

File sharing has become an important part of the web designer’s lifestyle. There are paid and free services available, and if you know somebody in the business it’s not difficult gaining a membership account. For the rest consider browsing our file sharing alternatives which provides completely free support for all users.

6. Free Performance checking

Website applications are the latest trend busting through the digital seams. From mobile to in-browser apps it appears almost anything can be completed on a computer these days. For webmasters it’s important to know of the many free opportunities for mechanical testing and website maintenance.

If you’re like most of us then website uptime is of grave concern. Having your website go down for even a few minutes can become catastrophic to your traffic numbers, not to mention deeply confusing to your visitors. Pingdom is a free tool all webmasters should use to check response codes from their web server. This is a sure-fire way to keep tabs on your backend and monitor performance from behind the scenes.

pingdom

Another great service, Google Webmasters allows for developers to claim ownership of their site. This can be done with a sitemap, meta tag, or other alternatives provided by Google. If you use a Google account it’s possible to store RSS data and even track keywords for individual websites. The app is 100% free and allows you to store unlimited website connections!

7. Code Editors Can Be Cheap (or Free)

Whether we like to admit it most web designers tend to dabble in some form of web development. It’s only for those truly gifted in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator who do not venture into HTML and CSS design.

For programmers frontend and backend alike it can be difficult finding a comfortable work environment. Adobe offers Dreamweaver which supports code highlighting in many languages, but unfortunately will cost quite a bit of money. We’ve reviewed the top 10 free source code editors and have offered direct download links to each page.

coda

If you’re just getting started into coding I highly recommend spending some time researching into these. Your development environment is crucial and will have effects on how you write code. Many of these editors are Windows-specific, and although you may find a few Mac friendly options I recommend Panic’s Coda – a way cheaper code editors (compared to Adobe Dreamweaver) for serious web development.

8. Pick up Some Starter Kits

Now that you’ve got a solid idea about the services and programs available try downloading a few starter kits to get you going. As web designers it’s important to focus our conscious attention towards creativity and spurring new ideas for layout platforms.

Over the past few years designers have slowly released free packages of icons, templates, form elements, GUI components, and many similar works. Please do peruse our list of web designer starter kits to see if anything catches your eye.

starter kit

Photoshop layout work isn’t always the easiest to complete. Often we find ourselves doubting and re-engaging to correct color schemes and placement. The old adage “practice makes perfect” seems to hold very true in this scenario, along with many others. And these basic starter kits should get you off on the right foot!

9. Always Keep Up with Study Time

As time moves on we all tend to lose interest in activities. If you’re truly passionate about web design you should keep yourself motivated and studying new topics. Consider opening your mind to a development language or practicing a new piece of software.

study

The tools online today are more advanced than ever before in helping budding young web designers pick up the prize. The Web Design Library was originally launched under Template Monster along with Jetimpex Inc, and has continued into a catalogue of very popular tutorials. The website is updated daily with new links and showcase items for inspiration.

The site also interlinks between many partner venues including Template Ninajas. This results in daily deals which you can’t find anywhere else – sometimes even demos or freebies! Website templates are a great place to get started when you’re unfamiliar with constructing a webpage layout or just need some new ideas.

I would also highly recommend the Tuts+ Network created by Envato. They host thousands of tutorials ranging from Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML5, ActionScript, vector shapes, and even photography. Some of their code requires a membership to download but all tutorials are free to follow and offer step-by-step instructions to ease the learning cycle.

Along with the written articles most of the comments will also offer great advice. The whole network is run by web designers and read by web designers, so you can be certain of high-quality feedback.

Conclusion

These methods should get you started on a thunderous path towards web design enlightenment. The best tricks of the trade have been passed down for years through the Internet community. And likewise as the amount of web designers have increased more open standards have been created.

Consider some of the ideas presented above and spend some time browsing through interesting articles or tutorials. Even familiarizing yourself with fresh material can jog your brain and get you thinking into an elevated design mindset. If you’ve got similar ideas feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Top 5 Ideas for Creating a Website

Top 5 Ideas for Creating a Website

Coming up with ideas for creating a website is not as difficult as you might be thinking. One good way to get an idea is that you look at a website that is successful. Think about what is missing in that website or something that can be added to make it more perfect. There you have an idea for a new website.

Let’s understand with an example. Suppose you see an online dating portal that you enjoy using but wished if that could be free to everyone. This is your idea of creating your own website.

Ideas for your website

This post contains some great ideas for creating a website, and those are not only profitable but also easy to proceed with. But before that, let’s find out what more you will need to create a great website along with a creative idea.

Basic Things Required to Create a Website

1. Domain Name:

As the domain name is a real identity of your website, it requires a lot of consideration and thought before you choose it. Some tips for choosing the right domain name are:

  • Make it easy to type. Don’t use any slang words with multiple spellings.
  • Try to keep it as short as possible, and If your domain is long and complicated, you risk users misspelling it.
  • Choose domain extension according to the area of your business. For example, if you are targeting a global audience, go with “.com” On the other hand, if your business is country-specific or city-specific, you can choose domain extensions like .au, .ca, .in, etc.

2. Web Hosting:

Web hosting offers your website all the technologies and services needed to be available on the world wide web. Even if you have a great website creating ideas, and you don’t choose the right hosting service, it will all go waste.

Today, there are a lot of web hosting options available that you can choose from. Shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting are some major hosting options provided by a majority of hosting providers. You can start with shared hosting, which is a cheaper option comparatively and upgrade to premium option whenever it is required.

To choose the right hosting partner, it is important that you conduct research about different web hosting providers. There are numerous hosting review blogs available on the internet that you can go through to know about the best hosting options available for you. You may read here to know about the best web hosting. The blog post not just compares the pricing but also makes you aware of uptime, speed, and other features.

Bluehost, Hostinger, A2Hosting, etc. are a few reputable names in the industry.

3. Website Building Platform:

From easy-to-use content management systems (CMSs) to self-hosted website builders to manual web coding, you can choose any of the ways to create your website.

4. Popular CMSs 

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • Magento

5. Popular Self-Hosted Website Builders

  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • Voog
  • Site123
  • WordPress

5 Best Website Ideas That Anyone Can Try

1. Health & Wellness

For centuries, people have been obsessed with health and wellness. Nowadays, people keep searching for topics like losing weight, diet plans, herbal remedies, etc. on the internet. According to WordStream, keywords like health, exercise, 24 hours fitness, weight loss, fitness first, diet, etc. have good search volume in search engine results.

Website niches

So, if you have a good knowledge of subjects like health and wellness. And if you can educate your audience about the remedies to heel their health issues, you can go with this website idea.

2. Stock Photography Website

Over the years, the need for the picture has increased dramatically. Today, every website, blog, ebook, and slideshow needs pictures to make their content more appealing. Therefore, more and more people are buying images for their website from stock photography websites.

If you have creative skills like graphic designing, digital photography, creating a stock photography website can be a good website idea for you. You can really make a good amount of money by selling your photos. Pexels.com is a good example of the stock photography website.

3. Tutorial Website

If you’re proficient in a particular subject, you can’t find a better website idea than creating your own tutorial website. Whether you are good at website building, making music, or even teaching Maths, you can create a tutorial website and showcase your video or text tutorials.

You can make money from tutorial websites via multiple streams such as paid subscriptions, affiliate marketing, direct advertisement, etc. To take inspiration, you may check out WikiHow. This popular website provides tutorials on how to do anything.                          

4. Self-Improvement

It is a huge niche online. Even on Google Trends, the term “Self-Improvement” is gaining popularity.

Self improvement stats

If you can help people with building self-esteem and increasing confidence, you can turn this website idea into a successful online business. Tony Robbins is a big brand that is doing great in the same niche.

On your website, you can provide ebooks, videos, or online training on subjects like self-improvement, career success, self-esteem, etc.                      

5. Classified Websites

Classified websites let users add ads to their services. These ad listing can be divided into a free, premium, and featured listing. You will get paid if a business or user submits a premium or featured ad listing on your website.

There are some other streams of income-generating with a classified website such as direct advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. Some good examples of popular classified websites are Craiglist, eBay Classifieds, Hoobly, Olx, etc.

If you want to know more ideas for creating a website, have a look at the below-mentioned tips.

Tips to Find Great Website Ideas

– Do complete market research about different website niches. Check out whether or not niches you’re considering have a profitable and big market. Free tools like Keyword Planner and Google Trends can help you find which term or keyword is getting popularity over the internet.

– You can pick a small niche. Search for your topic on Google and find how many people search for that topic.

Search queries

– Always choose a profitable niche. An easy way to test it is that check out if any advertisers are ready to pay for your chosen niche.

Search engines ads

These are a few top ideas for creating a website in 2019 that can help you make a really good amount of money. Whether you to earn via affiliate marketing, direct advertising, or Google Adsense program, the niches mentioned-above have good potential. Try to create a website on the subject you enjoy talking about. Otherwise, you will get bored after a couple of months.

4 Proven Website Ideas for Your Online Side-Hustle

4 Proven Website Ideas for Your Online Side-Hustle

In the middle of a subarctic storm, your water heater calls it quits. Your kids need new braces. Beyoncé drops a new album. You find the perfect couples snuggie set for your pet ball pythons.

What do all of these events have in common? You need money to make them happen.

While the side-hustle was once relegated to questionable deals in parking lots with slightly misspelled merchandise after big events, the modern side-hustle is a thing of beauty. It’s lucrative, it’s convenient, and if you’ve got the right website ideas, it’s easy to launch.

Today, we’ll talk about a few actionable website ideas you can implement to make the side-hustle work for you. We’ll cover:

And, we’ll take things further than that by giving you WordPress-ready recommendations for rolling out your side-hustle with no fuss and all the frills.

 

So, in the words of the great Roger Waters: “Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.”

What Every Website Idea Needs: A Target Audience

No matter what kind of side-hustle you want to run, there’s one universal truth you need to abide:

If you don’t have a target audience, you don’t have a viable website idea.

That might sound a little harsh, but it’s a reality that every website owner has to contend with, whether they’re starting a travel blog or trying to launch a new ecommerce store.

Without identifying a target audience, you can’t identify a market need. You also can’t identify your competition (which means getting outshined), find the right people with the right skills to address the market, or price your products at a premium people are actually willing to pay.

All of these are among the five leading causes of startup death.

Top reasons startups fails

Top reasons startups fails (Image source: Statista)

So, don’t doom your side-hustle to the business autopsy table and make sure that you’re trying to hit an identifiable target audience with your products.

If you don’t, you’ll waste time, money, and earning enough pocket cash for a cup of coffee will be a miracle.

OK, then. Identifying a target audience before starting your side-hustle is a must for making it work, but how do you get started?

Think about factors such as:

  • How old is your target buyer?
  • Do they have a family?
  • What’s their income?
  • What do they do for a living?

This demographic data alone is not enough, though. You need to go deeper if you want to truly understand your target audience:

  • Pain points. What are they struggling with?
  • Desires. What do they really want?
  • Language. How do they describe their pain points and their desires?

Keep in mind that figuring out what really drives people isn’t as easy as it might seem.

For example, if you know a lot about fitness and want to help men gain muscle, you need to ask yourself why do they want to gain muscle in the first place.

Ultimately, it’s not about strength, it’s about becoming more attractive and gaining higher status among people (or at least that’s what they think).

That means when you are selling your product, you need to not only assure the potential customer that it will indeed help them gain muscle but also make the connection between your product — gaining muscle — and gaining a higher status.

And you can make your marketing even more effective if you research how men who are interested in gaining muscle talk about it (you can find that on Reddit, fitness forums, etc.).

Same applies to every niche. People say they want to “lose weight”, “get fit”, “make money”, etc. But you need to dig deep to find out what it is that they really want.

Your aim should be to understand your potential customers better than they understand themselves. Once you have done your research, use what you have learned to create a customer persona (or personas).

A customer persona is a fictional character that represents your target audience (or a particular segment of it). It helps you to think more clearly about your business and make better decisions.

You can create your customer persona the old fashioned way with pen and paper or you can use a customer persona generator like HubSpot’s Make My Persona.

Make my persona

Make my persona

Click on Build My Persona. You will be taken through a multi-step persona building process where you will be asked to provide information about your ideal customer. This will include their age, level of education, workplace details, information consumption habits, social media habits, and more.

Take a look at this customer persona called Jane:

Customer Persona template

Customer Persona template

This customer persona is missing the pain points and desires but it’s a good place to start.

After all, it’s much easier to relate to a fictional character than to an abstract cloud of various characteristics, so even a very basic persona is better than nothing. You can add to it over time.

However, do not to make your customer persona too rigid or formalized. Your goal isn’t to create a complete picture of your audience, it’s to provide direction for your side-hustle business.

Dr. David Travis of UserFocus explains why most teams don’t create fully-fleshed out personas on the first pass:

“Traditional personas began to look too finished, too final. Teams were savvy enough to know that fully formed, completed descriptions of users are an impossibility at the early stages of design. Instead, they wanted conversation starters.”

So add detail but keep it loose. Your target audience is just that: a target with a layer of rings. The bull’s eye is just one small, incomplete picture of the board.
And now onto the side-hustles…

Website Idea for Your Side-Hustle #1: Sell Online Courses

Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Based on the explosive growth, both present and projected of the online education market, the modern man agrees.

Case in point: the e-learning market is expected to boom to 243.8 million dollars by 2022.

E-learning market in 2014 and 2022

E-learning market in 2014 and 2022

But that market isn’t limited to professors and higher academic institutions anymore. Every day, new entrepreneurs enter the fray and deliver quality education (at a quality price) to the masses.

It’s a lot like a fruitcake. Time-intensive to create, but once you do, the revenue (or regifting) can go on for years with an appropriately evergreen topic.

Fortunately, the going-price for online courses is a lot higher than the unwanted Christmas gremlin. In fact, Podia found that the average price across over 132,000 sales for an online course is $182.59.

So if you want a side-hustle that can keep delivering and is easy to implement on a WordPress site, look no further than an online course.

This side-hustle can be so lucrative that a single course can pay for a brand new Hyundai Sonata in a month.

At least, that’s what one creator’s WordPress-based online course is doing, bringing in over $27,000 in monthly revenue.

Paul Jarvis' course revenue

Paul Jarvis’ course revenue

How can you tap into that hustle power? Go back to your target audience and personas. What could you teach them that they’d be willing to pay for? What do they need to make their lives healthier and happier?

Or, what can you offer them that no one can? Teaching someone doesn’t require you to be an expert, you just have to be willing to take the time to instruct.

Once you’ve figured out that, it’s “just” a matter of picking the right WordPress plugins.

You can check out our list of the best WordPress learning management system (LMS) plugins, but these are the highlights:

LearnDash

Website ideas: selling courses with LearnDash

LearnDash

Used by higher academic institutions and major business powerhouses alike, LearnDash is an affordable LMS solution for selling online courses which enables you to create quizzes, has built-in forums, and every marketing monetization option you can think of.

A one year license will run you $159, though the price jumps up to $189 if you want to run it on multiple websites.

WP CourseWare

Website ideas: selling courses with WP CourseWare

WP CourseWare

WP Courseware is a promising LMS plugin that is used by over 20,000 users worldwide.

It provides all the functionality that you might want, from a drag-and-drop course creation interface to drip content to quizzes to grade books.

Their least expensive license is $129.

LearnPress

Website ideas: selling courses with LearnPress

LearnPress

LearnPress is a free plugin that offers many of the same features as LearnDash.

It integrates with the major payment gateways, allows you to create quizzes and other interactive content, and has gamification features like points and badges to keep things exciting and competitive for your students.

On top of these, it lets you create paid memberships, which happens to be our second side-hustle idea.

Website Idea for Your Side-Hustle #2: Create Premium Memberships

If online courses are fruitcakes, then premium memberships are macarons.

People are willing to pay a lot for them but they require a lot more maintenance. The tradeoff is a nice one, though: while online courses provide income through multiple one-time purchases, premium memberships are a source of recurring revenue.

Which means a bankable monthly income you can add to your budget. 46% of online shoppers report having a subscription service in the past year, and many of them have multiple subscriptions.

US shoppers' subscription activity

US shoppers’ subscription activity

That said, this side-hustle isn’t as straightforward as the previous one, and there are a lot of important things to keep in mind for hosting a membership program off of a WordPress site.

Mainly, that you need a caching solution. If you’re with Kinsta, we’ve got you covered.

So, just how profitable can this side-hustle be?

Visual Media Church’s founder started their membership program with a strict $2,500 budget. Today, they have over 575 members at $25.00 or more a month.

Visual Media Church Case Study

Visual Media Church Case Study

Which comes to close to $15,000 a month, at the minimum. The math on that is excellent.

Coming up with ideas for a membership program is identical to generating ideas for an online course.

Reference your personas and ask what they can get from a monthly program. Can they benefit from a well-run community of like-minded people? Are they willing to pay for it?

Or, if you’re a content creator, can you produce enough material to justify the cost? The average blog post is nowadays over 1,000 words, so think about how much time you’re willing to invest before you jump in.

If you’re willing to put in the extra hours, here are some tools you can use to get started:

 

10 Ideas for Creating Innovative and Unique Web Designs

10 Ideas for Creating Innovative and Unique Web Designs

I consider it the one tool that helped me develop from a person who simply knew how to make websites to a web designer because the exposure to fantastic designers, tutorials, recommended readings, and impressive examples helped me build my design toolset and grow my abilities on both a technical and creative level.

So whenever someone asks my advice on how to become a better designer, things such as social networks (like Twitter and Facebook), design galleries and RSS feeds are at the top of my list of things that you should be using to learn and improve.

With that said, I think it is important that we take all of these things in moderation and limit our consumption of design tutorials and sources of “inspiration”. While all of this is a great method for keeping up with the design community and making sure you’re using the latest and greatest methods and standards, I find it a poor formula for sparking true creativity and innovation.

I find an increasing discomfort with the idea of starting a project — be it a personal or professional one — by looking at what other designers have done. Looking at how your problem has been solved before in order to come up with a solution is probably a good idea, but here is the problem, though: we aren’t mathematicians, we are called upon as a source of creativity and asked to produce beautiful and unique experiences.

I believe that most designers do strive to be unique individuals. I believe we always attempt to produce new and exciting results to share with this great community. If this is truly the goal, then we mustn’t be afraid to produce bad results. By bad results, I mean terrible, terrible, awful web designs that should never see the light of day. In order to learn, grow, and innovate, we mustn’t be afraid to fail often and fail early.

There are a few things you can do to help you reach this place of experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking; this article shares a few of them.

1. Start with a Blank Canvas

Starting with another design or any portion of work that you have done before is a great way to save time on a project. In reality, a lot of unused design work can be reworked and recycled into new projects, increasing your productivity. This is a practice I encourage as it saves a huge amount of time and pulls what might have been a great idea that didn’t click on a previous project out of the trash bin. But this is not a great way to come up with that cool new design that is going to set the world on fire.

Start with a blank canvas. Don’t even set the background color to white (which is the default in many popular web design graphic editors such as Photoshop); you may not know if that’s the color you want to go with yet. Try not to restrain yourself to starting at the top of the page layout (the header) or starting with a wireframe layout (if you already don’t use this process). Have a great idea for how navigation might work? Found sudden inspiration for a fantastic way to display page or post titles?

Starting with the details can be the opposite of a normal workflow because we typically start from big to small (i.e., layout structure and then content). However, this is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

OwaikeO

Who says a web layout needs to be constricted to 4 straight-edged sides? OwaikeO, a Kuwaiti graphic designer, uses an illustrative layout with an expressive perimeter for its content area.

You may be surprised by how well working on a small detail can spark new thoughts in your brain about different areas of the site (which Sacha Greif advises to try out as well on his article on busting through web designer’s block).

Before you know it, you will be skipping around your canvas trying to keep up with the great ideas bouncing around.

2. Think Outside the Box; Don’t Use a Pre-Described Layout

Grid systems such as the 960 Grid System are wonderful for displaying web content, not only because they are easy to set up and because they increase your efficiency in deploying and maintaining website projects, but also because they improve the usability and consistency of your web page layouts.

With some projects, there is something to be said for consistency and cross-browser support, especially if you are dealing with a broad, mainstream target audience.

On the other hand, having such a strict layout mechanism may be the biggest handcuff on a designer looking to think outside of the (layout) box.

What if it didn’t matter what size your page was? What if it didn’t matter how it was laid out?

For a change, create the product and then challenge yourself to a new solution. There is no rule that states your site cannot be accessible unless it fits in a 960-pixel box. So instead of curbing your ideas around these restraints, build the idea and find a way to make it work.

Lucuma

Lucuma, an audiovisual production firm, creatively steps outside of the box by using a horizontal-scrolling layout to fit the site’s content in one page.

Instead of sticking within your comfort zone, explore different layout types, look at how new standards like HTML5 and CSS3 (with progressive enhancement) can make your work better, and so on.

3. Do Not Use a CMS

Much like set layouts and grid systems, content management systems of today are amazing tools that save time and effort while maintaining beautiful design standards and pretty good flexibility. Platforms like WordPress, Expression Engine, and Drupal are very malleable and are used in innovative ways, but they still do provide designers with restrictions. Especially when combined with grid systems, which many publicly free themes do in order to speed up development, content management systems can be dangerous to your creativity.

It is no rare occasion that I find my first iteration of a client’s website design to be my favorite. 99% of the time, the progressive decline of an initial design can be attributed to a client who wants content added, taken away, or displayed in a particular fashion that the initial layout wasn’t meant to do.

If you are working on a creative project or a project just for fun, take advantage of your newfound freedom over content. Think about it: We use CMSs because we want an easier way to deal with site updates and changes, but if we eliminate this concern — at least on occasions where this is acceptable — we open so many new possibilities for the design.

4. Avoid Online Inspiration

For projects we want to be truly unique and innovative, we should probably avoid looking at what other designers have done before us. This means we mustn’t start our innovative web design project by looking at design galleries and design showcases.

Online galleries and blog posts containing inspirational examples of web designs are useful for getting inspiration. I look through these sites and blog posts all of the time — I love to see what other web designers are up to, and I even recommend you do, too.

Really, my big issue with finding inspiration this way is that it’s just no fun to start your new design with someone else’s design in mind.

Admittedly, this is hard. For example, clients who aren’t sure what they want in their website often find it helpful to provide you with links to websites they like in order to visually demonstrate what they’re expecting. It’s also difficult to start completely from scratch when you’re having a bad day, and to get your creative juices flowing, visual stimulation through design-aggregating websites and blog posts can jumpstart idea-generation.

NOFRKS Design Studio

NOFRKS Design Studio has an interesting single-page navigation scheme that has a background that changes depending on the time of day you visit the site.

However, if you want to produce a site that’s unique, see what you can come up with on your own. It won’t always be great — and that’s fine — fail often and fail early. Try to avoid the trap that you have to do as good as the competition when you could dig an even better solution out of your own mind.

5. Try at Least One Thing You Haven’t Done Before

Taking advantage of your experience and building projects based on techniques that have worked well in the past tends to become a standard practice for a lot of us — it’s quicker, easier, and efficient. But this gets stagnant pretty fast, and as part of an industry that shifts in nature very quickly, we should always encourage ourselves to try out new things and forge new talents. Is this going to work out well for you every time? You can bet your ass it won’t, but it will work at least once more than it will if you never try.

6. Pretend Like You Don’t Have to Code It

Let’s set one thing straight. In the “Should web designers know how to code?” debate, I’m of the opinion that web designers do indeed need to know how to markup and their own web design (at least in CSS and HTML).

However, web designers that know they’ll end up having to code a web design means we will have experienced-based design hesitation and restraints while producing the look for a new site (e.g., “I know this transparent PNG won’t work in IE6, and I don’t want to deal with that, so I’ll just avoid it”). The more HTML and CSS browser-rendering issues I encounter, the more it affects the way I develop the mockup of my sites in Photoshop.

Knowing how hard an element or interaction design is going to be to implement using CSS, HTML, and client-side scripting shapes the way I execute my ideas on a graphic level. This really isn’t bad at all. In fact, that’s why you should know how to code your own web designs. Knowing what the medium’s limitations are is key to crafting realistic and usable websites. And if you have deadlines to meet and know of a way to alter a design to save time and retain visual quality, you’ll be a more prolific web designer.

But, in terms of creative freedom, constantly thinking about how difficult or impossible things are to implement is a big restraint, and if we want to create something out of the box, ignorance is bliss.

Ecoki

A big photo-realistic background, elements that need to have transparent backgrounds, an organic and unorthodox layout structure — that’s way too much work, but Ecoki pulled it off brilliantly.

For projects that need to be innovative — projects that are risk-loving — temporarily pretend that you don’t know how HTML, CSS, and JavaScript works. See what you can come up with. Is it realistic? Does it translate well on the web where people need to use your design?

7. Go Old School

Many designers today are well-versed with the idea that using tables in your web design is sloppy and a bad practice. But this isn’t the entire truth. Tables still hold an important place in our web designs, and while I wouldn’t encourage you to use them to develop a web page layout, they do still have relevant applications such as displaying tabular data.

Tables aren’t the only elements left up on the shelf in the garage these days. Using marquees or blinking elements also stirs up nightmares for a lot of designers, and their poor reputations linger from a dark time in web design.

Trying to find a classy way to use a marquee-like element (which you should do using JavaScript or CSS3 because the <marquee> tag is deprecated), for example, will most likely be a challenge and a productive exercise in producing a creative solution to bring an old option back to the surface.

jQuery Robot

jQuery Robot, a proof-of-concept, scrolls the background horizontally, much like what <marquee> did with HTML text.

Revisiting some of our long lost friends in order to restore their reputation can be a fun project and can spark a lot of creativity.

8. Go New School

Browser testing and debugging sucks. It is one of the worst — yet most necessary — tasks involved in every web design project we embark on. Since web browsers (and other platforms that we have no control over) are displaying our work, it is easy to consider them the most crucial constraint on what is possible in web design.

However, competition in the browser market is ramping up, with browser vendors constantly trying to one-up each another (even Internet Explorer’s playing the game). Competition is good because browsers are less likely to accept the status quo, implementing future web standards more quickly than ever before.

Seeing what we can do with new things being introduced in HTML5 and CSS3 is a fun and popular hobby for the informed, modern web designer. For example, check out these proof-of-concepts that use CSS3 and/or HTML5:

Unfortunately, cross-browser compatibility tends to rain on our parade and limits the extent to which we will go when it comes to exploring how HTML5 or CSS3 can improve the form and function of a project. However, with enough understanding of the new specs, you should be able to use them without neglecting web browsers that do not/will not have support for these future standards.

To learn about CSS3 and HTML5, read the following resources:

9. Provide Unique Constraints

Most of what I’ve discussed so far are meant to encourage you to think outside of the box and provide your mind with limitless possibilities of what you can do with your designs. However, if you find yourself fighting a mental block or struggling to take advantage of your newfound freedom, one of the best methods for generating some unique ideas is to give yourself some restraints. Of course, we don’t want to slap on the same old limitations we always have; instead give yourself some clever limitations and see how you can bend your design in order to play by the rules you give yourself.

These constraints can come in any form. For example, what if you avoid using 5 colors that you almost always use in your web designs? What if you designed a site using nothing else but Arial font? What about keeping the page weights of your web designs under, say, 95KB? Pulling off an appealing design within limitations such as these will force you to use your skills to work your way around the walls you build yourself.

10. Collaborate with Others

Working as a member of a team can be both a wonderful and a wonderfully frustrating experience. On one hand, dedicating experts into specialized areas of a website’s production will often yield better results in less time. On the other hand, communicating your own thoughts and ideas with another person can be a challenge, along with trying to interpret their take on the problem the team faces.

However, partnering up with another designer (or a group of designers) can be both fun and inspiring. This technique can be seen at its finest in Dribbble rebound challenges. While Dribbble did not invent this idea, it has brought a lot of light to it with a large and very talented design pool to draw from. Designing based on another person’s work is a great way to force creative results based on the unpredictable efforts of a different designer with limited restrictions.

Conclusion

What will happen if we execute all of these ideas?

Well, let’s take a look:

  • Your site will not have a standard layout
  • Your design might not function in content management systems without a lot of work and tweaking
  • You won’t be utilizing any of the experiences you have accumulated
  • You won’t be taking advantage of the experiences other design professionals have willingly shared
  • Your design will involve experimental ideas that may not work
  • You may be using techniques that are considered old-school (like marquee or blinking elements)
  • You may end up using code that not all web browsers support (e.g., CSS3 and HTML5)

Sounds like a pretty awful way to build a website to me — but it may just work.

Really, though, if these ideas produce just one good idea, a new technique, or a better gauge of your professional skills, then you have had succeeded in my book.

If you find just one new idea that is your own and that you love, then you have hit a home run in terms of getting better at web design. This will not happen all of the time; it won’t even happen most of the time. The real value in exploring your own creativity is to be able to use just one idea that no one else has done before.

What other methods do you use to spark creativity in your work? Have you tried the ideas discussed in this article before (and how did it go)?

Top Web Design Ideas to Inspire You in 2021

Top Web Design Ideas to Inspire You in 2021

Now that we’re at the business end of 2021, let’s start discussing what the next year holds in terms of new web design ideas. There’s so much to look forward to for the next year as far as websites are concerned. Web designers are exploring so many different and creative ways to make sites more intuitive and interactive. As the digital environment is full to the brim with stimuli and information, modern websites need to stand out, deliver their message and have a direct guide to its visitors. Web design should not only consist of visual aesthetic but should rather communicate and market its product in the clearest way possible.

Proper layouting of your web design ideas will organize, summarize, and brand your product well accordingly. It will help branch out your web design content ideas and fluctuate its reach. These tips will also help you decide on how to economize and revolve your branding to your webpage.

If you’re on the hunt for website building ideas 2021, here are a few that would get your creative juices going.

You can also check out Strikingly’s Discover page for some of the best website ideas for beginners to inspire your next project.

1. Bold Fonts

Big typography continues to make waves in 2020, and will most likely succeed this 2021 as modern web design ideas move towards simple and minimalist design elements that are meant to enhance clarity and directedness to its website design objective. As the decade progresses, convenience becomes a necessity for people in order to create a more fast-paced environment, especially when generating website building ideas, bold typography efficiently helps visitors to catch the attention of the bigger fonts.

As this style becomes more prominent, these web design ideas not only direct you to important information, it also helps create or play around your logo since it heightens the text and pops. The technique can create a strong and striking pointer for your highlighted word and is very easy to apply especially when gathering website design ideas for beginners.

Bold and oversized lettering are better applied on important information that you want to highlight on your website. This technique will draw attention to a company’s brand, product or service, with visitors more likely to remember whatever is written in this type than any other content. This is one of the best website ideas you should consider for your website this coming year.

Personal web design idea: try playing around with different font size recommendations on the Strikingly website editor to see how different sizes impact message delivery.

2. Split screen content

If you need to communicate more than one idea but you don’t want your website to look too cluttered, split screen layouts are great web design ideas that you want to get into. These web design ideas give the visitors efficiency because it encourages them to make a choice between two things rather than to choose from different template layouts. It gives visual flow to the eye and establishes the theme of what your website intends to portray. Plus, it is user-friendly on both desktop and mobile phones as its format is fairly common. It does not create a different layout when transferred on mobile as it visually makes the visitor feel that they have not missed any important information.

This formatting will also layer and narrow down the less important details of your website and summarize it in two choices or create faux choices, making all of your most important web design content ideas pop. It will leave visitors wanting to find out more as this technique minimizes some details and lets them explore more into your website content.

From a huge majority, this makes split screen contents one of the best website ideas especially for beginners or minimal-styled contents.

On certain Strikingly web templates such as Perspective, you can change the section layout into split screen so you can upload two visuals on the same section. Make it even more fun by converting one half of the section into a video or add parallax scrolling effects for a bit of asymmetry.

3. Lots of whitespace

 

This technique creates an illusion of letting the visitors browse into your web as it leaves them the feeling of wanting to know more as negative space hones a strong emotion on your catchphrase or logo. If you have certain images or colors you want to portray it will surely brighten the page and can hardly not be noticeable.

Also, adding a lot of blank areas on your website can give it a more spacious and minimalistic feel – ‘a less is more’ vibe that speaks towards your product. It may seem like a waste of online space but this technique actually has the ability to highlight other design elements on your site. Adding significant negative space around your visuals makes them pop even more. The use of negative space layers your web design content ideas, making your marketing value clearer and communicates what your product intends to sell.

This is one of the many web design ideas that we think will continue to rise in prominence as we go into 2021 or through the next decade.

4. Video content

The use of video backgrounds continues to be one of the best webpage ideas in the coming year of 2021. Animation trumps static visuals in making visitors stay longer and help them understand more about your intended objective for your website. It is also a big help on planning your web design content ideas as videos not only create stunning visuals but is a fast-paced educational tour of your website and is sometimes stimulating depending on how the video is conceptualized.Content creation

A high-quality corporate video content not only delivers the message conveniently to your visitors but can also be very entertaining, especially when the content is educationally engaging and a fun concept about your product. It will easily bring new visitors to your website as video contents are very common in social media and will attract viewers to browse the page, thus more activity on your webpage. Lastly, it authenticates your brand and will most probably maximize your website’s reaches.

If you have the budget for it, invest in professional videography services as this will surely give you high-quality video. But if you are starting out and tight on your finances you can check out this blog on Strickingly’s website and will help you with your web design content ideas. To regularly activate your website’s reach, we recommend for you to create more video contents and try it out here.

Add a video background instead of an image to your Strikingly website’s banner and get your audience hooked as soon as they land on your page. Introduce your company or brand through video or animation but do be careful not to make it too long.

5. Custom images and icons

Adding images to your website not only attracts visitors and fluctuates your website’s reach but will give them the idea of the product you are portraying on your webpage. Even more so, this will distinguish your website if the images and icons you put are customized to your own liking or according to your brand image.

Personalized icons and photograph visuals are the best way to distinguish your web design ideas from other similar pages on the web. When you create a site from a website template, there is always the risk of ending up with a generic looking website if you don’t take the time to inject your personal style into the page design.

Customized photography will speak to the service or bring your product to life. It delivers visually and at the same time it will differentiate your website to similar other sites. Good-quality image fuels viewers from social media and will likely share your content.

This being said, it is better to use your own images instead of stock photos, play around with different ways of conveying your message through illustrations. The downside of using stock photos on the internet is the image’s reach will not only direct to your website but will direct to multiple webpages.

Customized icons generate thematic emotion to your website and highlight the branding of your product through its aesthetic, making you more distinguishable than most. If so at least the customized image will help you communicate with your viewers. By then, it is best to replace the generic icons and personalize social media buttons to make them complement your brand image and capture your brand’s vision.

If your budget is tight on its pockets and you need to grab free images, check out this resource here.

Design a website that is uniquely yours today.

15 Creative Website Design Ideas

15 Creative Website Design Ideas

15 Creative Website Design Ideas

Have you ever clicked through to a website and immediately clicked away because you didn’t like what you saw?

Maybe the website was too cluttered and it made the experience overwhelming. Maybe it looked like a website built in the 90’s and you worried the information would be out of date because the website design was.

Like it or not, website design matters.

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:

 

interactive web design interactive website design
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.

 

use original illustrations on blog create original graphics for website
 

3. Use Animation.

While it’s a bit more difficult (and costly) to achieve, animation can be another alluring way to create a memorable website experience. Adding some movement to the image on the page can draw people’s eyes and make them more interested in what they’re seeing.

The Rollpark website uses a mix of animation that’s constant when you’re on the page and some that’s triggered by scrolling. In both cases, it adds something visually arresting to your experience of the page while helping draw attention to the messaging the brand wants to get across.

 

use animation on homepagewebsite animation example
You do want to be careful if you choose to use animation on your website that it supports the larger message you’re trying to communicate to visitors, rather than serving as a distraction away from it.

 

 

4. 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.

use original photos in website design

 

5. 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.

use unique fonts in web design

6. 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.

how to feature content in website design

7. 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.

minimalist web design

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.

 

8. 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.

color block web design

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.

 

9. 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.

website design with video on homepage

10. 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.

make cta clear in landing page design

11. 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.

parallax scroll on website

13. 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.

 

fun website navigationcreative use of navigation on website
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.

 

 

13. 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.

incorporate gamification into website design

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.

 

14. 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.

use mouseover text in website design

That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.

 

15. 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.

include virtual tour on website

 

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.

If you know you want to take your website design to the next level, but you don’t really know how to make that happen, HostGator’s web design services could be the solution you’re looking for. We can help you put together a website that’s optimized for search, looks great on mobile, and represents your brand effectively. Get in touch to learn more.

8 Crazy Ideas For Building a Web Site

8 Crazy Ideas For Building a Web Site

Many beginner web developers already know that they need to practice, practice, practice the new skills that they are learning. Building real projects will bring challenges that you will not find in textbooks or interactive tutorials. It will also help you gain confidence if you are going to use HTML. CSS and JavaScript in your career. But, as usual, the experiences that are most useful are also the most difficult.

I see novice developers asking on Reddit, Quora, and Facebook and in every corner of the internet about what projects they should be building. Here are 8 fun ideas which will test all of your new skills, but will also prepare you for the challenges that professional web developers face. All are strictly front-end: HTML/CSS/JS/jQuery. And yes, they are pretty absurd, which will help your portfolio stand out compared to all the others. If you build the same projects as everybody else, you will have a hard time distinguishing yourself from all the others.

1. Big Dave’s Chop Shop

The Idea: A store that contains both a motorcycle repair garage and an open pit barbecue. I hope they are physically separate for the sake of human safety, but you can let your imagination run wild.

Type of Site: Small Business

Key Functions:

  • Ability to see what types of service the repair shop does, and which makes/models
  • Positive customer reviews for the motorcycle shop from real customers
  • Yelp reviews for both the garage and restaurant
  • Restaurant menu
  • Details on the kitchen/chef/story of how it was founded

Key Design Decisions:

  • How will you separate the garage and restaurant so the user can choose the one they are looking for? Will they have similar designs or different themes?
  • Who is your key demographic? It is definitely men. But is it older, motorycle-riding men? Urban hipsters?
  • How many pictures will you use? This one could be a very picture-dominated site due to the unique concept.
  • What will your color scheme be? A more aggressive combination like red and black, or something else?
  • What is the typical way people would use this store? Could it be bikers that are on long journeys? Bikers that want a meal while their bike is in the shop? More casual visitors that are just there to check out the unique concept?

What You Will Learn: This one will give you plenty of creative opportunity to create a real attitude on your site. You can show this attitude through pictures, colors, copy or little interactive elements. Whatever you do, you need to build a site that is easy for older men to use, but also reinforces the unique branding of this store.

Image for post

Image for post

Whose hair is that????

2. Political Haikus

The Idea: Everybody loves good political humor and poking fun of these figures that the public judges so frequently. This is a site where you (and others, potentially) could post haikus mocking the latest gaffe or statement that a well-known candidate makes. Especially relevant during campaign season!

Type of Site: Blog

Key Functions:

  • A blog-type interface with a series of haikus that are easy to browse
  • Funny picture of the candidate with each haiku so the reader can easily scan the page
  • Either an infinite scroll ability or new page for every 20–50 haikus
  • Google Form to allow others to contribute a haiku and picture

Key Design Decisions:

  • What color scheme is appropriate for a haiku site? More of a parchment color scheme? How do you style each haiku?
  • How can your copy increase the sarcasm/parody feeling? Do you put sarcastic titles with each post?
  • Do you allow the user to choose based on candidate, or just one long feed? If the user can choose by candidate, do you want to create a unique personality for each candidate’s subpage?
  • How often do you post here, and how often do you expect users to visit? One a day, or every time a candidate makes a funny mistake, or a different timing?

What You Will Learn: Blogs are super simple- they are just reading and looking at pictures. There is no real potential for interaction. This means that your copy has to be exceptionally effective. You will need to create a consistent theme with your copy. If a user is going to visit throughout election season, they are going to want a consistent sense of humor. And you will only have 3 lines to do it! You can also try marketing this one with Twitter- it is a very similar style.

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3. The Toilet Paper Depot

The Idea: An online store for just toilet paper. If you have ever used toilet paper (hopefully all of you), you have experienced the significant difference between different types of toilet paper. After you rub yourself with the equivalent of cardboard, you are cursing the building owners and wishing ill upon them. This would be a site for toilet paper aficionados… if those even exist.

Type of Site: E-commerce

Key Functions:

  • A variety of toilet paper products that can be categorized/searched based on size, quality, brand or price.
  • A shopping cart and checkout process to simulate the buying procedure
  • A subscription option so users can sign up to have their favorite toilet paper automatically delivered
  • A separate section for toilet paper holders with a variety of designs. These would be gift opportunities!

Key Design Decisions:

  • Your users can go ANYWHERE to buy toilet paper. Why would they choose your site? Perhaps humorous copy? An easy buying process? The subscription option? Think of ways to make this unique among e-commerce sites.
  • Who are your customers? Are they moms? High-end restaurants? Luxury hotels? Germophobic people? This should determine much of the way products are listed.
  • How do you want to structure your landing page? Do you want users to go immediately to the shopping interface, or do you want to have an initial page to introduce your site?

What You Will Learn: E-commerce is a huge industry, and there are many little decisions that go into a pleasant and user-friendly shopping experience. You will get practice with every little step needed to explain products and make the shopping process easy. Think about Amazon.com- what do you like about it? How do they quickly allow you to find the product you want?

4. Mario’s Personal Website

The Idea: Mario, one of the most popular cartoon characters ever, does not have a personal site! He needs you to build one that represents him as a character. It obviously can’t be just any personal website because he is such a distinctive character. It needs lots of interactivity and animation, just like a video game. You can read about Mario’s history here, and you can check out an incredibly intricate video game-inspired personal site here.

Type of Site: Personal Website

Key Functions:

  • Like any personal website, it needs to talk about his accomplishments and all of his experiences/adventures.
  • Tell Mario’s story visually- after all, he is a cartoon character. Not just sentences about his work, but use little visual animations to bring those accomplishments to life.
  • Use quantifiable numbers to show his accomplishments across his entire career- how many princesses saved? How many games sold? Etc.

Key Design Decisions:

  • What color palette is associated with Mario games? This is the one you want to use, as well as an appropriate cartoon font.
  • How can you use animation to further tell his story? You may want to check out jQuery UI for this one.
  • What imagery is associated with Mario? How can you easily add this imagery without hours of design?
  • Can you create a feel of adventure within the site’s experience? Or perhaps the feeling of a timeline throughout all of his stories?

What You Will Learn: You hopefully want your own personal site to tell the unique story of you. This project will let you tell the story of a character with so many accomplishments that it is truly unreal! The design of a personal site should be unique to the subject, and Mario certainly has his own unique style. Additionally, you will learn how to add little animations that add value to the story and please the user- they create an impression without forcing the reader to process more text.

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5. avoided connections

The Idea: Craigslist has a famous section called Missed Connections, where individuals can post about a person they saw in public that caught their eye or smiled at them in hopes that the person also reads Missed Connections and will get in touch. This is the opposite: for people you saw in public and quickly looked away from, in hopes that they would not talk to you or notice you. Frequent subjects could be beggars, solicitors or drunks on public transportation. Some of these types of people can be doing particularly notable things especially if they are drunk, so this is an opportunity to share that story.

Type of Site: Blog

Key Functions:

  • A list of stories with a headline about the subject i.e. The drunk man talking to himself on the E train at 3 PM. Potentially including pictures.
  • The ability to categorize the post by location, time of day and venue (the street, coffee shop, bus etc.)
  • A Google Form so users can submit their own stories
  • Ability to segment posts by any of the categories so users can look at stories like “Who were the people worth avoiding at 3AM in London?”

Key Design Decisions:

  • What kind of activities are worthy of a post? Should only truly deplorable public behavior count. What about political positions that you overheard that you do not agree with? Or unpleasant people encountered at the bar?
  • How can you protect the individual’s privacy so that this does not become a harassment site?
  • Should this be a funny resource, or more about watching out for creepy people?

What You Will Learn: The little factors that influence a community feeling on a blog. If this became popular, you would hopefully have a stream of funny stories and users that returned consistently for entertainment. You need to provide all the details that make a story believable and allow the readers to pretend they are experiencing it themselves.

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6. Snake Oil Enterprises

The Idea: A small shop where you sell all sorts of miraculous remedies that are untested by science. A site where seemingly useless things like ground pig’s tail can somehow cure cancer. The term comes from the 19th century Western US. Fake doctors would claim to have miraculous natural cures to various ailments, when in reality they were fraudulent.

Type of Site: Small Business

Key Functions:

  • A dozen naturally occurring substances that you claim will have miraculous cures for different ailments
  • An “About” page where you explain the fake qualifications of the owner, and how these fake medications saved his 2nd cousin.
  • Ability to sort the cures based on the ailment- are you looking to cure cancer? Arthritis?
  • Customer testimonials on each product that swear that they work based on an individual story

Key Design Decisions:

  • If a person was actually going to buy one of these “miraculous” cures, what sort of information would they need to see to convince them?
  • What color scheme fits this? A natural/earth colors color scheme, or something else?
  • What is the demographic that would visit this site? If it is the natural-foods community, you probably want the design to be similar to sites they frequently visit.

What You Will Learn: You need to think up some specific sales copy for selling these fantastical products. You need to make them sound as appealing as possible. Also, this would likely be a small, independent shop, so it would have a specific, unique appeal that makes it more personable than e-commerce.

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7. Who is Pissed Off At Your Music? The Quiz

The Idea: Older generations frequently dislike the music of younger generations. Hippies and hipsters frequently dislike the music of the mainstream. And vice versa. In fact, whenever you are playing music in public, you are probably annoying someone. This will allow you to enter your musical taste with a few questions and tell you which group of people dislike you because of it.

Type of Site: Interactive Quiz

Key Functions:

  • An series of questions that are presented one at a time. Each is a multiple choice question, and the answer determines the following question. For example, if you answer “I like rap” to one question, the next question might be “Who is your favorite of these 5 artists?” or “What type of rap, specifically?”
  • An end page that shows the type of people that your music annoys, and why. You can also include a few humorous YouTube videos or gifs of funny reactions of that group.
  • Imagery with each question that is humorous and increases the comical feel of the site. It is not supposed to be serious!

Key Design Decisions:

  • How are you going to create a smooth flow between questions? What animations can you use?
  • How can you let users know what step they are on? Like Step 1 of 5.
  • How can you make the answer humorous? Users are on your site for entertainment, and they are going to be hoping for something funny after the questions they answer.
  • What imagery will increase the humorous feeling? What fun facts can you include? This is sometimes called microcopy.

What You Will Learn: You will cover technical skills like embedding with HTML5 and jQuery UI. You are also covering a common pattern of on-boarding sequences in full web apps, so this is practice for a real process!

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8. My Weight Gain Chronicles

The Idea: We all eat food that we know we should not be eating. But it tastes so good! This will be an opportunity to post about all the food you feel guilty about, but actually tastes delicious and may lead you to gaining weight. You could even phrase these as fake obituaries. For example, you regret the passing of that wonderful piece of cake.

Type of Site: Personal Blog

Key Functions:

  • Every time you eat food that you feel guilty about, you post a picture of it with a quick note about its passing. The picture can either be a plate of crumbs/scraps or the unhealthy food itself.
  • Tag the food based on time of day and type of food.
  • Google Form to allow others to add their guilt stories.
  • A list of self-help resources, like dieting communities and fitness apps.

Key Design Decisions:

  • Do you want to actually style this after a funeral website for maximum sarcastic effect? Google examples of funeral websites.
  • How can you write these descriptions to make them funny for a wide audience, and not uncomfortable?
  • What do you need to make this a full site, rather than just content that could be on Twitter?

What You Will Learn: Humor on the internet can be tricky! The biggest key may be keeping one specific tone so that users can reliably expect one type of content on your site. At the same time, sites with a great sense of humor can be highly viral because people love sharing jokes with friends.

Conclusion

You can turn pretty much any idea into a website! You always want to consider ways to make your site memorable– this will help you stand out in your search for a job or clientele, and it will stand out in your users’ minds if they are deciding whether to return to your site or not. You can distinguish yourself from the rest if you make an effort to stand out!

Did this give you any inspiration? Let me know in the comments!

Homepage Optimization Checklist

Homepage Optimization Checklist

You’ve seen three real-life examples of some of the best homepage designs on the Internet, but what can you take away from them? And how do you design the best homepage for your business?

Believe it or not, homepage design boils down to five simple elements. You have lots of room to play with creativity, but make sure you’re presenting your offer clearly and without distraction.

Here’s a handy checklist of things to include on your own homepage to improve it and boost conversions.

1. Write a strong and clear headline

Each of the three examples I mentioned above has a clear, specific headline to anchor the page. Let’s look at each headline here:

  • Build Your Online Authority With Powerfully Effective Content Marketing
  • Get There — Your Day Belongs to You
  • The only language software with TruAccent™ — the world’s best speech recognition technology.

They’re obviously very different, but they have several things in common.

First, they use power words. These are words that immediately evoke an emotion or connect with the reader.

Copyblogger focuses on words like “authority” and “powerfully effective.” They’re not impressive on their own, but when built into a concise headline, they help send a stronger message.

Uber takes a more emotive approach. Instead of stating its value proposition outright, Uber appeals to what their target customers want: freedom, efficiency, and a destination.

Then you have Rosetta Stone, which uses words like “only” and “world’s best” to convey credibility and authority. Those words imply that Rosetta Stone is all you need to accomplish your goals.

Write strong headlines by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would impress him or her? What would connect with that person enough to convince him or her to explore the rest of your site? Or to fill out a form?

2. Don’t confuse your users

One of the most common issues I notice on homepages is conflicting CTAs.

Avoid conflicting CTAs as much as possible. You can have more than one option, but make clear that there’s a single CTA you want your visitors to follow through on specifically. You can see how both Uber and Rosetta Stone did this in the examples above by making the alternate CTAs smaller and less obvious.

More importantly, you want to avoid visual clutter. Just like you pick up toys, clothes, scattered magazines, and other detritus at home, you want to remove any confusing visual elements from your homepage.

In other words, keep it simple.

You want enough on the page to attract attention, but not so much that readers don’t know where to look.

3. Add a direct and big CTA button for the offer

Your CTA is where you want your visitors to focus their attention. It’s an invitation: Here’s what to do next!

The CTA button shouldn’t take over your entire screen, but it should get the visitor’s attention. Consider using a unique font if you don’t think it’s captivating enough.

Additionally, make sure you use a call-to-action phrase that makes sense and conveys value. A CTA like “Subscribe Now” doesn’t thrill me. Change it to: “Subscribe Now to Get a Free Case Study.” Now I’m interested.

4. Use contrasting colors

I’m a big fan of contrast when it comes to my sites. You’ll see my signature orange color on NeilPatel.com and Neil Patel Digital.

Contrast doesn’t mean a loud or obnoxious color. You can create contrast in numerous ways.

For instance, a bold color for the background and a neutral color for the text on a CTA will work well. You don’t want lime green on electric blue — that’s hard on the eyes.

In a CTA, you can also use a color that isn’t found elsewhere on the page. Just make sure it doesn’t strike too much visual discord. Learning the color wheel and how colors complement one another will make you a better designer.

5. Keep the offer above the fold

Your website visitors might never scroll beyond the fold. That’s just a fact. If you bury your offer underneath the fold, many of your visitors will never see it.

best-home-page-above-fold

As you can see from the best homepage examples I mentioned above, every one includes the offer or USP (unique selling proposition) above the fold. It’s obvious from the moment the visitor arrives.

How to Find Out What’s Working and What’s Not on Your Homepage

Web design is extremely subjective. I might love a site’s design, while you might hate it. There’s no way to please everyone.

However, you can please most of the people who visit your site. How? You figure out what’s working and what’s not, based on what the majority of your site visitors respond to positively.

Crazy Egg lets you run user behavior reports on your site. You’ll see where people click, scroll, and otherwise react to design elements.

A heatmap, for instance, lets you see what people care about on a web page, and what they don’t even notice (even when they should). On the other hand, a confetti report shows you granular information about referral sites and how people who come from different places engage with your site.

best-homepage-confetti-report

Do people tend to skip over your CTA when they come from Facebook? Maybe your Facebook posts aren’t aligning with the design of your site.

Other user behavior reports allow you to view visitor patterns in different ways. For instance, a standard heatmap shows areas of “hot” activity and “cold” inactivity. Positioning your homepage elements to align with eye tracking can make it more effective.

After you collect this information, create two versions of your website. Present one version to half your visitors and the other to the remainder. This process of A/B testing individual elements will help you refine your site so it’s ideal for your target audience.

Conclusion

best-homepage-conclusion

Good homepage design doesn’t require you to follow a specific formula. As you can see from the homepages I highlighted above, some website homepages share common elements, but they’re all different from each other.

In fact, stretching the boundaries of modern design conventions can work in your favor, but only if you don’t obstruct the visitor’s user experience. It’s fine to make bold design choices, but don’t do so at the expense of usefulness.

You don’t want to copy someone else. Build the best homepage design for your specific audience, and make sure you’re presenting your products and services well by highlighting their unique qualities.

Once you accomplish this, you’ll have built a website conversion machine.

The 31 Best Homepage Design Examples and Ideas for Your Website

The 31 Best Homepage Design Examples and Ideas for Your Website

What happens when you try to sell a house with an overgrown garden, cracks in the driveway, and a broken front door? No offers, right? That’s exactly why you need the best homepage design for your website.

Think of your homepage as analogous to a home’s curb appeal. It’s the first thing many people see when they visit your website, so you want to wow them from the second the page loads.

But it’s not just about aesthetics. You also want your homepage to convert. As I said above, a broken front door and an inaccessible driveway prevents future buyers from even considering the sale. The same goes for your website.

People can’t or won’t convert if you don’t give them an incentive to do so and if you don’t make converting as easy and intuitive as possible.

The first step in winning over more customers is to understand the essential elements that should go into every homepage.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, draw inspiration from 31 top homepage designs so you can find out what will work best for your business and your audience.

The Benefits of a Well-Designed Homepage

A simple homepage design welcomes your audience to your site, tells them what you want them to do next, and allows them to explore your site in more depth.

You can add complexity to a simple homepage design, but you don’t want to start with a cluttered mess and have to selectively prune it. Always begin with the basics.

What do you need on your homepage? What will your audience expect? And which elements take priority?

When you can answer those questions, you’ll have the information you need for better homepage design. In web design, homepage elements have very specific purposes.

Helping your target audience get to know your business

Many of your website visitors will find your homepage first. With that in mind, you need to make a solid first impression.

Your homepage should provide a sense of your company’s values, unique selling proposition (USP), and purpose. You’re more likely to lure in potential customers if you can effectively communicate this information.

Improving the user experience on your website

Consumers visit your website with a purpose. It could be to check out your product line, read your blog posts, or find out if you sell a particular type of service.

Regardless, you want to direct that consumer to the appropriate page. Your homepage design should facilitate this transition by providing intuitive navigation and a sense of how your website flows.

Accruing more conversions

You want website visitors to convert, but they won’t if you don’t give them the necessary incentive and opportunity. Maybe you want to build an email list, but if visitors can’t find a signup form, your database will remain empty.

By making this information easily accessible on your homepage, you will see an uptick in conversions.

Another way to boost conversions is to create a strong first impression with your homepage. If visitors enjoy their experience on your website, they’ll also be more likely to remember it in the future. Maybe you won’t make a sale today, but that customer will return days or weeks later and buy from you.

Improving brand awareness

Make your company memorable by allowing your brand image and messaging to come through on every page. This is especially true when it comes to your homepage design because the homepage serves as the gateway to the rest of your website.

Your logo, tagline, and purpose need to take center stage. In fact, you might even want to add a form or statement to the very top of your homepage — preferably in a large font — that gives your visitors a sense of what you do:

What problems do you solve for your customers? How do you improve your clients’ lives — whether personal or professional?

Don’t force your website audience to have to figure out and guess what it is you do. Make it clear from the get go.

How to Design a Website Homepage

Now that you know the four goals to motivate your design principles, ask yourself three guiding questions: What do you absolutely need on your homepage? Who is your target audience and what will they expect? Which elements take priority?

Once you have the answers to these three questions, you can begin plotting out how best to improve your homepage. Remember to tie each of your design elements to one of the four goals listed above. Most importantly, don’t worry about getting it perfect. Website optimization is an ongoing process!

The Best Homepage Design Examples (And Why They Work)

There’s no better teacher than an example. I’m going to show you some of the best homepage design examples that I’ve found, and I’ll tell you exactly why they work so you can apply those same tactics on your own site.

1. Dropbox

best-homepage-dropbox

I’ve called out Dropbox before as an excellent example of good marketing all around. The company’s homepage is no different. You have a slightly askew hero image that draws the eye and two CTAs — one of which uses a dark background to draw more attention since it’s for the paid version of the tool.

The marketing copy is very simple here. Dropbox knows its target audience and drills down on pain points that affect them, including efficiency and security. Plus, the navigation is pretty stripped down, with an option to “Compare plans.”

2. Slack

best-homepage-slack

I love the Slack homepage design because of its unique illustrations. You can’t go wrong with custom graphics. I also like the tagline — “Where Work Happens” — because it’s creative, but it also encapsulates the tool’s purpose.

Slack makes it clear what visitors should do. They can sign in or create an account. Here, we have more navigation options than Dropbox provides, but each contributes to helping visitors find what they want.

3. Green Mountain Energy

best-homepage-green-mountain-energy

I’m going with another example of custom graphics. Green Mountain Energy leaves no doubt about the company’s purpose. It wants to provide clean energy at an affordable price. There are two equal CTAs — one for residential customers and one for business owners — that use contrasting colors to draw the eye.

4. CarMax

best-homepage-carmax

CarMax encountered a unique challenge when designing its homepage. The company both buys and sells cars, so it needed to cater to both audiences. As you can see, CarMax succeeds.

Multiple CTAs direct visitors to either find a car to buy or to sell their used car. Clean and simple. The hero image is clearly custom because you can see the CarMax logo on the vehicle’s license plate.

5. thredUP

best-homepage-thredup

Ecommerce homepage design can get tricky. Do you introduce the business, show off your flagship product, or overwhelm your audience with tons of products or categories?

Hopefully, you don’t do the latter.

In thredUP’s case, the homepage goes for a seasonal approach. Apparently, boho style is in (at least for women), so we see a custom graphic that advertises lots of boho fashions available. The navigation is hefty but cleanly designed, so visitors can easily find the categories that interest them.

6. StudioPress

best-homepage-studiopress

Minimal elements, flat design illustrations, and muted colors make the StudioPress homepage design shine. Thanks to the copy, you know exactly what StudioPress does for its customers: “Build Amazing WordPress Sites.” Then, you have three CTAs to choose from based on how you want to proceed.

7. Healthline

best-homepage-healthline

Sometimes, your approach to homepage design needs to reflect the type of website you’re building. In Healthline’s case, it’s primarily an educational publication that provides tips and insights into healthcare, nutrition, fitness, and more.

This is an example of “showing, not telling” design. Instead of a big headline that says, “We Publish Articles About Health,” Healthline demonstrates that fact with lots of article titles and excerpts above the fold. You also have access to a hamburger menu in the header, which can help you navigate to what you want, and a simple link for the site’s newsletter.

8. Crazy Egg

best-homepage-crazy-egg

You didn’t think I would write this article without including Crazy Egg, did you? This website’s homepage focuses exclusively on encouraging the visitor to plug in their URL to view a heatmap. There’s also a link to start a 30-day free trial, with the trust-building “Cancel anytime” language right next to it.

You have social proof in the subhead, which tells visitors how many people trust Crazy Egg’s tools. If you scroll down, you encounter expandable content just below some more social proof.

best-homepage-crazy-egg-social-proof

When you click the “Learn more” link, the homepage expands to include even more information about how Crazy Egg helps website owners boost conversions.

9. Abacus Plumbing

best-homepage-abacus-plumbing

This is a lot different from the other examples on this page, but I really love how Abacus Plumbing has structured its homepage.

It might look a bit cluttered, but this homepage includes a ton of social proof. The BBB accredited logo, the review count, and the words “You Can Count On Us” are all strategically placed.

The homepage highlights another trust-building element which is that customers will receive personal information about technicians prior to the technicians’ arrival. Customers can feel safer knowing that they’re actually opening their doors to an Abacus technician.

10. trivago

best-homepage-trivago

You might have heard me say once or twice that I love minimal design. You can’t get much more minimal than the trivago homepage design. It’s focused on one thing: Getting visitors to search for a destination. That’s it.

11. Century21

best-homepage-century21

The word “relentless” caught my eye when I first saw this homepage design. If you were hiring a Realtor, wouldn’t you want him or her to be relentless? I would.

The homepage design is attractive and perfect for the Century21 audience. There’s a focus on searching for properties immediately from the homepage, but you also have access to useful navigation.

12. Marc Jacobs

best-homepage-marc-jacobs

Nobody would ever call me a fashion expert, but I like the overall homepage design on the Mark Jacobs site. It’s minimalist and sophisticated, which fits the target audience, and the creative copywriting captures the attention of visitors.

Additionally, consumers will immediately notice the free shipping order in the top bar and the well-spaced navigation links.

13. Laura Worthington Fonts

best-homepage-laura-worthington-fonts

Laura Worthington has created a homepage design that reflects her approach to designing fonts. It’s feminine and colorful without overwhelming the senses.

At the same time, the elements don’t feel cluttered, and you know immediately what Laura Worthington sells.

14. Skype

best-homepage-skype

I use Skype a lot, so I’m pretty familiar with how it works. Skype has created a homepage design that addresses its target audience perfectly. The graphic subtly communicates that the technology works on all device types, and the word “millions” shows how popular the service is.

Then you have the three things people use Skype for: talking, chatting, and collaborating. The CTA button with the blue background and white text calls attention to itself beautifully.

15. Fitness Blender

best-homepage-fitness-blender

From the logo to the marketing copy, Fitnessblender has created an awesome homepage. With all the money people spend on the fitness industry, it’s refreshing — and compelling — to see a message that promises workout videos that don’t cost money. Sign me up!

You also have the male and female models, both of whom look fitness-ready, to capture attention and motivate the audience.

16. Nest

best-homepage-nest

The copy and the imagery take center stage for the Nest homepage design. I see some elements of Apple’s design in this example. You have the product lined up in all its colors and the tagline “Saving energy never goes out of style.” The “Buy now” CTA tells visitors exactly what they should do next.

17. Toastmasters International

best-homepage-toastmasters-international

Although the Toastmasters International homepage design might seem a little dated at first, you have to remember its target audience. The organization wants to attract people — usually business leaders — and it does so well. I like the background images and the headline copy. Plus, the colors befit the tone and voice the organization wishes to express.

If it doesn’t work for your business, you don’t have to use a pale color scheme or minimalist design. Feel free to experiment and figure out how best to represent your business.

18. Bookouture

best-homepage-bookouture

Here’s another example of a fairly minimal design. Bookouture is a digital publisher, primarily of romance and suspense novels, and its homepage targets authors who might want to publish their books here. The use of the computer image to show cover art is a smart one. In the header, you have a link for submissions, and below the homepage copy, there’s another CTA to learn more about what the company offers.

19. Ensurem

best-homepage-ensurem

Ensurem is an example of a minimalist design that still feels cultured and fleshed out. The huge hero image helps, as does the dark color palette. You get a sense of refinement from the design.

Particularly notable is the CTA. It’s big, the background is high-contrast, and the background color recalls the colors in the Ensurem logo. All fit together seamlessly.

20. Suicide Prevention Hotline

best-homepage-suicide-prevention-hotline

Nonprofits have their own obstacles when it comes to homepage design. They want to help as many people as possible but they also want to solicit donations, volunteers, and other help from the public. The Suicide Prevention Hotline accomplishes each of these goals well.

It’s interesting because the primary CTA is a phone number. This might sound antithetical considering what we usually see, but it’s designed for its audience. And if you’re surfing on your smartphone, you can click that number to dial it, which makes it particularly useful.

21. L’Oursin

best-homepage-loursin

L’Oursin, a fantastic Seattle restaurant, totally nails the homepage design here. The photographs of food immediately tickle visitors’ taste buds, and you get a sense of the venue’s mood through its photographs and font choices.

22. The Motley Fool

best-homepage-the-motley-fool

Lots of people use The Motley Fool exclusively for articles on finance, but the company offers much more. You’ll notice that one element sticks out on the page — the yellow CTA button that says “Latest Stock Prices.” If you click it, you’re taken to the company’s paid services, which involve providing you with stock picks from analysts and experts.

23. FindLaw

best-homepage-findlaw

FindLaw has two purposes: educate people about the law and connect customers with lawyers. It caters to both purposes through its homepage design. You can use the top navigation to find educational information, but the primary CTA — centered over the hero image — encourages you to find a lawyer near you.

24. UnitedHealthcare

best-homepage-united-healthcare

If you’re at all familiar with the psychology of color in marketing, you know that blue is often used to symbolize health and emotional healing.

That’s why UnitedHealthcare’s homepage design is so effective. Plus, it uses relevant images to help visitors feel at home, and multiple CTAs offer clear directions about how to proceed.

25. Viewership

best-homepage-viewership

If you watch my YouTube videos, you know Adam and I have a regular Thursday series where we answer questions from people who have left comments on previous videos. Adam’s business, Viewership.com, focuses on helping people take advantage of video marketing.

The homepage design is ideal. We see the pink/red color in just two places and the green color in just two places. That’s how Viewership draws visitors’ eyes to relevant parts of the page.

26. Lyft

best-homepage-lyft

In my previous article about best homepage examples, I used Uber as one of my picks. It’s only fair then that I feature Lyft here. It’s a fantastic homepage that uses a clever custom illustration to attract viewers and includes a high-contrast CTA button. It also successfully caters to both riders and drivers.

27. hubEngage

best-homepage-hubengage

I like the hubEngage homepage design because it’s ernest and attractive. “Unleash the Power of Engaged Employees.” That’s the business’s sole purpose. Then you have the chat box in the lower right-hand corner, which is an excellent UX decision, and the topical hero image.

28. Starbucks

best-homepage-starbucks

Why don’t we close with a bang? Starbucks is no marketing beginner. The company has set the bar high for every other coffee shop, and its homepage design changes regularly based on the products Starbucks wants to promote.

Here, you have two protein shakes that look delicious as well as simple but effective copy. The “New” icons next to the product names attract interest, too.

29. Copyblogger

The Copyblogger website uses the hero image approach to homepage design — and it works beautifully. The site is clean and minimalist, using light colors and an image that’s simultaneously inviting and unobtrusive.

best-homepage-copyblogger

You get everything you expect from a homepage, from the logo and tagline to the navigation bar at the top. There’s also the value proposition on top of the hero image, which helps cement the company’s value.

Why it works: Hero image homepages work well when you’re selling a single value proposition. It’s not ideal for e-commerce homepages — unless you sell just one product — but it’s perfect for service businesses that have a core or flagship service they provide.

Humans respond well to visual imagery. In fact, nearly 60 percent of customers surveyed in one study said they would rather engage with a beautifully designed web page than one that was simply designed. Consumers are judging your business based on homepage aesthetics.

30. Uber

Anyone who knows me will tell you I hate to drive. I’m always calling Ubers to pick me up.

I’m also a big fan of Uber’s website. It offers one of the best homepage designs I’ve seen in a long time.

best-homepage-uber

It’s a great example of seamlessly combining two value propositions: Get a safe, inexpensive ride or become a driver and make money.

That’s no easy feat, especially with so few words on the page.

Why it works: If you look at each individual element on Uber’s homepage, you’ll notice that it’s all designed to funnel website visitors toward one action or another. They want you to sign up for an account so you can order Uber rides or sign up as a driver and earn cash.

Those are two entirely different segments of the market. Yet it somehow works.

Notice the image choice. The guy behind the wheel is clearly an Uber driver, but he’s staring right at the camera — at you. If you wanted to order an Uber, he’s someone you’d feel comfortable getting in the car with. Or, if you wanted a part-time hustle, he’s someone whose success you’d want to emulate.

The rest of the homepage provides tons more information, from a map and quoting form for getting from one place to another to blurbs about the company’s value proposition.

31. Rosetta Stone

If you’re not familiar with Rosetta Stone, it’s a suite of tools designed to help you learn a foreign language. It’s on the high end of the pricing spectrum, but it’s still hugely popular.

Also, it’s one of the best homepage examples I’ve seen for an e-commerce site.

best-homepage-rosetta

We’re dealing with a hero image again, this time of a worldly traveler who’s using his phone — ostensibly to access the Rosetta Stone app.

Why it works: Rosetta Stone leads with its primary USP: TruAccent technology. The value-added benefits of the technology set it apart from its competitors and make it seem more effective at helping people learn language skills.

Then you have another value proposition: The company has been in operation for 25 years. There’s also social proof: “The most trusted language solution…”

Rosetta Stone might benefit from some hard numbers here. How many customers does it serve? That might be more impressive. But it’s the only fault I find with this homepage.

There’s a major call to action for launching an interactive demo, but users can also find out about specific solutions for different customer segments: individuals, educators, and businesses.

This homepage does an excellent job of capturing the visitor’s attention and providing plenty of places to explore without distracting the visitor from the primary CTA.

10 Construction Website Ideas to Generate Qualified Leads

10 Construction Website Ideas to Generate Qualified Leads

The construction industry used to be purely a brick and mortar industry. Advertising was done primarily by word of mouth, services were local, and the World Wide Web was a phenomenon that few had heard of and fewer still were using their construction website to generate leads.

Today, however, the construction industry has changed dramatically. Rather than relying solely on great references or physical advertisements, construction industry professionals are taking advantage of the many benefits of online marketing. And, just as other industries have employed industry-specific techniques and tools to drive traffic, so are those within the construction industry.

Unfortunately, too few construction companies have invested in online marketing; according to the Construction Marketing Association Blog, 67 percent of construction leads are currently gained by cold calls and emails. That means only one-third of construction companies are using additional online methods to generate more leads and two-thirds of construction companies are missing out on BIG opportunities to optimize consumer outreach, traffic, leads, and sales.

Sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring doesn’t work. A huge reason some construction companies are able to stay busy—while others are struggling—is because they have an effective and pro-active plan in place to generate consistent lead opportunities. A website plays an important role in creating a strategic marketing process. Putting it all together does not cost a lot of money, but it does take work.

If you’re ready to take your construction marketing and business to the next level, online marketing is part of the solution. Let’s take a look at 10 construction website ideas that can be used to generate qualified leads:

1. Know The Goal of Your Calls to Action

Perhaps the most effective question you can ask yourself regarding the overall design and goals of your website is this: what is the single most important action a user can take while visiting your website?

For many businesses, that action is to call in, schedule an appointment, or visit a physical location. Knowing the answer to this question can help you decide how to direct the content on your site down a more purposeful path. Your page content, blog posts, and—perhaps most importantly—your calls to action (CTAs) can all work in harmony with the goal of ushering qualified visitors to complete that action.

This will also have a positive effect on the language used throughout your site. For example, the goal of Province Building’s website  is to encourage qualified buyers to set up a meeting. Province knows that if they can meet with a potential client and talk one on one to get to know them better, the odds of working together will improve—so you’ll notice that they ask site visitors to set up a meeting.

It might seem like a basic thing to point out, but the specific phrasing of your CTAs are actually quite important. Consider how Kinetic Industry  implores visitors to Hire Kinetic Now, and similarly Bentley Welding, Inc.  suggests that readers Hire a Crew. These businesses are encouraging visitors to hire them, not necessarily to go through the step of scheduling a call or a meeting.

In any case, you can probably see how this kind of specific language is more clear and to the point than simply saying contact us. When you’re specific about the actions you want a visitor to take, they’re that much more likely to actually do it.

And it’s even easier if they’re having a great user experience…

2. Consider User Experience

User experience, often just referred to as UX, is a term used to describe the overall experience a user has when they visit your site. It refers to how well received your content is, how engaging your pages are, how easy your website is to navigate, how eye-catching your photos are, how fast your site loads, and so on.

The goal of quality UX is to create a page that isn’t just user-friendly, but is also user-enjoyable. Some of the things we’ll be discussing throughout the rest of this post, such as blog posts, professional imagery, easy-to-use forms, and compelling calls to action will serve to enhance your website’s user experience.

Remember, you also need to focus on your website’s layout and ease of navigation, too. If things are too cluttered or too hard to find, people will surely exit your page quickly. Take a look below at our client Windmill Home’s website . Notice the easy-to-navigate menus, the clean and crisp colors, and the way that page elements and content are organized. Later on we’ll examine a few more elements of their site that have been designed to enhance UX.

User Experience: 10 Construction Website Content Ideas

But before any great UX can be put to work, you need traffic. Which means you need to…

3. Practice Good SEO Habits

Search engine optimization (SEO) is often considered to be the king of online content marketing; without it, most business owners find that their efforts to drive traffic are lacking in comparison to their competitors who have invested in SEO.

But, given the amount of face-to-face word-of-mouth advertising the construction industry relies on, is SEO really that important?

The answer is yes—absolutely. In fact, construction businesses with optimized sites enjoy higher visibility, increased traffic, increased industry authority, and an improved customer experience… just to name a few of the big benefits.

The cornerstone of an effective SEO strategy is great content. Primarily written content, but videos, podcasts, and some other kinds of media can be worthwhile as well. The written content should be carefully designed to target certain keywords relevant to your business—specifically, search terms which are most likely to generate qualified leads and sales.

Note that the creation of all this content doesn’t have to be done overnight (and indeed shouldn’t be, since Google likes it when your website is regularly updated). However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in a hurry to get started.

Businesses who start investing in SEO sooner rather than later will be able to enjoy an asset that pays off in the future, very similar to property or stock investments. Food for thought: a $1,000 investment in mega-popular video streaming site Netflix ten years ago would now be worth over $50,000.

It’s best to think of SEO habits as an ongoing marathon, not a sprint. For more insights, make sure to check out our post How Long Does It Take to Rank on Google?

Of course, one of the best ways to improve SEO is with a solid blog. Let’s learn why:

4. The Benefits of Blogging

Keeping a blog on your website has many benefits, not the least of which are increased traffic and leads. Quadrupling website traffic in a single month after adding a blog isn’t unheard of (1).

As we discussed in the previous section, good written content is very important for SEO. You can think of SEO and blogging as having something of a synergistic relationship: written content published on your blog helps improve your SEO, which helps bring in more traffic to your site. New visitors are then kept interested by the content and are more likely to become paying customers as a result.

Imagine would happen if you invested in your website content and published two original articles every month. After a year, you’d have built up a valuable library of 24 articles. If those articles were written with purpose (more on that in a moment), they’d help to bring traffic to your site for years and provide helpful information for new visitors as well as your current client base.

Your blog can be about anything in the construction industry that a consumer will find relevant. Maybe a blog topic is on changes to the real estate industry; maybe your focus is hot home design trends. Whatever it is, your blog should be original, authentic, well written, and published on a consistent basis.

Each blog post should be written with a purpose in mind. This is a situation where asking what the most important action the reader could take is important to consider—after reading your blog post, what do you want your visitors to actually do? Call you? Schedule an appointment? We touched on this subject earlier in this list (1. Know The Goal of Your Calls to Action).

Check out a shot of the blog over at The Korte Company . Notice the articles written to help their customers understand how to plan and design better buildings:

Blog: 10 Construction Website Content Ideas

More specifically, take a look at their post How To Plan Your Warehouse Layout . Even just giving this piece a skim, you can tell that this business knows what they’re talking about. First, notice that the piece is comprehensive. It’s more than just a few basic tips and tricks; readers will truly gain a deeper understanding of how to plan the layout of a warehouse.

The inclusion of imagery, specifically plans that the company had developed, further increases reader understanding while simultaneously helping to establish Korte as a knowledgeable authority.

Similarly, their post The Benefits And Drawbacks of Mixed-use Development  is an impressive resource for anyone interested in building a mixed-use development (which, as you probably know, can be a complex undertaking). The Korte Company discusses the history of these kinds of developments to lay the groundwork, then launch into a compelling comparison of pros and cons.

When creating content for your blog, always try to approach it from the perspective of a potential customer. What questions are they likely to have? What concerns are preventing them from taking action (and possibly hiring you)? How can you give them information or insights that nobody else has?

When you answer those questions, you’ll be well on your way to having a genuinely useful blog that shows your authority and expertise. After all that work, people are naturally going to want to get in touch with you. Read on to learn how to make it easier for your potential customers to contact you.

5. Make Sure Your Forms Can Be Easily Found & Ask for the Right Information

Does your website have a contact us form?

Your forms (to contact you, schedule an appointment, or otherwise) should be easy to find and have a clear call to action. How will the user benefit by filling out the form? After the user fills out the form, what can they expect to happen?

A great example of a clean, easy-to-understand form is on the Province Luxury Home Building website . Notice how the form asks for additional information, which can help the business categorize the lead and provide them with more accurate service. Also worth noting is how the form acts as a method of building their email marketing list (with the addition of the newsletter checkbox).

6. Build Your Email Marketing List With a Newsletter, Ebook, or Other Free Incentive

Building an email marketing list is one of the best ways to put your website to work. People who sign up for your email list pre-qualify themselves as, at the very least, interested parties. When you send them the right content, they can quickly turn into leads and paying customers.

Many construction companies underutilize this component of online marketing. They might have an email list that visitors can sign up for, but in many cases they don’t give them a compelling reason to do so.

Website visitors need something that can motivate them into action—what marketers call an incentive or lead magnet—to sign up for an email marketing list. Think about it: what would it take for you to give up your email address? It’s likely going to have to be more than a generic and vague promise of updates.

Instead, many successful online marketers offer their audiences something of value in exchange for their contact information. This often takes the form of an ebook. For a real world example, check out our post 7 Reasons Your Company Needs an Ebook where we’ll show you an example of an ebook we designed for NOCO ENERGY STAR® Homes and how they’re using it as a brochure to hand out events, even further increasing the value and reach of the content.

7. Use Compelling Visuals & Offer Relevant Information

When we say compelling visuals we aren’t necessarily talking about pictures or standard graphics (those, however, are important—see the next point on this list). Instead, think of a way you can provide your website visitors with something that feels more tangible as it pertains to your business.

For example, our client Windmill Homes has a section of their website dedicated to showcasing floor plans . It is, in fact, the most popular page on their site. This certainly qualifies as a compelling visual, but also acts as a way to offer relevant information to the visitor. Note how the user experience is further improved by the ability to filter the results.

Here’s a great example of updating visuals to be more compelling and useful to visitors. We updated the image of the site plan for Windmill Homes from this complex engineering drawing:

 

Marketing site plan (Before): 10 Construction Website Content Ideas
Before: A technical engineering plan that is much to complicated for the average homebuyer to find useful.

 

To this simplified site plan that their sales team uses every day when meeting with potential home buyers:

 

Marketing site plan (After): 10 Construction Website Content Ideas
After: An interactive resource that Windmill Homes displays on their website and in their showroom. Homebuyers get an immediate sense of what lots are available and which ones they would like to tour with a salesperson.

 

Sometimes visuals are best shared in a downloadable, printer-friendly file:

 

Compelling Visuals: 10 Construction Website Content Ideas
Download this PDF floor plan from Myridium .

 

Note how the copy includes everything from high level information about the community to specific floor plans, all while presenting an obtainable lifestyle to the reader.

8. Get Professional Photography to Show Off Your Work

Professional photography is really about a whole lot more than simply showing off your work, although it should do that and do it well.

The more notable effects of professional photography include enhancing your overall business image (i.e., you look more professional) and improving brand awareness through consistency and quality. You’re also likely to increase leads and sales, since market research has shown time and again that internet users are more likely to click on professional imagery rather than amateurish imagery.

Good examples of companies we’ve worked with who have websites with professional photography are Bentley Welding, Inc.  and Kinetic Industry . Notice the strategy behind the photography: the images show people at work (not simply standing around), which conveys the busy pace of an active, successful business. Furthermore, each service description includes a matching photograph. You can see more of our professional photography work here.

9. Publish Customer Testimonials

If you’ve done great work in the past, why not use this as compelling evidence to draw in additional customers?

You can publish customer testimonials and reviews right on your very own website, or ask happy clients to leave a review on a site like Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, or Yellow Pages. In one case study on how customer testimonials increase revenue, WikiJob saw a 34 percent rise in sales simply by adding a few customer testimonials front-and-center on their page (2).

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