I love collecting links to sites that inspire me to push my own design further, and I thought I’d share my favourites to help inspire you too.
This bunch of sites are all graphically intense, using a lot of pixels to create a rich experience.
Rich effects and Pixel-saving?
Of course, while Saving the Pixel should be a constant discipline when designing web sites, when your goal is to impart a lot of “soft” information, sometimes you need to splash out. The trick is to keep disciplined about removing anything that really doesn’t need to be there. And a big splash, while using a lot of detail in a certain area, can still be read by the visitor as a simpler effect or entity.
Think about a beautiful sky with clouds and lots of variation in light and colour. It’s intense pixel-wise, but the overall effect washes over you, creating a “sit-back” emotional reaction without requiring a lot of eye work or thinking.
When a rich web site works, the same thing happens. A lot of detail can be presented, but it works in a way that you can take in and enjoy the soft info passively, leaving you free to get the harder info (facts, links, data) without hassle.
My list of favourite Rich Web Designs
#1 N Design Studio
A fantastic array of organic but highly coloured forms frame a conventional content area.
I feel the tabs recede from view, suffering from being small and drab compared to the high-colour background and high-contrast content.
#2 Versions Mac SVN app
Classic Apple-style with a grunge twist.
The main content area in dark grey on a black background is minimal and excellent, with good use of text and sweet images. The link bar is soft and clean (again very Apple, totally appropriate for a Mac app).
All this is crowned with a gorgeous, rich header image with a fresco surface effect that feels both modern and old (i.e. classic).
#3 Satsu Web Design Agency
One of the early examples of an often-copied style, I love Satsu’s detailed sketched background and grunge-effect.
The way they’ve irreverently picked the corner of their logo sticker makes me smile, and the tape nav bar is great too.
Note how the content is pretty conventionally minimal, letting the info come straight at you.
#4 SEOMoz – SEO specialists
This design combines a lot. It’s pretty clean, and gets an edge from the stark black/white contrast, and also from messing with the grid layout.
I appreciate the combination of imagery, which feels fresh and just on the right side of busy. For a content-rich site like SEOMoz, this is a pretty bold stance, which I respect.
I had to include this for the lovely rich dark-gold background. It’s certainly a rich layout, and the portfolio items do stand out, but then you do feel they couldn’t resist chucking in the silver icons and extra bits.
This site kind of feels like someone spilt the pot of “creative juice” onto the computer. All the bits are nice, but all together, they’re a bit overwhelming. But the background is lovely, and the overall impact is pretty effective.
#6 Ekisho font ad
This is minimal-rich, which is what Apple do so well. Cut out everything that’s not needed, and pour creativity into the things that matter.
Here, a totally neutral page canvas is the perfect background for a soft & rich panel featuring just a few icons.
I love the gradients and the japanese characters in the background, and the icons have a lovely consistency in tone & lighting treatment that’s hard to achieve. This does the job it needs to do, making you really want to pick up the product, and puts a smile on your face at the same time. That’s great design!
Noodlebox’s design was one of the first times I saw such a rich mix of colours & tones on a background. There’s a lot more of it around today.
It works here, because the overall effect has that “sky impact”. It’s not overwhelming; you don’t have to look AT it; you can just soak it in.
The feature image bursting with colours is clear and appealing, and you can also freely peruse the other content and get the text (OK, it’s in Flemish, but you get the point). Nice logotype too.
#8 Philippine Mango Seedling Farm
A more conventional layout than many on here. This feels like a layout from a few years ago that’s had a very good rich treatment applied sensitively.
I really love the overlays & lighting effects in the header area, and the photos clipped into leaves impart a lot of information.
The main text could benefit from coming higher up the page. It feels a bit shoved off to one side, and there’s not enough edge to the main nav. The text there is a bit narrow and there’s not enough contrast with the rich background. I feel the nav could benefit from going flatter & plainer, as there’s enough richness in the header to lend the sense of quality.