When websites have a pleasant user experience, it’s a no-brainer that customers will keep coming back. Here, we will take a look at 5 well-designed websites that are big names in different industries, to see what they do in their design that keeps customers engaged.
It’s 2021 and something is really starting to shift. And, no, I’m not referring to the year of worldwide lockdown and quarantine– instead, I am referring to the evolution we are seeing in the online world.
One thing that is absolutely for certain, is products and online services are paying more attention to the details surrounding their user experience (finally 🙌). We are halfway through the year as I write this, and we have seen almost every digital product put new updates out there fixing issues and upgrading their designs.
“We’re moving from what I would call the decade of code to the decade of design. Products are going to be design-led, as opposed to code led.” – Peter Levine
Now, the internet is abundant with some beautiful and inspiring designs. Today, we’re going to look at five websites and analyze how they excel at retaining customers and attract new ones.
The 5 well-designed websites discussed in this article combine clever design and innovative technologies to create engaging experiences many other companies wish they had.
Airbnb has one of the best design systems. What’s really awesome about their system is that it allows them to keep a consistent experience for tenants as well as hosts – making it easy to switch over.
Here’s the thing: their homepage is really simple. It only has three sections, and that shows they are ready to get straight to the point. This brings me to an important point in good design.
“Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.” – Dieter Rams
Airbnb’s purpose for keeping a simple design is, well, simple. They are ready to help you plan your next vacation. Also, they are always testing out new features, such as the two that are featured at the time of the screenshot image below. During the coronavirus pandemic, the travel industry was hit hard, so they created the features “Online Experiences” and “Frontline Stays.”
I want to mention something important here that applies to every business. Obviously, everyone on the planet knows about and is, in some capacity, affected by the coronavirus, so I love the fact that two out of the three features on their homepage are related to helping people feel supported during this time of crisis.
Companies can send out “Working From Home? Us too, Let’s Connect” emails all day long, but actually adding big changes to your website to reflect the times and connect with customers is a huge reason why Airbnb has the success it does.
Thus, although this company is getting hit with massive amounts of cancellations, they put in a significant amount of resources into getting new features developed and published on their homepage to reflect the challenging times. Even though they are experiencing a drop in normal customers coming to book a stay, they have developed a way to offer something else to increase bookings during these uncertain times. (Talk about a Win-Win situation in a pandemic that makes us feel like we are losing). Customers want human connection and entertainment in this isolating time, and Airbnb was very quick and innovative in their approach to meet these needs.
Now, back to the design. In brief, Airbnb creates a great user experience by being:
- a great example of a solid design system. Their design language, as they’ve named it, is one of the best in the game.
- extremely usable.
- versatile for tenants and hosts.
Medium is next on our list of well designed websites. It is a great example of being straight to the point and free of clutter.
"Less, but better." – Dieter Rams
They put content front and center, and utilize a design that has a lot of white space. Since Medium is a platform for reading articles, the negative space is crucial for the reader’s eye to read effortlessly and not be overwhelmed by the lack of negative space, or contrast, and poor typography.
Let’s talk about the landing page: Medium groups articles by trending topics, interests, publications you follow making it easy for you, the user, to find content quickly.
Medium has a great reading experience. The high contrast ratio between the text and the background makes it great. They put the content as their top priority and strip away the interface of distractions. As you see here, when you scroll, the sidebar disappears until all you have is the text. This shifts the reader’s mindset to focus on the article they are diving into.
Netflix is another digital product that leverages consistency and engaging experiences to keep their users coming back. Netflix leverages a stellar design system, has great versatility and holds an abundance of content.
In addition, despite the sheer number of platforms they have to design for, their experience is remarkably predictable, and that’s a good thing. Users don’t want to learn how to use your platform every time they switch to a new device (especially if it gets in their way when trying to watch the latest season of Stranger Things).
Remember these? The yesteryear analog experience. Netflix tries to emulate the experience of walking down the halls of a huge video store, like Blockbuster, as if there’s a ‘shelf’ for each category: popular, recently watched, comedy, drama, etc.
Netflix is a prime representation of a concept called skeuomorphism. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, skeuomorphism is a term used to describe interface objects that mimic their real-world counterparts in how they appear and/or how the user can interact with them. A well-known example is the recycle bin icon used for discarding files. Skeuomorphism makes interface objects familiar to users by using concepts they recognize.
Next up on our list of the 5 well-designed websites that have a solid customer base is Canals. Canals is a great story-driven website that explores the history of the canals of Amsterdam.
The creativity that Dutch designers and engineers put into the Amsterdam canals is appreciated in this immersive website that takes you through the story of how they future-proofed their capital by protecting it from floods.
Move aside history textbooks, we got this. 😍
In short, their website has great design, is story-driven, has usability with delight, and offers tons of services to help users get involved and know more.
Specifically, regarding their design, I want to point out a few aspects:
- It’s beautiful. The visual treatment of the text and images overlapping creates an immersive experience.
- The vibrant contrast of the colors makes it a joy to look at
- The animations keep users engaged
Design. System. Goals.
Apple’s design system is flawless. Apple knows people are visual, so they provide the cleanest, highest-resolution graphics that give us a crazy perspective you cannot achieve with a camera.
Their website also features beautiful and gigantic, hi-res images and 3D renders of their products that their users love, and their detractors love to hate.
Apple was one of the first tech companies to publish their design guidelines. Human Interface Guidelines, as they call them, is a vast collection of patterns and assets that designers and developers can use to create consistent experiences across the entire Apple ecosystem.
In addition to its beautiful imagery and solid design system, Apple’s website is also branded and sleek. Thanks, Apple, for always holding the standards high and paving the way for all of us down here, you know, on planet Earth. 👽🚀
Last Thoughts on the 5 Well Designed Websites
In addition to following Dieter Rams “Less, but Better” principle, these websites also have beautiful imagery and unique design systems.
Lastly, customers are coming back to these because their design makes for a pleasant user experience. More on user experience can be found in our blog post on the UX Checklist.
What Well Designed Websites do You Come Back to?
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