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12 Creative Design Elements Inspiring the Next Generation useful for Developers

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about design here at Moz, but I spent my morning in a great meeting withDerric, and was inspired by a lot of his ideas and what we reviewed to revisit some of the emerging trends and outlier creatives that are opening our eyes to what’s possible.

Here’s a good-looking page from Hugh & Crye Shirts, showcasing one of their garments:

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Not bad, right?

But watch what happens when the product is lifted out of the photo context and floated onto the background (courtesy of designer Chris Svetlik):

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Pretty remarkable, right? Something about the texture makes me want to reach out and grab it. The design minimizes the distance between the product and the interaction on the screen and in this instance, the drop-shadow adds to the ethereal, physical quality of the connection between browser and shirt.

Here’s another example of the same principle at work from Makr Carry Goods, creators of some beautiful bags:

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The bag doesn’t quite scream “grab me” like the shirt above (at least to me), possibly due to the lack of shadow, but the effect is still clearly a differentiator. It’s evident again below in a great design from Tinkering Monkey:

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I hope more product photography goes this direction, allowing for a more immersive experience when viewing physical goods on the web.

#2 – Typography IS the Design

Minimalist sites have been leveraging the power of typography for years, but it’s finally maturing thanks to massive upgrades in web-rendering of fonts and some genius layouts by experienced designers.

Below is an example from Girlfriend NYC, whose whitespace is as elegant and suggestive as any I’ve seen:

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Another great example comes via Infinvision, who adds artistry to font design and tells a terrific story through their copywriting and copyillustrating:

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I’m excited to see more of this make its way out of designers’ portfolios and into product, software and content websites. I suspect there’s some phenomenal opportunity for creatives to make this work with the right client. Maybe even something for mobile?

#3 – The Infographic as the Primary Communication Tool

For the past decade, infographics have been “add-ons” to websites, often living in blogs or article sections apart from the primary story of the product/brand. No more.

In the past few years, there have been some remarkable moves to make the infographic itself the center of the site, and the results are pretty cool. Below is a screenshot from MahiFX, a trading platform that gives its pitch by comparing salaries entered by users to that of a legendary investor and user of their platform. Have a peek:

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Perhaps just as engaging, though less parseable (at least for us English speakers) is this remarkable industry page from the French VinSociete:

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If an infographic can tell the story with data better than paragraphs of text and bullet point lists, why not?

Here’s Maersk’s website, a massive shipping company, showing off the visual comparisons of their freighters against major international landmarks:

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I love the creativity and visualization of this approach and hope it catches on. I can imagine so many boring “about” pages and “industry explanations” turning into link-worthy, share-worthy content using this approach.

#4 – The Vertical Storyteller

This trend may not have started with Ben the Bodyguard, but the site has come to represent a movement all its own. After launching, it received thousands of tweets and hundreds of links and that’s just for the design! The product wouldn’t come out for another 3 months.

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Obviously, Ben’s onto something. To experience for yourself, visit this page and start scrolling down (don’t click the video, just scroll).

Another example comes by way of Reverend Danger, whose digital agency site features some clever scroll-triggered animations and a whimsical style:

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It can’t be long before more sites adopt this methodology, particularly considering the success of the “Ben” design in building excitement for the product.

#5 – Show the App and the Rest Will Follow

Remember this scene from the Muppets Take Manhattan? Of course you do! But just in case you’ve forgotten (even though you saw it, like, a million times as a kid) and don’t feel like watching the video, it’s the one where Kermit, after being stricken with temporary memory loss, informs a group of brand marketing frogs that perhaps the best way to inform the public about a new soap is simply by “saying what the product does.”

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Above is Chart.io, taking Kermit’s advice to heart in their design. Five words explain what the product does (it’s “Google Analytics for Business Data”) while the screenshot shows off an interface that looks like it will deliver precisely on that promise.

Here’s a slightly different take on the same problem from If This Then That:

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The app itself doesn’t quite showcase as elegantly as Chart.io, so IFTT took the liberty of spelling it out using a visual typographic interface. It almost reminds me of the simplicity Google first displayed when they launched (remember the old days when everyone thought their minimalist blue results were the key to their success?).

#6 – The Interactive Flourish

It used to be that interactivity meant complex and overwhelming, but designers like Ian James Cox and Bianca Mangels are overhauling that with simple, brilliant elements like the ones showcased below:

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The interactive brain diagram is merely a creative delivery vehicle for information that’s clearly listed on the left-hand side of the page. But the attention to detail and the extra effort make it stand out from the crowd. I must have browsed through two hundred design portfolios in the last week, yet this one caught my eye and kept my focus.

#7 – Flawless Fluidity on any Resolution

It’s still tough to find, but there are a handful of sites that “degrade” so eloquently, they’re just as exceptional on a phone, a laptop and a giant desktop monitor. One example comes via Joshua Sortino, who professes perfection and actually delivers. Here’s his site at 1600px wide:

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Here’s another exemplary performer: The Manual, which uses the clever tactic of keeping the content to the left and letting the photography take the rest of the space.

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