Digital designers often face the challenge of finding new ideas for unique and creative website design. It may seem that creating an interesting project requires a lot of inspiration, talent, and luck, and maybe even good weather outside 😁. But in reality, there is a certain set of guidelines and an action plan that you can follow to create something original while also solving problems.
Today, our team would like to share the story behind the non-standard design solutions implemented in our agency’s website. We will cover the principles of good website design and provide valuable hints on how to create a unique and creative website design. You can see the result of our efforts on our award-winning digital agency website — netrixdigital.com.
Let’s dive in!
1. Defining goals and the main message
We are a digital design agency that already had a website, which wasn’t bad. However, as we grew, we wanted to highlight our experience, approach, and showcase our capabilities to potential clients. Thus, we needed a new website that would showcase our work and processes while also attracting more clients.
Let’s start with our goals:
- Increase the number of quality leads from the website by 30% or more;
- Create a portfolio that shows our capabilities in the best way and can be easily shared;
- Show our level of expertise and our process (this is one of the most common questions during the first meeting with potential clients).
- Show what makes us different from competitors. Be different from the regular agency website, create unique website design;
- To be memorable;
- Deliver our main message through design;
- Have good performance and usability on all devices;
- Win SOTD on Awwwards. (Yes we wanted create award winning website design)
These are just the main goals. The more you write them down, the more effectively you will get the result and facilitate the process.
The next thing was to decide on the main message. We already had our slogan — “We create products — not just art”. Also, we were looking for some new options. We wanted it to sound more professional. But during testing on UsabilityHub (we used 5 second test to figure out how clear our message is for users), and also after talking with our existing and potential clients we realized that the slogan perfectly reflects our company. We just changed CREATE to DESIGN. The word “design” allows users to quickly read our line of business. Testing is a great way to remove doubts about controversial points.
When you create a slogan, try to answer the key questions — Who are you(your product)? Why are you better than others? The answers to these questions will especially help you when working on the UI part.
We defined goals.
Analysed existing website.
Finalized the key message.
2. Mood board. Brainstorm.
“If you don’t know how to start, start with a mood board. Don’t know what to do next — brainstorm.“
It’s easier to start with competitor analysis. Always look at what others have. Thanks to Awwwards, Dribbble, Pinterest it is easy to find a selection of good creative websites. But don`t restrict yourself to only looking at other websites. There are a lot of different ways to find inspiration for your website design. We were inspired by posters, publishing products, photographs, illustrations, and even paper notes. We created a separate file for brainstorming, uploading different images, photos, screenshots, and writing ideas.
As you sketch out ideas, gradually you will notice that some of them are similar. Try to unite them into groups. This will give you a certain number of themes for your interface. There can be 3–5 main ideas.
We decided to brainstorm with our team of UI/UX designers where everyone wrote down their ideas about how we can show who we are in the best way. After that, we combined similar ones having around 12 different groups.
How do you know which creative idea is the one?
Brainstorm, share your ideas with your team, potential users, clients, or even friends. See how they will react to this or that idea. After the presentation to the team, we made a poll and thus identified 3 further directions for ourselves.
3. Define website Style. User testing.
“The style of your UI should emphasise the main idea, help the user to intuitively read your message.”
Key points we wanted to show on the website:
- We design digital products;
- Collaboration is an important part of our work;
- We think over our projects efficiently;
- We believe that there is a lot of work behind a quality product.
Where does UI/UX design begin? It starts with defining goals, conducting research, and generating ideas. You don’t need Figma or Sketch for this — all you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Good UX is the foundation of a good product, and wireframes can help you work it out effectively. Moreover, it’s important to consider what clients notice first: in our case it is our work.
After brainstorming, we settled on three ideas.
1. “Wireframe” style — the finished design hides a well-developed idea;
2. Paper — it all starts with a blank piece of paper, notes, ideas;
3. Portfolio (Album of works)— to make the main focus on our design projects.
You can always mix and blend your ideas, and that’s exactly what we did. We combined the three ideas we mentioned earlier into a single idea. Read on to find out which specific ideas we incorporated.
All design starts with a blank sheet of paper. Then you proceed to some quick sketches and notes. These physical elements we brought to our website. Our website is like a working design notebook with notes, ideas, sketches. To emphasize it we added hand-written underlines, elements with crumpled paper texture, realistic shadows, and animations.
Then came one of the most challenging questions: which banner would best convey our main message? We considered using the pyramid from the previous version of our website to represent how we build solutions. Alternatively, we thought about displaying wireframes in a hole to emphasize that there’s always a massive amount of work behind every beautiful project.
However, none of these options conveyed our message as effectively as we wanted. We continued to ponder the ideal way to present our work, and then inspiration struck — bingo! There’s nothing that showcases our expertise and abilities better than the projects we’ve completed. They are the core of our work and not just for show.
Therefore, the banner we chose features a torn-up cover, symbolizing the unveiling of our projects and the message they speak about us. It’s a powerful representation of our capabilities and what sets us apart.
4. Importance of Details for website design
Details are the key for creative website design. Details it is what makes the design interesting and makes users spend more time interacting with the website.
We tried to create as many elements as possible by hand. We photographed, edited, and used a crumpled sheet of paper as the main background. Arrows, icons, and illustrations were also hand-drawn. Hand-drawn style is a great way when you can’t draw 😆😉. Less straight lines make the cutest illustrations. Don’t you agree?
Each member of our team has their own totem emoji. We put them on the project card, showing which team members were working on the project 😊. Small UI details make a lot of sense.
Piece by piece, you create your design concept like a puzzle.
And there were quite a few unusual tasks we faced:
- how to flip the cover on the home page;
- how to make the movements of tape and paper realistic, when moving the page;
- how to make a transparent hole on the main screen that will look transparent while moving.
5. How to make creative and realistic animations for website
We wanted the effect of shadows and the paper moving while scrolling and flipping the cover, to be realistic. Therefore, we took the real adhesive tape and paper and recorded the shadows moving, and the adhesive tape breaking.
To achieve the most realistic effect while scrolling, we needed to create three different states of the adhesive tape: when scrolling left, scrolling right, and for the static position. To do this, we created three distinct images of the adhesive tape in different positions, which were then incorporated into the website.
Here you can find more how we create animations at Netrix Digital Agency:
- How to create hot animations for any interface
- Top Principles How to Design Lottie Animations for your Website or App
- UI animation guide for After Effects
6. Good quality Content is priority for website.
A corporate website is more than just a collection of images — it’s primarily about the content that users are looking for. This includes presenting yourself, your company, or your product and sharing your philosophy, approach, and what sets you apart. It’s also essential to describe the services you provide and your areas of expertise.
For a design agency website, nothing speaks louder than your work. We made sure to describe each of our projects in detail, including the challenges we faced, the goals we achieved, the processes we employed, and the solutions we developed, along with the results we obtained. When creating your portfolio, it’s important to spend some time giving context to each project. Without context and goals, a pretty (or not so pretty 😁) picture is all you’ll end up with in the end.
In addition, we revamped our old contact form to make it more comprehensive and gather additional information about each request. This enables us to provide better assistance to users right from the start. You may assume that having more fields would result in fewer requests, but this is not the case. In fact, our new contact form has increased the number of requests we receive by 55% compared to the old one, which only had two fields.
When designing a corporate website, it’s crucial to pay attention to the photo content. At Netrix Digital, we believe that everything revolves around people. We’re a team of UI/UX designers and problem-solvers working every day to simplify our clients’ lives 😉. That’s why we organized a team photo shoot and captured our working process, so our clients and potential employees could get to know us better. It’s important to present your company since most clients interested in collaboration often visit the About Us page first.
7. Design Implementation
Excellent design implementation needs good communication between the motion designer, UI/UX designer, and developer, especially when working with unusual designs. It’s a good idea to come up with several ideas because some may not be possible to implement due to the difficulty or resources needed.
To streamline the development process, we initially created the flip animation in After Effects. We then implemented it using a combination of Lottie and code. We also used Lottie to create all the illustrations and hovers.
It took a lot of time to optimize the animation. Our priority was to have a website that is loading fast. Remember, no matter how beautiful animations you use, if your site takes too long to load and everything slows down, then more users will leave it.
Please, don’t forget to pay attention to other pages and elements, and make them interesting, such as an Error page, a Thank you message, a Favicon, an Open graph image for the sharing link. Great design is in details.
What did we get in the end? Are we satisfied with the result? Have we achieved the main goals? We would say, yes! We increased the number of leads (good leads) from our website. We won the Awwwards Site of the Day, Developer Award, Mobile of the Week Award, and Mobile Excellence. More than that it helps to attract new employees. We learned that it was important for them to have a cool corporate website for the company in which they would like to work.
Hints to create creative website design
So… you are thinking about updating your current website. Here is a list of hints that may help you create creative and award winning website design:
- The first and the most important one: answer the question: Why do you want to do a redesign?
- Set up goals. (Goals should be achievable, countable, and have a deadline).
- Make a list of what you don’t like about the existing website.
- Be sure that you know your users.
- Define the main message, idea, what you want to say on your website.
- Create the structure of the website and pages.
- Find references, analyze competitors.
- Brainstorm with team, clients, or friends to generate and choose top design ideas.
- Test your ideas on the target audience.
- Pay attention to the content. This is the most important part of the website.
- Communicate closely with the development team.
- Make improvements.
- Never stop 😉
Here you can find award winning website design examples we’ve created:
- Our design Director Olha portfolio website (You can find more details about design process in this article Beyond Pixels and Code: Crafting your unique story trough creative website design.
- The Silly Bunny — A highly immersive and interactive website for children’s book, with AR experiences and 3D animations. Awwwards and CSS Design award winner as one of best book website design.
- ITG Digital — a craft and creative website for SaaS product. RedDot winner for best Web Services & Applications design.
- Middle — a fintech website for a game-changing digital platform for the mortgage industry in Australia. The best financial services and banking website 2023 according to Webby Peoples Voice.
- OrCad — an enterprise website design built with Webflow.
- Cathey & Miles - creative website design for a law firm.