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5 awesome website redesigns

Osas Obaiza
5 awesome website redesigns Osas Obaiza

We've all heard the classic idiom, "Don't judge a book by its cover." While that concept is correct, it's almost impossible to do. Looks weigh heavily on how things are perceived, from dog collars to Facebook profile pictures, and nothing can escape the wrath of judgment. In this digital renaissance, people are much more tech savvy and in turn much more critical of all things digital.

The website is a brand's book cover, and it is extremely important that it showcase brand identity before a user hits the back button. While marketers continue to lean on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for brand outreach, the website is still where the most important details remain. Ultimately, those social sites should be leading your valued customers and fans to a dedicated site where they can download, shop, suggest, and better understand and appreciate your product or service. Your website should be the ultimate resource center for your customers, and that includes both mobile and traditional.

Many brands tend to overlook the elegance of website simplicity and cohesiveness. The object instead becomes to overload pages with information and gadgetry in fear of leaving something out that a customer might need to know. It shouldn't be about what they need necessarily, but what they actually want. Luckily, websites are not stagnant entities, but ever-changing and evolving pieces of a whole, and a great website redesign can resuscitate a brand in a very short period of time.

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The key to a great website is following the heart of the brand and utilizing everything it can offer without going overboard or serving up a plain WordPress page with a few links and pictures. If you have a few Flash items, make sure they are necessary and engaging and not just there to spice up the page, and make sure the words on the page are not the page itself. It's hard enough to get people to settle down on your site. Don't make them search through hundreds of words to find what they're looking for.

Take a look at these redesigns, handpicked by a few website experts. And remember, we all judge a book by its cover, so make sure your cover is the best it can be. Your brand and customers will reap the rewards.

Matt Jacobs, AMP Agency 

Brand: American Express

URL: https://home.americanexpress.com/home/axpi/

American Express' recent homepage redesign is a great example of designing with the user experience in mind. Based on the redesign, it's clear that the goal was to simplify the initial interaction with American Express, while highlighting the key areas of the site that drive most customers to visit -- accessing their account or getting information about American Express services.

What makes the new design better than the old one?

The redesign applies a much cleaner design aesthetic, while still allowing American Express to merchandise key offers and services to its customer base through a rotating carousel.

In addition to visually restructuring the landing page, American Express also leveraged the redesign to update the following:

New online financial tools

  • The brand reorganized and grouped its tools together in one place to make it easier for consumers to find what they're looking for.

Mobile access

  • Keeping up with the times, American Express synched its site with apps available for Android and iPhone.

Functional improvements

  • The brand also improved the functionality of the site by updating features. For example, pending charges are now available within minutes of using a card to provide the most up-to-date account information.

While the rest of the site remains mostly untouched, the redesign significantly improved the user experience of logging into your account and/or accessing information about American Express. Kudos to their team for sticking with simplicity -- it's often an objective that's easily stated but hard to follow through on.




Matt Jacobs is director, strategic marketing, at AMP Agency.

David Clarke, BGT Partners

Brand: Autoblog

URLs: Current site: http://www.autoblog.com/; New site in beta: http://beta.autoblog.com/

The current site is a fairly standard blog site with multimedia content and the ability to filter content. The new beta site takes advantage of dynamic scripting, and it socially infuses each page. It also provides a robust dynamic experience where the user is able to explore rich content from multiple sources without having to click on multiple pages. The majority of the content is connected to Facebook, which enables the user to easily share information without disrupting the experience.

What makes the new design better than the old one?
The redesigned site improves on its predecessor, thanks to the quality of the design and the comprehensive infusion of social components. The mega-menu allows you to dive deep into the site's content, and it provides relevant information based on user patterns. Instead of staying within the parameters of a standard drop-down, the content transforms the menus and provides a more dynamic user experience.


David Clarke is co-founder and managing partner of BGT Partners.

Josh Levine, Alexander Interactive

Brand: Action Envelope

Agency: Alexander Interactive

URL: http://www.actionenvelope.com/

Any e-commerce website should be geared toward service -- both for the consumer and retailer. The new Action Envelope site, heavy in Ajax and DHTML functionality, included intuitive, dynamic menus that make it easy for shoppers to find and customize products.

A redesigned site should capitalize on tech advances, accommodate growth gracefully, and be flexible, while at the same time staying shopper-focused and invigorating the brand.

What makes the new design better than the old one?

  • A direct browse-and-search interface

  • A simple two-step process for online envelope design and printing makes it easier for customers to create exactly what they want

  • A robust re-order center allows for fast purchases of previously placed orders

  • A file upload center for easy graphics and logo embellishment



Josh Levine is founder and chief experience officer at Alexander Interactive.

Editor's Choice, iMedia Connection

Agency: R/GA

Brand: HBO

URL: http://www.hbo.com/

The HBO.com redesign finally does justice to one of TV's most popular and recognizable premium channels. Known for its selective and stylish programming, HBO used its new site to showcase each show individually, while emphasizing what it is known for (documentaries, series, and sports) with large fonts and great space allocation.

What makes the new design better than the old one?
The main page serves as a giant billboard for whichever series or movie HBO is promoting at the time. Right now, its new series, "Game of Thrones," is featured in the background of the homepage with high-quality images from the show, reminding fans to check out the new episode without taking them away from other assets on the page. There is much less text than before, and better quality images and videos.

The bottom of the page, previously used for the standard "contact us" information, now has a mini video reel featuring HBO's most popular programs, followed by that night's television schedule. The new page is fresh and appeals to the average HBO viewer, and allows for appreciation of each show individually. It makes the previous web page look novice, which is exactly what a great website redesign can do.


Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.

Kevin Casey, AMP Agency

Agency: Flipboard

URL: http://flipboard.com/

Instead of talking about great new redesign in a medium where the best design either happens in an initial launch or in small increments over time, let's talk about the best website redesigner: the iPad app, Flipboard.

Facebook looks like a banking website. Twitter is sloppy. And your favorite blog is built on top of some atrocious free WordPress template. All of the best design out there is for one-off sites that you have no reason to go back to after that initial ogle. You want all of that sweet, sweet social media content, but your sensitive eyes can't take the horrors of sites designed as containers for constantly updated content instead of well-thought-out, inspirational, artistic design.

Enter Flipboard. Flipboard is an iPad app that takes all of your bland social media content and aggregates it into one beautiful gallery. Once you plug in all of your channels (like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or really any site with an RSS or social media feed), Flipboard greets you with a sexy grid of fresh content. Inside each channel, all of your posts are arranged in a classically magazine-like style in a serif font delicately balanced in beautiful white space. It makes your high school friend's posts about their baby's first birthday party actually look kind of classy.

Flipboard has been the biggest change in the way that I look at the web (and the iPad) this year, drastically reducing my disdain for social media channels and keeping me neck-deep in fresh, warm content all day long.

(Twitter and Facebook without Flipboard)


(Twitter and Facebook with Flipboard)

Kevin Casey is senior art director at AMP Agency.

Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Osas Obaiza

Osas is a recent graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing he hopes to someday one-up Stephen King. Growing up in Elk Grove, California, he is sadly devoted to the abysmal,...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Jo Oskoui

2011, December 30

I agree. The redesign of the HBO site looks great but because it requires Flash and is therefore not optimized for today's mobile standards, it should not have made the list. There are even some run-time errors (Flash debugger) which is never a good sign.

Commenter: Luke Mason

2011, December 29

HBO may want to build in an alternate user experience for users who don't have Flash installed.....I disabled Flash and was unable to see the website at all....