The 15 Best Websites in Detroit
Does Detroit boast good web design? The answer is a resounding yes. From restaurants to industry to nonprofits, it’s clear the Motor City takes web design seriously. In this post, we take a look at 15 designs that help businesses connect with their audience, sell their product, and tell a great brand story.
Here’s the countdown of the best web designs in Detroit, as ranked by the best web design and development team in Detroit.
Ever since the Dime Store opened in downtown Detroit last year, it’s been serving up good minimal web design — along with “breakfast, brunch, and booze.” The navigation menu, colors, and layout are simple, with all the focus on the four feature dishes that welcome site visitors. A Hello Bar features recent announcements — the new all-day breakfast in this case.
One of Detroit’s most famous musicians, Eminem’s web presence is solid. This is an artist who know’s his brand and what he’s selling. It’s telling that the menu opens with “Shop” and “Email Sign Up” items rather than the typical “About” page. Eminem’s header area is a bit weird, with its sword graphics, but this is advertising space as well. A header click leads you directly to the iTunes sales page for his latest EP.
Recently named 2015 Restaurant of the Year by Detroit Free Press, Selden Standard has put as much careful design attention into their web presence as they have with every other aspect of their business. The site’s “About Us” page features thank you to custom bowl makers, carpenters, and space designers. Much like the dining experience, the web design is casual and modern. Focus is on imagery and branding.
As the metro area’s alt. weekly, the Detroit Metro Times stands apart from the crowd, both in terms of its approach to local news and the web design of their online presence. The site design projects confidence as well as fun. I particularly like the pops of red color in what seems to be just the right places. The tabbed sidebar widget makes it easy for readers to find events, concerts, or other happenings.
An important fixture of Motor City, the North American International Auto Show designed a web presence that celebrates automotive design and innovation. Hosted in Detroit each January, the site’s most notable feature is the virtual auto show. Site visitors can view video or photo tour highlights as well as take a Google Street View tour of the showroom floor.
Detroit is a city rich in historical and cultural heritage and the web is an increasingly important space to reach new audiences. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Underground Railroad: The Struggle Against Slavery is one such web project. Not just an exhibition, the site is a portal to a 12-part virtual course. Educational resources and video interviews are also integrated into the site.
Just a few miles southwest of downtown Detroit, you’ll find the Henry Ford in Dearborn. Like many nonprofits, the organization’s web design had to serve many audiences. The primary left menu area is smartly organized by color. Info on campus attractions in orange is separate from a multimedia e-learning area in blue. Researchers and donors also have their own site areas. The front page feels welcoming to all, with each niche site area tweaked to suit its particular audience.
The Motown Museum’s web design carries a blue focal color throughout its whole site. Iconic musician photography is the other prominent feature of the site. The “Motown Sound” area features bios, history, and audio of some of Motown’s biggest artists.
In our most innovative website list, we featured the landing page of the Detroit Red Wings. Not to be outdone, the Detroit Pistons have given NBA fans a solid web design. I particularly like the game info carousel. Economical, but it’s got just the right info. Below, fans can find a wide variety of engaging video and blog content that goes well beyond game recaps. Lions, time to catch up.
The Westborn Market’s design fuses retro graphics and typography with 21st century web functionality. An updated blog, online shop, and social and newsletter integration round out the site design. Balance of light and dark design elements is also noteworthy — despite a shadowy oak backdrop, punches of bright color and light content frames keep the site bright and fresh looking.
Hour Detroit recently named Torino its 2015 Restaurant of the Year. Much like the unlikely destination restaurant in the northern suburbs, Torino’s site design aims to present something fresh. The restaurant experiments with all aspects of their website. The Press page accessible by the drop-down site menu isn’t like most blog post organizers. Two full-width column blocks display feature images, headlines, and excerpts to read more about this unconventional eatery’s mounting success.
In terms of promoting cultural events, Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s website has it all. A sharp calendar with concert days highlighted with a red accent color is one of the first things I notice. Great photography is really important for connecting to an arts audience. DSO mixes professional work with a fun Instagram feed. The design also features a webcast countdown clock and a well-organized menu.
It makes sense that the best-selling car in Michigan would also make an appearance on this list. Built in Flat Rock, Michigan, Ford’s Fusion mini-site boast many great features. While a straightforward menu will take visitors to more detailed info, the site’s well-paced, single-page layout let’s visitors scroll through a full-width presentation of many of the car’s best features. A dozen content areas, from hybrid options to a model gallery, give web users a great experience all without leaving the model’s landing page.
Designing a site for an education, science, and art center is certainly a challenge, but the web design for Cranbrook is beautiful as well as functional. A top menu provides access to administrative areas, while six panels across the full-screen image define each of the center’s cultural offerings. Clicking on a panel reveals a summary description and link to an independent site area.
After a cold winter, it’s possible this beautiful warm summer image may have moved the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy into my top spot here, though the site boast imagery from all four seasons. The top menu’s casual language adds to the welcoming vibe of the site. Scrolling down, several colorful accent colors pop in two featured content areas. An interactive map is another great site feature. It maps the whole riverfront area and is well designed, with informative pop up boxes that highlight landmarks and visitor facilities.
What’s your favorite Detroit web design? What do you love about it? If we missed your favorite in our countdown, let us know in the comments!