What makes a great website? Judging by this collection of Michigan web designs, the answer seems to be a site that works for your content. Companies and brands need to communicate different things to their audiences. Sometimes, there are even multiple audiences to consider. Even within the same industry, different solutions work for different companies.
Being from Michigan, we can’t help ourselves when it comes to looking for the best local websites to highlight. Here’s our countdown of some of the best web designs around here, from companies new and old.
A screen width image of endless sky and fields is what greets you when you navigate to Michigan Sugar. The Bay City-based agribusiness has been in operation for over a century. More great farm imagery continues as you explore the main page, where the content focus is on stories, history, and products. A discrete sticky menu takes site visitors to additional site content.
The Walker, Michigan-based grocery and discount retailer Meijer takes a flexible approach to their web design. Large feature images are rotated to feature the current promotion and discount banners can be added or subtracted in several locations. The design isn’t too fussy, instead the focus is on showcasing the brand’s wide variety of product offerings.
A large international law firm with approximately 300 attorneys, Miller Canfield’s design opens with an impressive view of downtown Detroit, the firm’s corporate headquarters. The firm counsels clients in a number of legal areas, so a slider carousel rotating through several of their bigger achievements helps define their business. The menu is well organized and straightforward.
Zingerman’s Community of Businesses site isn’t so much one site as a portal for more than a dozen food business properties. And it’s not so much this one site as the whole group that makes my list. Each has its own set of bright colors, illustrations, and content-appropriate layout, yet each site’s web design, whether delicatessen or bakehouse, is connected.
The Lansing, Michigan-based Liquid Web has a great consumer-facing tech services design for their cloud storage and data center business. To me, the featured image says “here is where we keep your data and here’s the guy who cares for your data.” A competitive price point is put front and center while service offerings are detailed below. The social icons above the logo help contribute social proof to the brand.
The Ann Arbor-based Merit Network operates one of the longest-running computer networks in the country. The nonprofit also offers frequent courses and meetings, in addition to its network services, so a great deal of rotating content needs to be accessible to users. The News, Services, and Events blocks are a good design solution, helping different constituencies find what they’re looking for quickly.
The digital library JSTOR provides full-text online access to more than 2,000 academic journals and research resources. A great deal of the site’s design focuses on managing all that data, but for JSTOR, that’s no reason to have a boring front page. With offices in Ann Arbor and New York, the company sweats small details such as their search box, menus, and maintaining an engaging behind-the-scenes social presence for their user base.
The major chemical corporation Dow is headquartered in Midland, Michigan. The company’s web design reflects the need to serve content to a number of different audiences, from investors, to customers, to partners. It’s nice to see content blocks for Twitter and brand storytelling front and center here, along with stock info and corporate news.
When it comes to satisfying the content needs of diverse audiences, maybe no one has it as hard as major universities. Dow may have stockholders and partners, but even they don’t have to worry about serving up easy-to-access content to sports fans and parents! The University of Michigan website design gets this balance perfect. Two top menus help users get the content they need while large engaging imagery keeps the design fresh and clean.
Headquartered in downtown Detroit, Little Caesars Pizza designed a site that was equal parts function and whimsy. The web design has fun with logos, background textures, and titling typography, but keeps important content areas organized logically for site visitors. I particularly appreciate the store locator search being front and center. Nothing’s worse than clicking through three pages of content to find big brand’s closest address.
Architecture and engineering firm Harley Ellis Devereaux mixes demure and passionate elements for a great overall design. The menu and lower portion of the front page have a reserved and stately feel. But the company’s work and passion take center stage with a carousel of nine bold images and visionary statements. It’s an unusual mix of elements but works wonderfully here.
We couldn’t have a list of Michigan websites without mentioning the auto industry. Buick’s brand page is one of the most refreshing of the major auto brands. Adventurous photography and a sleek design give way to a detailed site map further down the page. The top menu is light on content options but covers all the bases for likely site visitors.
Automotive components manufacturer Dura Auto is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Like UM, Dura chose to incorporate two menus into their design. Social links stand out in a brightly colored footer. Like Harley Ellis Devereaux, passion and vision are also emphasized in the design, with mission and creed content links front and center.
A community bank based in Midland, Michigan, Chemical Bank’s web design stands out for a few reasons. The menu organization includes all the necessary portals to services in three distinct areas. The login area is exactly where it needs to be, but the translucent containers let visitors take in the great outdoors imagery with an unobstructed view. The footer of the page starts off what seems like a mini-listicle of selling points for the brand. It’s a nice idea.
I keep returning to workwear brand Carhartt’s web design. It’s one of my favorites. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company was founded in 1889, but has managed to create a design just right for the 21st century. The imagery is bold and engaging and the content organization is logical. Video and social content round out the lower portion of the front page.
Universal Forest Products continues the trend of full screen images, this time layered with translucent content blocks. The Grand Rapids-based business features different product categories in the slider carousel of images and content descriptions and a thoughtful menu sorts an abundance of content into categories and subcategories.
The site of Holland, Michigan adaptable workspace designer and manufacturer Haworth is eye candy for any fan of modern design. Top of the line product photography shares the main page with behind the scenes brand stories, including stories on featured designers and company history. I particularly love the Le Téo and Blet multimedia page, combining text, hand-drawn and computer-rendered illustrations, photos, and video.
Like Chemical Bank, Independent Bank goes for a clean modern design and full-screen imagery. One quirky choice is the “Choose Your Background” option, where you can replace beaches, urban waterfronts, or hobby pics. I especially like the ambitious content block on the left of the screen, here. Logins, rates, location finder, email subscription, and social buttons is a tall order for a designer to organize in one area of the screen, but it turned out well in this case.
Wolverine Worldwide’s corporate site design is proof that business doesn’t have to be boring. This was another favorite of the hundreds of Michigan designs I looked through. The full-screen imagery doesn’t detract from the corporate content. The Interactive Annual Report isn’t quite as colorful as the main page, but a lot of care has been taken to bring the company to life and it pays off.
Whirlpool’s site is another example of a great corporate web design. A single-page design highlights the main features of the brand identity. More content is accessible through two top menus. Each additional info page gets a custom layout that fits the content. Amazing that this is a WordPress site. Overall, my favorite feature is the airy and peaceful aura that permeates the whole website design.
Tell us what you think. Did we miss one of your favorite Michigan company’s web designs? Have a favorite? Let us know on Twitter @kaleidico.