The State of Web Design in Michigan: 16 of the Most Innovative Websites

MI Innovative 03 Carhartt

What counts as innovative web design? That was the first question I set out to answer as I went looking for the best web design in Michigan. I decided right away that I had to separate creative web designs from innovative ones. Innovative designs don’t just look pretty on the screen or have great information architecture design. They have to do something new, that’s surprising yet natural, and that adds to the user’s experience or the design’s functionality. With that definition in hand, I went in search of the best web design Michigan had to offer.

Here’s a countdown of the 16 most innovative sites, as ranked by the best web design company in Detroit.

These brands were born and bred here in the Great Lake State, some more than 100 years ago. Though you’ll find a couple of large corporations on the list, they are all headquartered in Michigan.

  1. Kellogg’s

MI Innovative 16 Kellogg

Headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, Kellogg’s is the maker of many of consumers’ favorite cookies, crackers, and cereal brands. The Kellogg’s corporate site has a lot of information living on this homepage. But I still feel a rhythm and hierarchy to the content, thanks to the thoughtful use of the plum-red logo color in strategic content areas. I also love the airy background image. Scrolling down gets you from wispy clouds to a rich green lawn at the footer.

 

  1. MM Picture Studios

MI Innovative 15 MM Picture Studios

This Detroit-area production studio makes great use of the WordPress CMS platform with their site. I love the wide-angle shot the designer used for this splash image. The innovative trick here for me is the unique small-image sliders for the Projects and Partners elements. Most everyone focuses on rotating content for their main image, yet this idea works great for MM’s two most important content categories.

 

  1. Ziebart

MI Innovative 14 Ziebart

This Troy, Michigan company specializes in all things auto-related, from detailing to automatic starters. Ziebart’s eight primary service areas are accessible through the two-by-four block of red-and-white icon squares on the left side of the screen. It’s great to see a brand founded in 1959 doing something interesting in the generally homogenous automotive web design space.

 

  1. Masco

MI Innovative 13 Masco

This is a simple but effective site for the Taylor, Michigan-based Masco Corporation. It’s a nice balance of information relevant to stockholder and product audiences. One unique feature: the five blue pins on the image cycle through popup boxes that highlight a few of Masco’s brand offerings.

 

  1. New Holland Brewing

MI Innovative 12 New Holland

New Holland Brewing is another company that’s made great use of the WordPress CMS. Of particular note, the location pin and bottle icons on the right of the menu bar let visitors find a location or their favorite beer product. Sticky menus are pretty standard these days, but this Holland, Michigan company gets points for switching things up with a sticky footer.

 

  1. Nude the Salon

MI Innovative 11 Nude the Salon

I appreciated the minimalist, modern approach this Birmingham, Michigan salon goes for with their site. The logo area is larger than most designers would typically feel comfortable with, but it’s one of only three main elements on the screen and everything feels balanced. The mini-footer somehow strikes a balance for me of being noticeable without sticking out.

 

  1. Herman Miller

MI Innovative 10 Herman Miller

This office equipment manufacturer and retailer is headquartered in Zeeland, Michigan. The site is well-designed, but it’s the products and the product photography that really steals the show on the homepage. The coordinating corals and greens you see here shift to coordinating reds and blues in blocks of product imagery as you scroll down.

 

  1. Faygo

MI Innovative 09 Faygo

It really is amazing what you can do with WordPress these days. This 108-year-old soda pop company has done a great job fusing classic advertising imagery with modern web design. And the four visual menu blocks make a big impact. You almost don’t notice the menu bar above offers the same options!

 

  1. Detroit Red Wings

MI Innovative 08 Detroit Red Wings

Detroit’s own NHL team came up with a great way to manage all their digital properties. This landing page acts as a funnel from which a user can jump to any team site they want: social profiles, email signups, video, tickets, team info, or app downloads. It’s a really smart way to manage a wide variety of traffic.

 

  1. Velocity Cow

MI Innovative 07 Velocity Cow

It’s definitely this clever landing page that makes me include Detroit production studio Velocity Cow in this list. The interactive light bulb–shadow effect is neat, but not too gimmicky since it relates to the business at hand. The viewfinder framing is also a nice touch.

 

  1. Movement Electronic Music Festival

MI Innovative 06 Movement

The site for Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival is the only one on this list to go all-in with video. Apologies if my screengrab looks a little blurry—it’s not easy to screen cap an EDM light show! The chevron-shaped filter over the lower part of the screen is semi-transparent, making the site and social menus more legible without taking away from the video. And yes, thankfully the audio track listed at the bottom of the screen does not auto play. (Looking at you, Tumblr.)

 

  1. Halo Burger

MI Innovative 05 Halo Burger

Halo Burger’s primary concern for this site seems to be getting their brand audience to engage with their rewards program. This design’s smart approach to user experience design is sure to make it happen. There’s also something to be said for the subtle touches here and throughout the site that honor the company’s 92-year history in Flint, Michigan.

 

  1. Torino

MI Innovative 04 Torino

It’s clear from the awards that fine-dining restaurant Torino puts a lot of thought and care into their menus. It’s clear from this site that they care about the whole brand experience just as much. This site is beautiful and functional, from this landing page through to the tasting menu and contact page.

 

  1. Carhartt

MI Innovative 03 Carhartt

I love this sites very progressive and agile e-commerce design. The yellow accent pops in all its placements and the imagery has all been tweaked with the same filter. There’s also a great marriage of roughness and sophistication to the design.

 

  1. Wolverine Worldwide

MI Innovative 02 Wolverine WW

Wolverine Worldwide wins the prize for best corporate design out of the hundreds of corporate sites I surfed through for this project. Just because a web property’s audience is likely to be investors and corporate partners doesn’t mean it can’t be clean, crisp, and modern. Stockholders like to have fun, too! This is a great example of what can be done to showcase the business side of a corporate brand with great design.

 

  1. Leco

MI Innovative 01 Leco

When your business’ products affect industries as diverse as food, energy, environment, life sciences, and mining, it’s a bit difficult to describe what you do succinctly to someone new. Judging by this site, Leco’s analytical instrumentation business hired the right designer to help tell their story. Everything you see in the top banner image — from cows to individual clouds to mountains — is an independent PSD layer. The horizontal slider you see below the cow moves the scenery in a truly unique panoramic way through each of this St. Joseph-based company’s industries. It’s really impressive. Even though it was one of the first sites I came across, I had a feeling it was going to be the most innovative web design Michigan has to offer. It is.

The Internet is a pretty big place. I probably missed a couple amazingly innovative Michigan web designs despite a pretty careful search. Did I miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!