What design really sticks in your mind?

When was the last time you saw a piece of design which really ‘clicked’: where, for whatever reason, you felt such a connection that a little photographic impression of it has been etched inside your brain ever since? Have you even realised it was happening? I recently discovered that those questions can (and in my case have) shed new light on the direction I’m taking in developing my design brand.

I started thinking about this a couple of days before writing this post, because of a question put to me via twitter, completely out of the blue. I was asked to name the most inspiring website (for its graphics) which I’d seen lately. Immediately two websites sprang to mind, but then I did something crazy: I dismissed them and tried to think deeper. I considered going back over all the website designs I’ve seen in recent months, to decide which one was the most worthy candidate. Thankfully, that moment of madness lasted only a second before I realised that the original two websites had sprung forth from my memory banks for a good reason: because they’ve been in the front of my mind (or close to it) for several months now.

I fired off a response naming the two sites, and I’ll share them both here as well.

24 Ways

24 Ways

A simple, elegant layout using oversized type, web transparency, clear navigation and cool rollovers. Add the great concept of a blog presented in the style of an advent calendar, and you’ve got an innovative, stylish site from Jeffrey Zeldman.

Ali Felski

Ali Felski

In recent months I’ve spent a lot of time looking at websites designed specifically to profile an individual and their professional activities. Many thousands of blogs set out to do just that, but what really stands out here in my view is how the design conveys such a strong sense of character. Ideally all blog designs should reflect the people behind them as well as their professional activities (or interests if it’s a personal/special-interest blog). This site does so in a charming fashion.

So why have these two been so sticky? I suppose it’s because like many designers who blog, I’m thinking towards the next redesign of my site. While it won’t look anything like these two sites, I know that I want to create a design which reflects the best aspects of both: an innovative layout and design which reflects my character and professional direction. Each site has been bouncing around in my head for months. I’m very glad to have been asked a question which brought both into sharp focus and made my own rebranding priorities much more clear to me.

How about you? How would you answer the question: it doesn’t have to be a website, but which designs have really stuck in your mind?

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