The “Wow” Factor in Web Design

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Everyday, we go through hundreds of different websites. With Twitter and RSS feeds, we are able to see an excessive amount of sites in just a short time. Most of the websites that we visit are forgettable, they don’t leave a lasting impression.

There are different ways that we remember a website. Link

  1. The Content
    We remember Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, and other blogs because we go to those websites daily for their great content.
  2. The Design
    Some websites have extremely creative designs. These websites are easy to remember as well.
  3. The "Wow" Factor
    Sometimes, while looking at a website and browsing through its pages, we will see something that will make us say "Wow!" It could be a simple transition, a background change, a color switch, or even a unique animation that will cause us to remember the website. That is what I call the "wow" factor.

The "Wow" Factor Link

"It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."

— Coach John Wooden

I believe that the "wow" factor is very important in web design. It is what can set your website apart from the myriad of different websites in your industry. By the way, this doesn’t have to be anything mind-boggling or extremely complicated, just something simple but clever will do the trick. This will definitely leave a lasting impression on your viewers and will make them remember your website.

While there are plenty of websites that make use of this technique, I have gathered 10 well-designed websites with clever little details that made me say "Wow!"

Analog1

Analog is a company of friends who make web sites. It’s a co-operative where imagination, design, and engineering thrive; good people doing good work. The website is very simple, but it definitely gets the job done.

The “Wow” Factor

Try pressing Alt+G and see what happens. Also, mouse-over the mugshots.

Analog2

Face3

Face is an intelligence-driven multidisciplinary design studio, based in Monterrey, Mexico whose work range includes design solutions, advertising, editorial projects and custom publishing, corporate identity and brand development. The site is very minimalistic, and at first look, it doesn’t seem to be exciting at all.

The “Wow” Factor

Mouse-over the navigation and you’ll be surprised.

Face4

Flourish5

Flourish is a full-service design studio with a decided focus on the Web. With additional experience in brand identity, print design and photography. This is probably one of my favorite websites in the internet. It is well designed and it has some great details that really make you say "wow!"

The “Wow” Factor

When clicking one of the 4 red banners, the tree changes. Also, the featured projects slider is great.

Flourish6

HutchHouse7

The Hutchhouse team have a mass of real life web design experience creating interfaces for simple brochure websites through to eCommerce, intranet and social networking sites. I love the giraffe illustrations in this website.

The “Wow” Factor

On the top right corner, try switching the theme and you will see the giraffes in different environments. They have a space theme, a night theme, a jungle theme, and a depth theme.

HutchHouse8

Komodo Media9

Komodo Media is a tiny web design studio and blog created, inspired by and maintained by Rogie King.He specializes in illustration, identity design, jQuery, JavaScript and is somewhat of a CSS/xHTML freak. He is pretty good with databases, PHP and Flash, but his heart loves and lives in the design and front-end scripting world.

The “Wow” Factor

Most of you have probably seen this website already, but the "wow" factor is definitely the foliage-o-meter. I still haven’t seen any website do anything similar to what he has done.

Komodo Media10

Riot Industries11

Riot Industries is the personal portfolio of designer Phil Renaud. He is a dual citizen, born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which is basically Canadian Detroit. The website has a very nice texture to it, and the color palette really works well.

The “Wow” Factor

Mouseover any of the project thumbnails and the title will quickly slide out. Very neat effect!

Riot Industries12

Traffik13

Traffik is a CMS for designers, built for business. Traffik offers supperior creative liberty compared to other CMS products. Finally a content management system that doesn’t hinder your CSS talents or your coding deficiencies!

The “Wow” Factor

At first glance, the website background just has a normal bokeh design. Try moving your mouse around it and the fun begins.

Traffik14

Work[at]Play15

Work at Play builds digital experiences that are capturing the engagement generation. They specialize in building interactive social-networking applications, virtual marketplaces and unique digital content for the web. Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Work at Play was recently recognized as one of the region’s fastest growing companies.

The “Wow” Factor

I really like the way that they did the work section. Try clicking on one of the projects and you will see a cool 3D, rotating effect.

Work[at]Play16

Yaili17

Yaili is the website of Inayaili de León a web designer from London, England. She takes a lot of pleasure in coding other people’s designs to make them work online.Her code is as beautiful as her designs.

The “Wow” Factor

The bottom area of her website is wonderful. Try dragging the different sections around. Also, the way that her work section is laid out is excellent.

Yaili18

Eric Johannson19

Eric Johansson is a Swedish designer. I really enjoyed viewing his website. The whole design is very enjoyable and you will definitely remember this website.

The “Wow” Factor

Ok, this one is a secret. I won’t tell you what happens, but just drag the scroll-bar to the right to see something really cool, I promise, you won’t be disappointed. :)

Analog20

Which of these websites made you say “wow?” I only showcased ten websites because I didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much content. What are some websites that you remember because of the “wow” factor? I’d love to have an interesting discussion about this subject so feel free to contribute to the discussion. Thank you for reading the article. You can follow the Design Informer on Twitter here21.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 http://analog.coop/
  2. 2 http://analog.coop/
  3. 3 http://face-face-face.com
  4. 4 http://face-face-face.com
  5. 5 http://www.floridaflourish.com/
  6. 6 http://www.floridaflourish.com/
  7. 7 http://hutchhouse.com/
  8. 8 http://hutchhouse.com/
  9. 9 http://www.komodomedia.com/
  10. 10 http://www.komodomedia.com/
  11. 11 http://riotindustries.com/
  12. 12 http://riotindustries.com/
  13. 13 http://www.playintraffik.com/
  14. 14 http://www.playintraffik.com/
  15. 15 http://www.workatplay.com/
  16. 16 http://www.workatplay.com/
  17. 17 http://yaili.com/
  18. 18 http://yaili.com/
  19. 19 http://www.ericj.se/
  20. 20 http://www.ericj.se/
  21. 21 http://www.twitter.com/designinformer

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Former editor in chief of Designinformer.

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  1. 1
  2. 2

    Brilliant! I checked each and every one of them and wow. All I can say is wow. Designers makes life so excitingly great :)
    .-= Liane´s latest Blog Entry – There’s A Place In Twitter Where You Can Go Beyond 140 Characters =-.

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  3. 3

    Yeah.. Nice one mate.. I love reading this article. :)
    .-= Vikas ghodke´s latest Blog Entry – 36 Exmaples Of Simple, Effective Grayscale Logos For Your Inspiration =-.

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  4. 4

    Excellent sites listed, it´s very interesting and we should definitely pay more attention to the WOW Factor in our designs
    .-= Franco´s latest Blog Entry – How to Set Up a Killer WordPress blog (like this one) pt 4 =-.

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  5. 5

    Amazing article! Thanks for sharing!
    .-= nFormas design´s latest Blog Entry – Typolutionary (sorteio de camisetas) =-.

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  7. 7

    I’m definitely wow’d! What a cool collection of awesomely creative sites!
    .-= Brandon @ eGrace Creative´s latest Blog Entry – High Impact Analytics Logo =-.

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  8. 8

    I found flourish a while ago and took about an hour reading it, screen capping it and devouring the entire site it is amazingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing the others, I will have to share those as well.
    Cheers,

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  9. 9
  10. 10

    I loved this article and every website you’ve featured… All i can say is WOW … nice one jad!
    .-= Richie´s latest Blog Entry – Mystical world of mathematics : Mandlebrot =-.

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  11. 11

    I loved Eric’s website. Being a photo manipulator, his website brings out a new dimension of horizontal scrolling.. just awesome!!
    .-= Richie´s latest Blog Entry – Mystical world of mathematics : Mandlebrot =-.

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  12. 12

    Amazing examples and tips. Thanks!

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  13. 13

    komodomedia is probably the first site with their foilage slider that made me say “wow, nice touch”. A super memorable detail. The face-face-face site is a great accordion with each link like a present as to what’s in store to see.

    Keep up the good work.

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  14. 14

    Great post, I love when artists decide to make online portfolios. They really put their creative flare into their designs.

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  15. 15

    This is a great collection of eye-catching designs that pay tribute the the functional and aesthetic elements of design. Eric Johannson’s website is perhaps one of the most cleverly conceptualized websites I’ve ever come across.

    Great stuff all round!

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  16. 16

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @Franco – I agree, I think once our design is finalized, we should look for creative ways to add a “WOW” factor. :)

    @Chad – Flourish is definitely one of my favorite websites of all time. It’s amazing how much thought was put into designing that site. I absolutely love it.

    @Richie – Haha, that site made my day. Actually, it was after I saw that website that I decided to write this post.

    @Joe – The foliage-o-slider is a nice touch to an already awesome website. It’s too bad that Rogie is planning to redesign, it’s a shame for that site to go to waste. :(

    @Josh – You’re right, I don’t think I have ever seen such a clever scrolling site. Simply stunning!

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  17. 17

    The wow factor is a great thing. I always enjoy the day when a client gets WOW’d, makes it feel like it was all worth it.

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  18. 18

    Great article! The wow effect applied to blog writing! Please go on, it’s nice to read web design articles with a real “point de vue”.
    .-= Chob´s latest Blog Entry – Site web de marque : les 10 commandements =-.

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  19. 19

    @Brett – Yes it is, and it is a great joy to know that the visitors of your website enjoyed their experience because of the “WOW” factor. I definitely agree with that. It’s kind of the same thing when people leave comments on your blog… it makes you feel that the article you wrote wasn’t a waste of time. :)

    Thanks for commenting!

    @Chob – I’m glad you liked it. Make sure you check the blog regularly as I am going to start writing more articles like this.

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  20. 20

    Please let them know Analog.coop collapses in Camino 1.6.9. Had to launch Safari to enjoy their wonderful design.

    Great post, BTW. Retweeting in 5…4…3…

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    • 21

      Thank you for retweeting David. I think it’s broken in Camino because they probably don’t cater towards that browser.

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    • 22

      Hi David, sorry for the woes, but glad you liked it in Safari! It does work in Camino 2.

      Unfortunately, Camino 1.6 uses an older version of the Gecko rendering engine, the same that powered Firefox 2. Mozilla stopped support for Firefox 2 in Decemeber 2008.

      We do our best to cater for browser bugs, but we focus on supporting browsers that are still supported by their makers. Camino 2 uses the same rendering engine as Firefox 3. It does work in 2, but unfortunately will not in 1.6.

      (Apologies to anyone in a similar position using OS X 10.3 or below which Camino 2 doesn’t support.)

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      • 23

        Hey Jon, thanks for answering reader questions. It’s good to hear a little more about your website and what browsers you cater to, etc. Keep up the great work!

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  21. 24

    Wow, the portfolio of Eric Johannson really rocks! :)

    Thanks for sharing this list,
    Lars.

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  22. 25

    Wow indeed! The flourish site is stunning. Keep up the great finds.

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  23. 26

    wow! :D Nice list. surf in sites.. Thanks DIF ..

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  24. 27

    This post deserves a big WOW. I really enjoyed the all the websites, but komodo media was exceptional work :)

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  25. 28

    Brilliant collection and well explained. Love Analog and Eric’s site
    .-= Tuhin Kumar´s latest Blog Entry – Greedy Blogger Kills His Own Design Blog! =-.

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  26. 29

    An excellent article! Each one of these sites are tremendous in their own styles. I love the Flourish site, they really nailed it with their style.

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  27. 30
  28. 32

    Thx buddy, nice post, as a designer, i think factor “wow” is the selling point for the designer itself…

    I love simplycity but come with huge “color” of creativity…

    Thanks for sharing it…..

    Peace!

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  29. 33

    I really enjoyed this article. It showed some great things to think about!! I didn’t even know you could do some of these effects. Just goes to show you how unlimited creativity is in the right hands.
    .-= CyberWoolf´s latest Blog Entry – test =-.

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    • 34

      You’re right. With a little knowledge of javascript along with some creativity, you can really do some nice effects that will “WOW” the visitors to your site.

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  30. 35

    Great Examples! Wow!! Eric Johnson is rockin’ it!
    .-= Web Design by 314media.com St. Louis´s latest Blog Entry – WordPress Design Hourly Rate =-.

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  31. 36

    The last one is great haha..
    .-= Hidayat Sagita´s latest Blog Entry – Free Beer Cap Social Icons =-.

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  32. 37

    Really facscinating article … it’s Christmas time but the article reminded me about Easter Eggs :)
    I too have a small “wow” factor incorporated on my portfolio at http://www.fuelmediaworks.com.

    You can see it when you hover over my logo at the top.

    Yup, go give it a try!!!


    Leroy Fernandes
    Fuel MediaWorks

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  33. 39

    Nice list of cool websites. I especially like the Eric Johansson site. I would have to say it is cool and simple.
    .-= Web Themes´s latest Blog Entry – Cheap Mobile Templates Collection =-.

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  34. 40

    Yes, Wow factors can appear in many forms…What can ‘Wow’ some might not necessary applied to others.
    .-= Aidan´s latest Blog Entry – Creative Christmas Cards Ideas and Free Christmas Vector Graphics =-.

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  35. 42

    The scrolled bokeh effect is similar to the Meninas 3D full CSS one made by Román Cortés.

    Nice.

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  36. 43

    WoW!
    It’s also a good source of inspiration.
    Thanks, they are very good, especially “Analog” & “Eric Johannson” which are fun on top of that.

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  37. 44

    Great post Jad! Perhaps you missed a point which makes people remember your website – personality or character. If it’s a community blog (mashable, smashingmag, techcrunch) then your love towards teh content may be dependant on the author. For instance my favourite are (of course) Pete Cashmore, Adam Ostrow, Shay Howe, Louis Lazaris and some others. If they’re personal blogs then the love (towards the blog as a whole) *totally* depends on the author’s personality.

    Correct me if I’m wrong ;)

    Cheers,
    ~ K.
    .-= Konstantin´s latest Blog Entry – Cloud Tips: Amazon EC2 & Rejected Email =-.

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    • 45

      That’s true. But I wasn’t trying to name all the different things that people remember websites by, I was simply listing a few of them. That could be a great article in the future. :)

      I do agree with you though. Good point.

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  38. 46

    Some great subtle effects. I think subtle is they key word here, effects that are just enough to make you think WOW, but don’t distract you from the main aim of the website. Great post.

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  39. 47

    Some of the effects are just gimmicks, but the sites are still beautifully designed.
    .-= Mark´s latest Blog Entry – Build Your Customer Base With Inbound Links =-.

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    • 48

      I wouldn’t call them gimmicks. That is why I call it the “WOW” effect, because the effects are not really noticeable until you do a certain action that then makes you say “wow!”

      And yes, all these sites are really designed very well. Thanks for your input Mark.

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  40. 49

    Great sites, thanks – they certainly all have that WOW factor. The last WOW factor site I saw was dontclick.it just yesterday.
    .-= creativedino´s latest Blog Entry – Fun to use =-.

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  41. 50

    Oh, and get a “Subscribe to Comments” plugin, I’m sure it will be useful ;)
    .-= Konstantin´s latest Blog Entry – Cloud Tips: Amazon EC2 & Rejected Email =-.

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  42. 52

    Great stuff for the “wow” factor ! There are a lot of creativity.

    “Face” and “Eric Johansson” are awesome !

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  43. 53

    The only “Wow” for Analog I have is “Wow, the first page for a long time that put my browser to knees and made it crawl like a baby”.

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    • 54

      Hi there, could you give a little more detail on what OS/browser was crawling like a baby, and we’ll be happy to try and give it a hand up if it’s a current version. :)

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  44. 55

    Some really great examples, great work finding and sharing them with us.

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  45. 56

    Great collection here. The Wow factor is maybe the only thing that can get you out of the crowd. Nowadays, we all know how tu use any CSS properties, we have all read books about typo, layout, grid systems… those things become logical. But, one of the most creative aspect of a website is the Wow factor.

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  46. 58

    I love all of them!!

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  47. 59
  48. 60

    Really enjoyable article. It is telling, however, that the sites featured here are all designers’ sites. I suspect that’s largely because this sort of “WOW” experience serves a unique purpose for designers (i.e. it shows off our skills and creativity, which is a major selling point), but in another context it might be seen as self-indulgent and wasteful.

    Creating a “WOW” experience for our clients, however, is a bit of a taller order than some clever JQuery animations or crazy navigation schemes. The “WOW” for our clients, I believe, comes when we’ve picked the best tools, crafted the best layouts and images, and handled the detail work so effectively that their content is allowed to shine for their visitors, resulting in increased conversions and profits. I think that’s what the “WOW” elements listed here do for these sites, and I suspect that these designers give their clients’ clients a whole different reason to say “WOW.”
    .-= Richard Glover´s latest Blog Entry – We are live! =-.

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    • 61

      You bring up a great point Richard. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      These designers sites definitely show creativity which can be a real good selling point to their clients. While I think the “WOW” experience is best suited for designers websites, I think that if done the right way on any website, it can definitely have a positive effect.

      “The “WOW” for our clients, I believe, comes when we’ve picked the best tools, crafted the best layouts and images, and handled the detail work so effectively that their content is allowed to shine for their visitors, resulting in increased conversions and profits.”

      Well said Richard!

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    • 62

      Thanks Jad. I appreciate your response. I have actually thought about this article quite a bit, and dedicated my first *REAL* blog post to a response that talks a bit more about the point of view I expressed above. I hope it contributes something to the discussion.
      .-= Richard Glover´s latest Blog Entry – Getting to WOW! : Designing for users =-.

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    • 63

      Thanks Richard. I read the article that you wrote and it’s great. I definitely agree with you. The “WOW” factor will always be different. It all depends on who the site’s target audience is. Great article!

      Oh, the article can be found here.
      Getting to Wow! – Designing for Users

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  49. 64

    A nice list of examples how we can make websites interesting. The ideas are great and i think i will try one or two of these ideas in my next designs. ;)
    Some of these details i never saw before. It is fantastic what we can do now with a little bit of Java and modern css :)

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  50. 65

    I mean javascript of course ;)
    .-= andiweiss´s latest Blog Entry – The snow is falling… =-.

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