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The “Wow” Factor in Web Design

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.

You may want to take a look at related articles:

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!”

Analog4 Link

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.


Face Link

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.


Flourish6 Link

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.


HutchHouse8 Link

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.


Komodo Media Link

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 Media

Riot Industries10 Link

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 Industries11

Traffik12 Link

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.


Work[at]Play14 Link

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.


Yaili16 Link

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.


Eric Johannson18 Link

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. :)


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 here20.

Footnotes Link

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Former editor in chief of Designinformer.

  1. 1

    Excellent Post!! :)

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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!

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    @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.

  6. 6

    this is a WOW article :)

  7. 7

    Amazing examples and tips. Thanks!

  8. 8

    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.

  9. 9

    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!

  10. 10

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

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

    • 11

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

    • 12

      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.)

      • 13

        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!

  11. 14

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

  12. 15

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

  13. 16

    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.

  14. 17

    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.

  15. 18

    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

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

    Yup, go give it a try!!!

    Leroy Fernandes
    Fuel MediaWorks

  16. 20

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


  17. 21

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

  18. 22

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

    “Face” and “Eric Johansson” are awesome !

  19. 23

    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”.

    • 24

      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. :)

  20. 25

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

  21. 26

    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.

    • 27

      That is very true. I actually was so impressed by Eric’s site. It left such a good impression on me that I decided to write this post.

  22. 28

    I love all of them!!

  23. 29

    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 :)

  24. 30

    WOW… brilliant article, really makes me want to re-design my site after just getting it back up lol!

    I like the Eric Johansson site very amusing and creative

  25. 32

    Great post and great collection of sites – thank you for sharing. Amazing what can be accomplished with jQuery, javascript and even CSS

  26. 33

    Hey thanks for the great comments about my site, Also wanted to point out

    This is another site that made me say “wow” (in a good way) the first time I saw it.

    • 34

      You’re welcome Chris. I really love the design of your website.

      Oh, and that TNT vacation, that is incredible. Thanks for sharing it.

  27. 35

    WoW! Great post.

  28. 36

    Amazing post… It’s really WOW!!!

  29. 37

    Very impressive stuff. Thanks for putting this list together. Being able to mix web technology and graphic design has become a real art and a prime skill.

  30. 38
  31. 39

    Nice post! The last one is very funny :D Another site that made me say WOW! is:

  32. 40

    Yes, Komodo Media is great. Rogie King really did a wonderful job with all the little details.

  33. 41

    Wow, that’s very cool. I think that is probably the best use of flash that I have ever seen.

  34. 42

    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.

  35. 43

    Good point Aidan. That is why it’s good to keep the “Wow” factor very subtle, so it doesn’t stand out too much.

  36. 44

    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.

  37. 45

    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.

  38. 46

    That’s a pretty cool site. :)|

    I was trying my hardest not to click, since I am used to clicking so much.

  39. 47

    Thanks for the tip. Just added one now.

  40. 48

    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!

  41. 49

    Thank you! I would consider it a great honor for your students to read the article.

  42. 50

    I agree, you would really have a great website if you have quality content mixed with great design and some “wow” factors mixed in.

  43. 51

    Indeed. I think that as designers, we need to try to be more creative, especially in our personal work. I understand that with client work, we can’t really push the envelope, but I think in our own sites, we should really try to be unique and stand out. These sites have definitely done that!

  44. 52

    jQuery is awesome! :)

  45. 53

    “Having that wow factor is very important especially for first time visitors.”

    This statement is right on the money!

  46. 54

    I like the way you put it into the right perspective Erik. You really bring out some excellent thoughts.

    ROI is our main goal when building sites for the client, and I do believe that having a “Wow” factor in a website that’s cleverly used can have a positive effect on the ROI.

    Thanks for your input. BTW, I really love the clean, minimal look of your website.

  47. 55

    As everyone else has pointed out already; great article! A definite WOW factor :)

  48. 56

    Totally, Totally, Totally Awesome, a great reminder that you dont need flash to make websites interactive and cool.

  49. 57

    Personally for me the wow factor is simply the first impression. It’s like the first look and i can tell if I love it or hate it

  50. 58

    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

  51. 59
  52. 60

    Excellent article, Jad. I had expected this to be just another top 10 listing of cool looking websites but the contents proved me wrong. The collection here just proves that html sites needn’t be static. Also the very good reminder about the wow factor. Its what makes a gd design great. Just tweeted your article :)

    • 61

      Thanks Damian. While this post is a “list,” I do try to make it as informative as possible. It’s not your ordinary list. :)

      I appreciate the retweet.

  53. 62

    This is nice. I have been looking for a design article like this. I have gone so deep into code the last 2 years my design hierarchy is off. If anyone is interested I posted which talks about design hierarchy. This is also a really cool site that show the hot spots of your design.

    • 63

      That’s a great resource Judd. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing. Also, I’m really glad that you liked the article.

  54. 64

    Thank you for the great post. And I totally agree to your the list! Those little details really add up!

  55. 65

    The WOW factor in web design has been lost… You wanna know about WOW factor… Remember that website of the early 00’s. Now that was WOW!!

  56. 66

    Enjoyable showcase, I totally agree with little details, I loved the “Side scrolling” design and that Bokeh design.

    I didn’t understand the Analog website though…it put a grid over the whole screen? And if you didn’t tell me to Alt+G then I never would’ve have found it….in this case, the detail would be completely overlooked, no?

    • 67

      Well, that’s kind of true. But you can see on the footer of their design how to activate the grid.

      • 68

        I found it fun, especially because I’m a designer so the grids were awesome. Also that “chicken” that slid out when you double clicked on the image, that was awesome! :)

      • 69

        Hi Victor, and Jad,

        Victor, the grid was never a critical feature, or a design detail, to be honest. It was really just something we used in deployment, but it seemed like fun to include it. That’s why we only mention it in the footer as Jad mentioned. I hope you found it fun, too. :)

      • 70

        Ohhh okay. I don’t know why I overlooked that. I loved the shifting with the Company Profile Images. That chicken pull out was a neat feature! I think you should consider doing something with the color wheel though…like you can drag or click to twirl it revealing more details about each point.

        And my favourite feature of this is the one-page design. Simple, quick website, no clicking-hassle. Good luck with your company!

  57. 71

    This post is such an eye-opener that we don’t need flash to create superb dynamic and interactive websites. These websites are really pushing the limit. And I am just completely fascinated and deeply inspired.

    Thanks for sharing. I dream that someday, one of my websites would be featured on a review like this.

    Cheers everyone!

  58. 72

    Thanks Bee! There will definitely be more thought-engaging posts in the future. Stay tuned! :)

  59. 73

    I really like HutchHouse as well. Very creative with the way they change themes.

  60. 74

    Colby Anderson

    December 21, 2009 8:58 am

    I always enjoy a good article that take a good hard look at the details put into a site. It is true designing with the WOW factor in mind has to be one, if not the most important part of web design.

    Thanks for the great article.


    • 75

      Thank you. I’m glad to know that the efforts that I put into writing this article was not a waste. It’s the little details that are really important in my opinion, as these details are what really will make a website go from good to great!

  61. 76

    Great article! Thanks.

  62. 78

    Good design has hit the web mainstream in recent years and clients understand more than ever the importance of making sure that your site looks good, but the next big thing is making sure that those good looks are backed up by good functionality….this is where the “WOW” factor comes in.

    • 79

      Good point Sanzu. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do agree with you, clients know the importance of a good looking website, but most clients do not know what good looking is. It is the designer’s job to steer the client into what looks good.

  63. 80

    :D Just that phrase already sounds really cool. It fits the website perfectly.

    Thanks Bryemye!

  64. 81

    Thanks for doing so. It’s always great for us to complement others and tell them that they are doing a great job. It build camaraderie among the design community. :)

  65. 82

    I checked them all and they are all very creative and inspiring! Just when you think you seen it all, along comes one that’s really wow!

  66. 84

    Nice Collection.

  67. 85

    This is one of my favorite posts by far—great collection of interesting web design effects. I can feel the inspirational gears turning.

  68. 86

    Nice post..i love it! christmas is on the air. Keep on posting great designs.

  69. 88

    Excellent article!!!! I had expected this to be just another top 10 listing of cool looking websites but the contents proved me wrong. The collection here just proves that html sites needn’t be static.

    • 89

      I’m grateful for the nice comment. I really tried my best to not just do a showcase of websites but to actually provide some information and value with the post.

  70. 90

    Great post on WOW factor with nice examples. Having that wow factor is very important especially for first time visitors. You only have a few seconds to not only get their attention and interest to continue browsing the rest of the site.

  71. 91

    That’s true Aidan. When I first started the blog, it was great to see a bunch of comments that said thanks, I like it, etc. But after a while, I kind of want comments with a little more information. For example, instead of just saying thanks, why not explain why you are thankful for it, or describing what you liked about the post.

    I don’t even mind constructive criticism. With that said, thanks for your comment Aidan. :)

    Keep up the great work with your blog. :)

  72. 92

    I agree Philippe. I’m really impressed with the creativity that is displayed in that site and how he managed to pull it off with just javascript, XHTML and CSS. Incredible website indeed!

  73. 93

    It is very neat to see that. I was really impressed with it and that’s why I featured it. Like you said, there are plenty of sites that use color changers, but I have rarely seen websites that do a theme change.

  74. 94

    Thank you Erica. I’m glad that this article has given you some inspiration. :D

  75. 95

    Thanks Michelle for the comment and you’re welcome. Come back soon for more great articles. :)

  76. 96


  77. 98

    Kuldeep Daftary

    December 29, 2009 12:36 am

    Mahn its just Wow!!

    Eric Johannson Rocks :D m/

  78. 99

    Jeez, I’m going to sound super grouchy compared to all the comments above.

    But when I see the cool slidey pop out animated flashy stuff I mentally heave a sigh. Next I mentally roll my eyes and think “cut the crap! I want info not spinning graphics.”

    In a word, it seems fluffy.

    Before you flame me, though, I should add that I really admire these sites’ usability. The organization of content, labeling, navigation, sign posts, use of color and quick-access drop down menus make these sites easy and pleasant to surf. That is harder to achieve than adding the clever bells and whistles, IMHO.

    Also, I’m not holding my firm’s site up as an example to follow. I think we lack ‘wow’ at our corporate site. But I haven’t found the right person/resource to help. There seems to be this certain sort of web designer who ‘gets it’ and other folks who are great at print design and other stuff.

    And if I’ve got a few thousand dollars for outsourcing improvements, and a day or two over the next month or so to improve performance, should it go to generating more optimized content or adding wow features?

    • 100

      Thanks for leaving a comment Rebekah. I appreciate it, and don’t worry, there’s no flaming going on here at Design Informer.

      Although I don’t agree with what you are saying, I’m still glad that you are willing to express your thoughts in the comments.

      I think a website needs a “WOW” factor on top of amazing content and a usable design. It’s just like the icing on top of the cake. :)

  79. 101

    Excelent article. Loved the sites. And to contribute to the impressive rooster look at this.

    Scrolling background is simply WoW. Site isn’t mine I just find it really clean and beautiful.


    • 102

      Thanks for sharing that site. I actually saw that site quite a long time ago and I forgot about it. If I would have remembered it, I would have probably included in on the list. Oh well, there’s always part 2.

  80. 103

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post

  81. 105

    You’re welcome. After all the great feedback, I’m thinking about making this post a series. :D

  82. 106

    Great post. Excellent sites! Awesome ideas.

  83. 108

    The Analog site is great. Double-clicking the guys pulling the rope gives you the rooster surprise! The grid is very useful too: Always there if you want it. Brilliant.

    • 109

      Thanks for sharing that. Yes, the hashgrid is cool and it would be neat to put that on this site as well. I might just do that.

  84. 110

    I must say I was a bit disappointed with the ‘wow’ factors of the sites, but I did love the portfolio site.

  85. 112

    I completely agree with you. The WOW factor is usually not over the top and it is simple, but most of the times, it is these simple things that make you say WOW.

  86. 113

    I’m sad, there is a lot of bloatwares.
    Analog and flourish are however pretty.

  87. 114

    Nice list of great web designs. I frequently compare our findings at to the many web design inspiration lists across the web and you Jad have a great eye for digging up good web designs. We agreed on everyone of them! Cheers!

  88. 115

    Really liked the Yaili design. It is very creative and it entices people to look further into the website. There are of course other great designs among this roundup :) Thanks for sharing this. It is always a pleasure to see what the creative mind can do.

  89. 116

    Great each and every design is “wow”. I really like the article.

  90. 117

    All I can say is WOW! Very creative and excellent detail on their work.

  91. 118

    wow It is very creative and it entices people to look further into the website thank share

  92. 119

    This provides great insight. Thanks. =)

  93. 120

    I have to say, I didn’t get the wow from most of these. Then, I decided to check on the post date and sure enough, it’s quite old.

    It’s a good reminder that the wow factor only lasts for so long.

    Too bad most of these sites haven’t updated their “wow”!

  94. 121

    And who says not including flash on a site makes it not look professional??? Great insight dude. Nice one.

  95. 122

    Very creative and excellent detail on their work..
    Thank you!

  96. 123

    An amazing article. It’s nice to read a quality blog post. I think you made some good points in this post.

  97. 124

    Great post. Excellent sites!


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