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Corporate Website Design: Creative and Beautiful Solutions

What do corporate websites have in common with other people’s children? Three things: they have their charm, like finger-paintings on the refrigerator; they can be useful, if infrequently; they are usually admired only by the people who created them.

While designers know that a user’s experience on a website has a large impact on the way that customer will interact with them, impressing that concept on the corporate establishment has taken a very long time. Trends in design are making their way into corporate web, albeit slowly; with patience and a little luck, businesses will soon start to consider carefully coded and appropriately functional design as important as their mission statement and recent sustainability reports.

One unfortunate fact is evident above all else: despite having plenty of money at their disposal, many corporations are lost in sterile MS Word-esque designs that are more stagnant than a museum exhibit… though at least museums have dinosaurs and mummies and stuff. Here’s hoping we all will get new corporate clients soon.

Below, we present some interesting corporate websites, although the insight they offer may not be immediately apparent. This review is not about aesthetics or visual appeal, but rather about the design solutions the sites exhibit. In fact, corporate websites aren’t as visually arresting as you might think, so if the appeal isn’t immediately apparent in the previews below, take a moment to visit and interact with each of them.

Beautiful Corporate Websites Link

Levi Strauss & Co1
With its website, Levis demonstrates that it has not only a strong flair for style and interactivity, but a rich sense of history. Hover over or click the photographs to see some of the company’s defining moments; ever known for its sense of identity, Levis draws you into its past, present and future, excellently breaking through to customers and inviting them to stay.


By simplifying and softening the navigation, McDonald’s opens the entire screen up to use as canvas for their product. Harmonious colors in the typography complement the food (and exploit the visual association with hamburgers), while the vivid photography does not obscure surrounding elements.


Gentle colors and careful hierarchy of elements aside, Starbucks’ strength is in the details. The navigation exhibits an attention to hierarchy not often seen on corporate websites, while offering alternative destination links, should you find yourself in the wrong section. Such consideration for the user would be a welcome trend in design going into 2011.


You’ll see that this is a link to Sony Canada’s website. While the navigation and theme is the same as its American counterpart, the experience here is different: here you can see short films in which people relate their experiences of how Sony technology has enriched their lives. Best of all, a floating meter lets you sort stories into categories, giving you control of the content. Brilliantly executed.


The Ones You Would Expect Link

Few websites employ a grid design that is at once so rigid and flexible. Individual modules expand and contract to allow for dynamic exploration—a lot of fun, particularly because the website has so many parts to explore. The only thing to note is that images do not obviously reflects the content they open to display, necessitating the standard top-menu — an important point in usability.


While the technique of using tiny images to fill a shape has been done a million ways, Citroen takes an old technique to the next level. Draw your cursor across the world to see the photos dance around it, beckoning you to select a region. An excellent use of a landing page, effectively drawing in users without information inundation.


Fender Guitars13
While you may need to be a guitar player to fully appreciate the beautiful lines and tones of Fender products, you need only a pair of eyes to appreciate the simplicity and functionality of Fender’s website. Unobtrusive navigation at the top and hot links lower down make way for a large stage on which Fender can showcase the stars of its website: its beautiful instruments.


One of the most recognizable brands in the world, Heinz has intelligently focused its website on its consumers. Rotate the globe by clicking on photos to see simple recipes from around the world. A design brilliantly suited to users of any skill level, Heinz has found a new means to engage their customers and entice them to visit more.


Prologue Films17
Any company that designs opening credits and effects for movies needs a keen aesthetic sense, and Prologue Films’ visual dynamic is evident on its website. A clean grid with gray tones puts the company’s custom type and effects (an impressive collection) front and center, the same technique made famous by artists and photographers. Using a pop-up window for the content, though, is ill-advised.


The beauty of this website is in Rolex’ masterful attention to detail. With the gorgeous products on display, the eye almost misses the clever tricks contained therein, such as the clock face that adjusts to your time zone. The intuitive user experience reinforces the notion that great design blends together. When it works right, it’s seamless.


Steinway & Sons21
Lucky for us, Steinway invests as much effort into its website as it does into its pianos. Elegant type and warm subtle imagery grace this design and project an image of quality, undoubtedly the intended effect.


The Ones You Should Have Thought Of Link

While a blue and white palette is nothing new, Aflac has mastered the use of subtle gradients to enhance type. Smartly assembled, this site is intuitive and easily digestible. The clever part is the horizontal scrolling frame, a visual hook aptly used here to display customer testimonials.

Screenshot, (Individuals).24

American Standard25
A gorgeous website; American Standard exemplifies grid design, employing the majority of frame as a news scroller. Intelligent use of color, elegant type and thoughtful spacing make this website particularly easy on the eyes.

Screenshot, American Standard (

Avery Dennison27
At first glance, this might look like the website of any old manufacturer of office supplies. At second glance, though, brilliant little touches leap out:: the subtle grid, the attention to readability, the side-scrolling frame that harmonizes type, color and imagery. Oddly dissonant, the side and top navigations make this website looks almost as if it were a composite of different designs over time, a curiosity.


Con Edison
While the Con Edison website doesn’t have much to look at, the section for the annual report has been capably executed. Great attention to space, clean type and subtle movement are all used to great effect in this section where Con Edison addresses its corporate responsibility.


Grow Interactive29
Most interactive firms don’t have exciting websites, which makes Grow stand out all the more. Grow demonstrates an expert use of type and illustration, moving your eye in perfect circles over the page, and nuances like the small interactive animals along the footer make it stand out among its peers.

Screenshot, Grow Interactive (

PGI31 (formerly Premiere Global)
Here is another rare instance of a Canadian version surpassing its regional siblings. A playful take on the boxed blog/corporate theme, the website for PGI puts an interactive panel into the fold, an attractive way to draw users further into the website. The layout and color elements are evidence of authentic design acumen.


Rohm and Haas33
This Fortune 500 company knows how to engage visitors online, with interactive features coming from every angle. The innovation in its products is reflected in the playfulness of the website, which encourages users to explore. Careful, effective use of otherwise familiar textures and themes support an engaging concept, to good effect.


Society for Environmental Graphic Design35
While the inclusion of an organization of graphic designers in this showcase is no surprise, SEGD shines in its presentation of simple yet powerful elements. As any designer can attest, bold colorful shapes can easily run a design off course, but that isn’t the case here. SEGD has married vivid color with effective usability, creating a website that is smooth and wonderfully user-friendly.


Recently rebranded and redesigned, Virb demonstrates a capable grasp of visual elements even in this placeholder page: good typography, ample white space, soft shapes and forms — akin more to social media than standard corporate toadery, excellently indicative of the target demographic.


The Ones You Might Not Know About Link

Acro Media39
A Web development firm that knows exactly when to stick to the grid and when to break boundaries. The most impressive parts of this website are the way certain elements react to hovering, such as the company name in yellow at the top left. Mousing over it flips the logo around to display a toll-free number. Clever.


AgencyNet Interactive41
The spirit of AgencyNet is clearly the team of creatives behind its work. Showing the team at work (and play) behind the scenes in the office is refreshing, well executed and a great way to engage viewers to learn about the company.


A small creative firm, AmoebaCorp shows expert use of type on its website. The type establishes a strong hierarchy, enabling the content and navigation to coexist on the left without confusing the user about functionality.


Imaginary Forces45
Less is more with Imaginary Forces, which displays its brilliant work as prominently as possible by cluttering the screen as little as possible. Even without the showcased work, the website would stand out: take away the grand images, and you’d still have a clever arrangement of type and navigation, which is more than can be said of most websites.


Kurylowicz & Associates47
This Polish architecture firm has produced a website that bleeds inspiration from every pixel. Elegant in its use of gray tones, this website combines line, shape and space in a way no other website does. Perhaps it took an engineer to think abstractly enough to design with such abandon, but the result is brilliance online, from start to finish.

Screenshot, Kurylowicz & Associates, (

Vancouver Convention Centre49
Aside from the harmonious colors and subtle grid that frames the content, the Vancouver Convention Centre succeeds by going the extra mile to make its website visitors feel local: the “Cheers!” factor in action. Not many websites impart a sense of belonging with their welcome; that this one does makes a strong case for using heart as a design tool as much as shape, color and texture.


What Have We Learned Today, Bobby? Link

Finding beautiful corporate websites proved to be quite a challenge, and we had to make a number of unusual choices along the way. We sought regional versions of international websites, for instance, because multi-national companies present a number of differences among their sister websites. Bizarrely, did you know that many Fortune 500 companies don’t even have websites? Or worse, have non-working ones?

Admittedly, the word “corporate” is pretty loose in definition here. For the sake of impartiality, we did not discriminate by industry or field. We were more interested in collecting websites that employ interesting techniques. Because innovative and fresh stand out on the Web whatever the industry, putting aside traditional definitions is crucial.

For further reading on corporate websites and design, you may be interested in Corporate Blog Design: Trends and Examples51, published August 2009.

Would you like to see more similar showcases on SM? Link


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A compulsive student of graphic design, equally passionate about music — Bobby also writes extensively for Interrobang, a publication of Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

  1. 1

    really like ‘AgencyNet Interactive’ and ‘Kurylowicz & Associates’, dont see many website like that about

  2. 2

    citroen is the best coorporate site design..

    • 3

      I wonder if there are any B2B companies that take this approach. B2C beautiful designs I can expect, but its rare to see a B2B with a high quality design.

      • 4

        Johny Favourite

        August 25, 2010 8:00 am


        I was thinking exactly the same…

        Corp bigwigs and design by committee usually rule in this area!


        • 5

          I wonder if clients are so discombobulated by web technology that they just sit there and allow the developers and designers do their thing? Maybe a bit of sparkling type and prancing unicorns are suggested here and there but rejected in the end?

          • 6

            allow the developers and designers do their thing? Maybe a bit of sparkling type

          • 7

            Yeah… working for a a corporation my self bud they rarely let you “Do your thing.” Especially when marketing gets involved. They like to think of themselves at the highest echelon of design since their degree plan required them take intro to graphic design. They may know what looks good but they tend to get overly excited and cram everything that looks good all onto one page. (i.e. the Adidas site) As far as functionality is concerned its the designer/developers job to make sure that this “Cramming” is functional which the Adidas developers didn’t do a bad job at. So if the corporation wants unicorns and sparkling type they’ll get it no doubt about that. But that’s not what this article was about. This article was about functioning websites be they beautiful or not.

      • 8

        I agree totally. I worked at a B2B agency for a short period and they tried to extract more contemporary designs from me. It didn’t work. Perhaps its the B2B mentality that discourages good creative hehe.

  3. 9

    AgencyNet Interactive is really cool! Like this article. Unfortunately the company I work for is far away from having a beautiful website. :-(

  4. 10

    Hm, these are showcased as usable websites?
    I just recently got ahold of Jakob Nielsen’s Eyetracker study. Sites like the Rolex one (large image taking up space) did poorly (the example in the study was JCPenny). These all LOOK NICE, but do users skip over important text because the designer was trying not to look like 1990?
    The company I work for sells clothing from brand names like Levi, and going through their corporate sites to get necessary product images or information has always been a frustrating experience, especially with all the slow Flash loading. But, luckily, I’m not a customer trying to buy something there… maybe that’s the difference. Maybe these sites aren’t for customers.

    Design-wise, though, many of these are very beautiful.

    • 11

      Totally agree with this. These sites seem to think they are (posh) magazines and we have all the time in the world to browse right through them. We don’t. In fact, we don’t care at all really, given a few basic nice things are in place (clear nav bar, obvious info areas etc). We just want to find what we came to find, really quickly, and get on with the next thing we need to do in our very busy lives.

      It’s not always popular to say these sort of things, but any ‘punter’ will more than likely agree with this perspective.


      • 12

        If you think that we live in a utilitarian world where design has no meaning your dead wrong. There’s a reason why we have Bently and a Ford – in the end both are cars right? Also, design evokes emotions and most decisions are based on emotion believe it or not – marketing 101.

        Also, ironically you emphasis that no one has the luxury to engage with a site due to lack of time yet you find time to comment on this site…

        Open your eyes bro and start appreciating the finer details in life, OK?

        • 13

          If you drive a Bently, you will see the difference from a Ford. Performance is the key in any product. The design entices (hence the emotion response), enhances usability (salability) and sells the product (needs satisfaction). Design, however, is secondary to usability. Lose that and you lose sales and even decay your branding.

          This is why design by committee destroys all three main factors, ergo (with a bit of a jump over other factors), no consumer confidence.

          • 14

            sorry what? when you’re looking at $10,000+ watches I’m pretty sure you’re focused on design and prestige and have thrown usability out the door.

            Do you really think someone interested in a high-end watch is going to give up on the rolex website and order a seiko instead just because they could click through their website faster?

          • 15

            @lee – No, people want to look at pictures, see a list of the functions and while they say, “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it,” the price as times have changed (no pun intended). They want the two most basic functionalities; visuals and information they can comprehend. Within that — within the design, functionality rules. So why can’t beauty and functionality co-exist? Probably because there was some non-creative interaction.

            As for “giving up” on the web site — how many times have we all gotten impatient and promised ourselves we’d “come back?” It won’t sell more Seikos to Rolex lovers…unless it’s within their real budget.

            Keep in mind the demographic of the consumer. The site is mostly visited by those who dream of owning such a time piece. Edge consumers will check it out online so they are not embarrassed in the store by asking. Those rich enough to not care are usually just given the watch so the manufacturer can say “so-and-so wears one!” Otherwise a weekly shopping trip on Rodeo Drive might have them pick one or two up.

          • 16

            @Speider – I really wish that a lot of these self proclaimed experts that troll these websites really had a chance to come down to the city and participate in the kind of research we do. I’m not talking about reading some usability document online and making it the “law”.

            If we put together a focus group where two versions of the Rolex site was presented: one looking like Craigslist (the world you propose) and one with a big image of a water splash hitting a Rolex watch (current site) the splash would win 9/10 times. I’m sorry to inform you this but people gravitate towards beauty over anything else. You have to stop assuming that people would analyze a website like you would – most people don’t live in a world of zeros and ones. Design wins every time.

          • 17


            Take a bigger look at design. Its not just aesthetic. Its functional. Its an approach that encompasses conception to completion and everything in between

  5. 18

    Exactly what I was looking for, great showcase. Would be good to see some more like this – but for SMEs instead of large chains, as I don’t get to work on these large ones every day…!

  6. 19

    Very good list! Thumbs up for Rolex!

  7. 20

    very nice selection, keep it up!

  8. 21


    August 25, 2010 2:12 am

    AVERY’s website looks like a 90’s website…. very dated in my opinion!

  9. 22

    It’s a shame so many of these sites are flash based :(

    • 23

      agree with Ben!
      Too too flash use! Lovely but after 5 minutes you’re bored!
      The companies still use old ways of doing website, I think.

    • 24

      We’ve recently redesigned the corporate website for the Landmark Group, a leading retail and hospitality conglomerate in the Middle East and India. Would appreciate feedback from the Smashing community…

  10. 25

    Few niece pages, a lot of disasters.

    Nice first look does not define good sites at all. They should be usable and some of these are far from it.

    I.e. Prologue Films page which seems to be OK unless you try to go for more content and see light blue texts mixed with light blue background lines on white page. WTF is that? How much contrast they’ve set up on their screens to consider this readable?

    Apart from it: Citroen site is the worst IMHO. Waited 3 minutes (loading) to see Flash which immediately gave me an impression that Citroen is trying to run away from me. reminded me about old pranking software which was taking control over Windows Start button.

    • 26

      Petro Martinez

      August 25, 2010 3:43 am

      Citroen: it took just 3 seconds to load here, and I like the site’s navigation a lot.

    • 29

      Citroen: 3 secs.
      And even with an old monitor with a broken backlight Prologue is still readable. Maybe it’s time for a new computer? Try a mac!

      • 30

        Mac is an internet connection?

        Last time I checked, broken monitors didn’t have anything to do with download times.

        • 31

          I am not native English person but I thought that “Apart from it” will split post into two *separate* cases:

          1. colours usability for Prologue Films page – broken monitors can explain that part.

          2. an idea of Flash based sites which I am against of – not related to #1. Surprisingly: other Flash heavy pages are not problematic for my Internet connection.

  11. 32

    “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – Adobe Flash

    Seems as if the Fortune 500 companies didn’t get Steve Jobs’ memo.

  12. 34

    That is a wonderful and awesome posting today. I love all the works(web site) especially the AgencyNet Interactive.

  13. 35

    Sorry but I don’t really agree with your selection. for example has some massive usability issues, looks nice on the home page but suffers from inconsistency on deeper levels and is massively overloaded. And Seriously? I had to load a flash, click 4 times to get my country, click once more to chose my language, was redirected to another page, load an other flash and then I could start using the page.

    • 36

      The ‘inconsistencies’ are individual page styling – something I rather like in a website. Check out – Jason Santa Maria is one of the most respected and sought after web guys in the world right now and every single one of his articles is styled differently based on whatever he is writing about in that article. I agree with you on Rolex though – but then again, Rolex isn’t looking to grab any customers with their website. If your going to get a Rolex, their website will not make that decision for you, more so your bank account!

  14. 37

    Rolex indeed is really weird on the navigation. I think you like more the watches then the site.

  15. 38

    Thanks Bobby for such a beautiful inspirational articles and wonderful showcase of corporate sites.

    Recently i visited a corporate site of Opal Clocks which has been redesigned recently,
    i wish if you would like to add this in your case study.

    Rakesh Tomar

  16. 39

    Sorry but these websites not Corporate websites. They are consumer websites. But they looks nice :)

  17. 40

    please, please…. no need to advertise for bad companies mcdonald’s and edison…

  18. 41

    Rupnarayan Bhattacharya

    August 25, 2010 4:23 am

    Designing a corporate site is a real challenge, It should be attractive yet minimal. I like macdonald’s site a lot.

  19. 42

    Great set of sites there, really like the the Citroen and Aflac sites. Corporate websites can be a tough one, good see so many getting it right.

  20. 43

    Incredible collection.Agencynet website is way too cool.For the rest of collection i really liked McDonald’s website.


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