6. Apollo 17
It’s hard to believe that Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon, was over 40 years ago. Apollo 17 lets you experience this event through actual historical audio, video, and photos. It’s wrapped in a modern design, making you forget the mission was decades ago.
The liftoff page has a timeline at the top where you can choose a moment in the mission. There’s video on the left that syncs with a transcription of NASA’s commentary as the mission unfolds. Mission status windows pop up with all the pertinent info about the mission in given points in time.
Apollo 17 is a multimedia experience capturing the scientific wonder and human achievement that was our journey to the moon. It’s a piece of work that shows how static information, typically found on the pages of a textbook, can come to life on the web. Apollo 17 drops you in the middle of the excitement of this lunar mission.
And what’s especially cool is the timeline at the top of the page — you can scroll through the hours and minutes and click on those moments in the mission. Major milestones — like “Descent” and “Returning to Earth” — are noted on the timeline.
It’s like going forward and backward in a video file. It’s a smart navigational choice that promotes curiosity and exploration.
I dare you not to get excited with each second of the countdown from the 10 second mark to liftoff.
7. Who Cares Agency Website
Landing on this page for the Who Cares Agency is like taking the controls of an alien spacecraft. There's a dull ambient rumble that echoes of travelling through the galaxy. Text flickers like the coordinates to a far off planet with bloops and bleeps chirping like alien circuitry.
There’s no room for laziness in pulling off a sci-fi-inspired design like this. There are so many well-crafted details, like an interface for selecting projects. It’s fresh, fun, and engaging.
What really sets this site apart is the navigation on the Resultados page. It’s what I imagine a portfolio would look like for the Predator from the 1987 Schwarzenegger film if the alien decided to give up all that interstellar trophy hunting and took up web design. Check it out below.
For those not music obsessed, it's difficult to understand people — like me — who are. And I get it. Why does anyone need an IKEA bookshelf full of records? Why do I need to know the producer of every album? And why do I have opinions about songs based solely on the sound of the snare drum (don't get me started on Springsteen's "Born in the USA")?
But how do we music fanatics find new artists? There are plenty of streaming audio services with algorithms to help us discover new music, but the number of duds can be a bummer.
Radiooooo.com offers an interface that lets you find music you’ve never heard in a fun, inventive way. It prompts you to make your own discoveries as you scroll through its global map and timeline of eras. There’s plenty of vinyl crackle as you explore this world of rhythms and sound.
You can customize your searches through the Taxi interface and toggle between slow, fast, or weird — for some of us, these are the only three genres that matter. It’s a refreshing break from those tired buttons that haven’t changed much from the days of Musicmatch and RealPlayer. Am I dating myself with that reference?
So if you’ve never heard Brazilian music from the 30s, Algerian music of the 60s, or American music from the 20s — it’s all there, ready to fill your ears with unfamiliar frequencies.
Now please excuse me while I organize my record collection by genre, release date, and alphabetically to the second letter.
9. Torque Editions
Some of the best web designs approximate a real world experience. Torque Editions is a publisher and in the background are different printed works they've released. Navigating through the books magnifies the cover, giving us a closer look — like when a cover grabs your attention at the bookstore.
Clicking a book brings up more detail in an introductory block of content that hits all the important specifics. Yes, there’s scroll jacking, but the ease of browsing titles makes it worth it. It’s an example of unique navigation that adds to the user’s experience, bringing us closer to the content instead of repelling us with a convoluted, tedious experience.
10. Badass Films
Badass Films is video production company with a content-heavy website. This does slow things down a bit, but the quality content is worth the wait. And yes, they commit the sin of scroll jacking, but this is also easily forgiven.
There are plenty of high-profile clients, like McDonald's and Jim Beam — with a spot featuring William Dafoe! Badass Films are indeed badass with an impressive list of clients and creative, well-executed productions.
You can scroll through their roster of directors by clicking their names to bring up a sidebar with clips from their projects. It’s a simple way to navigate their enormous list of video projects. It’s a creative solution, adding a bit of complexity to the navigation, in the pursuit of making the video content accessible. And taking this risk pays off in the ease of use.
It’s also interesting to see commercials meant for different demographics. Did you know in France there’s a lumberjack-themed burger called the McTimber? There’s also a commercial with a man and woman making out that I hope no one in the office saw on my laptop.
You’ve been warned.
It’s easy to get stuck in the same patterns of design
Sometimes there just isn’t time or a client who's willing to try something more creative. But if you do have the opportunity — get brave and try something new. To grow as a designer, you must be willing to stretch your imagination and go beyond the norm.
Challenge yourself to create designs free from those habits you lean on. Take your standard practices of navigation and do something different. You may end up with something that surprises and delights you.
We’d love to hear about what you’re working on in the comments.