Wide of the bookmark

With the exception of a few engaging examples, Adrian Shaughnessy finds little to break the monotony on a trawl through design consultancy websites

Any survey of trends in designers’ websites has to include the ‘Shoreditch tendency’. You know the sort of thing: groovy sites oozing with Flash-animation and dysfunctional typography. Prime examples are the on-line homes of Hi-Res! and Fl@33. These are visually arresting sites, but I suspect they appeal as much to design students and design groupies as to potential clients. Why else would designers put so much effort into lovingly categorising their appearances in the design press or on the global lecture circuit?

Any designer daunted by the prospect of creating their own website can always turn to a Web design specialist. But do digital designers have better sites than print designers? There are a lot of formulaic sites in this sector too. Heavyweights like Wheel and AQKA exude anonymous, brand-world professionalism – and it’s interesting to note that the AQKA site is currently offering a bit of old world technology to its clients: a book. But Digit’s handsome site shows interactive communications skills can be successfully and elegantly demonstrated via a consultancy’s own website.

There are no golden rules that will guarantee a near-perfect website for a design consultancy. There’s plenty of help available: the Internet is crawling with Web gurus advising on usability, marketing and the more sinister crafts of ‘captology’ and the ‘persuasive powers of technology’. But don’t rule out intuition and common sense to help you make an effective site: keep it short; invest it with your personality; don’t use it as an ego trip; make it easy to use; avoid clichés; update regularly; and don’t forget to have an easy-to-find client list. m

URLs

http://www.akqa.com/ http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ http://www.hi-res.net/ http://www.landor.com/ http://www.flat33.com/ http://www.pentagram.com/ http://www.thepartners.co.uk/ http://www.nbstudio.co.uk/ http://www.browns-design.co.uk/ http://www.johnsonbanks.co.uk/ http://www.wheel.co.uk/ http://www.digitlondon.com/ http://www.karlssonwilker.com/ http://www.sagmeister.com/

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