Fresh & Wow! Industry highlights best websites around

By The Drum, Administrator

October 5, 2007 | 10 min read

Fresh Bytes

Where do digital developers look on the web for inspiration? Where online designers find examples of best practice? If digital services directors had to show a potential client one site as a benchmark for excellence, which site would it be?

To help us compile a list of such sites, The Drum asked 20 top digital agencies across the UK where they look when they are in need of a muse.

Whether it be the design, the content, the backend development or just the idea and thought behind the site, we garnered the inside steer on the top 20 sites that can inspire both agencies and clients alike.

Tony Foggett, Code Computer Love

Created to promote the drinking of milk, continues the fantastical story of the Adachis, a family suffering from ailments related to their lack of milk. On the site, viewers play a board game in which they help the family get a glass of hard to reach milk. A wonderfully executed example of how to engage consumers in an otherwise dry (?) subject matter.

Margaret Manning, Reading Room

Real travellers share real experiences and advice on this incredibly useful website. With 900,000 registered members, and 30m page views per month, any question asked gets a constructive response – and quickly. It’s a great example of democratisation and social networking adding genuine value and first-rate information.

Andrew Robson, Fuse Digital

“The Nike ID website offers the ultimate in interactive and engaging online experiences. The design is aesthetically attractive, the navigation is clear and very effective and the configuration mechanic is the ultimate online value proposition, offering a tailored level of service that simply isn’t available offline.”

Alex Wilson, creative director, Dog Digital

You cannot help but be amazed at anything this guy does with his genius. Erik’s blog gives you an insight into where he’s talking his ‘design + technology = art’ philosophy. It’s truly awesome stuff and anyone wanting to keep an eye on the future just needs to take a look at what he’s already doing.

Paul Mcginness, StormID

Threadless allows people from across the world to submit potential designs for T-shirts which visitors can then rate – with the most popular going into production and available for sale through the website. The site’s success centers on a strong community and easy to use interactive tools.

Oli Christie, creative director, Inbox Digital

This beautiful site goes to show that car microsites don't need to be full of lots of photographs of bland cars from odd angles in beautiful locations. The site is interactive, beautiful, unique, engaging, captivating and very, very cleverly put together. Who says Germans are boring?

Simon Cox, account director, Freestyle Interactive

“In my opinion it would be difficult to call this site “cutting edge” however, it’s all the better for it - it has a compelling simplicity unlike more ambitious digital offerings like Diesel. Howie’s have kept it elegantly simple – in structure, content and functionality. Community content is well positioned and works because it is not contrived or forced. Overall, it’s a great website experience which gets you going back for more.”

Rufus Spiller, Good Creative

I saw Marcos speak at last years splendid Flash on the Beach and I was immediately inspired. A lot of people use Flash for evil, well pretty (pointless) animation, but Marcos concentrates his efforts on simple and intuitive visual solutions to information aggregation. His site isn’t nessecarily cutting edge but his thinking is… check out the Google News news aggregator.

Guy Sharman, design and development director, Twentysix Leeds

One of the most interesting sites I’ve seen this year. At first you don’t really know what it’s all about but you don’t really care, it grabs your interest once you start watching and draws you in to keep watching, which was the test aim of the site.

Ross Laurie, managing director, Line

Whilst this concept isn’t everyone’s cup of tea it embodies what the internet is about – connecting people and making cash. It’s classic cut-out-the-middle-man-and-get-the-users-to-do-the-admin stuff...then take a cut. The internet has revolutionised business processes and any site that milks its capabilities is good in my book.

Fiona Proudler, creative services director, Realise

Handy to be able to go to a website that gives you all the hints, tips, shortcuts and just plain hacks to help you keep your sanity when all around are losing their heads. E.g. how to use your IPhone as a remote control for your TV!

Paul Mallett, joint managing partner, Swamp at Brahm

The best thing Microsoft have invested in since Halo3. What I like about this, is the abstractness of approach – i.e. what is its purpose? Well, that’s not really the point. It’s about opening minds, discovering new technologies, sparking further innovation. How else can one investigate a whole new way of seeing St Mark’s Square in Venice?

Don Galloway, managing director, Whitespace

Wow, we wish we had done this site, and no, not for the obvious reasons. It's a work of art from a design perspective, excellent photography, typography and layout, and the real beauty is that technically it's not just a dumb flash site, it's built right and works well.

Mike Bennett, joint managing director, E3 media

The first place I visit whenever I have a spare 15 minutes (or so). This site has many well respected contributors who post the most recent and exciting commercial and personal work. A great place to keep up-to-date with current design trends and advances in web technology.

James Foley, digital communications manager, Nevis Design

This is my homepage that I look at every morning when I start up my machine and it allows me to track countless updates from countless blogs and web portals in less than half an hour. Doing this keeps me up-to-date with the latest changes online so I can act on them immediately or even push out this information to my clients. It is also a great way for clients to keep up with their own specific online market.

John Campbell, managing director, Spider Online

A community orientated social network largely based around music. With a personalised radio station built around your musical taste, it’s a great way to be exposed to new music and enjoy the tunes you know already. The easy access to media and information, just by listening, keeps users active and interested. It looks good, is easy to use and neatly houses loads of new content and services – all delivered through best web practice… Great!

Ben Hatton, Ripple Effect

The Revolution Vodka Bar site is everything a young, funky brand could dream of. It looks stunning, the potential for viral campaigns is massive and the online party booking system, entertainment planner, interaction tools and data capture potential makes this a truly stand out site for both users and marketers.

Rafael Cueto, Work Interactive

I like how they aim their functionality and resources to capture the attention of their target market. A fantastic extension of the campaign.

Graham Jones, managing director, Civic

Current is a TV network with a difference. In its own right, the site is a high quality product that illustrates the market trend towards rich media and user-generated content. What sets it apart is that the content produced for online is reused on a cable channel. Current also has an innovative solution to the problem of getting the content your users want. Google Current is a section where the videos are sourced from trends in Google search terms.

Ed Carter, Spring LLP

Amid all the social networking and crowd-buying hoohah, here's a site that's been doing a bit of all of this for years. Highly customisable, tiny transactions, user-generated content and an e-commerce interface that actually makes you *want* to buy. The badge designs are an inspiration as well.


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