One of the greatest honors for anyone who designs and/or codes websites is to have his or her work featured on Awwwards. This curation of inspiring design and innovative code features websites that set trends and evolve the web.
As a studio, we aim to create websites that are up to this level of quality. However, a great design and the right coding are often not enough. Behind many of the web’s most groundbreaking sites is an unsung hero that ought never to be ignored. Take a moment to browse the beautiful work featured on Awwwards and you’ll find a practically universal common denominator– spectacular photography.
When meeting with a new or potential client about designing a website, we make certain to pose the question, “Do you have professional photography or a budget for us to help you attain it?” Answers to that question vary greatly as different people define “professional photography” in any number of ways. Sometimes a client will bring us a flash drive brimming with high-resolution photographic masterpieces; other times, we’re lucky to get a single, half-blurred Instagram shot taken on a cell-phone camera. For those coming to us with the latter, we find it irresponsible not to suggest contracting a photographer for a professional shoot.
Aside from basic image clarity, there are certain details that can only be attained when a photographer and designer work in harmony. Consider the following examples:
We recently completed this project for Terry Van Duyn which called for a large image to be used in the header area. Notice how the navigation and text are not interfering with the subject of the photo and how and how the white text is easily legible despite not being placed over a photo that’s been darkened. This is an example of a website design working in harmony with photography. Had that photo been composed any other way, it’s likely the text would either not be legible or it would be over the subject’s face.
Lush Cosmetics had their website featured on Awwwards not long ago, and with good reason. This beautifully minimal website is unlike most e-commerce sites with its wide-open layout and ample white space. Such an innovative design would not have been possible without brilliant photography that features products “smeared” on a white background. One would be hard pressed to achieve as impressive of a store-front without such well-planned imagery.
Martin Auer’s home page is entirely in German– which takes a minute to realize as it requires breaking concentration from that exquisite bread. Given the plethora of mouth-watering food photography mixed in with an assortment of friendly community shots– a kiss of playful typography is all this site needed to come together. A classic case study in simplicity– if you sell gourmet baked goods, don’t overcomplicate with excesses of text and illustration. At the end of the day, people just want to look at their cake and eat it too.
In all seriousness, this list could go on for hundreds, even thousands of wonderful websites. Unfortunately, for every beautifully art-directed website, there’s sure to be five DIY disasters that could have simply been avoided by hiring a professional. When you decide to invest the time, energy and money towards revamping your presence online, consider allocating a budget for photography as a bit of insurance for the efficacy of your investment. A whole is only as good as the sum of its parts.