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Website Lessons From 10 Of The Most Admired Companies In The World

by Stephanie Hamilton

It could be one of the most telling questions that Fortune Magazine asks consumers.

What company do you admire most?  Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 Most Admired Companies in the world in 2012 includes everything from tech companies like Apple and Google, to consumer brands like General Mills and Whole Foods.

These are big brands with big websites and often a myriad of messages to communicate through the web.

In most cases, these admired companies live up to their reputation on the web.

Let’s take a look at ten of these admired companies and their websites.

1. Walt Disney

A good majority of well-known companies place their logo in the top left of their site and omit their slogan. This is no different for the diversified mass media company Disney, who doesn’t need to go to great lengths to explain their brand. Aesthetic-wise the site packs a powerful punch – visitors can access trailers from latest movies and their favorite TV shows above the fold.

2. Nestle

The homepage for Nestle includes a primary banner with scrolling content. This is a quick way to liven up the site by adding some interactivity, and has become a trend in modern web design.

The site also takes advantage of a search field, which aides in the user experience. Established brands and sites with a lot of content should include this feature on their site to enhance their navigation. Nestle also stays connected to fans through social networks, which are accurately placed above the fold.

3. Whole Foods Market

The nation’s leader in organic and natural foods provides a clear direction for visitor’s to follow on their clean site.

Given its role as a supermarket chain, it has the added task of providing seasonal marketing – in this case a Picnic Perfect guide, recipes, and tips tailored to the summer season. High quality photography is used throughout the site to create a connection with the user while supporting the brand.

4. Samsung Electronics

The website for the high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media company Samsung takes into account functional, aesthetic, and technical web design factors in the creation of their website.

The main content area, which features high quality product and lifestyle photography, appears above the fold. Indicative of a site that’s been around awhile, it contains a search field on the upper right corner. A call to action is found in the form of their latest Samsung Galaxy SIII, which takes up more screen real estate.

Many big brands can take advantage of the social media space, which Samsung has done, by including a latest tweet above the fold. The site also makes excellent use of drop down and flyout menus which house their wide array of products, lessening the clutter and focusing on a positive brand impression.

5. Target

Target relaunched their website last year, getting away from the Amazon technology it previously used.

The website looks clean, but several accessibility/usability issues could be addressed. In search results, “Out of Stock” items are commonly featured at the beginning, which may deter shoppers from continuing. Adsense ads also make an appearance on the site and might be a turn off for some users.

While their product groupings make finding what you’re looking for easier, I think Target could address these user experience errors while focusing in on creating a compelling homepage that speaks to their brand values.

6. Marriott International

The visual design of the Marriott International is what you’d come to expect from a top-notch hotel chain.

The website makes use of drop-down menus to organize the vast array of information on the site. Interactive features liven up the site and aide in the viewing experience. They also easily allows you to log into your account, make reservations, as well as change/cancel reservations.

7. UPS

The layout of the website is clean and intuitive while its color scheme is calm and easy on the eye. Everything you’d expect to find on a website of this kind, such as tracking information, automatic login, easy-to-locate shipping calculators, and other tools are easily located. The only potential drawback is the lack of a help option, which is a negative in terms of functionality.

8. Nordstrom

An editorial-driven, fashion magazine style slideshow takes center stage on the homepage for Nordstrom. These interactions lead directly to shoppable category pages. Once you arrive in a particular department, the navigation menu cascades out nicely showing subcategories and related content for a seamless browsing experience. Skip straight to the search field to easily find what you’re looking for.

9. Ebay

It’s clear upon arriving on Ebay that the objective is online commerce. Everything is straightforward – from the search field that allows you to filter criteria to the seamless interaction with sellers, the Ebay experience is laid out to make exchanges between seller and buyer simple and intuitive. While the site can be cumbersome to navigate given a myriad of categories to chose from, the search engine box on every page alleviates this issue.

10. General Mills

The website for General Mills does a decent job of encapsulating the essence of the brand – from high quality photography of the cereals it markets to its global responsibility efforts and more. The site boasts an intuitive navigation, making the browsing experience seamless.

What company do you admire most?  Is it one that we covered here?  What do they do well online?

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Stephanie Hamilton

Stephanie Hamilton runs a small branding and web design studio where she helps clients market their company online. Visit By Stephanie and let's collaborate to tell your brand's story. Visit the blog for more helpful design and business resources.


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