7 Websites to Inspire Glorious UX Design

If you build it, they will come.

Much to the dismay of entrepreneurs and web developers everywhere, Field of Dreams wisdom doesn’t apply to the world of digital products.

Think back to your most frustrating experiences with technology. Slow-loading webpages, complex, multi-step processes, hidden (or missing) information and buttons. Chances are, you don’t remember the sites where you had these terrible user experiences. You’ve blocked them out and filed them away into a dusty compartment in the back of your brain labeled “avoid at all costs.”

When a site has a bad user experience, it can totally turn people off from using that site at all. Unintuitive, misleading, overly complex, or an insult to the eye, if users aren’t excited to engage with a product, they won’t come back for more-- no matter how awesome or useful the product is.

On the other hand, great UX design delights users, giving them incredible experiences and more positive associations with your brand. The best way to learn UX design is to source inspiration from the great UX that’s already out there in the world. I get a lot of my own design inspiration from Googling simple queries like “great UX” and gleaning new takeaways from results. Of course, it’s also important to remember that what works for one product and user base does not a rule make. Never stop talking and testing with users to make sure that your designs are fulfilling their needs.[bctt tweet="If you build it, they won't come... unless it has #greatUX, says @LarCavezz"]

We asked some of star web designers from the startup community to share their go-to examples of great UX. Check out their picks below and lessons-learned about UX best practices (not sure what UX design is? This video does a great job of explaining).


TurboTax UX Design
TurboTax UX Design

Recommended by:Golli Hashemian, UX Research and Design Strategist and instructor at SI Chicago

TurboTax has a great user experience. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most unique and effective reasons is that TurboTax is written in natural language. At the beginning of every section of a tax return there is content that lets the user know what the section is about, what to expect, and what materials the user will need in order to fill the section out. There is also a lot of contextual help that is written in an easy-to-understand way and the user generally gets a very good idea of what options are available to them on the site and how everything is organized and laid out. It helps that the site is very simply designed in blue and white with hand-drawn-looking icons and many notes of encouragement along the way. TurboTax takes an experience that can be very negative, difficult to navigate, and downright confusing for many people and makes it easy, positive, and engaging--even fun!

[bctt tweet="#GreatUX means making a negative experience engaging and fun, like @TurboTax does- @golgolli"]


niice.co uses ux best practices
niice.co uses ux best practices

Recommended by:Lucas Mosele, Web Design student in SI Boston's Class of Spring 2015

The best example of great UX coupled with visual design to me is Niice.co. While most search engines sift through endless junk and cat photos on the internet, Niice focuses solely on quality images from Behance, Designspiration and similar sites. This solves a huge pain point for me and many other creatives I know: where to get inspiration? And how to share that inspiration with our teams? Niice is great due to it's ease of use and one tricky little feature-- instead of giving you exactly what you searched for, it will always throw curve balls at you, which is usually what sparks that fire to break through a creative block.[bctt tweet="Curve balls take #greatUX to the next level on @Niiceapp, says @l_mosele"]

The Accessibility Project

learn ux design with this great example
learn ux design with this great example

Recommended by:Scott O'Hara, UX Designer at Fresh Tilled Soil and instructor at SI Boston

To me, The Accessibility Project is a perfect example of great UX. The site showcases examples of how to build common web elements and make sure they can be used by everyone, regardless of disability or the device being used to access/ traverse a page's content (mouse, keyboard, touch, screen reader, etc.).[bctt tweet="#GreatUX means ease of use for everyone, regardless of disability/ device, says @scottohara"]

Virgin America

user experience design is great on the Virgin America website
user experience design is great on the Virgin America website

Recommended by:Piyush Sinha,UX Researcher at Agoda and SI Chicago instructor

Virgin America exemplifies great user experience. Online travel agents and Airline websites generally have pretty terrible user experiences. Virgin America is a big exception to that. Virgin America's website offers a great user experience. When you use the site it feels very intuitive and friendly, almost as if there's a travel agent sitting by your side helping you make the booking. They've simplified the typical multi-page workflow into a great single page experience that fits the mental model of the user, rather than forcing them through a path that was a result of old technology. Additionally, they've managed to make it a delightful fun experience: recently it featured humorous Easter egg illustrations for the holidays. Illustrations of Richard Branson and Scarlett Johansson also make cameo appearances.[bctt tweet=".@VirginAmerica's UX team make it feel like a travel agent helping you book - @piyushsinha "]

They've even gone further, going beyond the website to redesign the offline user experience. The boarding pass can be printed out and folded in such a manner that it fits in your back pocket. One side of the folded boarding pass contains all the flight information that is important to you, and the other side contains all the passenger information that is important to the TSA. How convenient is that? No more fumbling around with all your travel documents and unfolding your boarding pass, just to fold it right back up after you show it to the agent. Just keep your boarding pass in your pocket and, depending on whether its the flight attendant or TSA agent, take it out, flip to the relevant side, and then slip it back in your pocket once they're done looking at it.

The takeaway here is that many UX designers limit themselves to thinking purely about the online user experience. There are many other touchpoints of a brand that are offline--like the Virgin boarding pass-- that can also benefit from good design and improvements on user experience.[bctt tweet="#UXdesign isn't limited to digital experiences- brands have offline touchpoints too - @piyushsinha "]

If This then That

IFTTT has great UX design to learn from
IFTTT has great UX design to learn from

Recommended by: Conor Sheehan, Senior Experience Designer at Cantina and SI Boston instructor

A great example of awesome UX that I often look to is IFTTT (If This then That). With their new Do apps, you can program a button on your phone to do something, and wouldn't you know-- it does it! While that may sound simple or boring, it's actually really useful to be able to accomplish tasks with a single click. I currently have a button programmed to take a photo and upload it to my team's Slack channel, so it's painless to share whiteboards and notes with everyone. There is overwhelming power in building products that demand very little time, attention, and cognitive energy from users.[bctt tweet="There is power in building products that demand little energy from users, says @conorsheez #greatUX"]


ClassPass UX Design
ClassPass UX Design

Recommended by:Lara Cavezza, UX Designer at Startup Institute and SI Boston alumna.

ClassPass has the difficult task of changing behaviors that people have been working a long time to change. They create a great experience by not only making their app intuitive and simple to use, but by motivating you-- showing you what classes you have completed and what classes you have coming up. Showing this to the user makes them feel like they are accomplishing something, and in turn they want to continue using the product.[bctt tweet=".@ClassPass makes users feel accomplished + they keep coming back- that's #GreatUX @LarCavezz"]

The Secret Handshake

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 6.29.15 PM
Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 6.29.15 PM

Are you a beginning designer looking to brush up your UX skills? This website about great UX has great UX (so meta!). The Secret Handshake is an online resource for young designers to learn how to succeed in the field. Despite having a ton of information on their site (advice from hundreds of more experienced designers, events, articles, etc.), their site is easy to navigate. For example, "search" is right in the top navigation and, when clicked, a large search box drops down for you to navigate the site.

Want to learn UX design? Take a look at our user experience design courses. Download the course guide for our full-time program, below.


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