1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Aug. 27, 2006
The Design Element
Web services are any web site which offers an application, usually a very focused application, what I like to call a micro app. This list could be a zillion links long, especially these days with everyone making some sort of internet gizmo, including me. These are the links I have collected thus far though so they serve to represent the category well. I imagine like most other categories this will be flooded with links, my goal of course is not to document all services, but rather to provide superb samples of well designed sites. For example I personally love the feedblitz service, but don’t find its presentation to be the least bit inspiring.
Web services can be a really tough sell. I know the first issue I have with many of them is trying to figure out what the heck it does, or if I even need it. There is nothing worse then being on the hunt for a specific application and landing on sites where you can’t tell what the software product does, it is in fact incredibly infuriating. The samples below have completely avoided this trap; in fact when I was looking at these with the larger thumbnails on the dailyslurp you could tell what the product was just from the thumbnail! This is saying a lot, the sites have really succeeded at making it as clear as possible why the site exists. This idea could probably be put to use in other types of sites. Blogs come to mind actually, I find it annoying to land on a blog and not have a clue what the topic or purpose of it is. Is it personal? Professional? What is the topic? This lack of communication can really suck the life from a product.
One thing all the samples share is a big bold clear statement of what the product is. They don’t rely on their name, their logo, screenshots or anything else. Instead they just lay it out there. In some ways it might feel like stating the obvious, but to someone who has landed on your page for the first time it will be a most welcome bit of information. “Simple Stores for DIY Rockstars”, statements like this found on bigcartel.com are so clever. It not only tells you what it does, but provides a bit of insight into the company behind it. They sound young, small, and hip. This of course plays into their goal with the site, small trendy shops! Put some thought into your descriptive tagline, it might be your only chance to sell your service.