There are a few websites that I continue to visit for a reason. Not only do they appeal visually, they are easy to use and pretty fun and exciting at that. I'm sure that after I post this, I will think of three even better ones, but for now this is what I can come up with.
IMDb, which stands for Internet Movie Database, is one I use mostly as an app on my phone, but this came after spending years searching for information about movies on my computer. The reason I like this site, stylistically, is that the main page is covered with pictures of celebrities, movie posters, screen shots, and clear headlines. It is extremely user-friendly, with a search bar at the top of every page, and links to movies, TV, News, Trailers and more. Very quick and easy to find out needed information.
The Official Site of JK Rowling has been a favorite of mine for a long time. The new site is even more interactive than I ever could have imagined. The old site, pictured top right, was a desktop with links and easter eggs galore of all things Harry Potter. You would have to click on different things at different times to make special effects happen. It was the most visually pleasing website I'd ever visited, with very nice graphics and organization, notes written on memos, pictures and special information. It felt like you were allowed into a secret world. The new website now directs you to the different aspects of JK Rowling's growing resume. The main page, below right, is actually a timeline that opens on the latest news item. You can hit the arrow buttons on either side of the screen to navigate and open up different pieces of JK-related news. Additionally, the site connects you to Pottermore, a site dedicated to all things Harry Potter. Here, you can sign up to be part of the exclusive magical site. I didn't get my email yet, but fingers are crossed. I don't know how to explain the design styles, other than magical for the Harry Potter content, and creatively clean for JK's personal spaces. Headlines are in a handwriting font on a background of notebook paper. Colors are simple beige, olive and burnt orange for links.
Stumble Upon is a great site my boyfriend introduced me to recently. You sign up, as you do for most sites these days, and create a profile. In your profile, you can list interests. Hit the Stumble! button and you will be taken to random pages that you just might be interested in. It's a great way to discover new things. What is great about the design of the site is that it utilizes familiar icons, like the thumbs up, thumbs down found on Facebook and Pandora. The navigation bar at the top has these symbols, along with a link to Facebook, a "share" button, a comments button and a search bar. It's new but familiar. The home button and settings button are on the upper right. The page itself is mostly filled with the website it finds for you, but the layout of the screen has minimal words, just symbols so as not to distract you from the pages.
For my third project, I would like to utilize a simple design and color scheme, like JK Rowling's site. I like the professional look with the elements of whimsy which make it more fun than stuffy. My hobby site will focus on travel, which is my favorite thing to do. I think a simple layout and easy maneuverability with limited writing (like Stumble Upon) will help keep the focus on the pictures. Finally, I'd like the pictures to be easy to scroll through, as they are on IMDb.