Website Design: 8 sites that get it — and 6 sites that don’t

I’ve been watching the whole grid/adaptive design and short-form content revolution roll out in slow motion over the past couple of years.

So how’s the revolution going? To see, I spent some quality time on 17 major sites on our eBusiness Index. Turns out it’s playing out in four ways:

Whole hog

Some sites have jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet. is still the muse for the consumer markets – but is the pluperfect example of these designs taken to their logical conclusion on the IT Web. also plays in this category, but its messy renditions lack the elegance seen on the Apple and Adobe sites.

Whole Hog. is still the muse for consumer sites, but is the pluperfect example of these new designs taken to their logical conclusion on the IT Web. has some moments, but messy renditions lack the elegance seen on the Apple and Adobe sites.

Variations on the theme

Like all things in life, there’s always a middle ground. – and especially its Smarter Planet and Pure Systems zones – are great examples of B2B-centric variations on these new themes. After a perfectly dreadful couple of years, is also starting to trend in this direction – and and are also putting their own stamps on the genre.

Variations on a theme. IBM, HP, EMC, and SAP are all great examples of B2B centric designs that are variations on the theme.

A little bit pregnant

Many teams I talk with are still trying to figure out how to adopt these new designs and voice without throwing the baby out with the bath water. For most, the fastest way to redesign nirvana is to add some nominal content blocking on pages and slash and burn the site’s content into a new, more engaging voice. and are good examples of these strategies at play – and’s Enterprise and SMB zones are examples of trying to have it both ways (not necessarily a good thing).  (Update! has started to roll out its new adaptive design which is stacking up to be a B2B game changer. Here’s why.)

A little bit pregnant. and are good examples of sites that are re-blocking pages and parsing content down into more digestible and accessible bits.


This leaves us with the sites that are still paying by old rules. Here, we have which gets an attaboy for its tidy design, but populates it with long, complicated, and deadly dull content that is the bane of these new design schemes. Meanwhile,,,, and all missed the “there’s a new sheriff in town” memo. seems to have gotten the memo, but a turn through its services & solutions and industry zones suggests that it isn’t quite sure what to do about it.

Ostriches., and are examples of sites that are still playing by the old rules.

Here’s a graph that gives you the big picture.

About half of the sites reviewed "get it" and another 20% are trying to work around the edges. Forget trends. These new designs are becoming industry conventions.


Marty’s Google+ Conference Post:  I was going to include the IBM SWG site as one of the sites executing a variation on the theme in my “8 sites that get it and 6 sites that don’t” blog this week. Then I surfed over to snag a screenshot and had a “yikes!” moment. What are they thinking?

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About the Author:

I focus on strategy and trends – and how the Web turns business rules on their heads. My job is to identify the Web-related trends and best practices that will change your world over the next 18 months. Where you need to cut through the clutter of conventional wisdom. How to change the competitive rules of the game. More gory details in my profile -- and unvarnished opinions about the sites we evaluate on Google+