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July 7, 2011 / davebirss

10 super simple sites to inspire you

I hate it when I hear people say ‘less is more’. But not for any other reason than it’s become a horrendously overused cliche spouted by people who really don’t quite know what it means. It is, however, a principal that I wholeheartedly agree with.

When I was an advertising creative director, I’d often be telling people to make things simpler. I’d ask them to remove elements from the layout and shorten the copy. The faster people get the message, the better.

When I started doing digital stuff it got even worse. Websites often became bloated and cluttered and clients seemed to think of them as filing cabinets in which they could shove everything they thought could possibly be useful to anyone ever. Flash designers liked to show off their licks (like egotistical heavy metal guitarists) and created over-complicated experiences. And again I battled to remove elements from the clutter.

So I love it when I find a simple website. One that only really does one thing. One that’s clean, obvious and simple to use (although not all of these are well designed – I like their approach). And I thought I’d share a few examples in no particular order. This list isn’t exhaustive. A lot of it focuses around the world of advertising, design and digital. And I’ve probably missed off some of my own favourites because they slipped my mind. So if there are any better ones you can think of, please add them in the comments.

Some of us are looking at the sky

This is a lovely site. All it does is show you a Google StreetView of the sky anywhere in the world. Or at least anywhere the StreetView cars have been. Simple. Gorgeous. Elegant. Clever.

Phil Collins Requirements

Brilliant! Do I need a jacket or not? Ask Phil. This is the first time this man’s face has been welcome in my life for over 20 years.


Fancy seeing how web fonts would improve a site? Easy! Just put the URL in the box and hit the button.

Still on a typographical kick here. When I was an Art Director I’d often be found typing a word into some graphics program and changing the font until I found one I liked. It was laborious. I hated it. So how about comparing your word or headline in every font on your system at once? Bang! You’ve just bought yourself another hour and a half to look at skateboarding accidents on YouTube.


So now you’ve found your font – you need a load of dummy text for your layout. Look no further. You can get all the Lorem Ipsum you could possibly want right here.

Lorem Pixum

Now what about the dummy images to go with your dummy text? No problem. Just put in your dimensions, what subject matter you’re covering and select colour or black & white – bingo!


OK. This has suddenly gone a bit sideways. We’re now talking about web utilities. But I still like the single-minded approach of this kind of thing. There’s a big move to move the web away from Flash to HTML5. Yet most of the interaction designers are trained in Flash – and there aren’t any comparable HTML5 graphic programs to create your whizzy eye candy. So Google have released Swiffy to convert your flvs to HTML5. It works pretty well. Give it a shot.

Down for everyone or just me

Sometimes you don’t know if a site is really buggered – or if it’s just your own shitty internet connection. Here’s how you find out for sure.

Sometimes you want to share big files easily. Dropbox is awesome – but I may not want the file to be sychronised across all devices. So I use I just drag the file onto the button on the home page, it uploads and I have a link. Easy. There are other brilliant filesharing things – but I like the simplicity of this one.

What the fuck should I make for dinner?

We all ask the question sometimes. And this site gives you the answer. Fucking lovely.

So there we have it. Do you have any more suggestions? What should really have been in here?

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