How to Make a Cool Website

by Dan Blacharski

The "cool" in a website is inherently undefinable, but you know it when you see it. Innovative design and great content will always be essential parts of a great website, but getting that elusive coolness factor takes more than that. The "je ne sais quois" -- that quality that eludes description -- that makes the difference between a good website and a cool one varies with the audience, and knowing that audience is the first rule in creating a cool website.

Define Cool

The cool factor when applied to people who tend to be the life of the party is defined using terms like "confident," "popular," "aloof" and "calm." It can be edgy and rough like a new punk band, or staid and traditional like a man wearing a fedora hat drinking a gin martini with an olive. At its simplest definition, a cool person is just someone other people like to be around, like the beer commercial's impossibly cool most interesting man in the world. A cool website is no different. It's a website that people love to visit. The aloof factor leaves a little mystery and creates room for people to imagine and create their own narratives.

Be a Hemingway, Not a Hack

After the design and concept of the website is considered, the content can make or break it. Engaging content is always a plus, but the content has to go a step beyond. It should be interactive, and it should spur the imagination. In the most interesting man example, fans write their own witty descriptions of the suave (and very cool) gray-bearded man's exploits. A well-written description of a product or a service is just the beginning. Weave a story around it that will keep people up at night.

Watch Design Trends

Web design trends are changing, and a site designed with the most recent design trends will have a leg up on getting the cool moniker. While earlier cool sites were busy, full of flashy apps and loaded with activity, the most trendy websites of today have a minimalist elegance with subtle features. Typography plays a larger role, with fonts and typefaces taking on a bigger portion of the design. On the content side, a high degree of interactive storytelling is present on some of the coolest sites on the Web, with the key message being relayed in the form of a narrative rather than simple value statements.

Stay Away From Templates

Watching existing trends and looking at other websites that are considered cool is a good place to start, but a copy is never as good as the original. A unifying factor in everyone's definition of cool is the term "unique." A website that has the same layout, background and images as a hundred other websites from the same industry can never be considered cool. Getting to that unique proposition means avoiding the many templates and plug-and-play website services. You may want to hire someone to design your page or find a friend who is good at Web design and can help.

About the Author

Dan Blacharski is CEO of Ugly Dog Media, a full-service marketing and PR firm focusing on emerging technology and disruptive trends. A "dotcom boom" veteran and graduate of University of California, he is at the forefront of the next wave of innovation that is driven by new cloud enabling tech.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera John Lund/Blend Images/Getty Images