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The Intersection of Design, Content, and Technology

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Intersect is a new Barrel project where we curate and showcase exceptional websites. These are websites that we believe have done an excellent job of integrating design, content, and technology to bring us superior experiences.

What do we mean when we say design, content, and technology? I think it’s worth breaking each word down so that we’re clear about how they apply to our Intersect project.

A screenshot of Intersect, which showcases five websites every week.

Design

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Our use of the word “design” strictly refers to the look and feel, the visual arrangement, and the graphical treatment of elements on the screen. Considerations include: colors, typography, illustration styles, photo direction, layout, animation effects, and anything else that informs the visual aspects of a website.

Content

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I think this is where Intersect truly differentiates itself from other website design galleries. We’re interested in what the website is saying and how it’s conveying information. Areas of focus may include: copywriting, photography, illustrations, videos, information architecture (how the pages are arranged and connected), and content structure (headlines, excerpts, block quotes, captions etc.). We recognize that e-commerce websites have different content needs from magazine websites or lead generation websites, so we evaluate websites in the context of their goals (sale conversions, higher traffic volume, etc.) and audience when thinking about content.

Technology

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This part is a bit harder to pin down because a lot of what happens with a website simply isn’t visible to the public. For example, a website that has incredible back-end infrastructure and a highly scalable custom-built content management system may go unnoticed because we can only see what’s visible on the front-end. When we review websites, we focus on the functionality and performance aspects that we can observe through the web browser. These may include: speed (how fast or seemingly fast things load), animations achieved with CSS or Javascript, highly interactive functionality with elements like video or 3D objects, intuitive and accurate search, and integration with third party software and APIs.

If design, content, and technology are the building blocks of a great website experience, then vision, coordination, and execution are what actually lead to the achievement. At the heart of Intersect is a desire to find websites that we know, from our own experience, required great imagination, meticulous planning, talented people, and sheer effort.

Take for example a site like Blu Homes, which sells high-end pre-fabricated homes. It’s one of the first sites we added to Intersect. From a design perspective, it has a clean and modern look, high-quality image assets throughout the site, as well as subtle animations that give it a luxurious feel as you scroll and explore the different pages. Regarding content, the website is easy to navigate, and each of the home model pages presents a lot of in-depth information without feeling overwhelming. There are also plenty of interactive features to highlight the benefits of the modularity and flexibility of a pre-fabricated home. As professionals who plan, design, and code websites, we can’t help but admire the craftsmanship, level of detail, and cohesiveness of the final product.

Over the years, our team members have been beneficiaries of various resources that curate and showcase remarkable websites, especially when conducting research for client projects. These resources include SiteInspire, Awwwards, and FWA. With Intersect, we aim to become a new resource for people who create websites, while inspiring the Barrel team to push our own standards.

We plan on expanding Intersect to include commentary and more in-depth reviews of these websites. Not everyone on our own team may agree with the websites that go up, and some visitors may also disagree. But we’re excited to have discussions about what we believe are outstanding websites that integrate design, content, and technology in beautiful, accessible, and effective ways.

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