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ARTICLE InspirationJanuary 25, 2016

Five of the best websites: Australian inspiration

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Ahead of Australia Day, here is a look at five award-winning Australian websites with great features and functionality to inspire you.

1. Lorna Jane

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Lorna Jane is a women’s active-wear label that has experienced rapid growth over the past five years. Its website has undergone a similar transformation, with the introduction of the hybris multichannel e-commerce platform, which is used by larger global retailers, such as Adidas and H&M.

Lorna Jane’s homepage features large banners, promotional messages and a hot-pink shopping bag tab that’s hard to ignore. The website mixes shopping promotions with lifestyle content, such as lookbooks, recipes and health tips, which reflect the brand’s aim to inspire women to “live their best life”.

Its dynamic search filter is also very effective, says Liz McLean, Chief Operations Officer of Melbourne-based web design and development company, Butterfly. “When you go into any category, you’ve got options that help reduce the search results for you. This means shoppers can find what they want faster.”

2. Tiffiny Hall

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A former trainer on television’s The Biggest Loser, Tiffiny Hall calls herself a health ninja and takes a holistic approach to fitness and weight loss. Her website features a clean and simple design. Bold typography and large images of Hall are its most prominent features.

The site uses some parallax scrolling, which is a current trend in website design. As you scroll down the page, the background moves at a slower pace than the foreground, creating a kind of 3D effect.

“With this kind of design it can be hard to expand to include more content, but they’ve given the site more depth by adding filters, such as "blog", "media" and "books" under one category "news", which allows you to house quite a lot of content without adding lots of pages and ruining the design,” says McLean.

3. hardtofind

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When Trudi Jenkins and Erica Stewart left their careers in magazine publishing to start an online mall called hardtofind, they used their industry experience to curate a selection of high-quality gifts and homewares that, as its name suggests, you don’t find every day.

One of the best features of the site is its simple, elegant design. It also works to create an editorial environment through elements such as “shop this look”. McLean says the site succeeds in building interest around its products through temporary, themed sections, such as “Valentine's Day”.

“It’s a good way to encourage people to explore a little deeper,” she says. “They’re creating temporary categories, which is clever and not a very costly exercise.”

4. Kogan

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Ruslan Kogan started his online electronics business in his parent’s garage in 2006. Last year, it turned over around $300 million.

Much of Kogan’s success is due to a close scrutiny of digital analytics. The website offering is then optimised to improve the user experience.

“What’s really interesting about the website is the way it’s set up to be about the high-pressure sale,” says McLean. This is achieved through elements such as a pop-up window that tells you the minute someone has purchased something and what it is they bought. The site also has a red notifications tab in the top bar which, McLean says, is reminiscent of Facebook. “They make it feel like it’s something you need to look at.”

The site has a clean layout with images of products accompanied by their price, rather than their name or manufacturer. “They give you just the essential information first up,” says McLean.

5. Rome2Rio

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At its heart, Rome2Rio is a search engine for worldwide air, rail, bus and ferry routes. It has partnered with a range of transport operators to tell you the most efficient (and environmentally friendly) way to connect with various services and get from one side of the world to the other. It also white-labels its search engine, allowing other travel service websites to integrate its technology and attribute results to Rome2Rio. The website design is very simple and clean with large “from” and “to” fields on the centre of the homepage for users to type in their current location and desired destination. “The website is incredibly fast for what it’s doing – I assume they have very well-written code,” says McLean. “Giving people what they want quickly is integral to this kind of service.”

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