The Best Websites
By Chris Mowder / firstname.lastname@example.org
Your website is often the first interaction potential guests, visitors or customers have with your company. Studies show that it takes less than a second for users to form an opinion about your website, and that badly designed sites are often not read, trusted or used for any length of time.
In a tourism-driven economy like the Myrtle Beach area, making a good first impression is key. Crafting a great user experience and a great looking website can help your company stand out from the crowd and make all the difference for your bottom line.
In an effort to help local companies “up their game” when it comes to websites, our design team has scoured the Grand Strand and studied hundreds of local websites to come up with some of the best designs in Myrtle Beach.
We compiled the list below, organized by industry, to help give you some inspiration and ideas — or just to help you stack up the competition and “borrow” from the best our area has to offer.
For hotels and accommodations websites, the most important factor of a quality user experience is making the booking process as simple and seamless as possible — both on desktop and mobile devices.
Resorts such as Grande Cayman Resort, Hotel Blue, Kingston Plantation, and Island Vista not only handle booking well, but also include key elements like high-quality resort and room photos and easy-to-navigate site designs.
Additionally, vacation rental companies such as Condo World and Palmetto Vacation Rentals and campgrounds including Carolina Pines and Lakewood Campground also do a good job of helping visitors find places to stay.
Honorable Mention: Check out some of our area’s top tourism portal websites including MyrtleBeach.com, Visit Myrtle Beach and Explore North Myrtle Beach, which are all well-designed and provide a great starting point for accommodations.
Advertising & Marketing
For those of us “in the industry” as we say, it seems that there are many different takes on what an agency site should look like. By the nature of what we do, folks in the advertising and marketing business are eager to show how dynamic and creative we can be — sometimes to a fault.
Leaving some of the bells and whistles aside, common elements that should go into a good agency site include prominent calls-to-action, simple navigation, responsive design, and plenty of content (blogs, case studies, whitepapers, etc.). Some agencies that excel in this avenue are The Brandon Agency, RdyToGo Web, and Intracoastal Net Designs.
When it comes to attractions, the first goal is often to grab a user’s attention by showing off how dynamic and fun your business is. Sites that do this well include shows like The Carolina Opry and Pirate’s Voyage and family fun spots including Shark Wake Park, Family Kingdom, and 810 Bowling, which all use video prominently to draw you in.
Also important here are delivering on basic visitors questions like “How much does it cost?,” “What are the hours?,” and “How do I get tickets?” Places like Brookgreen Gardens do this by providing key info prominently on the homepage, while sites like Broadway Grand Prix, GoApe, Myrtle Waves, and Long Bay Symphony do well to remind visitors how to book tickets with prominent calls-to-action.
Honorable Mention: Check out the Myrtle Beach Safari website, if nothing else just to see all the random celebrities you didn’t know had been to Myrtle Beach.
The goal of a good church website is much like the goal of a good church. It needs to be easily accessible; it needs to welcome visitors and answer their questions, and it needs to reflect the church’s unique perspective on worshipping God.
Communicating clearly and honestly what your church is like, keeping it up to date, and providing an easy-to-use portal for spiritual education are all key components of good user experience when it comes to church sites.
Another group that does an amazing job of promoting its mission online is Ground Zero, a local ministry devoted to helping teens.
Healthcare is a notoriously tricky vertical for website design, as the industry has been slow to adapt to modern best practices, with board members and lawyers often outweighing marketing teams and designers in the creation process.
Often these sites struggle under the weight trying to serve EVERY potential user, providing too much information and getting bogged down by clutter.
Locally, many medical facilities also fall into these same issues, but sites like Grand Strand Health do a good job of cutting through the clutter to provide a clean and organized user experience. In addition, McLeod Health has been lauded for its design, winning awards for its unique responsive menu.
When it comes to private practices and specialists, the goal should be to answer patients’ questions, make them feel comfortable and make it easy for them to schedule an appointment. Some area websites which do these well include chiropractors like Big Wave Chiro and Myrtle Beach Spine Center, dentists like Ocean Bay Dental Care and Market Common Dentistry and dermatologists including Waccamaw Dermatology.
Getting results in this highly-competitive vertical is often begins with SEO — because getting eyes away from Zillow and Trulia is half the battle — and ends with functionality, leaving little room for aesthetics in between.
Because of the intricacies of providing a database of MLS listings via Internet Data Exchange (IDX), the vast majority of real estate sites are propped up by third-party integrations of CRM software such as Contactually, BoomTown, or RealGeeks, which generally also determine the look of the site.
That said, some local companies who have done well to break out of this cookie-cutter feel to produce sites that look and function well include North Beach Realty and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Myrtle Beach.
When it comes to selling the beach, companies like Grand Strand Resorts, Booe Realty, Garden City Realty, and Surfside Realty also do well to walk the line between visitor-friendly rentals and vacation home real estate.
Restaurants & Bars
Unlike websites which demand deep content and complex functionality, restaurant sites are fairly simple — just make your food and facility look appealing, tell people how to get there and give them a feel for your overall atmosphere.
One of the biggest mistakes that sites make is making it tough to find the menu. Local sites which do a good job of making their menu a prominent call to action are Tupelo Honey, Bummz Cafe, and Angus Steakhouse.
Other good-looking sites that take their functionality a step further are Sea Captain’s House, Strong Water Craft Cocktails & Kitchen, 21 Main, and Johnny D’s which all allow for reservations and/or ordering online.
Retail & Shopping
With the total value of global eCommerce being nearly $4 trillion, it’s safe to say that a good retail website should be one that focuses heavily on the customer experience around selling goods and services online. Platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magneto, and Shopify allow even small businesses to set up functional shops with relative ease.
Also in the retail space, The Market Common, Coastal Grand Mall, and Pawleys Island Hammock Shops deliver on what a shopping center website should do — make the facility look appealing and make it easy to find the stores people are looking for.
Honorable Mention: Its overall design may leave a bit to desire, but you’ve got to hand it to the Gay Dolphin, one of Myrtle Beach’s oldest and most iconic shops, for having a respectably functioning eCommerce website.
Obviously, there are too many to catch every great website in the area, but it’s great to see more and more local businesses embracing the idea of using technology (and design) to help grow and promote their business.
Here’s a rundown of some quality sites in a variety of other industries:
- Automotive: Sparks Toyota, Redline Powersports, Diamondback Classic Radials
- Banking: CresCom Bank, Anderson Brothers Bank, South State Bank
- Beauty & Spas: Mirage Hair Studio, Awakening Spa, Cinzia Spa
- Events: Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art, Carolina Country Music Festival
- Gyms & Fitness: CrossFit Myrtle Beach, Beast Boxing, MegaFitness Gym
- Home Services: Spann Roofing, East Coast Fence, Highland Roofing
- Insurance: Tilghman Insurance, SAU Insurance
- Lawyers: Law Offices of David Durant, Maguire Law Firm, Goldfinch Winslow
- Nonprofits: Murrells Inlet 2020, Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand, Horry County Firefighter’s Relief Fund, Surf Dreams Foundation
- Watersports: Express Watersports, Downwind Sails
- Other: GoCCUSports.com, Goldfinch Funeral Home, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Myrtle Beach International Airport, Santee Cooper