There are certain designers that I consider prime sources of inspiration for the work I do as a web designer. Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli and Reid Miles are my four top choices. Of these, Massimo Vignelli's work was something that I appreciated each time I used the New York City (NYC) subway. His redesign of the NYC subway maps in the 1970's made the navigation of that underground maze a much simpler task. His design acumen was soon applied to all NYC Subway signage. The clean well-spaced typefaces and crisp, unadorned colors gave clarity, legibility and beauty to the signage in the NYC subway system. I gained new respect for Helvetica as a result of his work.
The simplicity and clarity of his work are built on principles that will work well in web design. It can be read and digested quickly without the hindrance of clutter. And, it looks both modern and timeless.
There is an excellent article with this late designer from 2006 on the FastCo website that chronicles his involvement with the NYC Subway system. It is a worthy read for anyone who loves typography and graphic design.