It’s been a great and unique year for web design. Even as the world started opening up again, the best websites of 2021 demonstrated the need for brands and individuals to jump on the Digital Transformation ship, showcasing their capabilities to meet ever-increasing digital demands from an educated online public.
If there’s a silver lining in this era-defining pandemic crisis, it is that it consolidated the soaring presence of audiences online. Consumers are now looking for more connected experiences than ever, seamlessly navigating between physical and online stores to catch their goods and learn more about the world surrounding them. All the most inspiring and innovative 2021 websites achieve that and even more.
There’s never been a better time to dare and take risks with an online website.
The best and most inspiring websites and web designs of 2021
From e-commerce sites to educational platforms and more, all the best websites of 2021 set out to change the online world in one way or another, either with innovative design ideas or an extremely interactive, deep and well conceived user experience.
Without further ado, here’s all the best and most inspiring websites and web designs of the past 12 months!
Block Rage (PGS Software)
I have absolutely no idea as to how Block Rage works. This devilish 8-bit version of Tetris is designed to let you choose your avatar and controller directly on the desktop website, scan a QR code, then play the game using a controller on a mobile web page. Is it a mobile game? Is it a desktop game? Is it both? What's certain is that it's sorcery – and the website looks absolutely beautiful too.
Into The Storm (US Air Force)
Exploring a new frontier in the realm of interactive online documentaries, Into The Storm is a website by the US Air Force telling the story of a passenger plane that crashed on an Alaskan glacier during a blizzard – and of the rescue team tasked with saving the passengers. The site was created by MediaMonks and displays an excellent care for details, mind-blowing web graphics and interactive hotspots throughout the experience to truly unveil the story of the team of Pararescuemen.
The Webby Awards 25th Edition
Glitches, electronic sound effects and other beautiful features from the best part of the Internet are scattered all across the Webby Awards' 25th Edition website. As the user scrolls through the most fascinating and dynamic list of winners, the visual language of the site follows the experience, making for a contemporary and mesmerising 'Wow' effect which drags you in and captures your attention – showing the power of the Webbies even after 25 years.
The team behind Superlist is building the "productivity tool of the future." A project from the same founder of the now defunct Wunderlist, Superlist promises to revolutionise productivity by focusing on the achievements rather than the unfinished to-dos – essentially hinting at a gamified approach to work efficiency. With beautiful 3D models and animations dominating the site, there's no way you can ignore the main proposition of the team and their ambitions for the future of the app.
Who said a fluo green background is always bad? Squad Easy crafted a website for their own business which clearly demonstrates otherwise – while also putting the most adorable puppy face at the top of the page. Exploring the website is a joy, with big type jumping at you from every angle and becoming simply impossible to ignore. Slightly cyberpunk, green at heart as well as in design, the Squad Easy website is bold, confident and slightly cheeky – which is all you want to see from such a lively bunch.
Textures have always had a rather vintage charm, but the Prometheus Fuels website brings this proposition to a whole new level. The beautiful animated landing page feels like a journey through the technology, mission and ideas of the Prometheus Fuels team, working to make the planet more sustainable and filter out the CO2 from the air to stop choking our beautiful Earth. There's no future without taking care of our present – and with stunning 3D animation, the Prometheus Fuels website states that with unparalleled clarity.
Umami Land (Powered by Google)
Ready for a virtual food trip amidst the delicacies of Japanese cuisine? Umami Land is a colourful, adorable and interactive experience powered by Google, a state-of-the-art website guiding the user in the discovery of the flavours of Japan – supported by appropriate achievements of course. If you don't get lost in this land of wonder, it's because you're already ordering takeaway sushi for later.
Grids (Obys Agency)
Here comes a website about... Grids. Obys, a creative design agency, is specialised in creating unique web and graphic experiences, and the GRIDS website is one of their latest educational projects – demonstrating, quite literally, the principles of grids. Wonderfully animated, inspiring and educational for all kinds of designers, GRIDS is a delight for the eyes and the mind which you should check out sooner rather than later.
Aristide Benoist Portfolio
Aristide Benoist is a freelance developer with an impressive body of work under his belt – and all that effort had to be condensed in a website worthy of such out-of-scale design capabilities. Aristide's portfolio is not only great to navigate, it's incredibly beautiful to look at too, acting as an embodiment of the most modern currents of design and a brilliant example of graphic work. Outstanding in all its parts.
One-Pixel Wealth (Matt Korostoff)
Earlier this year, someone said that 2% of Elon Musk's wealth could be enough to save world hunger. One could say exactly the same about Jeff Bezos – and all the other 400 super rich people in the United States. But have you ever visualised that percentage on a screen? One-Pixel Wealth is a simple but impressive web project by Matt Korostoff, stunningly well-researched, which puts things in a perspective for you by showing just how much money is currently in the pockets of the 400 richest Americans. Of course, as the name of the site suggests, each pixel on screen represents a fixed amount – $1,000. Spoiler: there's a lot of pixels on that page.
The Harmonic State (IBM)
What better way to prove the groundbreaking capabilities of a powerful AI than to build an entire web experience around it? IBM's Harmonic State is an impressive web activation designed to showcase the strength of Watson, by proposing three different scenarios and letting the user explore the processes of the artificial intelligence – by moving around and clicking around the screen to support a fictional project. Immersive to say the least, this is easily one of the best websites IBM has ever produced.
Bruno Simon Portfolio
I'm not surprised Bruno Simon's masterpiece portfolio website makes this list for the second year in a row. It may be a bit of a cheat as a second appearance, but you will hardly find anything more creative, unique and insanely well thought-out than Bruno's website – down to the very Website Title animating as your little car moves forwards or backwards. In the remote chance that you were not interested in Bruno's portfolio, there's also a whole playground with three little minigames for you two enjoy. Who even thinks about something like that?