The internet is always evolving. Indeed, it’s thought that around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are added to the internet every day. For reference, a terabyte is 1012 bytes, so that means around 2.5 million terabytes of data. Every day.
With so much to sift through, the task of picking out the truly exceptional is no easy one. 175 new websites are being created every minute, after all. But when it comes to design and functionality and the point at which these two paradigms intersect, there is certainly a case to be made for the sites below.
This year, there have been more than the usual number of sites with a political mission, and plenty that made us want to travel. The big design trends were brutalism, huge typography, and bold positive colour.
As for my criteria on choosing these sites? I focused on those with innovative designs that were consistent in colour and font, used pictures and video elements smartly and were as uncluttered as possible. All the below sites represent distinct creations that follow a fundamental principle of good site design. If you disagree, as ever, feel free to have it out with me in the comments below.
Nostalgia has never been such a powerful draw. Particularly in dark times, we tend to romanticise the past and the media we consume often reflects that. Its why Stranger Things is the most popular show in the world, it’s why they rebooted Ghostbusters (again) and its why Block Rage hits me right in the feels.
It’s all window dressing for a basic Tetris style game but the real innovation is how you can use your phone as a retro joypad, activated using a QR code. The fact the whole site was designed in WordPress makes it even more impressive.
There is arguably no brand on earth as synonymous with sleek minimalist style as Apple. There are rarely any major changes made to the Apple website, but everything feels like it belongs there and the way it groups everything together into neat little boxes really resonates with the OCD aspects of my personality.
You are rarely going to see any bells and whistles on Apple’s website and that’s entirely intentional. The site acts as a perfect reflection of their brand ethos; keep it simple, useable, and tasteful. Innovative might not be the right word, but it’s certainly at least worth highlighting.
Gazelle No 1
The Dutch electric bike company managed to impress me this year with the scroll-activated video that makes up most of their official website. It’s an experience that transforms the act of scrolling into part of the process and works just as well whether swiping with your finger on a smartphone or sweeping with a mouse on your desktop computer.
The site perfectly reflects the design of the product itself with striking colours and a definite precision. It’s a site go good it almost made me consider a test ride. But then I remembered I lived in the countryside and worked from home.
Sasaki has been in the architecture business for over 65 years and their style blends many different outlooks to create a forward-moving design concept with sustainability at the top. Their website has a very modern feel to it with fantastic fonts, amazing animations, high-quality photos, and concise copy.
On their Projects page, they have a search bar to find if you are looking for any specific architecture design project and filters if you want to look at their projects in a particular sector, region, service, or type of architecture. In addition, each project’s details include multiple photos, and each photo has a precise and well-written caption. A real case study in how to make a big architectural firm seem grounded.
The Cool Club
This Dutch company sells card games and graphic prints with a focus on good, minimalist design—so it’s no surprise its website matches that aesthetic. A moving image of a pack of cards catches your eye above the fold on the home page, and some clever CSS coding further down the page adds a frame and matte to each design in the galleries.
The name and price of the artworks are hidden until you mouse over an image, so even the “store” parts of the page are presented in line with the brand’s minimalist design. Another case of function and form coming together to create something more than the sum of its parts.
All these sites have been shown in a vacuum, but it’s important to remember that each trend can enhance another. Look at Pioneer, a website focused on the future of corn production. This website is undeniably an experience, with the page going through an evolution as you scroll, showing the life cycle of corn. A perfect amount of information is presented with each level, and the effects that surround your cursor as you navigate allow you to feel fully immersed in the page.
It’s hard to explain how this website blends these elements without experiencing it yourself. It’s a perfect level of information, interactive elements, and visual flair that shows how combining and keeping trends in mind can elevate your site to another level entirely.
The Supernatural brand features an exciting, plant-based way to get creative in the kitchen. All their powder products and recipes are vibrant in colour, better for you, and fun to use in the kitchen (apparently). The no-copy, no-CTA hero section gives the website a clean look. And the yellow colour scheme matches with their packaging and ad & social media post colours, giving it consistent branding.
Their shop section has a lot of negative space, product image thumbnails that change on hover, and minimal captions. The product description copy is straightforward and well-structured, and each product has associated customer reviews at the bottom that add social proof. Perhaps the most “conventional” selection on this list but whoever said you needed to reinvent the wheel to be innovative?