10 Wildly-Unconventional Web Designs

Gabrielle Gosha

There’s a big difference between following best practices and following conventions. Best practices align your design work with business and branding goals while still allowing for distinctiveness and creativity. Following conventions, however, often yields ordinary results that fail to provide unique appeal — the designer’s main responsibility.

The following dramatically-unconventional web designs are quintessential examples that achieve greater organizational goals in unique, distinctive, and unusual ways. Their deliberate rejection of commonplace conventions fortifies their efforts to make their projects truly stand apart. Take a look at these ten wildly-unconventional web designs.

Parallax.JS
aaparallax
It isn’t often that you see a site that works in the way that Parallax.JS works. The brainchild of Matthew Wagerfield and Claudio Guglieri, the site is absolutely beautiful with such a variated color palette. All the objects move on the page (except for the background and with the integrated parallax.js), the page orientation will alter the layers and scenes whether you are on your mobile device or your desktop computer.

Red Fish Apparel
aared-fish
The large photographic image being used as the background for your website is by no means a new trend, but with Red Fish Apparel it works wonderfully by featuring such bold colors. The creative capture makes this website stand out, not to mention the abstract patterns and textures found in both the solid sections of the background.

Akiyoshi Ishigami

aalove-parade
Designers often worry about cramming too much into a limited amount of space, but sometimes more truly is better. Ishigami’s colorful site proves that by not only adding more elements, but more color as well. While the site may not fit everyone’s aesthetic preferences, it really does show you that pushing boundaries and bending rules can yield interesting and creative results.

Miagui

aamiagui
If you want to make your website stand out, sometimes making your images stand out (both literally and figuratively) is a great idea. It isn’t often that you see a large dinosaur on a website, let alone one posed in such a fashion. Captivating imagery is paramount in your web design, and this particular example fosters ferocious appeal.

Madwell

aamadwell
Illustrations are a common occurrence on artist’s websites, but they’re rarely this distinctive. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be an artist in order to make use of illustrations on your site as Madwell has shown us. The drawing has a magical quality that embodies Madwell’s mission of bringing small ideas to life. The drawing is a perfect size for the design and concept.

Axel Aubert

aaxel
Personally, I have never seen a website that functions and moves like Axel Aubert’s. A completely beautiful site, Aubert offers a great of example of how you can reject typical portfolio conventions and build a full-blown website that features creative use of motion and coding.

Shri Hanuman Chalisa

aashri
If you want to use a large background, you don’t always have to go the route of using big, beautiful photography. Sometimes you can go the route of using big, beautiful artwork just like the Shri Hanuman Chalisa site has. The color palette is attractive and really pops out at you thanks to the flower-like shape. If you want a simple site with a lot of distinctive personality, this site offers strong inspiration.

Sketcha

aasketcha
Sometimes, distinctive design can come to you quite simply. It’s the impression that your site exudes that matters more than how much coding went into it. While Sketcha’s drawings may seem juvenile to some, it really does give the site a lot of character, making it appear welcoming and friendly, which is a coveted quality for any business or organization.

Designer Atlas

aadesigner-atlas
Minimalistic websites are nothing new to the design community, and with simplicity as your goal, you can’t help but be strangely attracted to the simplistic design of Designer Atlas. The site compensates with its delicate approach by featuring a background with a compass and map, which aligns with the name. Big, bold colors pull you in and garner attention.

Edita’s Casting

aaedita
To some, there is nothing more creative than adding some dynamic elements to your site that move or change when the elements interact. Edita’s site is a worth example of this dynamism. With an interesting collage of images in the middle that make up a person’s profile, you will find yourself constantly clicking away on this site.

Do you have any unconventional designs to include? When do you break from widely-used conventions?

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  • ClosDesign

    No pictures are showing up in the article for me.

  • Spencer

    None of the images are showing up…

  • Craig Farris

    Perhaps you folks should find another CDN? The image for each featured site isn’t showing.

  • David

    FYI – I keep getting “509 Bandwidth Error” with all of the images/screenshots

  • Ian Haynes

    Your Dropbox hosted images aren’t showing…

  • Keith Parks

    The images that I assume are screen shots of the sites are not showing up. Trying to view the image returns a 509 error (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/84357285/1.PNG)

  • paul@expressimagemedia.com

    None of the images of the webpage examples are loading for me, yet I’m getting the other graphic elements on the page. Anyone else experiencing that?

  • clmdvd

    None of your images are appearing in Safari.

  • Bob

    Wow! Many of these sites were truly… horrible.

  • zigzag

    Not one of the images shows up in my email from your newsletter, nor here, in my browser.

  • Tim

    All the image links (except the ad for the PHP book) are broken.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for comments about images – all should be fixed now. Let me know if anyone still has problems seeing those screenshots.

  • joralyd

    Awesome, I love pushing the boundaries! I hate how every design now days looks like a wordpress template.

  • Chelsea

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been searching for fresh, new design ideas and love seeing the creativity from around the world!

  • Tom

    Good article.

    I noticed some of the sites link through to awwwards.com whose logo is remarkably similar to SitePoint’s logo – I assume it’s not related to SitePoint?

    • Anonymous

      No, Tom. No connection with SitePoint or any of our group. Maybe the author of this article found some of the sites there – it is an awards site, after all. I think “remarkably similar” is drawing a bit of a long bow. We have been thinking about awards, though.

  • brothercake

    There’s a reason why web design is generally so conservative, which is that the principle purpose of design is to aid usability. Form follows function, not the other way round; web design is not art.

    I thought Sketcha and Edita’s Casting were both very well done — interesting designs, but first and foremost, usable websites.

    But I didn’t think much of the rest. Any site that’s still loading after 60 seconds — for that matter, any site which needs a full-page loading indicator at all — is not a functional web site.

  • Tom

    True indeed – a loading screen/throbber that stays on screen for more than, say, 2 seconds is like the 2013 equivalent of a Flash-based splash screen.

    Some of these I interpret more as experimental art than finished products designed to be used – good for showing what may be on the cusp of being possible while not aiming for practicality.

  • Peter North

    Good points all around. I appreciate your perspectives.

    Of course, designers usually strike a balance between performance/practicality and designing something distinctive, unique, and ambitious. These ten would be poor examples of this balanced approach. Instead, we thought it would be interesting to explore the far end of the spectrum where pragmatism is almost entirely traded away for the sake of creativity and uniqueness.

    Perhaps we could write a counterpoint to this article that features ten designs that serve their purposes with uncompromising efficiency and no added frills or embellishments. If that’s something you’d be interested in, we will make it happen.

  • brothercake

    What I’d personally be interested in is sites which explore artistic limits while still being eminently usable and accessible.