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30 Most Popular CSS Websites of 2011

By Tara Hornor



With 2011 done and gone, it is time to break out some reviews of what the year had to offer. To pay homage to the 2012 election process, I thought it would be interesting to see the the difference between popular designs and (albeit subjectively) good designs – because we all know there’s often very little correlation.

To my surprise, the sites which allowed ranking of CSS designs did a good job of pushing solid design to the top. While I had to sift through a lot of generic designs, I came across a number of themes that I believe were somewhat new to 2011.

Illustrations Are Back!

As you scroll through the list below, notice how many of the sites have custom illustrations as part of the theme or centerpiece. I LOVE this because I love illustration. In most cases, the illustrations are of characters or people, but some sites have beatifully crafted typography and banner elements as well.

Parallax Scrolling

You can’t tell from the images below, but a number of the most highly rated sites are Parallax Scrolling websites. These are the sites that have layers of images that scroll at different speeds, creating a unique 3D effect. I enjoy this type of site as it’s still somewhat novel and provides an easy opportunity to tell a story through design.

Grid Systems

The grid is finding its way into just about every one of these designs. I’m not talking about the standard heading, navigation bar, body layout. I’m referring to the actual use of a grid system to separate design elements, such as copy elements. I’m a fan of the grid, but I wonder if 2012 will be the year that designers intentially break out of it.

Better Typography

Whether it’s in the banner or the body text, I love the improvements that CSS have brought to typography on the web. These top rated sites of 2011 show off the power of CSS in improved readability and style. I hope this trend continues!

Flash is going, going…almost gone.

Now that most mobile OS developers are not supporting Flash, we’re seeing the technology slowly fade into the sunset. This, of course, has both pros and cons. On the upside, Flash designs gave us a great deal of interactivity. But with HTML5 and other technologies, designs can do just about anything that Flash could do while improving accessibility.


I found it interesting that designers were usually at the top of the list. At least 40% of the below websites are actually websites for designers. This shows just how important it is for designers to put their best foot forward with their own sites.

So, without further ado, the most highly rated CSS websites of 2011, in no particular order:

Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She is a Senior Editor for Creative Content Experts, a company that specializes in guest blogging and building backlinks. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

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