Whether you’re creating a portfolio, promoting an app, or introducing your business to potential customers, you want your website to stand out and be memorable, while also effectively capturing and holding visitors’ attention. As anyone who has tried to make a website knows, that can be a tall order.
The first stumbling block typically happens at the ideation stage, often when you’re looking for design ideas to send to your web designer for guidance. When you want to do something a bit different with your design, it can be hard to think beyond the site templates we see most often.
To get your creativity flowing, here are 10 of our favorite fun and unique website layouts to inspire you. With a mix of personal projects and business sites, these professional websites will hopefully spark new ideas and inspire you to break the web design mold, helping you make a website that’s both memorable and effective.
Personal portfolios and projects
1. Adam B. Becker: Portfolio site with unique navigation
Website navigation is pretty standardized, and with good reason: people are used to seeing links at the top of the page, for example, so that’s where we look for them. That’s what makes this atypical design engaging—not necessarily intuitive, but interesting to explore.
2. Bullet Journal: How-to instructions in a one-page design
Created by art director Ryder Carroll, Bullet Journal is a note-taking style that Carroll explains in this one-page site design. Describing his concept with simple explanations and a diagram that updates as you progress through the directions, it’s a thoughtfully done how-to page.
3. Ctrl Alt Delete: Facts and ideas, one-page design
A promotional site for the book Ctrl Alt Delete by digital marketing expert Mitch Joel, this website uses one-page design and parallax scrolling to make it feel like you’re turning through a flip book. As you scroll through the site, images and information flow across the page—a modern and engaging effect.
4. Kevin Kim: Resume information in a one-page design
When it comes to putting your resume online, it’s easy to set up your LinkedIn profile and call it a day. This site from Kevin Kim shows how you can share your resume online in a way that’s unique and interesting, and showcases both your skills and personality.
5. Kristi Hines: Highlighting a freelance writer’s work
On the practical side of things, Kristi Hines (perhaps more well-known as @kikolani on Twitter) has done a great job with the difficult task of highlighting her services as a freelance writer, blogger, and consultant. If you browse through portfolio websites, you’ll find that most of the great-looking ones look good for a reason—they’re owned by illustrators, designers, or other creatives. Writers tend to go for clean and basic; while this site reflects those qualities, too, it does so in a way that’s fresh and more visual than its peers.
6. Stuck In Customs: Portfolio balanced with information resources
Trey Ratcliff is a photographer who’s known not only for his photos but also the resources he provides for aspiring photographers. His website highlights both, but places a significant emphasis on his photography—which makes perfect sense for someone whose portfolio is so captivating.
7. GoodUI: Sharing ideas with a focus on conversion
Unsurprisingly, the Good UI page isn’t complex; in fact, it’s about as basic as you can get. Focused on getting conversions without being “spammy,” the page hosts a running list of simple user interface (UI) ideas—many of which are reflected in the design of the page itself—and it ends with an invitation to sign up. That’s it. The site very subtly showcases the work of Linowski Interaction Design, the company behind the project. And, with some 35,000+ people now subscribed to the GoodUI newsletter, it’s a simple and focused concept that seems to work.
8. Unstuck: App promotion with information resources
Unstuck is an app that helps people get through moments where they don’t know what to do or where to start, so it’s little surprise that the app is featured front and center, along with a video that shows how it works (something some apps forget about). As you scroll down the page, you’re introduced to the concept behind the product and connected to other information they’ve put together. This makes for a nice blend of product promotion and useful information—something that can be hard to balance without getting cluttered or off-focus.
9. Purple Orange: One-page design makes PR engaging
Public relations is one of those behind-the-scenes industries that people know exists, and know it can be helpful, but don’t really know how it works or what it looks like. Rolling through the who, what, where, how and why behind their business, Purple Orange explains in a dynamic way what they do and why it matters.
10. Woodwork: Vertical design
The website for Woodwork—a film, graphics and production company—stands out not just because of their noteworthy portfolio but also because they’ve done something that seems relatively rare online: they designed vertically. The site scrolls sideways, and you can click on any image that catches your eye to watch the video or learn more.
Now it’s your turn: What unique website layouts have caught your eye? Share the link (and why you love it) in the comments below. Or if you’re ready to get started on designing your website, check out oDesk’s listings of freelance web designers.