Inspiration Package: 60+ Usable & Elegant Designs

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We all love beautiful, usable and impressive web designs. To achieve them, web developers need to focus on many aspects, but basically it all boils down to the question, how well the content is presented and how easily the information can be perceived. Harmonic color schemes are as important as solid and consistent typography. Precise visual structure and intuitive navigation are essential for both usability and accessibility. In fact, mostly it’s a keen attention to small details which gives web-sites a profound and enduring nature.

We’ve selected some more of them. Over 60 elegant, usable and impressive designs with a well thought-out color scheme, typography and visual structure. Their beauty lies in the way the information is presented. Their usability lies in the way they communicate presented data. That’s what makes them different.

Next week we’ll present the .pdf-version of this showcase. You might be willing to check out further showcasese we’ve presented before – you’ll find the links at the bottom of the article.

Inspiration Package:
80+ Elegant and Usable Designs

1. 31Three2

Beautiful Designs - 31Three - The Design Studio of Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain3

2. North x East4

Beautiful Designs - 12 Ways to Turn a Boring Post into Pure Gold at Weekly Articles About Blogging - NxE5

3. Youtilize.com6

Beautiful Designs - Youtilize.com - technology, web development and entrepreneurship7

4. Oaktree Creative8

Beautiful Designs - Oaktree Creative: The pixels, prose and portfolio of Chuck Mallott9

5. CodeIgniter10

Beautiful Designs - CodeIgniter - Open source PHP web application framework11

6. WebRevolutionary12

Beautiful Designs - WebRevolutionary — The semi-coherent ramblings of a web addict.13

7. Pop Labs14

Beautiful Designs - Search Marketing and Social Media Consulting - Pop Labs - Pop Labs15

8. nPanorama.ru16

Beautiful Designs - 17

9. Creative Binge18

Beautiful Designs - Creative Binge - Online Creative Portfolios19

10. Designwise Studios20

Beautiful Designs - Designwise Studios ~ Accessible, Simple, and Elegant Web Solutions21

11. Mike McFarlane Landscape Photography22

Beautiful Designs - Welcome - Mike McFarlane Landscape Photography23

12. Pearsonified24

Beautiful Designs - Best Damn Blog on the Planet — Pearsonified25

13. BlogMinistry

Beautiful Designs - BlogMinistry

14. html life26

Beautiful Designs - html life27

15. Infected-FX28

Beautiful Designs - Infected-FX | tutoriales, photoshop brushes y recursos para diseñadores web29

16. Devlounge30

Beautiful Designs - Devlounge : A resource for designers and developers31

17. Putput Comunicacions32

Beautiful Designs - Putput Comunicacions33

18. Savana webhosting34

Beautiful Designs - Savana webhosting - levný hosting s pohodlnou administrací35

19. Infekta36

Beautiful Designs - Infekta - Home37

20. Stoodeo38

Beautiful Designs - Website Development Services - Stoodeo39

21. Microsoft Corporation40

Beautiful Designs - Microsoft Corporation41

22. Koder42

Beautiful Designs - Kodér - Domů | Vy designujete, my kódujeme do posledního detailu43

23. Tappity: Mobile Homepage44

Beautiful Designs - Tappity: Mobile Homepage45

24. WorkOne Central46

Beautiful Designs - WorkOne Central47

25. Rifidi | Software Defined RFID48

Beautiful Designs - Rifidi | Software Defined RFID49

26. Pixel House50

Beautiful Designs - Gold Coast Web Site Design - Pixel House51

27. ~ VEDA ~ Healthy Indian Takeout & Eatery52

Beautiful Designs - ~ VEDA ~ Healthy Indian Takeout & Eatery53

28. Gaby Lopez54

Beautiful Designs - Gaby Lopez55

29. Versions – Mac Subversion Client56

Beautiful Designs - Versions - Mac Subversion Client57

30. Ted Lermontov58

Beautiful Designs - Ted Lermontov : Web Designer59

31. Pozycjonowanie INHEAD Krakow60

Beautiful Designs - Pozycjonowanie INHEAD Kraków61

32. WorkHabit.org62

Beautiful Designs - WorkHabit.org63

33. Sonze64

Beautiful Designs - Sonze65

34. Corporate Image66

Beautiful Designs - Corporate Image – Logo, Graphic Design, Website Development, Web Marketing Consultant, Melbourne, Sydney, Australia67

35. Frazier Media68

Beautiful Designs - Frazier Media69

36. KellerAdv 70

Beautiful Designs - KellerAdv - Agenzia di Pubblicità  - Comunicazione - Marketing - Latina71

37. Made by Cocoon72

Beautiful Designs - Welcome to Made by Cocoon | Made by Cocoon73

38. elan3.com74

Beautiful Designs - elan3.com : Tim Sears' blog and personal site of web and .NET development.75

39. Erratic Wisdom76

Beautiful Designs - Erratic Wisdom77

40. Design View / Andy Rutledge78

Beautiful Designs - Design View / Andy Rutledge79

41. Systima Technology80

Beautiful Designs - Systima Technology - Creative Solutions on the Isle of Wight81

42. Eden Creative Communities82

Beautiful Designs - Eden Creative Communities83

43. Pownce84

Beautiful Designs - Pownce85

44. Waggener Edstrom Worldwide86

Beautiful Designs - Home | Waggener Edstrom Consumer Group | Waggener Edstrom Worldwide87

45. WallCandyArt88

Beautiful Designs - WallCandyArt89

Artwork

46. EMS | Matthew Soriano90

Beautiful Designs - EMéS | The online portfolio of Matthew Soriano91

47. anixstudio.92

Beautiful Designs - anixstudio.93

48. Blues Sklep94

Beautiful Designs - Blues Sklep – Live Blues and Jazz music95

49. plasq.com96

Beautiful Designs - plasq.com - Main >97

50. sr28 Web Design98

Beautiful Designs - sr28 Web Design, Houston based Web Designer and Illustrator Simon Reynolds99

Remarkable Designs

51. Warpspire100

Beautiful Designs - Warpspire: Web, Design and Code Geekery101

52. MacZone102

Beautiful Designs - MacZone - prvý a najväčší on-line obchod pre celú platformu Mac103

53. The 5th Avenue Theatre104

Beautiful Designs - Welcome to The 5th Avenue Theatre105

54. The Knowledge Well106

Beautiful Designs - The Knowledge Well107

55. Palm, Inc.108

Beautiful Designs - Palm, Inc., Your Destination for Handhelds, Mobile Managers, Smartphones, Accessories and Software Titles109

56. Dion.nu Design110

Beautiful Designs - Dion.nu Design | Dion's Weblog 3.0 | Weblog of Dion Kesling. Designer in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.111

57. FreeSwell Studios112

Beautiful Designs - FreeSwell Studios | Creative, Web Design and Development, Kailua Honolulu Oahu Hawaii113

58. Knoxville Life Church114

Beautiful Designs - Knoxville Life Church115

59. Startup Search116

Beautiful Designs - Startup Search. Directory of web technology startups.117

60. Footnote118

Beautiful Designs - Footnote - The place for original documents online119

61. troovy120

Beautiful Designs - troovy | the world just got a bit smaller.121

62. FF Maria Raisenmarkt122

Beautiful Designs - FF Maria Raisenmarkt |www.ff-raisenmarkt.at|123

63. JoshLockhart.com124

Beautiful Designs - JoshLockhart.com | Effective Web Applications & Rapidweaver Themes125

Flash Designs

64. Made by Mark Dearman126

Beautiful Designs - Made by Mark Dearman127

Further Design Showcases

You can find more inspiration in the following showcases we’ve published before:

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-rss.php
  2. 2 http://31three.com/
  3. 3 http://31three.com/
  4. 4 http://northxeast.com/blogging/12-ways-to-turn-a-boring-post-into-pure-gold/
  5. 5 http://northxeast.com/blogging/12-ways-to-turn-a-boring-post-into-pure-gold/
  6. 6 http://www.youtilize.com/
  7. 7 http://www.youtilize.com/
  8. 8 http://www.oaktreecreative.com/
  9. 9 http://www.oaktreecreative.com/
  10. 10 http://codeigniter.com/
  11. 11 http://codeigniter.com/
  12. 12 http://webrevolutionary.com/
  13. 13 http://webrevolutionary.com/
  14. 14 http://poplabs.com/
  15. 15 http://poplabs.com/
  16. 16 http://www.npanorama.ru/apartments/
  17. 17 http://www.npanorama.ru/apartments/
  18. 18 http://www.creativebinge.com/
  19. 19 http://www.creativebinge.com/
  20. 20 http://www.designwisestudios.com/
  21. 21 http://www.designwisestudios.com/
  22. 22 http://www.mikemcfarlane.co.uk/
  23. 23 http://www.mikemcfarlane.co.uk/
  24. 24 http://www.pearsonified.com/
  25. 25 http://www.pearsonified.com/
  26. 26 http://www.htmllife.com/
  27. 27 http://www.htmllife.com/
  28. 28 http://www.infectedfx.net/
  29. 29 http://www.infectedfx.net/
  30. 30 http://devlounge.net/
  31. 31 http://devlounge.net/
  32. 32 http://putput.cat/
  33. 33 http://putput.cat/
  34. 34 http://www.savana.cz/
  35. 35 http://www.savana.cz/
  36. 36 http://www.infekta.si/
  37. 37 http://www.infekta.si/
  38. 38 http://www.stoodeo.com/
  39. 39 http://www.stoodeo.com/
  40. 40 http://www.microsoft.com/en/us/default.aspx
  41. 41 http://www.microsoft.com/en/us/default.aspx
  42. 42 http://www.koder.cz/
  43. 43 http://www.koder.cz/
  44. 44 http://www.tappity.com/
  45. 45 http://www.tappity.com/
  46. 46 http://www.workonecentral.org/
  47. 47 http://www.workonecentral.org/
  48. 48 http://www.rifidi.org/
  49. 49 http://www.rifidi.org/
  50. 50 http://www.pixel-house.com.au/
  51. 51 http://www.pixel-house.com.au/
  52. 52 http://www.vedatakeout.com/
  53. 53 http://www.vedatakeout.com/
  54. 54 http://www.gabylopez.com/
  55. 55 http://www.gabylopez.com/
  56. 56 http://www.versionsapp.com/
  57. 57 http://www.versionsapp.com/
  58. 58 http://www.tedler.com/
  59. 59 http://www.tedler.com/
  60. 60 http://www.inhead.pl/
  61. 61 http://www.inhead.pl/
  62. 62 http://www.workhabit.org/
  63. 63 http://www.workhabit.org/
  64. 64 http://www.sonze.com/
  65. 65 http://www.sonze.com/
  66. 66 http://www.cidesign.com.au/
  67. 67 http://www.cidesign.com.au/
  68. 68 http://www.fraziermedia.com/
  69. 69 http://www.fraziermedia.com/
  70. 70 http://kelleradv.it/
  71. 71 http://kelleradv.it/
  72. 72 http://madebycocoon.com/
  73. 73 http://madebycocoon.com/
  74. 74 http://www.elan3.com/
  75. 75 http://www.elan3.com/
  76. 76 http://www.erraticwisdom.com/
  77. 77 http://www.erraticwisdom.com/
  78. 78 http://www.andyrutledge.com/
  79. 79 http://www.andyrutledge.com/
  80. 80 http://www.systima-technology.co.uk/
  81. 81 http://www.systima-technology.co.uk/
  82. 82 http://eden.cc/
  83. 83 http://eden.cc/
  84. 84 http://pownce.com/
  85. 85 http://pownce.com/
  86. 86 http://www.waggeneredstromconsumer.com/
  87. 87 http://www.waggeneredstromconsumer.com/
  88. 88 http://www.wallcandyart.co.uk/
  89. 89 http://www.wallcandyart.co.uk/
  90. 90 http://www.emesstyle.com/
  91. 91 http://www.emesstyle.com/
  92. 92 http://www.anixstudio.com/
  93. 93 http://www.anixstudio.com/
  94. 94 http://www.bluessklep.cz/
  95. 95 http://www.bluessklep.cz/
  96. 96 http://plasq.com/
  97. 97 http://plasq.com/
  98. 98 http://www.sr28.com/
  99. 99 http://www.sr28.com/
  100. 100 http://warpspire.com/
  101. 101 http://warpspire.com/
  102. 102 http://maczone.sk/uvod
  103. 103 http://maczone.sk/uvod
  104. 104 http://www.5thavenue.org/
  105. 105 http://www.5thavenue.org/
  106. 106 http://www.robgoodlatte.com/portfolio/sites/KW/
  107. 107 http://www.robgoodlatte.com/portfolio/sites/KW/
  108. 108 http://www.palm.com/us/
  109. 109 http://www.palm.com/us/
  110. 110 http://weblog.dion.nu/
  111. 111 http://weblog.dion.nu/
  112. 112 http://www.freeswell.com/
  113. 113 http://www.freeswell.com/
  114. 114 http://www.knoxlife.org/
  115. 115 http://www.knoxlife.org/
  116. 116 http://www.startupsearch.org/
  117. 117 http://www.startupsearch.org/
  118. 118 http://www.footnote.com/
  119. 119 http://www.footnote.com/
  120. 120 http://www.troovy.com/
  121. 121 http://www.troovy.com/
  122. 122 http://ff-raisenmarkt.at/
  123. 123 http://ff-raisenmarkt.at/
  124. 124 http://www.joshlockhart.com/
  125. 125 http://www.joshlockhart.com/
  126. 126 http://www.markdearman.com/
  127. 127 http://www.markdearman.com/
  128. 128 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/05/21/60-elegant-and-visually-appealling-designs/
  129. 129 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/03/26/keep-it-simple-stupid-showcase-of-simple-and-clean-designs/
  130. 130 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/03/05/45-fresh-clean-and-impressive-designs/
  131. 131 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/01/13/30-dark-designs-you-shouldve-seen/
  132. 132 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/12/19/50-beautiful-css-based-web-designs-in-2006/

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Co-Founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories and looking for a publisher ...

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  1. 1

    blah, blah, blah …
    Sorry but a lot of these designs are not very ‘inspirational’ at all plus I’m sure that you’ve featured quite a few of them already.

    0
  2. 2

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    July 4, 2007 12:44 am

    @Digilee:

    thank you for your opinion. Could you explain your position? We haven’t featured any of these sites in our previous posts.

    0
  3. 3

    Although I love lists like this, I will agree that I am not very inspired by them either. It’s not just you, lately CSS Mania and The Best Design showcases have not been inspiring as well. Also a lot of these designs I have seen on those two showcases.

    I need something different, some that really inspires me. I know when I am inspired, because I will open up Fireworks and start to create something. None of these make me want to create something.

    But like I said it is not just you.

    0
  4. 4

    I agree with Digilee. You are just collecting lots of screenshots to create lists. The longer the better. Boring. These designs are good but not all of them exeptionally good. I mean: Look at the Skitch site. It is a nice product but the design of the site. Ah well …

    0
  5. 5

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    July 4, 2007 1:12 am

    Thank you for your opinions.

    @Arne: it’s not about the list or the length of the lists. What we’ve tried to do with this post was to give our readers some more interesting points to get started from. We receive many e-mails in which our readers ask us for more inspirational stuff.

    Of course, design is subjective. And of course, you decide whether we’ve done our job well enough or not.

    0
  6. 6

    I agree and disagree… Some of these designs are quite nice. The one thing that bothers me is the reliance of Web designers on gradients/drop shadows/textured backgrounds. It seems like people believe throwing in one or two of these items automatically makes a design look good.

    0
  7. 7

    Randolph Valencia

    July 4, 2007 1:30 am

    Nice

    0
  8. 8

    Thx a lot for the list. Of course, you can’t find ALL of them VERY interesting, but at least few of them are very interessant.

    Thank you!

    0
  9. 9

    Great list as usual guys! You guys always put so much work into your posts and I’ve never posted a reply so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say thanks for all the hard work and keep it up!

    0
  10. 10

    Was a great list of clean, inspirational designs, right up to the point where you included Microsoft. There web presence is absolutely horrible and should only be included on such lists as what not to do.

    0
  11. 11

    Djurdjica Selec

    July 4, 2007 2:46 am

    Sorry guys….these are good as a gallery, but inspiration?
    Not one of them made me Open Link in New Tab…

    0
  12. 12

    Great list! Thanks for your works! My favorite design is CodeIgniter…

    0
  13. 13

    Very nice ones…

    What about mysite (web20) it should be in the list 2….
    Dutch Nature website

    ;)

    0
  14. 14

    Awesome list !!! Beautiful Designs!

    0
  15. 15

    What percentage of these are fixed-width designs, and why does there seem to be a growing trend in that direction? Personally, I don’t really want to look at a page that is 750 pixels wide on my monitor that is 1920 pixels wide.

    0
  16. 16

    I have a lot of the first 1-44 sites bookmarked in my del.icio.us under a tag called inspiration. I really agree with Smashing on those designs, they are really inspiring.

    0
  17. 17

    I totally disagree with people saying that these aren’t inspirational! Just because they don’t make you run off to use Photoshop doesn’t mean that they wont prove useful in the future. I bookmark all these posts, and refer back to them when I have a site to build and I’m short of ideas.

    I appreciate the time and effort that the SM team put into these. I also find it fascinating to see what the current trend is for cutting-edge web design.

    I strongly suspect that many of the people who slam these posts (and CSS galleries too) only do so because they know that they can never create such stunning designs themselves.

    Keep them coming guys! :)

    0
  18. 18

    Agreed on every notion with the naysayers. This is a neat list somewhat just to look at. The only one I looked at was Microsoft, because let’s be honest, that design was came out of nowhere and the last time I bothered looking at their site was a good year ago.

    These designers took advantage of either a good background or a good picture and focus everything around it.

    The only thing that makes me inspired to code is when you start jumping into layered designs and I have to answer my own question of how do you do that?

    Most of these designs just offer a great structured layout, something anybody can really do. It’s the ones that make you think that should be called inspirational.

    0
  19. 19

    Nice collection! But if 60+ beautiful designs is not enough inspiration check out the largest design collection at http://www.screenalicio.us with more than 8900 screenshots.

    0
  20. 20

    Atomic Scrotum

    July 4, 2007 3:51 am

    Very nice. Lots of “2.0”-looking sites and the thumbnails make it easy to take it all in.

    A little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing on a beautiful, sunny afternoon when I should be outside…

    0
  21. 21

    The problem with 9/10 of these designs is that they are far too cluttered with a bunch of “pretty graphics” thrown about. When I see a site like that, it doesn’t encourage me away from clicking x on my Firefox tab anymore than a very badly designed website, because I immediately recognize the design was created by someone who thinks pretty little shiny stuff attracts me like a fish and I won’t find any more better content there than in most places.

    0
  22. 22

    Wow, rough crowd.
    I appreciate the list of sites, found many of them inspirational in one way or another and have bookmarked this page.

    Thank you!

    0
  23. 23

    Boring…
    Sorry to say, these are not very “inspirational” at all.
    I don’t mean to be overly nasty or negative, but I have to say I expect better from Smashing Magazine! I love Smashing Magazine… but this story really stinks. Where is the fun? Where is the variety? Where is the uniqueness? Well… where is the “inspiration”? This simply looks like a gallery of screen shots (and not too much variety at that).
    You just did something like this in May (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/05/21/60-elegant-and-visually-appealling-designs/), why do it again so soon? The May story was a much better one!

    0
  24. 24

    I agree and disagree… Some of these designs are quite nice. The one thing that bothers me is the reliance of Web designers on gradients/drop shadows/textured backgrounds. It seems like people believe throwing in one or two of these items automatically makes a design look good.

    Quite a mixed bag; some of these are excellent, and some can only be described as plain-jane. If anything I’d say this list is more telling as a list of designs you personally enjoy, since there isn’t much deviation in basic structure between them, color-schemes are quite similar, and gradients are almost ever-present. Good inspiration if you’d like to make another site to fit in with the general look & feel here; it would have been nice to see some more wildly divergent layouts/color schemes/etc.

    0
  25. 25

    Thanks for the feature!

    0
  26. 26

    hello..

    i think the design at http://www.justwantaquote.com is very good…

    yea….just thought i would share….nice websites tho!!

    A+++++++++++++

    0
  27. 27

    Thanks for another “smashing” list =o)

    This is my first post on here, despite looking around this site for a fair few months now, and the articles never cease to help or inspire.

    Keep it up!

    0
  28. 28

    memeandmeagain

    July 4, 2007 5:05 am

    This designs is too simple and boring. Check this http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/web/ . It is a best studio in whole world. Comments?

    0
  29. 29

    I love the list… Not very insperational? its a VERY nice list. those webpages present the content beautifully and inspire me.. If u want those crazy “insperational” sites go to http://www.thefwa.com. (I personally dont like most of them) Sites on this list is made for looking good and beeing easy to navigate and dont try to re-invent the wheel or something. Tommy

    0
  30. 30

    Excellent! Been looking for inspiration lately on a new project, thanks to you I’ve found some!

    0
  31. 31

    Excellent list, thanks for that..

    0
  32. 32

    It’s a good list guys, even if it only gives you a few ideas, that’s better than nothing at all. Great as always

    0
  33. 33

    Good list guys, there are some key ones that are brilliant.

    0
  34. 34

    Tor Løvskogen

    July 4, 2007 5:50 am

    It’s a great list, with great designs. But what I am more interested in, is knowing what makes them good. I would much more prefer to read a in-depth analysis on a single page, than to scan thru’ 60 designs.

    0
  35. 35

    I don’t know why these people are so critical.
    You guys always do a stellar job with these compilations.
    Keep up the great work.

    0
  36. 36

    hey, I appreciate these lists!

    0
  37. 37

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    July 4, 2007 6:09 am

    Thank you for all your comments.

    We are very open to constructive criticism. So if you see something which you think is wrong, please let us know, so we can improve the quality of our content in the future.

    You decide, what Smashing Magazine offers to you, so please feel free to criticize us as long as you can back your criticism with sound arguments. We’d be happy to receive your feedback. If such lists are getting old, let us know. If you still would like to have them from time to time, let us know.

    And thank you for your interest and participation.

    0
  38. 38

    As a designer myself, I think it can be easy to underestimate the difficulty in producing really useful designs. Not things that are just cool to look at, but ones that communicate the message and don’t get in the way. I think most of these are great examples of that. I’ll look at these and say, sure, I could do that–until I sit down and try. They may not be inspirational in terms of showing something new, but I think they are inspirational in showing what happens when you really put all the pieces together.

    0
  39. 39

    i guess 98% of these sites are listed on http://screenfluent.com ?

    0
  40. 40

    How could you forget http://www.bmindful.com/ ? :)

    0
  41. 41

    “What percentage of these are fixed-width designs, and why does there seem to be a growing trend in that direction? Personally, I don’t really want to look at a page that is 750 pixels wide on my monitor that is 1920 pixels wide”

    It’s much easier to make a fixed width page look great in my opinion. Sites look more balanced with a central column, plus it leaves room for artwork/texture down the sides.
    Also very wide text is hard to read, narrow columns are much easier to follow.

    On the plus side, you can have 2 and a half pages open at once on your big screen

    Here’s a full screen site for you:
    http://bla.st/

    0
  42. 42

    I agree with Peter. These might not all be artistic masterpieces, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Most of these designs ‘work’. Which is more important that them being pretty in the real world.

    So maybe this package is titled wrong, but it’s a nice list to use as reference nonetheless I’d say. So thanks Smashing, keep ’em coming!

    0
  43. 43

    I think the problem with this list is not so much in the editing of smashing magazine it’s more to do with the actual direction of design on the internet.

    Going right back to early 2000 there was still a very open style to the internet. Clearly good designs were few and far between; but when you found a design that was something fresh and new and pushed boundaries it really did inspire you. Taschen regularly published web designers alongside architects. (Though they did just publish a new web design book, I have yet to buy it).

    As time has passed we’ve seen the rise of many css beauty galleries, design blogs, and the (love it or hate it) web 2.0 style movement.

    There is a great move on the part of designers to follow these trends, and even designers who do try and push boundaries and come up with original ideas are so quickly drawn upon, and their ideas stylized into other site, that within just a few months they are once again, ‘one in a mass’. Just taking a quick browse though the comments so far, though there is an (unusual) trend of dismissing designs, I’m sure that many will use these as reference points, and pick styles, ideas and typography from several other sites, to create their own design.

    While there is no problem with this, it is naturally part of the process of design evolution through mediums, I think in such a repetitive and flexible environment you quickly end up with many designs that, though are all technically sound and follow good practices, are little more than echoes of each other.

    To just skim through this gallery (in fact, to just skim through any ‘beautiful site’ gallery from the last 1.5 years) you are met with reels of large blocked out header with simple sans-serif headers with punchy catch line sub-text, links condensed down to single words and icons denoting the meaning of single line text holders. These galleries, and resources, and design movements have single handedly made the net a much more beautiful and useable place, and in the same swoop removed drive for innovation, and quickly replicated it when found.

    If you give most web designers with a natural feel of layout and color just a few simple lines of text, a handful of links, and a simple message to convey however hard they try and push against convention you can almost guarantee a fallback to 32pt Verdana and a bright or deep hued box offsetting important text.

    Though I feel though much knowledge and awareness of many good practices are being learned (the greater awareness of the importance of typography, white space, block position, web standards) I think at the same time this is also the root cause of a different problem; that these fundamental basics are being learned from too-narrow of a spectrum of references.

    To my mind one of the most successful and beautiful layouts is that of http://www.nymag.com. The sheer volume and variety of information presented, always in ever changing formats, the amount of navigation and the technical challenge of presenting it all. Yet here we have a beautifully presented, naturally intuitive, yet interestingly varied solution. The people behind this design clearly have a wealth of background experience from many different fields. If I pick, quickly, just one site off your list http://maczone.sk/uvod and directly flip between these two designs, I see on one hand (maczone), a technically skilled and well executed layout, but from a designer with little depth of understanding or experience beyond the basics of Verdana and centaury gothic; or inspiration beyond css galleries. On the other hand (nymag) I see years of experience, from what I expect is a mixed team of people ranging from developers through to traditional print artists.

    Last year I worked on a project in London with a pair of high profile fashion photographers. When they were giving me the initial brief of concept, they presented me with a mash of magazine cutouts, newspaper clippings, layered photographs, even stills from skateboard films. Though sometimes I stumble upon a well written article (usually from a more senior designer) covering ideas to draw inspiration from other areas, I find there is a huge lack of movement to educate designers in fundamentals that are far broader and wide-reaching than just the basics of web design. Though there are many great resources around, if ask your average designer on the basics of color theory (“how do you workout which tertiary colors fall in harmony or complementary pairs?”) or basics of typography (“What font could you complement Helvetica with, with slanted stroke cuts?”) and you are met by a blank expression.

    I for one am very ready to welcome a movement away from the “my site is built with standards!” period and into a period where web designers realize that their medium is just as flexible as the pages of a magine. At the end of the day every web designer is just another print graphics artist who also happens to be able to code; and I think the former still have a lot to learn as a group from the latter.

    I guess I am in the minority that tend to look at designers, rather than individual pieces (I view the web in a similar context to how I would look at the furniture designers or photographers I love), and I find it slowly harder to find ones I really admire as ‘designers’ and not just ‘webdesigners’. The most acid test of the strength of a designer is the strip away all their tools and leave them with just text and lines, and see what they can construct armed just with these. If you look at the nymag site mentioned previously, you notice it is little more.

    Though, there are a couple of gems that do catch my eye in the above list ;) for the most part I sigh and say “same old”, yet I don’t blame the editors, I blame the designers; because I for one can’t put together a list of 60 genuinely brilliant forward-pushing website designs anymore.

    Ps; sorry for the essay! But maybe someone will read it and consider =)

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  44. 44

    I guess I *do* see the “inspirational” in these, I would love to have the design skills featured here. At first I thought these were another WordPress theme collection and I got really excited after the first couple, but then I saw it wasn’t :( Oh well, great designs.

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  45. 45

    great selection, quiet a few I have never seen before.

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  46. 46

    Great list again. Always good to start the day looking through these lists, then get stuck into the designing.
    thanks

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  47. 47

    I agree that this list wasn’t as good as the others it’s not due to the sites being low-rate but that the other lists were really really good and this one was just good. but either way, keep up the good work gents.

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  48. 48

    Ok, as a hobbyist webdesigner with interests in the KISS-principle, I try as hard as I can NOT to use images as part of my CSS. For my own website, I tried as hard as I could to make a functional, simple and clean site-template that is not relying on images, gradients and whatnot to make it more appealing. I really believe in keeping the use of images for other things than to deliver content to an absolute minimum.

    So I believe it is time for a design list with sites, templates and so on that DOES NOT USE gradients, elaborate graphics, otherwise clever CSS-imagery and in general, images as part of the contents’ setup. Now there’s a challenge.

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  49. 49

    i agree with the earlier posts here…some of these sites are nice but when quickly scrolling through the list i can’t help but notice how similar some of these are to one another. there are several back to back designs that are nearly identical in layout. this list easily could have been 10 sites long.

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    Brigitte Schuster

    July 4, 2007 9:28 am

    I think a lot of these design can be inspiring. It depends for what kind of design work you need an inspiration. If you don’t like an overall look of a design, you might get inspirated by a detail, for example the text layout part of it.

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