20 Websites With Unique Layouts

When you are creating a new website you may be inspired by seeing other sites that feature unique layouts. The 20 sites listed here don’t simply use a typical two or three column layout. Many of them use background images to interact with and control the layout in some unique way. Some of them I really like, and some I’m not sold on, but all are unique in one way or another.

For more design inspiration, see:


Popmatik – Freelance web designer Rob Leach uses a unique layout for his portfolio site. The site uses a background image of a bottle and the content of the site appears to be on the label of the bottle.

Popmatik Screenshot

Digitalmash.com – Digital Mash is the home of Australian web designer Rob Morris. What makes the layout unique is the background image of Rob holding the content of the page.

Digital Mash Screenshot

Melissahie.com – A portfolio site with a different twist, MelissaHie.com leads the visitor through a series of different sections of one page that include links to websites in a portfolio, a brief bio, and contact information. As you click on links, you will slide to a different section of the page.


Melissahie.com Screenshot

Evanescenceuk.co.uk – The British website of American rock band Evanescence uses a horizontal layout and a navigational scheme similar to MelissaHie.com, where the visitor slides across the site when using the navigation rather than being taken to a separate page.

Evanescence Screenshot

Sitotis.hr - The background image for Sitotis is a binder that contains the content of the page. Tabs in the binder are used for navigation.

Sitotis Screenshot

Mussatto.com.br – Mussatto uses a long, horizontal layout that doesn’t require vertical scrolling as opposed to the standard, tall layout.

Mussatto Screenshot

 

Basil Gloo – Web Developer Basil Gloo uses an interesting layout on his homepage that separates the page into a left and a right side. The left side contains his personal information and the right side his business information.

Basil Gloo Screenshot

Danviv.net – The portfolio site of Dan Viveiros uses a unique layout and several images of cassette tapes.

Danviv.net Screenshot

CraigEarl.co.uk – Photographer Craig Earl uses a layout that features four tall and narrow images that link to different categories of photos in his portfolio: everyday, landscapes, bands, and people.

Craig Earl Screenshot

JeremyCowart.com – Another interesting photography portfolio site, JeremyCowart.com places all of the emphasis on the pictures by taking you straight to the photos in the portfolio. Rather than making you click a few links to get to the photos, they are right there, one on top of the other. What’s most unique is that to get to any content other than photos you can visit the contact, news, and project links.

JeremyCowart.com Screenshot

Huge – This design company uses a large image on the left side of the homepage with the primary navigation and content in a narrow column on the right.

HugeInc Screenshot

Interview Magazine – Another horizontal layout, Interview Magazine presents a different visual impression than other online magazines.

Interview Magazine Screenshot

The Horizontal Way – As a gallery of horizontal websites, The Horizontal Way naturally uses a horizontal layout itself.

 

The Horizontal Way Screenshot

Swiths.com – This website uses a large background image of a wood floor and a guy’s feet. The content of the site is on a piece of paper and a notepad laying on the floor.

Swiths Screenshot

Davor van Eijk – The homepage of Davor van Eijk places navigation in the center of the page on an angle. The content of the page is in the lower right hand corner.

Davor van Eijk Screenshot

Ribbit.com – This layout features a large background image of a man sitting on the grass. The sky in the picture becomes the background of the page. The picture and how it interacts with the layout is really what give the page a unique feel.

Ribbit Screenshot

BootB – This site uses a black background and some drawn clouds at the top of the page. The center of the page contains navigation in a circle that is part of an image of a hot air balloon that is about to float to the clouds.

BootB Screenshot

Vesess – Vesess uses a simple header that includes navigation and then goes into an image right at the focal point of the page. If you scroll down you will see the use of a few columns for some basic information. While it is maybe not as different as many of the sites on this list it is still a break from the norm.

Vesess Screenshot

Dinulovic.com – The Dinulovic homepage contains no real content. It uses an image at the center of the layout with navigation on both sides.

Dinulovic

StoryAbout.net – The homepage of Hansol Huh’s portfolio site uses a large image that says “Life is Random” in dots. Below the image is a link to the portfolio.

StoryAbout.net Screenshot

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190 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Matthew Griffin, January 1, 2008

    Great list, Steven. It’s difficult to break out of those tidy two column CSS layouts sometimes. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • TyCat, January 1, 2008

    this is a nice look at the more creative side of design

  • Vandelay Design, January 1, 2008

    Matthew and TyCat,
    Thanks for your feedback. I think it’s nice just to see how some designers are using creativity.

  • Neena (NeenMachine), January 1, 2008

    These are very creative. With a design like this, I would almost venture to say that content doesn’t matter, the packaging is fantastic!

  • Simon Ward, January 1, 2008

    Wow, some very cool site designs here Steven.

  • pablopabla, January 1, 2008

    Those sites are really beautiful. Are you going to use the ideas for your projects? ;)

    By the way, good to see the Digg button. It’s long overdue. And the 125×125 ad space is timely. I’m sure you’ll get some advertisers soon :D

  • Carlos Leopoldo, January 1, 2008

    Very creative layouts but some of them are unusable

  • Jermayn Parker, January 1, 2008

    There are some really good ideas there, I love the Evanescence layout as well as the Rob Leach, Sitotis and Davor van Eijk designs, very unique.

    Thanks for showing us them

  • Wayne Liew, January 1, 2008

    Creative sites like these often own the world when their screenshots are published.

    Some creative sites have gone overboard with their creativity, causing the usability of their sites to falter. Also, some creative designs such as using a lot of images or Flash application will throttle the web surfing experience of web users.

    Anyway, great compilation of sites which took some of time to navigate within them to experience the cool elements, such as scrolling sideways (don’t let me see this in blogs please) in Evanescence’s site. :lol:

  • Ruchir, January 2, 2008

    Some great research there, Steve. Informative article. It shows how to stand out from the crowd. Of course all those elements won’t really look nice on blogs. Why don’t you do another post, Steven: 20 Blogs with Unique Layouts. I’m sure you’ll find some :)

  • Eric D, January 2, 2008

    Do you think we will be seeing more horizontal sites in the future? It almost reminds me of flipping through a magazine rather than a website that changes pages as opposed to “sliding” over to the next topic.

    I may have to try to incorporate that in one of my next sites.

    Thanks for the look at these great sites………….eric aka NoviceSEO

  • Eric, January 2, 2008

    I enjoy looking at sites that break away from the norm. They really work well for certain purposes. As a portfolio or gallery, they’re great. However, if you’re looking for a way to display information… simple is good.

    In my opinion, a website should showcase its design OR its information. Both is simply too distracting.

  • pearl, January 2, 2008

    nice collection Steven, but I’d like to hear which designs you ‘really like’ :)

    good to see you monetizing a bit and yes that Digg button was so needed on your posts!!

  • Ahead Directory, January 2, 2008

    awsome! these are really very creative layouts, i must say. keep up the good work.

  • LGR, January 2, 2008

    I stopped looking at the sites when they started to resize my browser, use flash only and eventually crash my entire browser. Beside the fact that the sites “look cool” what criteria did you use to pick them? Certainly websites that are resizing browsers, using only flash and eventually crashing browsers are not very user friendly.

  • Dave Walker, January 2, 2008

    I’ve been seeing the trend towards horizontal layouts for a few years now, and I’m finally starting to like how they’re being executed. I’m kind of surprised that it’s taken this long to get them right, but I’m happy to see web media finally becoming independent of its print roots (especially now that widescreen monitors are so prevalent).

    Hmm… new New Years Resolution: try building a personal project web site that uses horizontal layout and scrolling.

  • Alex, January 2, 2008

    Some of these sites do have cool layouts, some I had to figure out exactly how to work them and where the information was going to be displayed. Nonetheless I always like seeing creative designs, thanks for posting

  • john, January 2, 2008

    Uniqueness does not always a usable web site make.

    (and because I’m putting the verb at the end of the sentence, you know it’s true)

  • Marco Rosella, January 2, 2008

    Many thanks Steven! ;-)

  • Aaron, January 2, 2008

    Wow some of these sites are very inspiring to me.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Braintrove.com, January 2, 2008

    Great to see such creativity out there!

    Keep up the good work!

  • patternlinks.com, January 2, 2008

    Very interesting designs.

  • Al. E, January 2, 2008

    this new site findingdulcinea.com (spelling?) did a whole week long feature on “design goes online” – which doesn’t really name specific sites for their design attributes – but talks about some sites to go for inspiration and history of design , online design firms, and the like. A cool indepth look at e-(and other) design.

  • Melissa Hie, January 2, 2008

    thanks for the mention! :)

  • Vandelay Design, January 2, 2008

    To everyone who mentioned that some of these sites aren’t user-friendly, I agree. I think some are and some are not. Even the ones that are not usable I think can still provide some good design inspiration. In a few cases it’s not actually the design that makes them unusable.

    Eric D.,
    To answer your question, I hope we don’t see more horizontal designs. I find them to be annoying to use, personally. Apparently some people love them, and they are definitely unique.

    Eric,
    I couldn’t agree more, simple is good when displaying information. A unique design can help you to stand out, but it can also hurt you in other ways.

    Pearl,
    Ok, here are my favorites in no particular order: Jeremy Cowart, Huge, Digital Mash, and I like the concept of Craig Earle but not the functionality.

    LGR,
    That’s why I tend to like minimalistic designs, you can avoid most of those problems. However, I didn’t have any of the issues when I was on these sites. Again, this is only meant to be an inspirational gallery, not a collection of great and useful sites. Certainly you have a very valid point.

    Melissa,
    You’re welcome.

  • Toni, January 2, 2008

    You could aslo add this site, it is quite interesting
    http://web.burza.hr/en/

  • Toni, January 2, 2008

    i wrote wrong e-mail in the post above…..

  • Cuban Cigars Dave, January 3, 2008

    Digital Mash really caught my eye.. and Basil Gloo. We’re in the process of redesigning. Our aim.. a different layout and the ability to be user friendly ! Possible ? I think so !

  • Alex, January 3, 2008

    CubanCigarsDave.com/nofollowownsyourface =)

  • Marcin Dmoch, January 3, 2008

    Thanks for publish my site too :)

  • Dejan Cancarevic, January 3, 2008

    thanks for the list, it’s really inspiring

  • Tay - Super Blogging, January 3, 2008

    Wow Steven, thanks for sharing these. There are some pretty cool and inspiring designs here. Just wondering, but how did you come across them all in order to compile such a great list?

  • hellcola, January 4, 2008

    wow, I really enjoyed some of them!
    I’ll get a custom one one of these days!

  • Sly from Slyvisions.com, January 4, 2008

    Nice list there. All those sites had one thing in common (other than being unique): they were creatively done without using a layout as you said. In my experience, most of them have probably been made through Photoshop and other related tools.

  • 440, January 5, 2008

    thank you for the great links!!! i translated some parts of this article in Japanese. if you have any problem with that, let me know.

  • Potos, January 5, 2008

    I would recommend http://www.asvalia.com also.

  • Vrai, January 5, 2008

    You missed a great one.

    http://www.alienmelon.com/

    For a graphics, web and flash design company.

    Browse through it. You won’t be sorry.

  • Abu, January 6, 2008

    Hii here is one page site

    http://www.telugucinemastills.com

  • I really like the Mussatto layout, it’s very original and functional. The second best is probably the Popmatik layout.

  • Jenny, January 6, 2008

    wow all those make my work look like crap!! I wish I was that good.

  • web design new york, January 8, 2008

    These are some really nice designs gotta bookmark this for future reference!

  • Glacier Real Estate, January 8, 2008

    The list you compiled is great, some of the best techinical sites I have seen. I ran across this one http://crepp.net/ this ones good too.

  • massimo, January 13, 2008

    Jan Gernen gives us this beautiful site design: http://www.yanone.de .
    take a look

  • Working at Home Mom, February 11, 2008

    Those are some really great website designs. I wish that I could do something like that.

  • Daily Common Sense, February 16, 2008

    very nice designs!

  • rich math.man, February 21, 2008

    Those are some good looking 20 websites. Good looking but I didn;t visit any of them. They are too fancy schmancy for me. I like down earth websites that contain information first and usefulness second and truhfulness third.

  • dENz, February 25, 2008

    Wow… this are all great web site i ever seen specially melissa.com… keep it up melissa.. hope i can have like melissa’s web site

  • Lynn Pham, April 9, 2008

    wow..thanks so much for the share.. They really are inspirational, all out of the box designs.. How bout some good web design with curves?

  • arwienu, April 19, 2008

    this is great design. thanks for share man..maybe someone can try to design other unique layout :D. tell me if u do :)

  • Xtence, June 19, 2008

    Very very nice, il ike these layouts very much, great job!!!

  • aoc gold, June 28, 2008

    Very very nice

  • Vhic Hufana, July 25, 2008

    Wow…very beautiful collections….I like swiths.com. Very creative and artistic!

  • Paul, August 11, 2008

    That’s a great list right there. I need to learn how to design better :/

  • website design, August 13, 2008

    Digitalmash rocks and interview magazine.I love the way they are layed out.

  • Flash Drive, August 13, 2008

    Very very nice, il ike these layouts very much!!!

  • Synergy Informatics, September 25, 2008

    hi,

    all designs are really wonderful.. but ribbit is what I like the most…

    sites described in the comments are also really nice…

    it inspires us to design innovative designs…

    btw… thanks for this wonderful compilation of designs..

  • mrcubo, December 25, 2008

    some colorful things shining my eyes

  • Jonathan, January 15, 2009

    I think you all should check out:

    http://www.civilwarvideos.com

    I made this website and I think it fits this category well.

  • Designer, January 20, 2009

    not very appealing

  • wilu, January 28, 2009

    Very nice websites:)
    I like them.

  • Pradeep CD, January 29, 2009

    Good collection.

    Yes, they are uniq.

  • Live Msn, March 3, 2009

    I really like the Mussatto layout, it’s very original and functional. The second best is probably the Popmatik layout.

  • Mark Scerri, April 2, 2009

    An inspiring list

  • 9pintuemas, April 13, 2009

    i impressed of ur design… very unique…
    good job..

  • prosenjit, April 14, 2009

    great look :O

  • firdha, April 14, 2009

    great gallery..^^

  • pablo, April 22, 2009

    I love the design of websites and davorvaneijk.com thehorizontalway.com

  • Vishang, April 25, 2009

    Too good stuffs here.
    I have never seen a ideas like these.
    I have got good ideas from these site for my stydy Projects.
    all the sites are good but i like the most is melissahei.com.

  • Videolu Dersler, May 1, 2009

    great gallery..

  • Evelyn, May 5, 2009

    Wow… all those websites are amazing, someday I’ll design one 100% flash =) hehe…

    Thanks for the info!

  • webteders, May 9, 2009

    Good collection.

    Yes, they are uniq.

  • Slide seems to be the buzzword these days. With improved hardware (read more RAM and processing power) and faster connectivity, the slid design can be an absolute pleasure for most users.

    Actually, anything that challenges the vertical layout and up-and-down scrolling is fresh and interesting. The use of Ajax and the ‘no-refresh’ design also helps. Good post.

  • Justin, May 30, 2009

    Whoa… this site is pretty awesome :) your layout is really well designed, and your blogs are (judging from what i’ve read) very interesting. heehee… consider yourself favorited. :-P

  • webdesign, July 8, 2009

    Very good designed websites.

  • william anderson, July 15, 2009

    Love the list, very inspirational, having a block out day, good to see some stuff that I can feed from.

  • Amanda, July 23, 2009

    I love the creative and open ideas represented here, but for my own and my sisters websites, I have to keep them so they will appear properly on an 800×600 screen resolution as well as shifting (hopefully) seamlessly for higher resolutions, also keeping font large enough that old blind people can read it (parents, grandparents, family). Any ideas or design layouts that may be creative ways to meet these concerns?

  • Web development lucknow, September 15, 2009

    These are really cool layouts.

  • iMac, October 1, 2009

    thanks for this wonderful design

  • Web Designer Pakistan, October 10, 2009

    you always come up with a great collection..

  • Chad, October 28, 2009

    Great websites!!! Very inspirational, keep up the great work!

  • Ovi Dogar, November 2, 2009

    Wow…wonderful layouts… Some of these websites look amazing!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ovi Dogar
    AbsoluteCovers.com

  • SEO Web Design, November 4, 2009

    Great Post! I thingmo web design is complete if it doesn’t have clear naviation, readability of text and forms to contact

  • Brian -Ecommerce website, November 9, 2009

    Superb Collection of Unique layouts.Very Inspiring

  • altrugon, November 24, 2009

    The first site with the bottle design doesn’t exist anymore.

    I was curious to see how his design look like because my site use the same idea although in my case is a box and not a bottle.

    Here I leave you a link in case you want to check it out: http://www.altrugon.com

    Thanks for the list.

  • Blogging Ideas, November 26, 2009

    Amazing layouts, very original and surprisingly not hard hard to navigate through, sometime I find website with tons of bells and whistle frustraing to navigate through and hard to take in the actual content.

  • tc, November 27, 2009

    Beautiful, Amazing … Very inspiring … thanks :)

  • SBA, December 18, 2009

    Excellent, thanks for the inspiration. Constantly working with wordpress tends to close your mind to really unique designs

  • shoaib, December 23, 2009

    these are just awesome and i love em alll,,,thnx

  • seo, December 23, 2009

    Thanks for sharing this! Nice collection, good inspiration.

  • andy, December 25, 2009

    Great designs. Some do load slow but the graphics and layout is awesome. You can either have a fast loading plain site or a slower loading fancy site. Having both is usually impossible but you have to give these designers the credit they deserve.

  • lisa, January 4, 2010

    This may seem like a dumb question to you and your readers, but I need some help…..

    I am starting a small business and am trying to find a web designer to build our site. I love the ‘artistic’ look of many of the sites you have listed on your blog. However, I cannot seem to find the names of the companies/designers responsible for producing them.

    Would appreciate any help or insight you have to identifying the artists and their companies so I may contact them to design my site.

    Thanks,
    L

    • Vandelay Website Design, January 4, 2010

      Lisa,
      Not every site is going to list the designer. You can check the source HTML code to see if it says anything about the author or designer, but typically it won’t.

  • neel, January 23, 2010

    Hi Excellent Collection with some unique designs.

    Thanks for sharing

  • James, February 1, 2010

    Great! I’ve got these as inspirations in our project =D

    I wanted a much more different layout than others!!

  • Triboda, February 15, 2010

    Very impressive sites! It’s nice to see people and companies that take pride in their web presents.

  • Namrata Winy, February 16, 2010

    I am Very inspired this design, Thank U

  • Asha, February 18, 2010

    Excellent collection of website designs…… found many of them very much attractive..

  • Iklan Baris DoFollow, February 25, 2010

    Nice posting..
    now i see lot of attractive templates

  • Freelance web designer, February 26, 2010

    Very Good Stuff. there is so much to learn. very inspiring . i will apply some element which make my site better. Thanks

  • Website Design Bristol, March 18, 2010

    Like some of these a lot, the photography one is very catching

  • Vinfotech, April 27, 2010

    Superb collection of website layouts….I especially liked the “Evanescenceuk.co.uk” layout…..

  • How to tweak, June 28, 2010

    Love the Basil Gloo layout the most ,n remaining ones as well.you made me wonder how much work would one need to make such interactive websites.

  • Chintan, August 22, 2010

    It’s Cool
    But can you give me the website link
    I am not getting it.

  • Chintan, August 22, 2010

    Can you give me the link to the page of Popmatik
    I am not getting it.

    • Vandelay Website Design, August 23, 2010

      Chintan,
      If the link is dead the site is probably not up any more. This is a really old post so things are bound to get out of date.

  • pcnw, August 29, 2010

    Really nice and inspired collection of website designs, but I think that the most of them will not go so well in search engines becouse they miss the rich content in the front page….

  • North Star, September 12, 2010

    I agree with pcnw – from a search perspective it’s going to be difficult with very little content on the first page but appreciate sometimes search isn’t the most important factor.

    The designs do look great!

  • jasmine25, September 17, 2010

    Very nice stuff.It’s nice to see people and companies that take pride in their web presents.i also apply some element which make my site better. Thanks

  • pepito, September 18, 2010

    I agree with pcnw – from a search perspective it’s going to be difficult with very little content on the first page but appreciate sometimes search isn’t the most important factor.

    The designs do look great!

  • Naina, September 20, 2010

    Great designs & collection, and all of the comments so far are all great as well, I believe that access to great inspiration is one of the most important elements in an efficient design process. When you have all the customer expectations and requirements piled up in your head and a rough idea of the end result it is time seek tons of inspiration to mature your ideas and speed up the process.

  • egyptian web designer, October 4, 2010

    Like Like Like
    “Dinulovic.com” is my favorite one.. we waiting for more :-)

  • Web Design Hull, November 12, 2010

    What an excellent collection, I just need to find some trendy clients that would go with these kind of ideas!

  • creare site, December 4, 2010

    I like last image “life is random”.

  • Adrian, December 8, 2010

    I’m a huge fan of the Ribbit.com. It’s fresh and really catches the eye. Cheers!

  • Shrikrishna Meena, December 14, 2010

    Interesting Designs…. At least these are Unique… Liked it.

  • Dale, December 29, 2010

    Well done on this list of uniquely creative site designs. They underscore the vastness of the possibilities that exist in web design. Am somehow reminded of certain high performance vehicles that are great to admire and fun to take for an occasional spin; but not for typical daily use. But it’s great to see what possibilities exist

  • Chris Donnelly, January 16, 2011

    It’s so refreshing to see different sites that are not based on columns and banners.
    I love the scrolling sideways effects- always a pleasure to be surprised by site navigation that breaks the rules. Thanks for the compilation!

  • Caroline, January 18, 2011

    Wow nice layouts and I really appreciate your hard work, nice creativity, thanks for sharing…

  • Tri Nguyen, January 21, 2011

    These websites are truly unique. Davor van Eijk looks like it a 3 dimensional plane and it gives alot of depth.

  • Dawson Mitchell, January 27, 2011

    I actually stumbled upon this site while trying to show our team here about what good design looks like, we are redesigning our site currently. Granted these are awesome, but a little too creative for our world.

    What would be cool to know though since you guys have had a lot of experience in design is whether or not you like navs on the top or the left side.

    That would help settle a situation we have going on here. Reason is because we don’t want to use dropdowns…the just aren’t happening.

    Thanks in advance if you answer.

    Btw I never knew you were the same guys that did http://iconfever.com/
    Many props for that.

  • Alastair, March 20, 2011

    Thanks,

    But you need to update or edit the article. The first link popmatic is for sale and longer live.

    Come on guys.

    • Vandelay Website Design, March 21, 2011

      Alastair,
      There are about 1000 posts on this blog. There is no way to keep them all up-to-date.

  • Mathew, March 28, 2011

    Nice designs. I’ve got few ideas for some of my upcoming web projects, hehehe.

    Thanks,

  • Paul Chong, August 31, 2012

    This is nice, these websites look creative, colorful and stylish. They are very unique from one another :-)

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