So read my thoughts about each of the sites below and get ready to awaken your inner art critic. See you in the comments!
Why I like it: Original Site Concept
Behind the Websites is a completely unique website gallery. Each post features a zany illustration meant to convey “what people think about some websites.” The site owner, Ricardo Gimenes is an incredibly gifted artist with a great sense of humor.
Why I like it: Creative Use of Color
Bitter Coffee is another site with impressive custom illustrations. Notice how the designer has used color very selectively to draw your attention to specific points of interest. This is most noticeable in the rollover effects of the images down the right side of the page which feature grayscale images that come to life with color when you hover over them. Very well done!
Why I like it: Animated Homepage
This site keeps the user interested with constant motion. As soon as you load up the page, objects start falling into place. A nice, automated slideshow of featured work follows the initial animation. Notice how the featured work actually blends into the site background rather than violating it.
Why I like it: Simple Homepage
Not necessarily the most unique photographer site, but still very well done. The homepage isn’t cluttered with unnecessary information or effects, just a large alternating photo. The photographer is confident in his work and lets it speak for itself. Your photography will look more impressive when it’s as large as you can get it and displayed on a solid background, making it the sole focal point of the page.
Why I like it: Oversized Artwork
This site features huge green boxes of content that really stand out on the page. There’s a ton of subtle detail at work as well that really polishes off the site. Every link on the page has a nice rollover effect, there’s a cloud animation playing behind the main logo, and the selected state of the navigation bar is a light that casts a shadow on the link text below it. Overall, a great piece of design!
Why I like it: Scrolling Content, Static Background
This site features a beautiful bokeh background that really grabs your attention. Having the content scroll over a stationary background isn’t groundbreaking but it offers a bit of an unexpected surprise to the user experience that adds to the unique feeling of the site. Always think about what you can do to offer your visitors a unique experience.
Why I like it: The Little Stuff
Aside from the overall aesthetic, there were a couple of subtle details I really liked about this site. This first is that the main image violates the header area. Nine out of ten designers would’ve made the photo fit the colored space. The simple trick of having the photo extend into the white makes this site so much less two dimensional. Another feature that got my attention was the navigation rollovers. Run your mouse along the navigation and you’ll get a shape-shifting bouncy blob that zips back and forth creating a really nice, unexpected effect.
Why I like it: Creative Use of a Stock Theme
A quick look at the code of this site revealed that it’s based on the amazingly popular Twicet Theme. Take a look at the original theme vs. the actual site. The website author didn’t just slap his own text and images into the prefab template, he used the template as a starting point for his own unique site. This creativity overcomes the principal downside of buying a website template: unoriginality. Finding a template that you can use as a strong base but still add plenty of customization to can save you loads on time on the development end of creating a WordPress powered site.
Why I like it: Graphics Reinforce the Business
Aside from simply being attractive, this site’s graphics say everything they need to say. The dark, cool tones are tinged with highlights in such a way that you can almost hear lounge music just by looking at it. The highlights also serve as reinforcement for the “pulse” in the site’s name. The lesson hear is to fully consider the purpose and idea behind a site before you create the graphics for it. Sketch out a couple of ideas for visually representing the concept you want to convey and ask some people which idea they think conveys the concept best.
Why I like it: More Animation
Another example of impressive custom illustration. Load up this Mac-tastic site and you’ll see a ton of motion and custom illustrations that all help communicate the friendly nature of the business. Another creative feature of the site is the “iPhone Tips” that pop up near the bottom of the page. The site owners are selling IT services but use these tips as a way to offer visitors something for free just for stopping by. Successfully integrating something that could be considered to have value into your content is a great way to get your visitors to spend a little bit more time on your site, which could theoretically land you a purchase.
Why I like it: Jungle Theme
If you’ve read my past articles you’ll know I’m a sucker for a good theme. Komodo Media uses jungle illustrations to tie their content together in an attractive way. Though not always the most professional way to go, a creative theme can add a lot of visual interest to a page. It gives viewers something visually familiar that they can relate to and makes them a lot more prone to think your site is unique.
Why I like it: Unique Organization
The homepage of this site has a ton of disconnected content, but it’s formatted in a visually attractive way (a real challenge!). The staggered boxes format clearly defines each piece of content, leaves plenty of room for both pictures and text, and just looks neat. Also, check out the 3D animated tag cloud on the left that serves as a very cool way to isolate specific types of content.
Why I like it: Great Photography & Product Focus
At first glance, this site looks like a photography portfolio and shoot, it practically is. The beautiful photos are seamlessly integrated with the user interface in a way that makes an arguably boring product look absolutely beautiful. The lesson here is that if you’re selling a physical product, don’t let your brother Joe take pictures of it with his flash and trash camera to upload onto the site. Spend the money to hire a real photographer to make your product look as good as it possibly can then display those photos in a bold manner that conveys your confidence in the product.
Why I like it: Custom Illustrations
This site features some amazing illustrations and while I can’t say for certain that they are custom and not stock, it sure appears that way to the average visitor. Unique artwork acts as a thumbprint that makes a site wholly your own. If you’re a web designer and a good artist, remember that custom illustrations can go a long way towards impressing a client. Always look for ways to show off your full range of creative talent as a way to increase your marketability.
That’s my two cents on a few creative WordPress sites. Think that was easy? Here’s a bunch more WP sites that I found to be particularly creative for you to provide feedback on. Let us know your thoughts on each. Share what you love, hate or find incredibly unique about any or all of the following.