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Top 10 Best Designed Websites of 2008

Note: This is my top 10 best designed websites from 2008!

» Here’s a slightly more recent list of best designed websites  from 2010 »

» And here’s my LATEST list of One Hundred Best-Designed Websites (2012) »

Here’s my list of my top 10 best designed websites in the world. These are just my personal preference of the best website design –  you don’t have to agree, but I’ll try to explain why these web designs work great and why I like them so much.

My top 10 best web designs:

#1 Apple.com

Apple is the best example of striking the balance of simplicity (white space, strong type) with rich imagery sensitively-applied.

It’s also a big, varied, constantly-new site with loads of content, which always feels easy & enjoyable to navigate.

For solving the numerous demands on the UI so elegantly, this is, in my opinion, the best-designed web site in the world today.

apple.com screenshot

#2 Mozilla.com

Clear, open, fresh, simple. When you arrive at this site, you’re under no doubt what the site does, or where to start looking for what you want. The design is positive and happy. A consistent contender for best website design.

mozilla.com screenshot

#3 Iconbuffet.com

The website sells icons, so it lets the icons rule, showing its wares from the first page.

The colours and typography are solid & strong, projecting a trustworthy brand while not getting in the way of the proposition.

iconbuffet.com screenshot

#4 WhyWeWhisper.com

“Why We Whisper – restoring our right to say it’s wrong” is a book about freedom of speech in the USA, written by Senator Jim DeMint and J. David Woodward, and has one of the best designed websites of this year.

The page design is a great example of pixel-saving in action, with very little complexity going into the page background, leaving room for large, clear typography. I love the flourished rules between the quotes.

If I have a couple of criticisms, the page doesn’t tell you up-front what it’s about.. relying on prior knowledge or even reading, which may be a lot to ask. Also, a lot of the text is red. Maybe it would be easier to read in black.

(Another very worthy simple & impacting book site is “Gangs of America.com”, book by Ted Nace.)

WhyWeWhisper.com screenshot

#5 Circografico.com.ar/

The guy’s an illustrator, so his site has to:

  • Show his work
  • Be interesting and characterful

It does both these things really well, qualifying it as one of the best website designs of the year!

The graphic design is designed around Alex’s work, with intelligent typography and just enough pixels used to give the site background its tattered, rich vibe.

I love the way his portfolio page uses gradients to suggest the work in a print context.

circografico.com.ar/ screenshot

#6 EnhancedLabs.com

Another icon maker, doing bigger, richer icons, so the the site showcases them bigger & richer.

Bold, flattish colour creates a strong first impression and still lets the product stand out.

enhancedlabs.com screenshot

#7 Protolize.org

Tony Yoo’s collection of recommended web resources is a great example of strong graphic elements balancing to make a site that’s bold and easy to use, and a great example of early “Web2.0″ best website design.

Big text, simple nav, high usability, all wrapped in strong colour and finished off with nice graphical touches.

protolize.org screenshot

#8 Bearskinrug.co.uk

Another illustrator’s site (Kevin Cornell). What can I say about this that I didn’t say about Alex Dukal’s site?

It embodies the essence of Kevin’s style, and – if you look – does an excellent job of filling the space with content, needing almost no page furniture at all.

Count how many things on the page are both navigation and content. Everything has had the touch of the illustrator’s brush, so the site is just saturated with his talent.

bearskinrug.co.uk screenshot

#9 Corkd.com

Dan Cederholm’s personal wine review project provides a neat, cleanly-designed interface, featuring an intelligent colour scheme and fantastic simple logo.

Easy to use and fun to browse. This site strikes the balance just right.

It might be even better if the main content area were lightened, to distinguish it from the supporting content areas.

corkd.com screenshot

#10 Sumagency.com

Oh so 2.0, but I just love it. You know what gets me every time? Acres of balanced white space, easy-read text and cute content graphics combining to tell a simple story. First-rate.

sumagency.com screenshot

Note: This list is from 2007. Here’s my newer list of best web designs from 2010!

A few more…

Here’s a trio of nicely designed sites from Pro Web Design Alliance members. Check out Excavation New Jersey, Quality Web Design UK and Homes Staten Island.

Want to Design Like a Pro? Here’s How!

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben is the creator of Web Design From Scratch. He started writing articles about web design to kill time on a long train commute, and is now one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written three books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally.

Tim Hudson - 4 years ago

Great list! I obviously wouldn’t place them all in the same order, but yours is pretty cool! Check out my list at: http://blog.webconstructions.net/2010/05/top-10-website-designs.html.

    danny - last year

    youve got a good idea

Alfred - 4 years ago

I think that a properly title for this site would be “10 best ENGLISH designed web sites in the world” .. Do you know why the Nobel Prizes (the Swedish awards) are so popular in the world? ..Because they are universal..because these prizes are not only for people who live in Sweden or people who speak only one language.
Look at the world..it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the language , there are a lot…plenty of well designed sites that is a must to see and some of them are not in english.

    ben - 4 years ago

    Good point Alfred. I think it’s fair that my top 10 sites are in English, as my first language is English, and I need to understand a site to get its design completely (otherwise I can only appreciate its decoration). Copy is the #1 most important factor in web design, so I could not properly judge the merits of a site that is written in Greek, Portuguese, or Korean.

      JustMe - last year

      Yes, you are right to use your language, but then it is misleading if not fraudulent to use the word ‘WORLD’, ‘GLOBAL’, or any other word that suggests universal or more than a language!
      That is what we always see from US and other Western countries, when they often ‘arrogantly’ label anything they want within their zone as the world best this and the world best that, even some championships like boxing and all that, they often call the people from their side ‘world champions’ when the opportunity to compete on a world level was never extended to all that may actually come our as world best.
      We can see how EPO/drug filled cyclists and other dubious sports folk from the West often carry themselves as ‘world champion’ and all that, yet on a level playing ground we know they are at best only local champions..
      So let’s use the Internet for the good of all global citizens, and not a parochial or political platform.
      Nice though that you are humble and honest enough to reply that way.
      Also it important to commend you for starting by saying that it is ‘your own’ list, so it is not verifiable nor can it be used for any serious reference.

      Ben Hunt - last year

      It’s a good point. I also get frustrated at these things.. like the use of “US English” vs. “International English”, or “World Series Baseball” (when no one else plays it).

      These are the 100 best websites from my perspective, which naturally means they’re relevant to my culture, including language and geography. Each person’s top 100 list would be very different.

    Irfan - a couple of years ago

    Great approach Alfred.. well said…

ghasemi - 4 years ago

where can I find the date of this article and it’s writer?

    ben - 4 years ago

    Hi. This page was written by Ben Hunt in May 2009.

Trev - 4 years ago

This is a terrible, terrible list. Terrible.

    Affan - a couple of years ago

    Couldnt agree with anymore
    There’re thousands of awesome-design websites out there

      Matt - a couple of years ago

      I agree

      Fafa - a couple of years ago

      Trev, Affan, Matt: Please give an example of it, you said thousands and thousands if you know about please, post it, it is very simple just to judge but it is good when you present facts.

    daniel - last year

    all those so called “great designed websites” that these css galleries glorify are just a bunch of sites with a main photo plastered trhoughout the entire browser window with a simple message. I hate those inspiration galleries. thats just not feasible or effective, but rather a half wit attempt at being “Minimally artsy”

Fio - 4 years ago

i like this list a lot!
thanks

dards - 4 years ago

Hi to all here, I just got to this page when I search Top 10 website designed, I am also a web designer and looking for “something new and unique” this was my boss told me most of the time. These collections is great but still looks common to me when it come to the design and style, I am looking for design that does not use flash, unique and stylist but not look like personal website, use a little 3d effects or objects and a corporate type website. Can someone here point me any website you may know that looks unique and new style. thanks in advance

Kerry - 4 years ago

Just stumbled across this list and I cant agree that these are the best designed websites in the world right now…

Might be best to put a date up the top as otherwise this isnt taking into account new websites from the time of this article.

    WDFS - 4 years ago

    Hi Kerry. I agree with you completely. This list is quite out-of-date now, and I do intend to publish an update soon.

matt - 4 years ago

great list.

thanks for sharing !

Andrea - 4 years ago

Hi there,

I love the clean line web designs, it is true, simple and clean is better.

oneworld-onewish…for Positive Change,

From the Heart,

Andrea

arik - 4 years ago

Design and style are very subjective matters, this list is one among thousands, keep searching and update all the time.

Hannah - 4 years ago

These are the worst websites ever! Get some better ones, ones people would like!

Alejandro Ramos - 3 years ago

Very Good Point Alfred (June 21, 2010), I totally agree with you, the title in this website is wrong. Ben’s excuse is the most stupid excuse and explanation I’ve ever heard: “my top 10 sites are in English, as my first language is English” so therefore Alfred is right, the title should be “10 best ENGLISH designed web sites in the world”… what if there are only 200 people in the world right now who speak Totonaca? Their “10 best web sites in the world” would be very limited in copy and in what Ben calls “decoration”…

john edet - 3 years ago

how can i become the best wedsite maker in just one month.

Christian - 3 years ago

Great Information !

vivek - 3 years ago

dis is a good list.

David - 3 years ago

Very nice collection man.But i think you need to change it because of CSS 3 raising and other CMS designing,Beautiful website is creating everyday…by the that,those are really good.

struts - 3 years ago

i totally disagree with this list…even apple, and apple is not GOD

Vip - 3 years ago

dunno is nothing great in this list.. may be i misstaked?

Tom - 3 years ago

Alfred… no offense but who gives a crap about other countries and their awards. This is America. America rocks! English is THE language of the world. Take your multi-pluralistic stuff and stuff it. USA!!! HooRaa!

    ben - 3 years ago

    Sorry Tom. No, this isn’t America. You’re in America. Where I’m sitting, it’s England. This is the web.

    “Two countries separated by a common language”

    Chrissy - a couple of years ago

    Tom,
    “Alfred… no offense but who gives a crap about other countries and their awards. This is America. America rocks!”
    Seriously? Obviously you do, your the one that read it and took the time to comment. Yes, we are in America (you & I), but part of being an “American” is being acceptant of other people from all different backgrounds, afterall, you may have been born here but your ancestors weren’t.
    Ben, I think your list was insightful, even 3 years after publishing, thank you for that. On a productive criticism note: I almost left your site a couple of times due to the multiple pop up ads for your products. Most of us HATE pop ups and are very afraid of viruses sometimes linked to them.

Jr - 3 years ago

wow how can you miss (www.2advanced.com) (www.homeostatic.net) (www.sensisoft.com) one of the best websites I have seen check them out.

ben - 3 years ago

Jr, 2advanced.com is like a video game. It’s had a lot of skill and a lot of work put into it (and I’ve followed their designs for years), and it does a good job of promoting what they do (which is work like that). But it’s not great *design* in my book, because it’s hard to use, it’s unclear, and it doesn’t compel action from the visitor.

BWD - 3 years ago

I totally love about two thirds of these websites! Especially Kevin’s designs and drawings are absolutely spot on! Do you know him?

One humble request: Can you please target more sites this year? Your selection is inspiring but the 2009 and 2010 lists were far too short! :-(

But thank you for letting us see what you consider stylish and/or functional, even if you keep the 2011 list this compact!

James Cameron

bhavya - 3 years ago

i don’t agree

justin - 3 years ago

I know this is now outdated. But the title is whats making soo many people disagree. In my opinion, you should have titled this “My Top Ten Best Designed Websites In The World”. Because to get such a list, it takes alot of voting and a very educated panel of judges who know how to judge every aspect of a site. I do like and appreciate this list you made of your own opinion, and some of these sites are very well made to ease of use and navigation. I would have also found it to be much more satisfying if you would have explained what “design” meant to you,as in simplicity and navigation or artistic. With a little more site qualifications for you to judge on…this list would have been easier for the reader to understand. Thank you very much for your list (:

    Jimmy Hughes - 3 years ago

    Thanks Justin.

    I don’t think anyone, anywhere can claim to have a list of the 10 best designed websites in the World. Everything is a matter of opinion. But maybe you’re right about the title of this article. I think we’ll change it to ‘My Top 10 Best …’

jk - 3 years ago

This list of sites is a joke, any designer should know a well designed website and not one of those should be posted under the title of this article. As a designer I think you need to take s step back and look at what is posted….

Charles - 3 years ago

sth else. Rating a website is a matter of personal opinion which differs greatly among pple. more importantly there are an insanely huge list of websites in the world I don’t think u’ve analyzed 1% of all the sites. Good work though. Maybe a better option would be to have pple vote online for the best designed website, then they are rated automatically. again u did what u could at the moment – good enough

Saç Kaynak - 3 years ago

I think the Apple website design must be position 1. But I like all of designs on this page. Thanks a lot!

duncan gatawa - 3 years ago

Hi,
The reason I love apple’s website is because of the sleek smooth feel just like their apple products.
I also noticed they used the same design to create an autobiography site for steve jobs.
So for me its one of the best web design work i have seen. simple, clean, functional

howtocore - 3 years ago

Apple is number 1 in everything it gets involved. howtocore.

Great job keep it up,you will be the next master of all sites - 3 years ago

I just want to tell you that i like your hand work,and am hoping if you could teach me

Amoli - 3 years ago

Well I am just an apprentice in web designing and all this stuff. All that confuses me is to make a website best, should it be made as simple as possible. I mean all these website that u have listed are although great but still very simple. I mean i couldn’t find any extra effect or something new and different. Should use of all such things must be avoided? And thanks for sharing your views, it was great to get a list of top 10 websites.

    Ben Hunt - 3 years ago

    Yes, remove anything that doesn’t help people find what they want, anything that distracts them from the core message and path through your site.

vicky - 3 years ago

Except the apple.com, no other site deserve to be in the list. I am was shocked seeing some big sites not included in the list. Sorry but you should look around all sites not only a few which you like.

    Ben Hunt - 3 years ago

    All sites? Really? Like I said, this is just my list from one point in time. I wouldn’t choose the same list today – although it’s likely that apple would still be on it.

Sumon - a couple of years ago

I like u and your design’s very much..
Be a web maker is my hobby..
& I’m interested it very much.
I want to be like u..
so sagest me.
What i should do for it.

kataskeyh istoselidwn - a couple of years ago

Easy. See http://www.prowebdesigncourse.com……

hehe, if only it was that simple:)

Tim McGraw - a couple of years ago

I like how you point out sites that aren’t just flashy but also good for what they do. There are too many sites that list just a bunch of really cool looking sites, but aren’t necessarily well designed.

Jack - a couple of years ago

Superb! But I think there are more sites capable to make this list :-)

    danny - last year

    there are alot of websites that can be like apple website. their will grab your attention

Amy - a couple of years ago

even though these designs are a few years old many are still very much applicable to todays clean elegant web designs

johnyb - a couple of years ago

No offense but that list sucks.

    Ben Hunt - a couple of years ago

    None taken

Mohsin Ali - a couple of years ago

Such an artistic design of SUMAGENCY.COM

Jason - a couple of years ago

These designs are amazing, i really like corked, very simple and effective, sites that are valid code and simple to use, easy to navigate and clean are always good. I like a site which is very responsive, works fast and is hosted on a very fast web server.

Dan Dumitrache - a couple of years ago

Saying Apple laptops are the best (as I have read everywhere on the Internet) is quite OK … they are wonderful (I have an old Apple and I still use it); but saying Apple website is the best designed is a completely mistake in my opinion.

Joseph - a couple of years ago

http://divineoffice.org/ is a website I use every morning and every evening. It looks neat, is full of information, and is updated every single day.

    Ben Hunt - a couple of years ago

    Hi Joseph. I think the design is a bit rich and layered to be the best of 2012. I would like to see the most important elements jump out more.

Speaky Mag - a couple of years ago

Ben, these sites are great, awesome share. Really good designs are the key to success it helps then to build their brand and trust isn’t it ?
-sam-

Kat - a couple of years ago

I realize that this is an older post, but I agree with Ben’s choices, particularly his comments about them. Those who disagree can list their top 10. In fact, 1 million of us could each list our top 10, but with sites constantly changing, developers and designers constantly changing, learning new skills, new programs and so on, everyone’s “Top 10″ will be constantly evolving.

I wonder if those who commented negatively ever took graphic design courses starting 25 years ago in order to design newspaper, magazine, and newsletter pages, along with brochures, ads, business cards, signage, logos and so on. Because all of Ben’s points are valid and credible from a professional designer’s standpoint. I loved art and writing, and when I headed for college, I took a lot of courses in art, perspective, design, layout, printing, photography, etc. My first job out of college was with a newspaper where I was promoted to an editor’s position fairly quickly.

Back in those days, we used Macs and the only colors on the screen were black text on a grayish-white background. We had to cut out every ad, story, etc., with scissors or an Exacto knife and run them through a “wax” machine so they’d stick to the blue-lined flats.

I owned a successful printing and design business years and years ago and afterward worked for one of the largest counties in the nation designing web pages, forms, brochures, programs, newsletters, presentations. Thinking that teens and 20-somethings won’t have a problem with a designer shoving as much information as possible onto a page so that they can be confused and frustrated is irrational.

Tell me how many of you critical of Ben can easily navigate around websites with hundreds of pictures, menu options, buttons, etc., scattered every which way? Here are just a few: http://www.5safepoints.com; http://www.alternativetransportservices.co.uk; http://www.pinesol.com/

adlen - a couple of years ago

i don’t agree

sarah - a couple of years ago

hi ben, just wondering could you refer a company in Melbourne Australia that builds great websites?

    Ben Hunt - a couple of years ago

    Hi Sarah. Sorry, none that spring to mind.

Logo Doctor - a couple of years ago

Not that I’m a fan but apple always seem to lead the way with there clean and simplistic designs.

    Ben Hunt - a couple of years ago

    You’re quite right, Doc. I wondered how long it would take for someone to state the obvious. So many sites on this list owe some part of their DNA to the Apple.com design. Thanks.

B. Butler - a couple of years ago

I guess there is only so much you can do with a site & I keep looking for that “wow factor” but don’t see it. This list is a reflection of 20-20 hindsight–it is successful therefore it must be a great design & that is hard to argue with.

Razibul Hassan - a couple of years ago

A good collection of Personal protfolio. But many of them are not updated. Even there are some broken links there. A good initiative but this requires an update.

    Ben Hunt - a couple of years ago

    There will be a new Top 100 coming soon.

Mudassir - a couple of years ago

Hi, the list is nice. Apple is of course at number 1. IMHO with the advent of new technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JQUERY) the webmasters should make changes to the sites.
The only thing that attracts the user to your site UI is “He can find when he looks for something (say a search box)”.
Intermingled UIs are always a failure.

kofi - a couple of years ago

thats a cool list…thnx

Web4Business - a couple of years ago

Cool list of websites. They all seem to have one thing in common and that is they are simple and make it easy for the user to navigate.

Myke @ santa cruz internet - a couple of years ago

Smashing collection. Thanks buddy for sharing.

qaisar hashmi - a couple of years ago

the best website is apple

Raul Lopez - a couple of years ago

A bit bland for a list of the BEST designed websites in my opinion but hey, different strokes and all that ;)

shubham thakur - a couple of years ago

thank’s ben….

hoooo~! - last year

goood!!!!!

Andy Potts - last year

I love how bad the apple website looks here, compared to how it looks now.

Robert Chris - last year

Awesome collection these sites are great,Really good designs are the key to success

phillip - last year

boringgg

Jiwan Tamang - last year

I love apple website it is wonderful….

Michael Lysiak - last year

I know this is an older list, but I still like your collection overall. I don’t agree with everything and maybe that has changed since you wrote this. I do think the Apple site is a great site.

Richard H. - last year

Would love to see this list updated. Obviously, things have changed recently but I think that we have learned that simple design is awesome.

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