Website design, like any other form of digital advertising, is often careful not to cross the boundary of what is considered a norm, so as not to alienate the visitors with too much of “unfamiliar territory.”
But, every now and then, websites take the plunge into the unknown. After all, novelty and surprise can also be major factors in engaging and convincing the audience.
This article lists the best experimental websites in 2023 that are as cutting-edge and trailblazing as they are aesthetically minded and, at times, eccentric.
Table of Contents
1. PichiAvo by Cocota Studio
- A visually striking intro screen
- Combination of fonts
- Plenty of negative space
Cocota Studio’s website for PichiAvo — an entity “recognized for their skill at creating connections between painting and sculpture in urban settings” — reflects the quirky and revolutionary artistry of the studio.
Opening with a rather striking take on a classic (and rotating) Greek sculpture, the website scrolls horizontally for a while before moving on to a more traditional form of navigation.
An assemblage of varying visuals, from negative space, full-screen videos and different fonts, create an unlikely mix that somehow works together despite its contradictions. The main navigation appears only when a user hovers over the “menu” item atop the screen.
2. IBM Z AR Experience by Groove Jones
- Experimental web design
- 180-degree product tour
- Hi-tech aesthetics
Groove Jones has created an experimental website for IBM Z AR, a computing platform that powers cloud operations including pay-as-you-go services. After "beginning the experience” on a fairly standard splash page, a website comes to life by presenting a VR tour-like, 3D overview of the system.
The visitors can click on appearing hotspots to learn more about the system’s every component. This is accompanied by an animation of its interior and a text explaining its capacities and capabilities.
Its series of slick animations is complemented by high-tech aesthetics in the background and a very minimalist dark grey frame.
- A unique take on the mouse cursor
- Two-tone palette
- Concise navigation
Anand Upender, a Food Creative and freelance UX engineer from San Francisco, has designed his own portfolio website that opens with a very to-the-point homepage and has an interesting version of a mouse cursor in the shape of an elongated finger.
Other than that, a simple but effective two-tone palette (blue and light grey) keeps things grounded, as does a limited selection of menu options.
An especially nice touch that adds to the animated and quirky elements are the eyes at the top of the page that follow the movement of the user.
4. Human Things by Nahuel Gerth
- Visually stunning timeline of human history
- Each era has its own color
- Fun and engaging messaging
Nahuel Gerth has, in Human Things, gifted humankind with a unique website: that which lists our species’ greatest accomplishments to date, from the prehistoric age, until today.
A visually stunning timeline that moves across both horizontal and vertical axis was developed in order to showcase each period’s milestones. Each era has its distinct color and graphics akin to cultural cues of the time.
The eras also have several distinctive events that visitors can view by clicking on the horizontal buttons. These trigger a visually pleasing animation that links each breakthrough with the previous one.
5. Beyond the Pandemic by Based Design
- Interactive, point-and-click site
- Engaging narrative
- Well-executed illustrations
Beyond the Pandemic by Based Design is a website raising awareness about the issues women have been facing in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The interactive website that follows a style of point-and-click games invites the visitor to pick a female character and relive her experience.
The website loads a different environment for every scenario and, through a well-executed narrative, allows the visitors to see the struggles of the pandemic through women’s eyes. The hand-drawn scene has a slightly cartoony character, but this doesn’t take away the gravity of each scenario.
The entire website features different stories and life scenarios that a user can share on social media once completed.
6. Yvon’s by Studio Deploy
- Gamified user-engagement feature
- Vibrant colors
- A fitting typeface
A visitor that lands on the main page of the Studio Deploy-designed Yvon’s website won’t be hard-pressed to lose track of time. Users can play with the bouncy, physics-defying shapes that symbolize the brand’s inflatable courses and toys.
Once the visitor snaps out of the brightly colored addictive game, they scroll down to find the content presented in noticeably vibrant colors and equally entertaining bouncy animations. The website’s overall appeal offers honest, no-nonsense child-like entertainment.
Large, bold fonts in a unique Sans Serif typeface add a nice touch and go along very well with the on-brand, quirky visual identity.
- Retro aesthetics
- Sleek main menu
- Concise and casual messaging
Web designer Jaycie Mota has designed a experimental site for herself that is an homage to past aesthetics — an accurate reflection of her personal and professional style. A white grid similar to school notebooks spreads out across the screen. Neon icons are purposefully colored outside the lines and some elements feature subtle movements while scrolling.
The homepage is divided into several segments that follow the same “retro-future” visual appeal. Meanwhile, the main menu opens with a cute bouncing effect across the entire screen, enticing visitors to learn more.
- A notably quirky URL
- A monochromatic, minimal layout
- Peculiar elements that break away from minimalism
Next on the list of experimental websites is design portfolio by Lena Sitnikova. The black and white website employs several idiosyncrasies, such as a distorted mouse cursor and an understated list that blurs whenever an item is selected.
Similarly, the web designer’s past work is presented in a rather unusual way: a series of appearing and disappearing images on the homepage that constantly changes position. This seemingly “ordinary” look in a minimalist vein laced with curious details creates a very effective mix that surprises the visitor.
- A blend of mythological and futuristic elements
- Horizontal and vertical scrolling
- Large, stylish fonts
India’s designer and developer Mohnish Landge has created his portfolio website that presents an interesting take on India’s religion and mythology. A futuristic, “robotic” Buddha is at the center of it all. An old-school space “landscape” in the background, as well iridescent colors lend a very modern appeal to the website.
Below the fold is a section that scrolls horizontally, unveiling an array of previous projects, symbols and fonts, photos and more. Flashing animations also kick in once the scrolling returns to the more common vertical direction.
10. Waltz Creative
- An opening screen that animates with scrolling
- A mix of various media
- Hamburger menu on the right
The website for Waltz Creative — developed by the agency itself — uses a “mock” horizontal scrolling that only appears to move the screen from left to right. This effective visual trick provides a sense of the natural flow of the content on a homepage that begins with a wavy, colorful opening sequence.
Below this section are even more colors, each dedicated to a specific block of content. The latter segments highlight a certain work by the agency – in static or video format, accompanied by stellar typography and a rounded mouse cursor.
- Fun audio narration selection
- A choice of colors for the background
- A vertical progression of content
Puppy Love Agency, a company specializing in branding and creating digital experiences for businesses, has developed a fun, well-thought-out and simply put, different website. Once the user lands, they can choose between three unlikely voices that narrate the site’s messaging: a cowboy, a sensual female ASMR and Aunt Ruthie. The visitors can also pick between different background colors.
Once the narration is finished, the website offers a choice of links where visitors can explore the agency’s portfolio and other vital assets. The main menu to the right also contains these same elements.
12. Madeira Ocean Trails by Nossa
- An interactive map-style site
- Colorful island and ocean illustrations
- Multilingual for accessibility
The website for the recreational, Portuguese island of Madeira is designed by Nossa agency. It features an interactive map that rotates as the user scrolls, which is accompanied by a copy explaining certain aspects of this Atlantic Island.
The hamburger menu opens a very stylish full-screen navigation from the right that also offers a multilingual option for visitors. Clicking on the Competitions at the top of the page zooms in on the map and details numerous riding and hiking activities Madeira visitors can enjoy.
13. AD+D CULTURE by Raxo
- Vertical dot navigation
- A restrained yet well-defined palette
- Animated typography
AD+D Culture is a platform whose mission is to promote and encourage diversity in marketing and marketing agencies across the US. This experimental graphic design, created by Raxo, uses moving messages, animated screens in light pink and dark grey, light grey and black palette to deliver its socially conscious idea.
The website uses vertical dot navigation to move the visitor across different sections, while the animated typography intro piques the visitor’s interest while providing educational info.