We hear lots about how brutalism is becoming a trend. Well, the alarmists among us can probably let this one go. All evidence points to people liking good typography and shiny graphics, all wrapped up in a healthy bit of white space, more than they like… the other thing.
While we certainly can learn a lot from the success of brutalist design in certain spaces, it’s doubtful that everyone’s going to jump on that bandwagon. It’s more likely that everyone will continue to embrace, an attractive and semi-flat aesthetic, and finally start to focus on UX principles.
Yes, everyone’s going to realize that the success of (some) brutalist websites just means that they can probably tone down the animations, and the use of video. Designers will remember that making their site usable for as many people — on as many platforms — as possible is far more important than flashiness.
And then I’m going to wake up and be sad. Ah well. Let’s look at some pretty websites, shall we?
Buero Hegel is a German agency that focuses on brand management and web design. Their site embraces that brutalist-yet-not-ugly aesthetic known as minimalism, which is still a thing. They combine it with a healthy bit of asymmetry and a thin layout to make a site that, while simple, looks unique amongst the more trendy sites.
Surinder Thakur cheated (not really) by using diagonal lines, classy and understated drop shadows (They’re back, baby!), and minimal yet informative case-study style presentation.
FLOW4 gives us that now-classic full-width sections portfolio look. They spiced things up by adding subtle, playful interactive elements to each of the portfolio pieces on the home page. You can play around with them there, or click through to a much more detailed case study.
You’ll need to be able to read German, though.
Simone Viola is a product designer with a distinct focus on simplicity. His website keeps the same tone, with the fantastic use of literal white space, a full-screen layout, and our classic thin sans-serif.
It’s a simple site, for a designer of simple products, and it looks good.
Creative Monarchy is another of those sites that’s not overly-original, but it looks good. It’s worth a look, if you appreciate the classics.
Teo Yu Sheng
Teo Yu Sheng is a UX designer and coder in Singapore. His portfolio keeps things simple with a single column of text, and no images until you open up a portfolio piece. It is basically the definition of minimalism, and it works.
The only thing I can’t agree with is the jarring change of brightness when you roll over his “business card” at the top of the page.
eTecc/Interactive is what every techy half-orange business site in the ’90s aspired to be, but didn’t know how to achieve. It’s a simple, modern, minimalist design spiced up by subtle throwbacks to older tech-related sites.
Usability and nostalgia. It’s a winning combination for nerds like me.
Lukasz Radwan’s one-pager is one of the more beautiful dark websites I’ve seen in a long time. The contrast is good, the typography is properly spaced for a dark site, and it all just fits together well.
I do take some exception to his calling the portfolio section his “Flowcase”, but only because I didn’t come up with that pun first.
Umeed Emad’s portfolio is the second site on this list to drop in a couple of design elements that take me back to the ’90s. I mean, the brackets around “Front-End Developer” do fit the theme, here, but remember when everyone used to do that? Nowadays, though, it looks more retro-cool, especially because the rest of the site looks good.
It’s a bit of a risk, showing only your client’s logos to start with, and another to link straight to their sites, but otherwise, it’s a pretty — and pretty bright — design.
Andrea Pedrina’s portfolio is one of the few I’d say actually kind of needs a preloader, because there’s a fair amount of video and animated content here along with everything else. Once you get past it, though, you get one of the most lovely monochromatic designs I’ve seen in a while.
Oh, interact with it for a bit, and you’ll see colors, sure… but I do love that black and white style, when it’s executed right.
High Contrast combines a fairly conventional layout with some judiciously applied asymmetry. Everything else about the design is largely par for the course.
HTML Boutique is a lot like the High Contrast site above, mixing conventional layout styles with asymmetry, but it definitely;y has its own distinct personality. Plus, they’re making brown look good, and not at all drab, which is certainly not the easiest thing.
Alaa Mendili uses great typography, tons of subtle and not-so-subtle animation, and bold colors to go all out with his portfolio. The thing that really gets me, though, is the use of those spinning line optical illusion things as section backgrounds.
Now, that’s only on the home page, which is good, otherwise it would get way too distracting. As they are, they definitely make the site stand out.
Underscore is a branding and design agency. They use a masonry layout to showcase both their work, and articles they’ve written, and it works quite well. I’ve seen this a few times now. I haven’t seen it nearly often enough to make it a trend, but it is catching on.
As long as people clearly differentiate which bits take you to their portfolio, and which take you to an article, I think it’s a cool way to show off both of those things together.
Websites for interior design studios tend to be minimalist, with interactive elements. Daniel Hopwood isn’t bucking the trend, but rather exemplifying it. If you just have to have a site that is more like a PowerPoint, this is the way to do it.
Anna Rosa Krau
Browsing through the website for Anna Rosa Krau, you might get the impression that you’re just supposed to explore her site, and never actually contact her, the way the contact info is hidden.
That aside, this site showcase some fantastic minimalist layout possibilities for other sites of its kind. Just maybe make the navigation more obvious when you design your own.
Here’s something we don’t have on these list every day: shoes! The portfolio site for shoe designer Anni M is all at once modern, artistic, fashionable, and generally just good at showing off shoes. What it lacks in usability, it makes up for in making looking at shoes actually kind of fun.
(It normally isn’t, for me.)
Contemple is a Parisian digital agency, that brings us more of that post-modern asymmetrical style that was almost everywhere a couple of months ago. It’s no less creative — and really no more usable — than any other site of its kind. However, it’s bright, it’s bold, and you’re not likely to forget it soon.
Reda Ibrahim’s photography portfolio gives us more of that sweet monochromatic goodness, with a side order of horizontal scrolling, and elegant little flourishes. I don’t know how many of you have played ever Fable, but grey really is the prettiest color 1.
Nightshift is a content creation company specializing in video. This is another one for the somewhat-typical-but-still-well-made list. Have at it!
1 Comment if you got that reference.
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