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Examples of unique website layouts

It seems like there’s one basic layout used for 90% of the websites out there. You know the one I’m talking about.

The site begins with a photo filling the entire viewport (bonus points if it’s an overhead shot of a designer’s desk). Floating above the photo on a soft bed of text-shadow: a headline, some teaser copy, and a giant call-to-action button.

That’s followed by three text blurbs with Font Awesome icons perched above the copy, mystifying visitors with their enigmatic relationship to the text.

 You know the rest of this story.

It’s easy to go with the trends

Maybe it’s the popularity of web design trend posts. Maybe it’s the constraints that come from starting with a template. Maybe it’s designers working under tight deadlines and tiny budgets.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that vertical scrolling is such a common, intuitive behavior that it's the natural default for website navigation. Sites that follow this formula are seemingly easier to sell to clients and users since they’re comfortable and familiar. If it’s popular, it must work, right?

But every now and then — when the right project comes along — we designers should think outside the predefined box and start looking at layout concepts from entirely new angles.

Even if only because it’ll force you to re-evaluate your core ideas about the relationship between your content and the viewport.

If you jump straight to the same old layout formula every time, you could be doing your clients, and yourself, a disservice. As designers continue producing minor variations on the same old themes, there’s a huge opportunity to stand out by simply doing something different.

But how do you create a unique layout that doesn't frustrate and confuse your readers?

To learn how, we're going to examine three sites that gracefully deliver a beautiful, unique layout without frustrating users.

These sites not only deliver something new, but also make their content both accessible and responsive. The creative thinking behind them also brought their designers tons of exposure, demonstrating that novelty can indeed help your design portfolio stand out. So, if you’re looking to start taking on more design clients, you have one more reason to read this article.

Let’s recap: Five tips for creating your own unique layout

Include navigational cues

If you’re going to experiment with a unique website layout, your user interface needs to make it clear how to interact with it. These little “Hey, is this what you’re looking for?” animations provide visual cues that guide users through unfamiliar experiences. With a simple rotate or fade animation, you can increase user confidence by adding clarity.

Never jeopardize responsiveness

A unique design means little unless you can experience it everywhere. As more users view websites from their mobile devices first, consider how a unique website layout will look on everything from a wide-screen desktop to an iPhone. (You also don’t want to be penalized for creating something cool that isn’t responsive.)

Unique layouts start with unique inspiration

We all get design inspiration from the web. It’s where we live for 8 hours or more every day. The Beblueinc Showcase and Awwwards are my personal favorites. But if you want to be truly unique, you have to also seek inspiration far and wide.

Get inspired by the roller derby, vintage seed packets, or the art of Barbara Kruger. Seriously. Nobody else has the same influences and experiences as you, so draw on them.

Fail often. Fail fast. Fail better.

When you look at a great designer’s portfolio, it’s easy to get discouraged. After all, all you see is the final, elegant UI animation.

You don’t see the “To File” folder on their desktop filled with unused inspiration, amazing ideas killed by the client, and the dozens of half-completed experiments. That’s why we call it a design process.

Personally, my first idea is rarely my best one. Sometimes my fifth one isn’t either. However, each idea takes me one step closer to a novel solution. And I can tell you this with all sincerity: Some of the ideas I’ve stumbled across in my journeys down seemingly dead-end roads have, in hindsight, helped define my career.

Don’t confuse people

Uniqueness is key when making a design that truly impresses, but remember that – for the most part – you aren’t creating a piece of contemporary art. You’re creating a website. The goal is not to confuse or challenge users, but to provide them content in an interesting way.

Befit

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