Narrowing the choices down on the best websites of 2020 isn’t easy. There are dozens of good examples of well-designed sites and successful startups. A company’s website is the face a business presents to the world. Implement features into your design by studying the best of the best.
We’ve looked at all the factors in building an excellent website, such as user experience, unique but aesthetically pleasing designs and mobile responsiveness. Here are the top 26 best websites of 2020.
1. Urban Decay
The use of color increases brand recognition by 80%, but the colors must reflect the overall goals and personality of the brand. Urban Decay uses bright pops of purple, which reflect the high pigmentation of their products. The images change with the season, making the colors timely to whatever the current seasonal colors are.
2. Essentially Geared Wine Co.
Out of the best websites of 2020, several feature background videos. Essentially Geared Wine Co. uses video to show people in everyday activities with their canned wines in tow. The people smile as they ride bikes, climb mountains and hike the great outdoors.
By 2022, online video will make up about 82% of all online traffic. The number rises each year, with some experts predicting even more increases in the future. Video is a tool that gives brands another way to engage with site visitors.
2020 has been another year of bright, vivid color and designs that grabbed the eye. You probably noticed brands using more neon color choices in 2018 and 2019, and that trend continued into vivid blues and reds. Adobe is an excellent example of the vibrant color schemes making their way into designs. Note the bright blue with a hint of green that fills most of the background on this page. The design keeps the other elements simple, with a slightly faded image of a woman and white letters.
4. Nate Denton Design
Nate Denton Design brings in several popular elements from recent years, including a big, vivid image that fills most of the background and large typography that draws the eye. The overall design of the site is relatively simple, with limited choices for navigation.
Duolingo makes the list of best websites in 2020 because of its use of cutting-edge technology to drive conversions. The site uses a conversational user interface and gathers information efficiently, providing a personalized profile to help the user learn a new language. The site is easy to navigate, and a chatbot talks you through every step of the process. The use of current technology makes this site easy to use and an excellent example of forward-thinking design.
6. IGK Hair
IGK Hair puts mobile searches first, which results in a simple design meant to pair perfectly with smaller screens. Note the clean look with a broad background image and hamburger menu.
In the past two years, Google instituted a mobile-first index that impacts your site’s results in search engines. With the number of people using mobile devices for internet access and Google looking at how mobile-ready your site is, designs like IGK Hair’s make sense for the future of web design.
7. Touring Bird
Last year, illustrations began showing up on numerous websites. At the time, Touring Bird stood out from their competition with the use of illustrations instead of photographs of destinations. However, in 2020, they moved toward rich, vivid photographs instead. We love the grid design of this site and the gorgeous backgrounds of major cities, along with the well-known activities or landmarks they offer, like the beautiful beaches of Aruba or the Parthenon in Athens.
8. Airbnb China
Airbnb China has a site called “More of Less” where they use illustrations that look like beautiful watercolor paintings which perfectly fit inside the screen of a smartphone. The images invite site visitors to stay in China. The artwork is beautiful in itself, and the site also includes a QR code so users can scan the code and get information on places to stay.
9. The Lost Avocado
The Lost Avocado makes the list of best websites of 2020 because of its streamlined layout and simple navigational structure. A slider features the latest lifestyle and travel information, but if you need additional info, it’s a click away with categories such as “Travel,” “Food” and “Lifestyle.”
Another feature of this site that makes it one of the better ones of the year is that they update it frequently. An engaging website is one where content changes often enough to keep users interested.
10. Alpine Modern Cafe
The clean, simple lines of Alpine Modern Cafe’s design pull site visitors in. What we love about this site is the way they use parallax scrolling to create visual interest as they show you the layout and design of their coffee shops. Note how the locations show an image of the place and complete details at a glance, including address, directions, phone number and hours of operation.
11. Mikiya Kobayashi
Mikiya Kobayashi is a product designer who uses an online portfolio design and showcases his best work. In the past, his site has won Site of the Day from Awwwards, and today serves as a vivid example of the types of designs he’s capable of. The photos are all the same size and aligned in a grid pattern without lines separating the images, so one flows into another.
When it comes to e-commerce sites, Mixbook is a favorite, with a singular focus of getting people to try out their service. Note the call-to-action button that grabs the user’s eye and the slider, which shows some examples of the types of projects users created through the site. They also offer an immediate discount for your first order and a 100% happiness guarantee. All these elements instill trust in consumers and make them more likely to try Mixbook.
Molekule shows what their product does with text and video from the moment the user lands on their page. The product purifies the air, so using green tones that signify nature and health is a smart choice in color schemes. The site is simple, with a focus on the product and educating the public about the product. It’s clear as to why this made our list into the best websites of 2020.
14. The Black Sheep Agency
The Black Sheep Agency creates an interactive site that keeps the user scrolling. Unique illustrations and animated text introduce site visitors to the homepage. An arrow indicates that the user should scroll down. Words highlight as you scroll, information pops up via bubbles and the entire experience is interactive in a variety of ways.
15. Seriously Unsweetened
The Seriously Unsweetened website goes along with a recent trend toward clean, streamlined design. The use of images and headline text translate well on mobile devices as well as desktops. Even the navigation is simple with just four choices, including the Home button. The entire focus of the page is on the product.
16. Made in Haus
Made in Haus makes the list of best websites this year because of its unique motion graphics using geographic morphing. Although the moving images are striking and grab the user’s attention, the rest of the design remains sleek, with a choice to view their work, learn more about their studio or contact them. The bright colors of the motion graphics on the main page fit in with the color themes for 2020, making the site fresh and modern.
17. Carine Roitfeld
In the world of fragrances, Carine Roitfeld brings seven distinctive choices, but what is truly impressive is their website. A full-width video takes up the entire viewing area when you land on their website. However, the effect is subtle with dancers moving almost in slow motion and the shot in black and white. This layout draws attention to the white typography on the page.
18. Thorne: The Frontier Within
If you’re looking for an example of an interactive website, check out Thorne’s The Frontier Within. About 88% of marketers feel interactive content makes their brands stand out and differentiates them from the competition. Thorne’s website has a graphic that changes as you move your mouse over it. The site invites you to begin the journey to discover yourself. Each phase of the site moves the user toward some action and keeps them engaged along the way. The website personalizes the entire user experience, including the opportunity to add your name and birthday.
19. Blue Whale
2020 is all about using vivid and brilliant images that take up as much of the screen space as possible. People are visual learners, so it makes sense designs would use this aspect more and more. Blue Whale fills the screen with a deep ocean blue and an image of a blue whale. The focus of the site is on saving whales, so the image resonates with the viewers and draws a mental image from the second you land on the page. This of course had to be included in our best websites list.
20. Italian Wood
Italian Wood makes beautiful handmade glasses. The images on their site showcase the beauty of their product, but do so in unique and interesting ways, proving that in 2020, design is really all about the photos. The scrolling on the homepage of the site goes sideways, rather than up and down.
Stereo offers some animated elements that engage the viewer from the moment they land on the page. Notice how the navigation moves to the left of the screen along a line. If you hover over any of the links, an animation activates which creates waves in the line as though making noise, which ties in perfectly to the name “Stereo.”
Parrot sells a drone with a high-definition camera. The image on the screen is highly relevant to the product, and the background shows an example of a beautiful image you might capture with the drone. A slight movement to the drone draws the eye and keeps potential customers interested.
Check out this website for Cruise, which is a self-driving vehicle. Notice the simplicity of the faded background and typography on top. However, it is the subheading that works particularly well and makes this one of the best sites of 2020. The subheading defines the mission of Cruise, which is that they are a service made up of self-driving cars in cities they love.
24. Henriquez Partners
Henriquez Partners makes the list for a few interesting elements. First, they showcase their architectural acumen with an image of an office building that is sleek, modern and functional. Their logo is a bright pop of red on the page, but also adds another modern touch. If the user scrolls down, then there is additional information, but the focus is all on the image at first.
Lemonade is an insurance company, and one of their missions is to give back to the areas they serve. On their “give back” page, they show how many food packages, hot meals and lunches they’ve served this year. As you scroll down the page, a line forms and shows money amounts, highlights points and draws a water bottle outline.
26. Google Cloud Showcase
The Google Cloud Showcase makes the final slot in our top 26 websites of 2020 because of its unique use of lines looking like train tracks and then trains moving across the screen. They tie into this theme with words such as “all aboard” and “deploy.”
Playworld highlights its product in a hero slide. It offers a 360-degree image the user can view to see the advantages of its playground equipment. Look at the products from the side or a bird’s-eye view. The picture makes the site more interactive for visitors and helps highlight the product effectively.
28. Northern Space
Northern Space is a professional design studio, so it isn’t surprising that its website is trendy and modern. If goes off the grid and uses an asymmetrical design, but still sticks with geometric shapes such as rectangular and square images that overlap. As you scroll down the site, you actually move sideways, with new slides coming in from the righthand side of the screen. This makes the process of scrolling more engaging as new images are revealed.
29. Swiss Museum for Electronic Music Instruments
The Swiss Museum for Electronic Music Instruments (SMEM) has a unique site that combines images, animation and sound. While adding sound may not work for every website, it makes perfect sense to include it in a music museum website. When you land on the home page, motion graphics start. An electronic keyboard is in the background while letters appear one at a time to spell out a message. Once that’s completed, the sound of a synthesizer hums. Its the perfect mix to grab user interest from the moment they land on the page and keep their attention.
30. Fat Cow Media
Fat Cow Media adds some animated features to its site, including a box that slides in with a “Discover More” call to action (CTA). There are animated graphics as you scroll down, as well as a list of its most recent projects and links to view them in-depth. Featuring work you’ve done for clients allows you to add highlights of your best work and show potential customers what you can do for them. Notice how Fat Cow Media uses a mix of different styles and types of clients to highlight the breadth of its knowledge. If you click on the boxes, you’ll get a rundown of the project and a link to visit the finished website.
HOPPY is a Japanese beverage. It taps into happy emotions and the idea of fun, celebration and time spent with friends. The colors on the site are sunny yellows and plenty of white space for a clean, vibrant look. In addition to featuring the product front and center, as you scroll down, you’ll see videos of the beverage pouring. There’s also a bottle cap spinning, closeups of beautiful bottle designs and the words hoppy, soda and beer. Just looking at the site makes the viewer think the beverage is fun, lighthearted and something they might want to try.
32. “Knives Out”
“Knives Out” is a movie that was released around Thanksgiving 2019. The website is quite interesting in that it features motion graphics alongside still elements. A big, bold CTA button invites site visitors to “Get Tickets,” and the background is dark and blurry. As the user scrolls down the page, branches appear. Some are moving and some have water dripping. Images appear inside what seems to be gears or gilded frames of the actors/characters in the film. The overall design is modern and high tech, but with a look of antiquity at the same time.
Best Websites of 2020
This list of the best websites of 2020 shows only a snapshot of some of the most exciting designs currently out there. There are millions of small businesses around the world, so you can study brands within your industry and learn from their successes and failures — not to copy what they do, but to expand on trends and come up with something exciting that speaks exclusively about your brand. The best website is a site that works well for your customers and converts visitors into fans.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.