WordPress is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.
With a plethora of themes, plugins, and content types, website creation with WordPress.org is filled to the brim with endless possibilities. The only limit is your imagination and, of course, your ability to spot and incorporate the right components.
Unfortunately, a winning website idea isn’t always easy to come by. Although there are plenty of beautiful themes with core design elements you can start with, it’s difficult to conceptualize and build a unique website — one that’s instilled with the personality of your brand.
Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, sometimes it’s more efficient to “borrow” some ideas from those who’ve already been through the heavy lifting.
Without further ado, here is a list of the top thirty awesome websites that are powered by WordPress. Enjoy!
1. TEDx Melbourne
If you look at the default WordPress theme repository, you’ll see that a growing number of themes utilize full screen background images above the fold. Although TEDx Melbourne’s website does not use a full screen image, they made great use of the space above the fold — thanks to the “ripped” effect that hints visitors to scroll down.
2. Doze Studio
Don’t let the screenshot above fool you — Doze Studio’s homepage is perhaps one of the most captivating and awe-inspiring sites out there. Granted, their appeal is all thanks to their talented animation team. But the fact that it’s powered by WordPress is nothing short of amazing.
3. Mercedes Benz
The color black and luxury cars are a match made in heaven. Mercedes Benz’s website exemplifies this and proves: you don’t need to over-complicate website design. Just know your brand’s strengths, put them in the best possible light, and make sure your audience sees them without distractions.
4. The Walt Disney Company
A decade into the 21st century, most adults today in digitally-connected countries are familiar with Walt Disney. Just like their films, The Walt Disney Company’s official website gives off the vibe of adventure. The smart placement of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse’s statue invites visitors to get to know the company.
5. The Greenwich Library
Aside from the beautiful backgrounds, The Greenwich Library’s website nailed several other aspects of effective above the fold design. Some examples are the well-emphasized value proposition and CTAs.
A lot of WordPress users are familiar with the card layout. It allows them to organize and neatly-present content — without having to overthink their progression. It can also be optimized to fit any theme, even for a website that highlights an entire country’s tradition. Sweden.se is one of the perfect examples that utilize this approach. Upon visiting the site, you are sent directly to a collection of cards where you can browse local stories that pique your interest, from fashion trends to work opportunities in Sweden.
The phrase “less is more” rings true in the world of functional web design. However, there is a huge difference between an empty, uninspiring site and a minimalistic masterpiece. DELAUNAY from Japan can show you what the latter means with its unique site.
8. Stellar Works
Stellar Works’ website, specifically the “Collections” page, is one of the few works of art that utilize a side-by-side layout. The company designs furniture that resonates with different personal and corporate brands — an ability that they demonstrate with their impeccable website.
Apart from the professionally-photographed background images, Bata’s website lets visitors know what their company is about in an instant. This is thanks to the bold statement right at the center of the page.
10. Captain Creative
Captain Creative — alter ego of designer and art director Brad James — teaches us that once you found your brand image, you need to embrace it with every fiber of your being. If you’re as creative and resourceful as he is, then it will definitely lead to positive results. Just take a look at how presentable and memorable his site is.
11. Jess Marks Photography
Just like Captain Creative, Jess Marks Photography is another site that reflects the personality of its creator. Beyond the cartoonish design, it’s actually a brilliantly laid-out site. It has clear value propositions, organized navigation, and attention-grabbing headers that can help visitors get around.
12. Boston Market
Boston Market’s website understands that food must be presented in high definition, making them more irresistible and appetizing. Fortunately, WordPress is a gold mine of full screen background themes right now. Other than this, they also utilized a handy, “sticky” top bar that can assist visitors as they scroll.
If you plan to create a roundup of the best WordPress sites, then you should never forget those that prioritizes usability and functionality over looks. Realtor is a simple, fast, and helpful site that can help users find a great home for them for them in seconds. You can also implement a similar feature with the help of WordPress plugins.
14. Sylvester Stallone
It’s more than likely that Sylvester Stallone paid someone else to create his site. But then again, any person who knows how to install themes and plugins can create something as professional-looking. Nevertheless, Stallone’s site is the perfect example of a personal site done right. It is clean, fast, and offers a community page where users can discuss.
15. The Next Web
There’s just something wacky about The Next Web and how they handle their design. Perhaps it’s the humorous pop-up of Dwight Howard with a cookie, or maybe it’s their interesting selection of topics, like learning how to speed-read and talk dirty to Siri. Whatever it is that makes their site memorable, they clearly know a thing or two about user-friendliness. Despite being loaded with information from top to bottom, their homepage doesn’t look too busy or hard to navigate.
16. James Brandon Photography
As a photographer, you are expected to know your way around presentation. James Brandon does not disappoint with his personal site. The portfolio section, in particular, is worth mentioning for its simplicity and layout. It embraced the principles of distraction-free design and making sure your target audience can focus on your core content.
17. Trefecta Mobility
Trefecta Mobility belongs to the minority of companies that use a side navigation menu. Sure, having a top menu saves a lot of screen real estate, but from a user’s perspective, a side menu can be much easier to scan. In Trefecta Mobility’s case, this design choice turned out extremely well.
At first look, Gracenote’s homepage looks like something you can concoct with WordPress in a few minutes. But once you navigate to their about page, you’ll understand why their site is included in this list. For most brands, a website is an effective tool for giving the audience a peek into their culture. Gracenote accomplishes this with a simple photo that shows an energetic boardroom. If you have a similar photo of your team, then you should be able to easily implement the same strategy on your site.
It’s always a pleasure to see established brands leverage WordPress to the fullest extent. IZOD is a mid-range fashion retailer that leverages a visual heavy site design. While their site’s appeal is largely dependent on professional photography, they also validate how effective visual content is in conveying your brand’s message.
Chaptr is a creative agency that pushes minimalism to the extreme. There are only four visual elements on their homepage — the header logo, menu button, a value proposition, and the subtly placed “Ch” logo that intrigues you just enough to scroll down for more information. Once you do, you’ll discover page elements below the fold that are perfectly weaved together into one engaging experience.
21. Computerized Forms
Yet another website that pushes the capabilities of WordPress to the very limits, Computerized Forms incorporates captivating animations and interactivity with its intricate coding. As the user scrolls down the page, graphical elements, such as the letters in “Computerized Forms”, create a spectacle of shapes, colors, and clickable elements. Such a site may be hard to replicate, but it should give you an idea on how powerful WordPress sites can really be.
22. Katy Perry
Yes — featuring full screen image sliders is still a great way to give your audience a visual treat while still delivering your brand’s message. Katy Perry herself uses this strategy to instill her creative personality into her site. Of course, they’re also great for sharing useful information, such as announcements and concert schedules. With the right tools, you can probably create a similar WordPress site in an hour. A good start would be an easy-to-uses slider plugin that can help you organize and present your visual assets.
23. Iron to Iron
If you’re going to focus above the fold, a great alternative to image sliders or full screen background images is a straightforward introduction of your team and what you stand for. Iron to Iron is the collaborative work of designer Kevin Richardson and web developer Jonathan Christopher. Apart from their clear value proposition, they didn’t waste any time letting the audience know their expertise.
24. Flickr Blog
Proudly powered by WordPress.com, the Flickr blog is the embodiment of the pure, WordPress experience. It features a simple menu at the top, an attention-grabbing image above the fold, and a convenient list of the site’s best content right below. Even though this layout is already widely-used, it’s still reliable and effective regardless of your niche.
25. WGN TV
WGN TV’s weather website is a great proof of how flexible WordPress can really be. The instant you load the site, you’ll be immediately greeted with a weather box that provides useful information, such as the temperature, humidity levels, and a weekly forecast. And believe it or not, you can also display weather information in your own WordPress site with the help of weather plugins like WP Cloudy.
26. Who Is Leon
As a budding web developer, the best way to showcase your talent and expansive skillset is to pour them all into your personal site. Leon is a web developer, UX designer, photographer, videographer, mobile developer, and self-proclaimed coffee lover. Except for the latter, everything that he claims to be can already be proven by his website alone.
27. Outward Bound Croatia
Outward Bound Croatia is a non-profit organization established for students all around the world. A quick glance at the site will tell you who it’s built for: hopeful, energetic, and young individuals who want to learn through experience. Every single photo found on the relates to adventure, effectively hooking in visitors into their experiential learning system.
28. Happy In My Skin
Run by mindfulness trainer Faiy Rushton, Happy In My Skin is one of the most tranquil websites powered by WordPress to date. In addition to the minimalistic design approach, the website uses the perfect combination of fonts, white space utilization, and colors. This goes to show that website design isn’t about every single detail — it’s about how those pieces mesh and complement each other.
ETQ is one of the most well-designed online stores out there — it’s almost hypnotizing. Once the user starts scrolling down, they enter a state wherein they simply need to see the next pair. If they happen to see a shoe that they like, they just need to click the image and fulfil the quick checkout process.
Before you dismiss this as just another site with a full screen background image, take the time to visit FormFree yourself. Stil, don’t notice anything special? Try scrolling. The moment you enter the site, you are immediately pulled into a linear experience — just as the developers intended. It’s a step up from the long-scrolling format that plenty of other WordPress-powered sites do.
Feeling inspired yet? If you can vividly visualize what your next website is going to look like, then you’re ready to search for themes and plugins that can help you build it.
To give you a head start, click here for WordPress hosting we recommend and here for a long list of WordPress themes you should know about.