Top 10 Redesigns of 2005

2005 was a good year for web design. I got into the field at about this time last year with nothing more than a copy of Microsoft FrontPage and a free table-based layout. I don’t know if the growth I saw was amplified by my own, but I have a feeling that it wasn’t, because I saw some truly tremendous work this year.

Obviously, the best redesigns of the year are much more than ten, so I encourage you to leave your recommendations in the comments so that I can add them to the list.

10. Niggle

Many websites in the list will borrow from the layout of Pen and Think’s “Niggle”. Niggle was one of the first sites to make the bold move to really feature the content. It’s also one of the first to embrace the footer as a meaningful means of communication. Don’t forget to check out their homepage which is equally beautiful.

9. Faktor 6

Wonderful colors with a great use of Flash. It has a great “grunge” look especially in the header.

8. 31three

Everything from the logo to the colors and graphics is cool and simple. I especially like the blog’s category navigation.

7. Breaker Design

This one has actually just popped up and it really is a gorgeous design. It has a great color scheme and a gorgeous background. Everything about the design is classy and fun.


Time for a “bigger” site. was recently redesigned and I really like the final product: it’s simple, usable, but it might be a bit heavy for modems. The Weekly Standards has a much more thorough review including an interview and full analysis.

5. Matt Brett

Matt Brett’s site is just amazing. The backgrounds and font colors are very interactive and give the whole site a cozy feeling that belies it’s grunge approach. It makes the user feel like they’ve been let into the heart of the author.

4. folietto

Absolutely fantastic. The design is the most complete and well-thought website I have seen all year. It’s little details like the navigation and footer that show just how much the designer has put into it.

3. Avalonstar

Bryan Veloso’s blog is so well put together that I didn’t really know why I liked it so much. It’s complexity lies in how simple it comes off. It’s often easy too design “minimal” websites, what’s difficult is to design simple websites.

2. Ordered List

Ordered List’s redesign is not something I would usually go for. However, it’s dark background and prominent content is exciting and captivating for the user. Don’t forget to check out that live search too.

1. A List Apart

The A List Apart redesign was long overdue but had a wonderful result. A List Apart and it’s equally beautiful sister An Event Apart truly exemplify the transformation of design in 2005. The layout is powerful and elegant, a combination that is difficult to achieve for a content-focused website. Check out Jason Santa Maria’s personal thoughts on the redesign and Stuff and Nonsense’s analysis.

  1. You should have on this list. That site went from being horrible to being incredible.

    al m

    Dec 21, 11:23 PM #

  2. Nice list – I particularly like Matt Brett and Ordered List, but I have to agree with you about the number one position.

    A List Apart has great content, and the design is very nice now too.

    Let’s hope for a similar good showing at the end of 2006!


    Dec 21, 11:48 PM #

  3. i dont agree on number seven, there are so many sites that did a better job, also it looks very much inspired by john hicks site….


    Dec 22, 06:55 AM #

  4. I think would definitely have to make the list because it brought AJAX to the forefront of the mainstream public with major press coverage from NY Times to WSJ.


    Dec 22, 09:56 AM #

  5. That’s true. Did Gap do it first or was it Abercrombie and Fitch, because design-wise I prefer A&F’s site.


    Dec 22, 10:21 AM #

  6. nice sites. doesn’t have very good browser support. if your gonna do it, do it right, in my opinion.


    Dec 22, 10:39 AM #

  7. in a top 10 list for best designs.



    Dec 22, 03:01 PM #

  8. Great list, seen all of these before and loved them. is a nice site too, haven’t really gone there in a while, good for them.

    @DC: has done a great job changing from what they had before into something that’s much more usable. and eye pleasing.

    Joseph Hsu

    Dec 22, 03:12 PM #

  9. some of these are beautiful


    Dec 22, 03:13 PM #

  10. Yes, much inspiring work has happened!


    Dec 22, 03:27 PM #

  11. Yeah, i like your list – good choice of sites… Though, I would just add! ;-)


    Dec 22, 03:32 PM #

  12. I’ll second that for purevolume ;-). I love that website, and they have a very nice design.


    Dec 22, 03:55 PM #

  13. Ironic, I love them all EXCEPT alistapart’s new design.


    Dec 22, 03:58 PM #

  14. Take a look at the sites listed in that they’ve done. Some of those are very nice as well.


    Dec 22, 04:16 PM #

  15. NICE!!!!!

    I know that

    has made some major upgrades to their look…


    Dec 22, 04:31 PM #

  16. hmmm…the idea behind this is that it’s humanly possible for one or a small group of humans to to monitor the field of web design?


    Dec 22, 04:52 PM #

  17. I am glad to see that all of the sites degrade nicely, all are readable, and none of them use the Satanic abomination known as “sIFR”. Thumbs up to these sites.


    Dec 22, 05:07 PM #

  18. Those sites are really nice and are widely known but to name as the best redesigns that’s kinda pushing it. There are much nicer and better designs out there but are just not that know to be found.

    C# Snippets

    Dec 22, 06:37 PM #

  19. I agree with, and also you should add


    Dec 22, 06:42 PM #

  20. C# Snippets: I agree with you. Although I think since these sites are on his personal site, the choices can be taken as opinion rather than fact.

    Also, I’d like to see your list, cuz your site sucks, but at least if I want to find links to viagra or donkey porn, I can find it in your comments. :)

    Colin D. Devroe

    Dec 22, 07:54 PM #

  21. you should run, not walk, to your local bookseller and purchase a copy of don norman’s “the design of everyday things.” after you read it, take another look at these “top redesign” sites and i doubt you’ll view them the same way. if you still think they’re top redesigns you’ve only wasted 12 months of experience and a copy of FrontPage, and at least you’ll have read one good book.

    anonymous coward

    Dec 22, 07:59 PM #

  22. I think this all sites are great!

    Speciallt #1 (A List Apart), which changed to a perfect design.

    Medical info

    Dec 22, 08:40 PM #

  23. Wow that grunge site is very very bad design. Your list sucks.


    Dec 23, 03:11 AM #

  24. All good picks except #5 and #7, in my opinion.

    Paul D

    Dec 23, 06:21 AM #

  25. I totally agree with Paul D, 5 and 7 are so so :)


    Dec 23, 06:41 AM #

  26. For all those getting so remarkably worked up, why don’t you leave links of sites that you think belong in the list rather than bitching about the ones that are. And don’t forget this guy is just expressing his opinion.

    Personally, any list of the top redesigns of 2005 has got to include Influenced a whole host of new designs (including my own) and was probably the last design that blew me away.


    Dec 23, 08:39 AM #

  27. A list is a list and everyone is entitled to opinions, I personally enjoy seeing everyone’s varying opinion. Anyway #7 is pleasing to the eye but does remind me a lot of an older John Hicks design.


    Dec 23, 12:25 PM #

  28. Interesting list. Some are good for their uniqueness while others are good for their change of focus. As always everyone’s entitled to their opinions.


    Dec 23, 01:57 PM #

  29. If you only got into the field a year ago, how exactly are you qualified to present a list like this one? My grandmother could create a similar list, but I would imagine it’d be about as devoid of substance as yours. And yet you’ve wet yourself having been “dugg” so heavily: another example of why digg is just about as worthless as this list.


    Dec 24, 07:26 PM #

  30. Leave your fixed width fixation off of any top 10 ‘design’ lists please.


    Dec 25, 09:06 PM #

  31. very good page:


    Jan 2, 03:31 PM #

  32. “and none of them use the Satanic abomination known as “sIFR”.”

    Shii: 31three’s blog uses sIFR.


    Jan 5, 07:48 AM #

  33. It`s a good move from cnet.


    Mar 25, 01:19 PM #

  34. You should do something similiar but categorize your list by company size. For instance, Time Netsule (Internet time capsule) is one of my favourite sites and it was created by one guy and the design is amazing!


    Aug 31, 06:07 AM #

  35. I totally agree with Paul D and Jurassic, 5 and 7 are good


    Apr 16, 01:21 AM #

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