Horizontal websites have become an underground phenomenon. A horizontal website is a lot like your artsy younger sister who dresses weirdly and doesn’t seem to acknowledge a world outside of her own imagination. Since horizontal websites are not universally embraced by the web design community, those who design in this genre must live with a hope that they are advancing design in some small way.
Horizontal designs are not for every type of website. It works superbly well with portfolios or photo galleries, but not so much with word-driven sites like blogs.
Horizontal designs are not for every type of audience. Grandparents can’t handle it. Basically, anyone born before 1970 can’t handle it. These designs are best suited for those looking to make their website an extension of their art. It also says a lot about your brand. If your brand is quirky, bold and mind bending, your audience will expect an equally expressive web design.
But What About Usability?
Let’s face it. Usability is an extremely important part of web design and horizontal websites are not very user friendly– yet. However usability is not the most important part of the equation. Those who elevate usability above all often minimize the “design” part of web design. Yes, you can design a very stylized and usable website, but where’s the futuristic and imaginative thinking within a vertical rectangle? The future is a horizontal rectangle. Let’s not forget that there was a time on the internet when the JPEG was not welcomed in web design, because it caused slower loading times. Technology advanced, designers created and users adapted. One day, the same will happen with horizontal websites.
Usability aside, horizontal websites are here to stay. Here’s a look at some of the most inspiring, cutting edge, in-your-face-and-not-going-anywhere horizontal sites.
1. Alex Flueras Photography
This art gallery style website features clean lines and lots of negative space. The simple color scheme makes it very easy on the eyes.
2. Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Keep your eye on the sheep, it leads you home. Aside from the fact that this site is horizontal, it features spectacular transitional animation well worth the loading time.
3. Carrot Creative
Carrot Creative features smooth transition and an understated humor. Take a few minutes to explore this site for hidden photos of robots and directions by dinosaur. Very creative.
If you like bokeh, you’ll love the way that this site makes it multi-dimensional. The site is simple, but beautiful.
5. Candice Holloway
Another art gallery, this time with framed images and a smoothing background color. It’s straight forward and no frills, but it makes its point effortlessly.
6. C’N’C Costume National
For those of you (ahem, including this writer) who think that blogs should not be horizontal, this site seeks to prove us wrong. Admittedly, this style is not for everyone, but it does have an urban vibrancy that makes you want to scroll through.
7. Dean Oakley
What list would be complete without this entry? Dean Oakley is practically synonymous with horizontal scrolling.
8. Dustin Curtis
Slightly morbid, but none the less compelling, Dustin Curtis’ horizontal website probably reveals a bit more than you ever wanted to know about him.
9. Exit 10 Advertising
This is not your average horizontal scrolling site. It takes you in all types of directions. Fortunately for the user, the navigation bar is always on top so that users can easily move through the site.
Elfletterig is a Dutch site that features a straight-forward horizontal scroll. The reason this website wins a place on this list is the tag-a-long navigation that keeps you from having to scroll all the way back home.
11. Eolo Perfido Photography
The images will haunt you long after you’ve move on to another website. Horizontal scrolling is the most appropriate way of showing Eolo Perfido’s achingly amazing photographs. The scroll silently narrates you through the range of human ideology.
12. Eric Johansson
And for something in a totally different direction, here is Eric Johansson’s cutesy website with its own scroll bar at the bottom of the page. Love the use of lens flare.
Faub is a different type of website, similar to Exit 10 from the no. 9 spot. What makes Faub stand out is unusual navigation. Probably the least usable website on this list, but also the most extraordinary, users must drag the page in order to view content… what little content there is.
14. Frank Giacobbe
Not only does the whole website scroll, so does the menu bar. It features a huge amount of white space and efficient navigation.
15. Front End Design Conference
This site features adorable mascots and bold arrows. Although it’s not exactly the most innovative design, the site works, and keeps users moving forward.
16. Paolo Boccardi Photography
The art on Paolo Boccardi’s site is numbered and makes it easy to navigate. The navigation also features a sneak peak of each photo before clicking.
17. Graphic Therapy
No scroll bar but an invitation to drag the screen left or right. Who can resist the smooth dragging motion Graphic Therapy offers its users?
18. Gavin Castleton
There’s no doubt about it. This site makes you sit up and take notice. Who is this guy and why is he decomposing? Clearly, these questions beg to be explored. Features super fast scrolling. No worry about decomposing while waiting for the page to load.
19. Hotel Oxford
This hotel has a site with a smooth scrolling transition. No jarring stops or starts. Elegant and clean.
20. Handmade Interactive / Jason Love
This design gives you the option to go left or right from the start. Where do you go first? For the horizontal newbies, designer Jason Love makes it clear how to use the site with his cleverly hand-drawn arrow.
Surprisingly content-heavy, Hasrimy packs a lot of punch for a genre that normally features sparse content.
22. Les Hautes-Mynes Du Thillot
French website with a smart navigation bar that follows you wherever you travel on the site.
23. Here Design
Here Design features a slower but very smooth scroll between images. Not only can you navigate with arrows, but you can also select numbers.
Contraband is a photo essay with amazing images and a smart roll over info box. User can scroll on their own pace or choose auto scroll.
This Russian site features insane navigation that is certainly not user friendly, but its creative approach to design fills all visitors with awe and wonder and curiosity.
26. Lomotek Polymers
Lomotek has a stable navigation that sometimes gets in the way of content, however it’s always a good thing to have an accessible navigation menu.
This site has an interesting design scheme with colorful panels. Interesting concept for an often-updated website.
The colors on Lucuma are brilliant. The navigation is out of this world. You will find yourself scrolling back and forth just to see the transitions again.
29. Luke Larsen
If you’re not into goldfish, you may want to avoid this next website by Luke Larsen. This website is heavy on the goldfish but just as heavy on the scroll. Be sure to scroll vertically to read all of the information on his site, and to see more goldfish.
30. Magpie Studio
The letter of the day is “M.” Who knew there were so many different types of Ms in the world? Aside from the Ms, be sure to look through the Selected Projects for some real scroll action.
31. Make Pretend
This site is for anyone who can’t take a hint. In no uncertain circumstances, users who visit Make Pretend know to scroll right. Unfortunately, the lack of a visible scroll bar may stump a few people.
32. James Stone / Mime Artist
This beautiful, dark site is striking without relying too heavily on imagery. Navigation is done by clicking menu items. No manual scrolling here. Lots of content but, at times, difficult to read.
33. Peter Pearson
Directions are lovely, and necessary when presenting information through a horizontal scrolling site. Peter Pearson gets it, and explains to users that they need to move to the right. Brilliant and ethereal.
34. Richard Arran Landscape Photography
This site does a good job of conveying an art gallery feel. The images are easily clickable for a close up.
35. Ricky Cox
Ricky Cox features several sliding windows within one vertical website. This is a combination rarely seen, and it works here because of its smooth manual scrolling and clever design.
36. SectionSeven Inc.
Hover your mouse to the left or right part of your screen and watch the coding do all the work. Beautiful colors, easy transition and seamless components make this website a joy to scroll through.
37. Tyler Finck | Sursly
The transition from Home is completely amazing. Worth checking it out just to see the incredible transition.
38. Stephane Tartelin
Artsy, interesting, and well done. This site features a static navigation bar which is a wonderful idea that makes any horizontal site instantly user friendly.
Tired of clicking? Tinkainteractive gives you the ability to hover to scroll, giving your index finger a much-needed break. Very nice color scheme.
40. Vanity Claire
Vanity Claire features lightening fast scrolling, bold colors and lots of negative space to ease the transition. There is no scroll bar, but the very prominent menu bar allows you to go back, forward or return home. What a beautiful site.