2020 in review: A year in web design

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These websites are paving the way for our newfound online existence.

6 min read

Best web design of 2020: It's not violent by Locomotive

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It’s an interesting time for web design. With many of our interactions and everyday activities moving online, web designers across the globe are faced with an exciting challenge. These circumstances have made way for new, thought-provoking online experiences.


To mark this profound shift to the online world, we’ve gathered some of the best web design the internet has to offer. While long hours spent in front of the screen may be an unwelcome change for many of us, it’s these innovative creations that encourage us to stay curious and discover what the future holds.



Best web design of 2020


2°C Earth by Jingqi Fan


After staying in Fiji earlier this year, Vancouver-based graphic and interaction designer Jingqi Fan recalls how Cyclone Sarai tore through its islands. The devastating experience was a wake-up call for climate change, leading her to create “2°C Earth.”


The website takes you on a trip across five different destinations, where you’re exposed to the very tangible threats of climate change and get a glimpse into what life might be like there in the future.


The engaging visuals, audio and interactions craft an easily digestible and immersive experience that further strengthens the message. Jinqi’s hope is that the platform will educate and inspire more people to join the collective fight for our future.


Having started out as an undergraduate degree project, 2°C Earth quickly gained much recognition and has won multiple awards since its launch.


“The project began as a rallying cry for our warming world, a hopefully timely response to a global reality unfolding before our eyes.”

Best web design of 2020: 2°C Earth by Jinqi Fan


Dear New York… by Pentagram


Noting the many changes that New York City is undergoing due to the pandemic, NY-based Pentagram partner Giorgia Lupi and her team decided to capture this profound moment in time through an online experience. “Dear New York…” invites New Yorkers to share their feelings around Covid-19’s affect on the city.


While locals long to return to the days of chance encounters, new discoveries at every corner and sense of home they feel when wandering through the streets of New York, the team felt this was also an opportunity to look ahead and envision a better future for the city. Two prompts on virtual sticky notes encourage visitors to reflect on what they miss about the city and what they hope it will become.


The website’s simple UI brings attention to the words themselves. Together, the messages paint a picture of nostalgia, bringing up both sadness and comfort, on a backdrop of beloved spots from around the city.


“This year marked the shock of losing what we are mostly here in New York for. But being so emotionally attached and linked to the city, we’ve also found energy in the awareness that it will come back. Creating a collective space for this reflection was a cathartic moment for our team.”

– Giorgia Lupi, Pentagram


Best web design of 2020: Dear New York... by Giorgia Lupi at Pentagram


It’s Not Violent by Locomotive for SOS Violence Conjugale


“It’s Not Violent” is an awareness campaign aiming to educate young audiences on recognizing signs of violence through text messaging. The website is a collaboration between multi-award-winning Montreal-based web agency Locomotive and SOS Violence Conjugale, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.


Faced with a complex and sensitive topic, Locomotive decided to adopt a familiar and inviting visual language. The large elements and candy-colored palette add a sense of optimism, in contrast with the more somber background. They’ve also incorporated stickers and emoji-like illustrations, alluding to the subject of text messages while appealing to a younger audience.


Visitors are invited to engage in a game-like text conversation with a fictitious partner. By placing site visitors in a victim’s situation, the site conveys to them what this kind of experience could feel like, in a very realistic and powerful way.


“We’ve always felt the need to collaborate with non-profit organizations that believe that efficient communication and well-crafted digital products can have a positive effect on the outcome of a campaign and its reach, no matter the size or budget.”

Best web design of 2020: It's not violent by Locomotive


At Home by Upperquad


Navigating their way throu