Choosing the “best designed site on the web” is a tall order, and like others I find it shamefully difficult to think of sites I visit even close to as often as the three you blacklisted.
In light of that, I chose a site that, though calling it the BEST might be a stretch, is the product of simplistic but very intentional design.
If form follows function, Medium.com is the Web’s truest incarnation of independent storytelling. Designed so that anyone can take to it blog-style but turn out content article-style, Medium evokes its accessibility and focus on storytelling with a simplistic design that makes expert use of whitespace and fixed structures.
On the homepage, the side panel is the only object that remains fixed as visitors scroll, but the navbar at the top reappears as soon as you make the slightest move at scrolling back up to the top, as if to say, “Looking for me? I just wanted to get out of your way while you browsed. But don’t worry. I’m here.”
The homepage lets you look at top stories from different “publications” on the site, groups of contributors that essentially have their own content produced on Medium.
But when you get to the story pages, they are 100% story-focused and beautiful:
With extra room for big pics, scrolling through stories on Medium is a delight because there isn’t much room for distraction. White space hugs soothing, legible, adequately spaced text on both sides, and the unobtrusive navbar is always available upon upscroll, in addition to a bottom navigator that lets you recommend (“like”) a story, share it, or move to the next story on your reading list.
Medium has the perfect form for its function: highlighting good storytelling. I browse now and then for new content but most often find myself linked their from a post on social media. Navigation within the site is easy — you can browse by publication, subject matter (via tags), or author.
It’s hard to say if Medium is the b e s t site the Internet has to offer, but I think it deserves at least some respectful golf claps.