A noticeable trend this year is beautiful apps or websites. It's all part of a larger trend that I'm calling The Visual Web, meaning that images and video are becoming an increasingly important part of what we consume online. Pinterest is the best example of that larger trend. But by "beautiful apps or websites," I'm specifically referring to extremely well-designed apps or websites. Ones that make you drool. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I think we all agree that Johnny Depp and Reese Witherspoon are particularly fine examples of beauty in human form. So what's the app equivalent of Johnny Depp? Or the website version of Reese Witherspoon?

One beautiful site I came across today is Art.sy, an art social network currently in private beta. The colorful art works are visually stunning. The images contrast nicely with the white background and black navigation fonts of the site. The art works are displayed as high resolution images, which allows you to zoom in for a much closer look. Here are some screenshots showing how I was able to get an up-close-and-personal view of an art piece called 'Kaleidoscope' by Marcelo Silveira.

The photo sharing app is one of the most common types of apps on the Web. Flickr was the darling of the Web 2.0 era, Instagram became the mobile web photo tool of choice. Could 500px become the photo sharing app for the Visual Web?

Our own Jon Mitchell nailed it, when he compared 500px to Flickr: "...500px has a stylish interface and more attractive photo presentation, arguably the most important feature for a photo site. It has a great new uploader app for the Mac and a gorgeous new viewer on the iPad. Flickr's growth has slowed under Yahoo, and 500px is shipping worthy features for the 2012 Web at a prodigious rate."

Being beautiful is just part of the equation, of course. Johnny Depp may be an incredibly handsome man, but it was his intelligence, quirkiness and charm that made him a superstar. So the likes of Art.sy and 500px will need to do a lot more than just look pretty. They need network effects, which means there must be a compelling reason for people to come back and use these services every day.

Being beautiful isn't that reason, although it doesn't harm their prospects for success.

Let us know your favorite beautiful app or website, in the comments - or via Twitter, Facebook or Google+. We'll follow-up with another post after we compile your picks.

See also: 10 Beautiful Apps & Websites To Drool Over