If you’ve ever looked through our portfolio, you’ll notice that we’re not one of those agencies where all the work we produce looks eerily similar. We actually pride ourselves on the diversity of styles we produce, since every site is designed with the client in mind rather than what WordPress templates we have access to, or what design tropes we think we should be following this month.
Where, you might ask, do we get the inspiration for such multifariousness? Well, sometimes, it just comes. That’s when we’re lucky. Ask any designer and they’ll tell you that it does happen sometimes. But often, you have to explore different avenues, immerse yourself in many different examples of creativity, and see what bubbles up. It’s not a case of seeing what someone else has done and copying it, but discovering new ways of how things can be done and letting them inform your own process.
Below are eight of our favourite places to visit on the web when we want to stoke the creative fire.
In many ways, this really is the ‘go-to’ destination for web design inspiration. Awwards is an ongoing competition for web design and development whose aim is to provide a platform for innovative web design.
If you want a daily dose of inspiration, you could regularly check out the Site of the Day on their home page. Alternatively, if you want to immerse yourself in many examples of great site design, you can trawl through the plethora of websites they have on show. There are also themed collections for if you want to see different ways of approaching a particular element of site design, such as the contact page or 404 error pages.
The only problem with the Awwwards website is the potential to ultimately spend all day in there just going down so many delightful rabbit holes.
Like Awwwards, this is a showcase for excellence on the web. The New York Times called them the “Oscars of the internet”, but like the Oscars, there is now a glut of categories of awards that only the most die-hard industry bores might be interested in exploring in their entirety.
We prefer to stick to Websites and Mobile Sites awards, where you can find some truly inspiring pieces of web design work. Again, like the actual Oscars, you may agree with their opinion of “the best” or have your own idea of who really deserves that crown. But, really, it’s best to view the winners as great examples rather than victors.
Behance.net is Adobe’s social media platform for creatives. All kinds of work is showcased there, with special sections for work done in Adobe’s own products (of course). There isn’t actually a section for Web Design, but that’s okay because you’re visiting for inspiration, right? And inspiration can come from just seeing something that gets you thinking, and there is more work to see on Behance than you would be able to get through. Consider it like a trip to an art gallery (which is also recommended) where you just poke around and see what grabs your attention.
If you’re not sure where to start, the Best of Behance curated collection is always a good first step. The UI/UX gallery is also an excellent port of call for web designers, and some innovative web design work can always be found in the XD gallery too.
But like any gallery, it’s worth having an aimless wander and seeing what you chance to happen upon.
Ok, this is the ‘weird’ suggestion, which is unsurprising as it born of the mind of Brian Eno. Oblique Strategies, at its heart, is a tool for overcoming creative block using random suggestions. The story behind its invention and development is fascinating. Originally card-based, with the subtitle “Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas”, it is more than a hundred statements or suggestions which may (or may not) inspire lateral thinking. Examples include:
- What mistakes did you make last time?
- Work at a different speed
- Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
- Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place
- Look at the order in which you do things
- Tidy up
Admittedly, being from the mind of Mr Eno, it was originally geared toward the creative process of making music, but it can ultimately be useful for any creative process. You can listen to him talking about Oblique Strategies in the video below:
The cards have been translated into a number of websites that allow you to randomly pick one oblique strategy at a time – our favourite is probably here. Alternatively, if you use Slack, you can add it to your workspace with this app. Or for those of you with a DIY ethic and a penchant for all things analogue, you can make your own cards with the help of this PDF.
The next time you find yourself with any form of creative block, give it a go. You will either get nothing from it and leave a little bemused, or you may just find the inspiration to try a completely different approach to the problem at hand.
Blogs can be an incredible source of inspiration. In many cases, the online equivalent of glossy magazines present a diverse collection of news, opinion, information and even tutorials on any given subject. And like magazines, you can either dip into them on occasion when you feel like it, or have them as part of your regular reading in order to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world they deal with.
Pinterest describes itself as a visual discovery engine. It’s also been described as the scrapbooking social media platform. Both are fairly accurate descriptions in their own way, but what we find the platform most useful for is creating mood boards.
If you’re unfamiliar with mood boards, they are simply a collection of pieces of media (images, illustrations, pieces of text, etc) that evoke a particular concept or style.
So if, for example, you are charged with creating a website for a mobile bar company, you may cast around Pinterest with searches for drinking, parties, events and whatever else comes to mind that is appropriate to the brief. Anything you find that catches your attention or fires your imagination can be ‘pinned’ to a board of your own creation. When you take a step back and view everything on the board together, that’s when you start seeing connections you may not have considered before, or themes to follow that may not have been obvious until you see the bigger picture. We thoroughly recommend giving it a go.
Typography is one of the pillars of great website design. It is so fundamental that it often suffers from being taken for granted. It helps with setting the overall tone of the website and is often a key component of user interface design, visually breaking the text down so it can be easily scanned and digested.
We love seeing great typography, not just in website design, but anywhere it can be used. One of our favourite showcases is the website Typographic Posters where you can see a whole host of examples of excellent typography and innovative use of type.
The above are just eight examples to find inspiration online for your web designs. It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor do we claim it is an authoritative ‘best of’ – it’s just a glimpse into some of our favourites. We hope they help if you’re finding yourself hitting the creative wall, and if you have any suggestions of your own for sources of inspiration, do let us know.
Posted by: Chris Hands
Oct 27, 2022