I cannot open Photoshop and just start designing, nor do I know any Graphic Designers who open Illustrator and create a magnificent piece or art from thin air, we need inspiration.
Picture ref: http://underthesamesofa.blogspot.com
I cannot open Photoshop and just start designing, nor do I know any Graphic Designers who open Illustrator and create a magnificent piece or art from thin air, we need inspiration. For web desgin ths is vital as there are so many things to think about such as headers, footers, look, feel, user experience and what size should the login box be. Below is list of 11 (yeah we are bored of top 10 lists as well) places you can find inspiration.
Expert tip: when looking for inspiration save it in a project folder. This allows you can always look back and see where the inspiration came from and you may also find that you use the same inspiriting design on another project.
Template sites are actually a great way of finding a unique design as you can use the Frankenstein method of design i.e. take what you like from different designs and splice it together to make a monster masterpiece. I do this all the time and I take various things from various places i.e. I don`t just copy the way the header works on one but use it to create my own. Maybe it is the colour the theme used for the buttons, the way they break up the columns with icons or how the footer seems to give enough space for small village of SEO friendly links.
If you are doing client work then sit with your client and ask him/her what they do not like. Eh? Yeah, people telling what they like can take all day and does not tell you as much as what they hate. They will undoubtably move onto what they do like.
Proud designers often submit their work to CSS Galleries to A. show off their work and B. get a quick and easy link (remember how important links are to Google Rank!). The great thing is that you can see hundreds of unique designs and some of them will make you thin you need to get back into the Photoshop Gym and pump some tutorials.
Expert tip: when you are done with your design be sure to submit your own site. I recommend using a submission service, for $12 it is worth them taking the time to do all the submitting.
If you are not already weeping from the CSS Galleries wait until you see some award winning sites. These are serious inspiring people but don`t think you have to compete, you are here to be inspired remember. Take a look at the interactive gallery, see the different styles and find one that suits your clients audience.
There are a few reasons these are a great place to start; firstly they keep you up to date with the latest coding standards and tricks.
Image and Project Bookmarking Sites
A picture says a thousand words and some of those words can be for your inspiration. A lot of the image sites that I use for inspiration are photography and graphical art based. The idea being that they give a mood, a colour scheme or feel to a design. These are especially useful for things like e-commerce sites when you want to have a feel to the product images. With sites like Dribble designers also upload design elements separately such as sexy buttons, cool headers and a whole array of UI (User Interface) elements.
At our Web Design School we have a number of books we can put onto the table when we are learning about inspiration and it is lovely to see trainees flicking through the pages and their eyebrows raising as they see designs that make them do a quiet wow. I love books and having designs in front of me really fires the neurons of creativity for me. Does it work for you too?
The designer I am today I give thanks to .net magazine. Since the first issue .net has kept been a quality source of what is worth knowing and design inspiration from some of the worlds top designers. I really recommend the showcase section and then the design off. The design off sees designers giving three designs from a basic brief such as a Museum Site and it is very interesting to see the different styles.
Web design dedicated magazines are all well and good but it is nice to get a different perspective which is where Wallpaper comes in and a whole plethora of interior design magazines such as …..
As web design matures we are seeing more and more magazine layouts so take a step back and look at how the magazine is actually layout out the various pages. With some sexy CSS and a clear grid for your to utilize and breakup you can achieve some really meaningful layouts.
The image below was an excellent source of inspiration for me on a e-commerce project. It was not the floating rock garden, nor was it the rainbows or the windmills; it was in fact the gritty background and the colour used on the water droplet. I don`t expect you to wander around your local museum, however I do suggest it. When not take a look at Google Art project so you never have to leave the comfort of your workspace.
TV and Movies
MTV has always been a source of inspiration for me, then you have the various CSI series that use hybrid shots that give bring statistics and trajectories into the real. This is something you can achieve easily with the power of Photoshop. Maybe your are making a site about Stereo Systems and you want to show the various stats and details of the system, so you take your boring picture of the speaker and overlay the details to wet the appetite of the hard core sound buffs.
We have all dreamt of using the Minority Report UI, answering emails at a wave of a hand and uploading pictures at the flick of a finger, so with Natural Interfaces becoming more and more popular you can design for the real world.
Again your are here for inspiration and not a complete design so maybe you take the gritty feel of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and mix it with the gamification feel of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World . Whatever it is, keep your eyes open and you`ll be suprised what stimulates those creative juices.
My favourte! These sites are collections of various elements from all arround the web. You will see collections of login forms, headers, multi-level navigation and examples of excellent copywriting. Essentially when a designer sees something unique, well designed and thought through they take a snap shot and upload it. This gives you a site filled with small examples of great design for you to be inpspired from.
Once you find somehting you think will work for your design save it into project folder ready to pull out when you open Photoshop.
The Real World
We are designing for the virtual online world, or are we? Can we not breath some life into our design? Yes we can, so what better palce to be inspired than the world itself.
It is not a case of looking at a tree and coming up with that award winning design but mearly removing your physically from the computer screen and giving your brain time to fill with inspiration. I have to admit there are two places where most of my inspiration comes from; sitting at my favourite coffee shop and staring out into the world (normally people watching which I highly recomend as an interesting way to spend the time it takes to sip down a Cuppachino) and in the shower. Why? Because you are not filling your mind and giving it space to come up with new ideas.
There is a lot to be said about having done it before. If you have experience in web or graphic design you will find it much easier to get inspiration by drawing on past experience. For example I know that corporate sites will need to have blues and greens somewhere as these are colours people expect. I know how to look at a logo and use that to create a design.
The more you design the easier it gets as you will know how to get yourself into that groove. Most importantly you will know when you are not in the zone and going for a walk in the real world is a great way to get it back.
Try making designs for fun, no reason other than just practice making perfect. This will give you experience and the ability to inspire yourself from within next time you have a design that needs bringing to life.
Graphic Design Courses
With the private courses we offer a unique service. We fully record every session so you have video to watch at home so you don`t forget anything. So please bring a thum drive so we can save the video on it for you.