Still feeling dizzy after the New Year’s Eve party? … Anyway, the new year has been with us for a couple of days now, so it’s probably about time to get some work done. And I’m sure that a good portion of healthy inspiration is what you need the most right now.
If you’re a designer and your clients are starting to knock on your door asking when the site’s going to be ready you know you’re in trouble. Thankfully, there are a lot of sites around the internet that are all about inspiration. Like the one you’re reading right now, for example.
But the truth is that designers looking for some inspiration can go a lot of different ways, here are some of my favorite ones (for 2012).
Major design blogs
This may sound obvious, but major design blogs are not being called “major” for no reason. First of all, this is where everyone wants to present their stuff and showcase what they have best. Designers know that these blogs are best for getting on the radar and building a brand, so they try to get featured all the time.
Secondly, these blogs are often run by teams of people, working full time to provide the best content possible. Chances are that if something is truly worth your attention it will be covered on one of these blogs.
The kind of blogs I mean:
Major blogs in general
Bear with me because the approach here is different from the one for major design blogs.
The previous set of blogs was all about getting inspiration from what gets published on those design blogs. Now it’s all about getting inspiration from what’s going on on the blogs themselves.
Let’s take Inspired Magazine as an example. You can look at this blog in many different ways. The most obvious is to examine the content and get inspiration this way. But you can also look carefully at what’s going on around the content.
Are there any new design elements? Is there something new in the sidebar? Is the design turning more minimalistic or is there another trend emerging? Maybe not only here, but on other blogs too?
Major, highly popular blogs are great for this kind of observation. Many reasons for that. The biggest one is that these blogs are much more than just blogs. Quite often they are serious companies as well. They are run as normal businesses, having people on the payroll and various revenue streams. Getting ideas and inspiration from such enterprises is usually a great idea.
The case here is very similar to major blogs. Actually, maybe even more apparent here because major brands are all about profits and using the best possible designs to reach their goals. They are also ones that have the most money to spend on various design experiments. This is all great for inspiration.
There are literally hundreds of brands that are worth your attention for this reason, so let me just point you towards some of the biggest ones. You can visit not only their main websites, but also some local websites for different areas of the world.
Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, McDonalds, Intel, Nokia, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Custom Sticker Printing, Apple, Samsung, Honda, H&M, Pepsi, Nike, IKEA, UPS, Canon, Sony, Nintendo, Siemens, Starbucks, and loads of others.
DeviantART is huge. There are both good and bad sides to this. The good side is obvious – tons of great designs showcased every day. The bad side is somewhat related to the good side – tons of crappy design showcased every day…
It’s up to you to separate the wheat from the chaff, so this doesn’t make DeviantART any less valuable. You can go to http://browse.deviantart.com/designs/web/ and start getting some web design inspiration right now.
Social news sites
This is where you let other people bring inspiration to you instead of searching for it yourself.
Social news sites are all sites that let their users share their stuff to a massive audience around the world. In my opinion, the best site of this kind for getting design inspiration is StumbleUpon. You just need to register and choose a number of categories that interest you the most, and you’re good to go… inspiration one click of the stumble button away.
Of course, StumbleUpon is not the only site worth looking into. You should probably check these out too:
Good thing about these sites is that the users decide what deserves to have a proper coverage and what doesn’t. Just like on Digg or Reddit.
Other design and CSS showcases
There are many more sites focused around showcasing great designs from all over the world. The guidelines for getting featured vary from site to site, so I’ve decided to put them all in this separate section of the list.
Bonus: WordPress designs and themes
This one’s a somewhat clever trick. OK, maybe not that clever, but still an out of the box approach.
First of all, WordPress is one of the most popular platforms of today, so it’s good to have your finger on the pulse and be aware of all the stuff that can be done with it (design-wise). For this purpose you can go to any of these sites:
Then, there’s another approach – taking a look at what some major theme stores are doing. The themes offered these days are usually released after many hours of work put into the design itself (not to mention other phases of work). The competition in the premium WordPress theme world is rather big, so every theme store needs to be on top of their game.
And this is exactly the reason why they’re great for inspiration too.
Go to one of the popular stores (ThemeFuse, for example, the one I’m a member of) and see what they’re offering. What elements they are using in their themes. What trends can be noticed. Which themes seem to be the most popular. And so on. Much room for inspiration.
There are more than 40 links to different sites in this post already. But let’s not stop there. Don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment if you have an interesting inspiration-rich place you’d like to include here.