Where Do You Go for Web Design Inspiration?
Web design and web development are two halves of a successful site. We often have clients that are uninspired by the appearance of their site. If these projects don’t include a custom design solution, clients often struggle with web design inspiration. We have a few tools that we rely on to break through this “designer’s block.”
Tactics for Web Design Inspiration
What we’re really looking for is something that helps us to take the goals that the client has outlined and help express those goals visually. We’re not looking to find a template to copy but rather, provide the right amount of web design inspiration to achieve the goals.
One of the first things we’ll do when we have a client stuck on design is recommend that they identify their competitor’s sites. Contrary to how people typically look at these sites however, what we’re looking to do is create differentiation between their site and the competition’s. Certainly you may get some ideas of features or content types that the competitor is featuring. But, in order to build a successful website you want to show how you have a unique presence online.
Another useful request we’ll make is for the client to provide us some sites that they use and like. Often these sites won’t be direct competitors, but will give us insight into what the client likes in terms of visuals and user experience. Sometimes these likes can be translated to their own site and give us the building blocks for a design.
This tactic can be really useful especially if we’re providing an in-browser design. Depending on the theme in use on the site, we’ll provide some links to sample templates that we think are a good starting point for a site design. This can often help a client to start with a visual that they can then apply to their own content.
Award Winning Designs
When we’re stuck we’ll often take a look at some sites that have won design awards. Many prominent blogs and internet related services have their own annual awards. There are a few places that we particularly like. CSS Design Awards where sites are judged by their peers and there’s a monthly featured site. Or Award sites that feature a website-of-the-day. These curated sites expose you to a wide variety of site types from product to non-profit and all points in between.
Much of the success of a website’s design relies on type. This isn’t to say that great images aren’t important or that the relationship between type and image should be ignored. However, if you can start a design with a strong type pairing you’ll be in a very solid position to complete the work. As such, we’ll often recommend that clients look at type resources to kickstart the process. One of our favorites sites for this is Typewolf which not only features font recommendations and lists, but also a website-of-the-day. One of our favorite foundries is also a great spot to look at type – Hoefler & Co. Their site features a great blog and newsletter.
There’s really no limit to where web design inspiration can come from. Do you have a color scheme from an old piece of clothing? Or a brochure from 1957 that feels like your brand? The important part of the process is starting. Then evaluate your inspiration to make sure the design is also relevant to your message and the goals you’ve defined for your website.