Designing for the web can be some of the most fun, rewarding work a designer can do. Sure, there are countless challenges and obstacles that come with the territory, but overcoming those hurdles is part of what makes this line of work so fulfilling and worthwhile.
There are two vastly different types of stumbling blocks a web designer typically runs into. The first lands on the technical side of the spectrum. Code issues, CSS disasters, FTP hiccups… these types of problems can definitely present themselves to designers. However, there’s the other side of the spectrum. The creative side. What’s a designer to do when they can’t simply do a Google search for the correct answer? After all, when it comes to design, there is no correct answer. That’s when inspiration comes in to swiftly save the day!
The following is a list of a few of my personal favorite sources of web design inspiration, and hopefully they can give any stifled designers out there a bit of guidance when their creative engines misfire.
Dribbble is likely my most-frequented and go-to source for web design inspiration and ideas. It allows designers of all kinds from all corners of the globe to share what they’re currently working on or experimenting with, for community feedback. Every day there are numerous new additions, or “shots”, that showcase web designs in stages ranging from conceptual to in-progress to completed or even revision.
Started in 2001, Styleboost has been a great gallery for showcasing web design for over a decade. There are really cool and user-friendly sorting options, such as color, that allow you to find designs more akin to what you have in mind specifically. Each site displayed also has a nice description to give a bit of insight into the project, which helps give the design context.
If you’re looking for web designs that are deemed worthy by an international jury made up of notable designers, bloggers, and agencies, this is the place. Each website is judged on a scale of 1 to 10 for its design, creativity, usability and content. There are a lot of designs to use as inspiration, too–Awwwards is updated daily! Definitely a comprehensive compilation of websites to use for ideas.
Vandelay Design is a website that likely isn’t worth your time, but their glorious blog deserves all sorts of your attention. Their blog posts (which thankfully are quite frequent) are incredibly informative and provide designers with help on just about any design conundrum. The blog posts themselves tend to be helpful freebies or galleries of designs focused on a single idea, such as “25 Web Designs that Use Full Size Background Photos” or “50 Startup Websites for Design Inspiration.”
Minimal Exhibit is a great site that showcases websites that are rooted in minimalist design. It’s not updated as frequently as a lot of galleries, but it’s great to visit when you know you want to achieve a nice design that fits the minimalist aesthetic.
As the name clearly implies, this site does indeed offer some nice web design inspiration. Crazy, right? This gallery isn’t as intuitive as some of the others on this list, but it does have a lot of good designs to peruse for the wayfaring designer.
While this awesome site does not specifically provide web design examples as inspiration, it is one of my personal favorite sites for “general inspiration” as I like to call it. Speaking to web design specifically, ILT does provide a lot of information about, and examples of, web typography.
9) A List Apart
A List Apart proudly describes itself as a site that is “for people who make websites.” While perhaps not as gallery-based as some of the other examples on my list, ALA does have a lot of useful information and is pretty highly regarded in the design community. If you like your inspiration in text form, the articles on ALA provide a bounty of it.
If you need inspiration for color choices, patterns, or complete palettes, COLOURlovers is your go-to source. Designers share their color and pattern schemes and discuss the latest trends. It’s an incredibly inspirational asset to have, and should definitely be bookmarked by any and all web designers.
11) Web Creme
Web Creme is another web design gallery, and is very straightforward. It presents you with a basic list of good designs, with no frill or even descriptive text. See a design you like? Click it and be taken directly to the site it comes from. While not as comprehensive as many other sites on this list, I find having several different avenues to explore when I’m stuck creatively really opens up the possibilities of being exposed to the one design that makes everything click.
CSSRemix touts itself as the premier source of web design inspiration and trends. There’s a great presentation here, with a grid of thumbnails showing numerous designs that show the possibilities of what can be achieved through web design. Worth checking out.
13) Best Web Gallery
Their name might be a wee bit of an overstatement, but Best Web Gallery does have some really nice designs to look through for ideas. It’s pretty basic, but there is a rating system for the designs and the ability to share designs through various social media outlets.
Created by designers for designers, WDL aims to act as a platform for sharing web design knowledge and inspiration. What’s really nice is that this site allows you to narrow down what’s shown to only see inspiration articles if you so choose. There’s certainly a lot of stuff to browse through. It’s worthy, if nothing else, for their articles alone.
15) Design Shack
Design Shack (not to be confused with the similar but ultimately less useful Design Snack) showcases inspiring web designs, resources, and tutorials for designers to help them improve their skills. There are a lot of sorting options in the design gallery which is nice. Visitors can sort and search by color, category, and even layout (very nice touch). Web design aside, they also have inspiring looks at branding, logos, and interface design.
So there you have it, designers. Chances are you’re already aware of some of these sources of inspiration, but hopefully there are some you didn’t know about that you’ll get use out of. Being stuck creatively is something that happens to every designer, but having the tools in your back pocket to help propel you past the problem is what separates a great designer from an exceptional one.