Inspiration not Perspiration: 5 Sources of Inspiration to Kickoff the Design Process

March 16, 2015
By Damian Jolley

We like to kick-start every new web design project with a discussion about visual identity. This discussion with our partners begins with one simple question: “Are any websites that inspire you?” Inspiration sites are a valuable guidepost, and they steer both the business and the designer in the right artistic direction.

When it comes to website design, some people know exactly what they like. Some don’t, and that’s okay.

In every case, we encourage our clients to challenge us with new and unique ideas. After all, why would you want to create something that’s just ordinary?

Here are five suggestions to help stimulate the creative process.

1. Visit Competitors’ Sites

Most businesses know exactly who their competition is. I say rather than avoiding them, visit them online. Analyze their visual branding by asking questions. What is it they do well? What could they do better? Are the colours effective? What would appeal to your brand’s audience?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit yourself to local businesses; search in other cities, and other countries. What is happening online in your industry in the UK, India, or New Zealand?

2. The Best Designs

While pretty websites can end up as “design candy” (great to look at, but low on functionality and substance), this site does a great job of feeding the imagination. Take a look through their showcase of winning designs; you’re likely to find something you can adopt for your own brand.

3. Pattern Tap

I like to browse Pattern Tap for their curated selection of design elements. While (see above) offers a great overview, Pattern Tap is a quick way to explore the fancy trims and additions that drive the user experience. Only the most innovative design techniques show up here, providing insider suggestions on how to handle common elements such as galleries, forms, and sidebars with cutting-edge gusto.

4. Design Taxi

I have been an avid visitor of Design Taxi’s site since my university days. What I love about Design Taxi is that they don’t just focus on one type of design; they showcase products, interiors, print, graphics, and advertising (plus a lot more). It’s a bunch of cool ideas in one spot. Sure, I find their webpage a little frustrating (it is flooded with advertisements), but if you can get around that it is worth it! (and on Twitter: @designtaxi)

(If you wish to stay current on the latest trends in web design, it goes without saying that you will need to be on Twitter and Pinterest.)

5. Look Everywhere

Everything is designed. Few things are designed well. – Brian Reed

As a designer, I discover inspiration everyday. It’s there in the magazine you read or the trees you walk past on your way to work. Maybe the coffee brand you drink incorporates a design element you like. True inspiration tends to find us when we’re least expecting it.

When it comes to website design, it is important to make your expectations clear from the onset. Good designers welcome a fresh perspective. Knowing your inspiration sites going into that initial brand strategy meeting is a great way to set the right tone.

If you have any questions about the web design process at Forge and Smith, or if you require further guidance, don’t be afraid to reach out to us. You can also check out some of our projects in the case studies section for a even more design inspiration.

Damian Jolley

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