Where and how do UX designers find inspiration?

User experience design has been a uniquely emerging profession in the last 20 years. It is more similar in nature to engineering, rather than design, in terms of how much information architecture and problem solving skills are involved in the process. There are some unique aspects of UX design that make it difficult for designers to get inspirations at random to apply to their projects. There is an overwhelming amount of online resources, galleries, and blogs — we will never lack information in this era — so the emphasis should be on where to find good ones and how to use them.

Some sites are perfect when you kind of have a direction but no solid idea of what to do. Here’s a good example of finding inspiration using Pinterest: I wanted to recycle my magazines, so I searched “paper crafts DIY” and I ended up making these decorative drink coasters and paper flowers.

However, UX design always comes with a guideline from the product managers. Every now and then, a product manager will tell you, Go crazy, it’s time for innovation! But more often than not, most requests are something like, We need this new feature. Or, this and that are our commitment to the customers. Or the piece is broken, and so on.

I’ve been using Dribbble only to incorporate the latest visual design trends into my projects; but most of the time, I just use Google. Yes, just Google! Simply Googling keywords like, “<something> ui design” will get you not only some real examples but also good reading material.

Question #1:

Do you critique on the results from Google Images? Most of the examples might be outdated but they are usually classic UIs that people have been using for years. The crucial skill you need to develop as a UX designer is learning to identify good designs from the bad ones.

Question #2:

Do you read the basics about the design patterns or the design theory that you are trying to follow? It might be super simple, but sometimes you just need a little refreshment and keep up with new design techniques or trends (not only the visual trends), if you want to be in the game in this fast-paced world.

If you are lucky and you get some “Go crazy” project, check out this collection of some of the best sites to boost your creativity: