Whether you’re an artist, designer, musician or furniture maker a blank canvas can be both exciting and terrifying. You’re creating something from nothing and so it’s important that you feel suitably inspired. Inspiration however is not a tap that can be turned on and off at will. Paul McCartney wrote ‘Yesterday’ in his sleep. Vincent Van Gogh moved to Paris and was influenced by the city’s Post Impressionism movement. And Apple product design has been hugely influenced by the work of Braun designer Dieter Rams. All ideas and designs have a starting point and it seems even the very best find inspiration in different ways.
Whether you’re a small business owner thinking about a new website, a web veteran in need of a trendy redesign, a digital marketing agency wanting to take their website to the next level or a student with a passing interest in web design, you’re more than likely going to seek some inspiration to kick start your web design project.
At Start Digital we always look for new and inspiring ways to deliver client websites. Whilst some sites require very little ‘frilly stuff’ (which is an actual term a client of ours uses) we like to push boundaries wherever possible. This could be something as simple as a unique font or floating image boxes but we believe it’s important that, as well as delivering the best product possible for our clients, our own team can be proud of the work they’ve done. Pride doesn’t come from cookie cutter web design, it comes from trying new ideas, layouts and design techniques.
Whilst we like being as unique as possible we take inspiration from a handful of awesome sites that collect the very best web designs from around the globe. Here are the 7 sites we use to inspire our web design projects. (Warning: these sites are time vacuums. Get comfortable!).
Lapa.Ninja showcases the best landing page designs with a design lean towards digital illustrations and big bold header designs. Created by Tinh Nguyen, the platform was built with the intentions of helping people find inspiration and encourage improvement in their design skills. As big admirers and frequent visitors of Lapa.Ninja, we can attest that the website definitely does that!
Through 37 different categories including agency, book, coming soon, eCommerce, finance, food drinks, illustration and real estate, the 1300+ landing pages showcased can be filtered for more specific inspecting and inspiration. Furthermore, the sites can also be filtered according to 18 different colours such as black, pink, teal and ultra-violet.
Lapa.Ninja also offers premium themes which not only can spark ideas but also can be purchased and used. Additionally, Lapa.Ninja is resourceful as, presenting a curated collection of free templates, user interface (UI) kits and themes ready to be used alongside free eBooks ready be to read.
Take just one peep and you’ll know exactly why, Lapa.Ninja is an office favourite.
(No, our W key didn’t get stuck. The triple W is a reference to the World Wide Web.)
Described as a web design and development competition body, Awwwards seeks to award “design creativity and innovation on the internet.” Each day Awwwards and its users credit a new website as the Site of The Day (SoTD) based on its design, usability, creativity and content.
There’s quite a process behind determining the SoTD but it ensures only the best websites are showcased.
Other awards that can be won include Mobile Excellence which recognises mobile sites which highly satisfy Google’s criteria for mobile websites, Honourable Mentions which award websites who’ve received a rating of higher than 6.5 from the CHIEF, Pro & Jury and the Developer Award which recognises those who receive a rating higher than 7 from the Developer Jury. Awwwards also celebrates Sites of the Month and the most prestigious, Site of The Year.
So many inspiring websites don’t win any awards hence it’s worthwhile focusing on more than just the winners. All submitted sites can be filtered through keywords, categories, tags, technologies, colours and even countries, making your search easier!
You’ll never not be incredibly inspired by Awwwards.
Dribbble is an online community which allows creators to share their work, process and current projects (called Shots) with the world. Dribble showcases a variety of content ranging from animations, branding, book design, graphic design, illustrations, web design and user experience.
All Shots can be searched and filtered according to keywords such as industry or business type. Upon searching, all relevant Shots will be presented according to their popularity. One particularly good thing about Dribble is that the popular Shots are often recent, somewhere between a day and a week old. Rather than just promoting Shots which have accumulated the most amount of likes and views over the years, Dribbble automatically promotes designs which are up to date with recent web design practices and trends.
The shots on Dribbble will have ideas shooting into your mind hoop better than Golden State’s Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Truth.
Created in 2006, Behance was designed to showcase and discover creative work whilst removing the common barriers between talent and opportunity. Similar to Dribbble, Behance showcases an array of content. However, the Adobe acquired platform doesn’t just stop at the expected creative fields like others do. It even includes architecture, editorial design, fashion, interior design and photography.
A quick click on the Search icon will redirect you to the Search page in which changing the Creative Field to Web Design, will provide you featured designs from a variety of different web projects.
Created by InVision, a digital product design platform for enhancing customer experiences, Muzli is constantly coming up with web design inspiration. Mining content from sources previously mentioned like Awwwards and Dribble but other creativity sparking sites such as CSS Design Awards, Design Sponge, Design You Trust and It’s Nice That, Muzli is consistently uncovering some of the most inspiring web and graphic designs.
Although a website, Muzli is best used through the Chrome Extension which can be downloaded for free here. (Although not web design related, it’s noteworthy to mention that upon downloading the Chrome Extension, Muzli will make content feeds in your Google tabs from companies such as Fast Company, Lifehacker, Mashable, Product Crunch and TED. Not only will Muzli ensure you’re on the forefront of web design but with your interest, technology and the world in general.) Furthermore, Muzli offers an email subscription. This means that design related content, carefully curated to inspire can be delivered fresh to your mailbox each week for free. Muzli will have you inspired instantly, constantly and without any hassle.
Pinterest needs no introduction and continues to be a site we visit daily — helped along by their regular emails that present ideas we might like (we always like them!). Pinterest is another platform that super charges ideas. Just one simple search on “web design” will present more pins and ideas than we could ever need. Because there’s so much content under the web design search, it’s best to make specific and refined searches such as focusing on industries and business types.
When making an account with Pinterest, you can make your own inspiration boards and pin designs that you like. For an example, here’s a board of web design pins which have at one moment or another, inspired us at Start Digital. Also by creating an account and saving pins, Pinterest will do the hard work for you — they’ll actively seek and curate new compilations of pins which you are likely to enjoy. We lose hours on Pinterest every week.
7. Your Competitors
What? Right? Bet you weren’t expecting them to be on our list.
At Start Digital, creativity and innovation makes our world go round. Completely against stealing or unoriginality, we’re not advocating you copy your competitor’s websites (or anyone’s content for that matter). But we are strongly recommending that you check out your competitor’s websites.
A quick evaluation will spark ideas on what to do and what no to do, providing deeper insight into what you’d like your website to look like. If you operate in a highly competitive industry where you’ve got many competitors, don’t be surprised if their sites provide more practical inspiration than the other sites listed!
So, there you have it, 7 sites to inspire your web design project. We’re pretty certain that by looking at just one of those sites, you’ll be inspired with enough ideas to make a dozen redesigns!
This article originally appears on the Start Digital website.