- Last Updated on 19 April 2012
We have recently noticed a multitude of blogs and websites offering design inspiration and now have decided to collect a list of the best posts and websites out there that really got our inspired. Well then, chances are you could use some places to get inspiration for those days when the pixels aren’t aligned and your mouse finger isn’t clicking like it should.
If you’re going to spend all day at your desk, you should have an inspirational wallpaper to blow your mind every time you close a window. Desktopography features some of the most visually stunning wallpapers around - all based on nature themes so that you can fool you eyes into thinking you’ve been outdoors sometime this month.
One of the very first galleries to show my work, CSSRemix is another favourite CSS gallery of mine (you’ll find I have quite a few). It doesn’t list as many sites as some galleries but the quality is fantastic.
This eZine is packed full of international design and art goodness. It’s a heavy download but well worth the effort.
When you challenge a bunch of designers to use CSS as imaginatively as possible you get some pretty interesting design ideas…
Browse palettes, chat to the community and read the excellent blog. ColourLovers is THE community for color
If you’re looking for web design that breaks the mould, then look no further than theFWA, a daily dose of Flashy goodness.
Adobe’s Colour community built with some very slick Flash for a really nice user experience.
Whether you’re into fashion, illustration or just want to see something unusual, PagesOnline delivers. It’s blend of Flash, magazine style page flipping and funky design that has been clogging up by bandwidth for years now. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re based round the corner from FreelanceSwitch headquarters! How’s that!
Can you say gorgeous? Because that’s what you’ll be getting at Phirebrush which these days is getting to be a veritable inspiration institution. With some spectacular digital art that will blow your socks right off, you’ll love Phirebrush.
PDF-Mags is one of those sites where I am not entirely sure how money is made on the site. But frankly who cares, when there is this much PDFy Magaziney goodness to be had … for FREE!
There’s a lot of CSS galleries around, but screenalicious has to be one of the biggest with almost 9000 websites currently listed if you looked at one every minute that would take you 6 days straight to see them all.
StartDrawing is “the asia drawing portal” and it showcases some fantastic work. What was best about this site however was the gigantic banner that said “Nearly 4 billion Asians… there *must* be some good artists” - judging by StartDrawing, there certainly are!
DesignFlood does what it says on the box, with 30+ pages of design you’ll enjoy using their gigantic rating buttons to pass judgement on other people’s work!
Literally hundreds of textures freely available - from the dirty to the elegant, there is sure to be a pattern to grace your next design.
This is one slick blog/gallery/link hub, built by Canadians with superior design taste, you’ll know you’re getting only top quality filtered goodies.
You know those moments when you see a font and it just makes you want to design something to use it, well with UrbanFonts you can browse a huge collection of free fonts to do just that. While I do enjoy paying for a good font now and then, I just can’t help myself when it’s FREE, FREE, FREE
I only learnt about Veer recently, but I must say they’re pretty cool and they seem to have been around for ages. The Veer Wallpaper gallery spans five years of designs and includes something for everyone.
If your flavour of design happens to be product, then you are going to love MoreInspiration, a site hosting some thousand plus innovative ideas and products.
Part Magazine, part web portal, all inspirational goodness. NWP with it’s super little logo is an oldie but goodie of design portals.
Not everyone ‘gets’ Styleboost and certainly it isn’t your run of the mill inspiration gallery/blog, but thanks to Johan’s adept steering of the site since way back in 2001, the gallery has flowered into one of the best and brightest showcases around.
If you like your digital media mixed up to include showreels, design sites, CSS, Flash and everything in between, try Carole Guevin’s eloquent mix of taste and punch.
If you looked up “Useful” in the dictionary, you’d see a screenshot of SmashingMagazine there next to it. Not only do they showcase great designs, but if you’re a web designer you’ll find their CSS tips and tricks, layout guides and other articles will have you itching to try new things with your next design.
TheBestDesigns shows exactly that, a great mix of fantastic websites, including notably a really cool designer directory so you can go and pinch other people’s ideas straight out of their portfolios!
Boasting a huge library of T-shirts, Threadless also employ a unique method of getting designs - user submission and voting. So whether you feel like feeding your T-shirt habit, or browsing through hundreds of clever designs for ideas, Threadless will leave you delighted.
A big categorized directory of designer portfolios laid out for you to gaze at. I’m sorry I can’t resist saying this but … ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!
You might be wondering why you would be interested in the stuff that got rejected, but then you might remember that clients aren’t always known for their…taste.
Whether it’s broadcast design, animation, stop motion or any other kind of motion graphics, Feed.Stashmedia lists some of the best
FaveUp is a site that pares back to the very simplest of galleries, showcasing logos, business cards, CSS websites and Flash sites all in the same place. The site only launched last week but already has some 250 entries on it.
Some five hundred business cards ranging from the cute to the elegant to the innovative. DailyPoetic has worked hard to pull this set together, so we can enjoy it!
DeviantArt makes regular community websites look absolutely miniscule, and though its 40 million piece library is crowded with duds, there are some real pearls of inspiration mixed in. My tip: Use the “Most Favourites” feature when searching.
Icons are so hot right now and IconBuffet not only sells and gives away icons, but is also home to one of the most eclectic communities around. If you haven’t tasted their wares yet, you must give it a whirl today!
There are a lot of great places to see photos online, flickr and istock spring to mind, but if you’re looking for quality over quantity, try JPGMagazine.
A community gallery of great logo designs which is growing rapidly. Plenty to get you inspired!
Some days I feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of galleries around, that’s why I love MostInspired, the gallery aggregator!
A huge archive of some of the coolest, cleverest or just prettiest advertising from around the world. Choose to browse print, tv, radio, online or ambient and let your creativity be inspired.
BrushEezy.com (and VectEezy.com)
Sometimes the right tool or resource can get your creative juices flowing. At Brusheezy and it’s sister site Vectoreezy you’ll find all sorts of freely downloadable Photoshop and Illustrator brushes and vectors that could just spark off your next uber design.
Cpluv has hands down the coolest logo of this bunch of inspiration sites. As one of the grand-daddies of design inspiration, I’m impressed to see the site still churning out design news and inspiration to get your bum wiggling in its seat with excitement.
CSSElite is one of my favourite CSS galleries and I say this not just because they happen to have a link to FreelanceSwitch on the cover page - though that doesn’t hurt! If you want good, clean design, be sure to pay them a visit.
While DFCKR probably deserves to be in this list in it’s own right, I was actually more interested in this super list of 28 Flickr Photo pools as there is some really great stuff in there.
DarkEye is kinda weird at first, but once you get into it, it’s pretty cool. With innovative search tools and a feature where users can make their own galleries and then show them off, it’s certainly different to the typical gallery.
It took me a little while to ‘get’ DesignMeltDown, I think because its not as immediately visual as some of the other galleries around, but I figured 5000 subscribers couldn’t be wrong, and I was right… about being wrong that is. DMD has a LOT of websites listed but also includes jobs, tutorials and other goodies.
They’ve been around since, like forever, spawned conferences around the world, a magazine and plenty of immitators. They’ve also managed to avoid redesigning their site for half a decade *hint*. Still DesignIsKinky continues to bring quality art/design to a screen near you.
Out of all the sites listed here, this is probably the most innovative. By pairing up words set in semantic structures taken from real slogans with related images piped through from Flickr, the Ad Generator is disturbingly good at generating clever little adverts. Made as a Masters Thesis project, I can only hope that Alexis Lloyd (the site’s creator) absolutely dominated his course that year.
Think email marketing is all ugly? Think again. CampaignMonitor - which is a neat email sending web app - hosts a gallery of some really lovely email marketing, ordered up into type and layout for your perusal needs.
Search for keywords on social bookmarking sites
It is no secret that people bookmark webpages that they find inspiring or useful, thus searching social bookmarking sites is a great way to find inspiration. In my opinion, Delicious and Stumbleupon are the best places for designers to find inspiration, obviously because they are the most used by other designers. In Delicious, you can perform searches by tags, then narrow you search within this tag. Another great way to make the most out of Delicious is to find power users and browse their bookmarks (for example Adobe).
For Stumbleupon, you’ll find inspiration for sure by stumbling the Graphic design, Drawing or Fine Arts categories. For more specific topics, just search for a keyword and stumble pages tagged with this keyword.
Flickr by itself is just a good social and isn’t so helpful to find inspiration. What makes it really amazing are the cool mashups that have been created around the website. My favourite mashup is by far the color palette generator that allows you to extract colours from one of your Flickr photos. Another Flickr related colour mashup is available on the Multicolr Search Lab , where you can look for interesting pictures that contain specific colours. If you simply want to search images more efficiently, take a look at Compfight.
Browse image bookmarking websites
Design bookmarking sites are probably the most popular among designers. My favourite is by far FFFFound, a social media site where selected designers (you must be invited to get an account) share designs they loved around the web. One of the best features about the website is its keyboard based navigation. Other great image bookmarking networks are Dropular, Typeish, We Heart it or vi.sualize.us.
For typography lovers, John Boardley, the author of “I Love Typography “, created with a friend “We Love Typography“, an bookmarking website targetting specifically typography related stuff. You will for sure find a lot of inspiring design work there.
One great resource for inspiration is to listen to inspiring and successful people, watching conferences is a good way to do that. TED is the best conference for people looking for anything related to design, entertainment and technology. They bring every year brilliant speakers and share talks on their website. Another good source for design speeches is the AIGA video section, where they put videos of conferences organized by the association. Last but not least, Talks@Google offer a wide range of inspiring talks, most are not by designers but are still interesting.