Are you a potential client or a competitor? If so, then this article isn’t for you. But if you are a designer looking for advice from a nobody like me? Please, carry on.
1. Listen to the opinion of others
Let’s face it, more often than not, designers tend to have a ‘hard shell’. We end up thinking our ideas and processes are the best, so much so that we can easily get offended when others tell us otherwise.
If you’re a good designer, you’ll probably be right the majority of the time. But there will be occasions where you’ll be blinded by how much love and effort you’ve put into your work.
Yes, it has its advantages but it has its disadvantages as well. Listening to other people, however, should never be ignored. Most likely they’re looking from a different angle, from afar and their insights might be considering other factors that our poisoned look can sometimes overlook.
Even though you should stand by your vision, listening to other people and being open to collaboration will for sure improve the overall outcome of our work with every iteration.
Not from clients only (even though that’s important too) but mainly from your designer peers.
2. Create insanely different experiences
You are not an executant! You are not just a designer. You are a thinker. You should think different for every project.
If you work in a company that designed a hit, that has ever since been working on the same type of project for one single kind of client, consider leaving. Your progression as a designer will stagnate if you’re stuck to a routine. It’s time to evolve and broaden your range of skills!
If you have the goal of being a great designer, you need to leave!
If you aim to become THE best designer, the ugly truth is you must definitely leave!
Relate to what I’ve just said? Why the hell are you still reading this? You have an email to send. This article can wait! Go change your future!
Designers need to think differently on every project, every single time. Not for the sake of just being different — that’s stupid — but because each project is a chance to make yourself better, with a wider range of tools…
But also, thinking differently is about figuring out how you can improve other people’s experiences as they use the interfaces you created! It is about thinking of different ways of creating a remarkable, memorable experience.
“Life is about creating and living experiences that are worth sharing.“
— Steve jobs.
3. Make your decisions wisely
The third tip, in a way, is related to tip 2: we are not tools on our clients’ hands. What I mean is, even though the clients are paying for your services, we (most of the time) know what we are doing. We studied the matter and we are experienced, I assume.
Yet you shouldn’t disregard the client’s opinion, you should stick to your point but at the same time, you need to be able to take a step back and realize whether the client is right or not.
Anyway, you should always lay down your motives and try to make the clients understand why what you’ve done it different from what they think is right.
Sometimes you’ll convince your clients, sometimes you won’t. Maybe neither of you is right but then both of your insights, combined together, will congregate in a much better solution.
4. Choose your battles
When you work in close contact with the client, most likely he’ll constantly be giving you feedback on what you’ve done.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and (unfortunately 🤣) it doesn’t exclude your clients.
Of course, you’re entitled to stand by the choices you’ve made, but some times, they are not worth fighting for, for the sake of a bigger picture. There are a lot of minor changes that don’t harm the usability neither the UI. Plus, quite often those are changes that can be swiftly done and will please the client.
One thing we always stand for, regardless of who the clients is, would be to always give it a try on any client’s input. And even though in the beginning it was tough, eventually it worked out.
We ended up picking up fewer fights and the result was still good. Anything can look good with the right amount of care and effort.
Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. As far as the battles go, there are those “not worth fighting for” ones, right? Does it affect the User Experience? Does it affect the Ui grandly?
If the answer No, it’s not worth it fighting for.
“You need to choose your fights wisely”
You need to choose your fights wisely. If you don’t, you’ll be constantly frustrated and easily unmotivated. You need to understand you have to lose a few battles to win a war.
As I said on the tip 3 you need to listen to your client’s opinion and just let them win a few minor battles and take their ideas forward. Give them something. Then wisely pick the ones you really want to win, they will take your “No” much easier.
5. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
On our job, like anything in our lives, it’s easier when we’re in our comfort zone. We know we are good at something and we stick to it, we become hostages of our own success.
We use the same fonts, the same colors, the same layout, the same interactions.
We stick to a recipe we know will work, that we know it will please the client. It is easy to cook it every time, you know the pattern, it can’t go wrong.
Why should I try something different if everything looks good ?
– I’m asking.
The problem is: it stops your evolution. We become imprisoned t4o a style that won’t compromise your success.
A design should be polyvalent. We should be able to adapt to every project.
Each project has its own specifications, its own target groups and even its own personality. You should think of whom you’re designing for. You must think about the people that will be using the interface you are creating. What might have worked for a younger target group might not work for an older generation, as an example. You must adapt.
And by adapting, as you know, I mean doing it differently: new fonts, new colors, new structures, new strategies, new animations, new interactions — always with the end-user in mind.
The result of trying new things is unpredictable, though. It won’t be easy to obtain a good result when exploring different stuff. Still, you are evolving.
And even if the client doesn’t approve it, at least you got the luggage ready to be carried on a future project.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to fail- if we are not failing we are not pushing. 80% of the stuff in the studio is not going to work. If something is not good enough, stop doing it.”
— Jony Ive
6. Don’t be different just to be different.
Probably, this is the most controversial subject of this article.
Yes, we should leave our comfort zone and try different things. But this time I’m talking about another kind of difference.
I’m talking about the design that is different just for the sake of being different. The problem is the design shouldn’t just be different, it must be better. Design is not just about pretty pixels. Design is more than that. Design is about engaging with customers and creating experiences.
A beautiful pixel matters but a great experience matters more.
– Somebody else
Increasingly, I’ve been seeing shots — on Dribbble– that are just ‘different things’. It’s easy to do a design that stands out. Just grab an iPhone X mockup, create a fake store with beautiful photos, just a few words and strong colors or gradients and your shot is a granted hit! A lot of likes, buckets, and ‘congratulations’ comment.
Oh, and I forgot the “Please take a look at my work” ones. Those are great! We all love them.
The ‘real-life’ is really different though. Real-life doesn’t have Unsplash pictures, real life has lots of text, huge product descriptions, and a whole lot of different things that are not seen in those eye bleach shots.
So, why should you ‘lie’ and do something unrealistic just to have a good Dribbble shot? You should not! I don’t mean you shouldn’t practice and making those shots is good training, but the absence of reality kind of bugs me out.
When you are working with real clients you’ll have real content. Content is for real people. On real-life projects, you need to think further about the people who will be using your interface. If you simply don’t care about people, people will not care about your design.
Yeah, do different (almost unrealistic) things is easy but to do actually working things — that makes sense — is a lot harder.
Different is easy. Make it pink and fluffy! Better is harder.
— Jony Ive
I will definitely keep you posted on how things are going.
Until next time,
Filipe is from Valongo. Most likely you don’t know where it is, but either way, you don’t want to find out.
He may or may not be a lead designer at Significa, highly depends on the weather forecast.
Having a bank of quality website design inspirations has proven a huge asset to my workflow. With a go-to list of inspirational resources, I can jump into projects faster and more effectively, and better meet the demands of any creative brief.
A web design project’s scope can quickly narrow down the number of resources available, making it tough to find the right inspiration for your task. But having a few reliable starting places can help you meet clients’ needs, while encouraging you to explore new design solutions and push your creativity.
With that in mind, here are 19 I look to for web design inspiration.
1. Best Website Gallery
A highly curated gallery of premium web design inspiration run by one man, David Hellmann. He started this side project way back in 2008, and he’s still going strong, perhaps because it also serves as David’s personal inspiration gallery.
(Which is a pretty great idea, come to think of it. Perhaps, by the end of this post, you’ll be inspired — and armed — to start building a personal inspiration gallery of your own!)
Best Website Gallery, or BWG, uses a tagging system so you can quickly find sites based on their style, design approach, functionality, and more. And with over 2,000 quality websites to peruse, this comes in handy.
Why you should go to BWG for website design inspiration
Because BWG boasts an expansive, high-quality, curated gallery complete with search and a robust tagging system. It’s particularly good for:
1. Portfolio websites
If you’re the kind who likes to take part in the May 1st Reboot every year, it’s handy to have so many other designers’ portfolios handy to steal from — I mean, get inspired by.
2. Agency websites
Agencies tend to attract the highest-caliber creatives, so their websites often rank high among the best of the best on the web. These can be inspiring not only for your own agency website, but also any client, business, or portfolio site.
3. Color inspiration
BWG gives you the ability to filter sites by color, so you can easily find beautiful palettes that include your client’s brand colors!
2. CSS Nectar
CSSnectar’s inspirational websites are triple-vetted. First, there’s a fee to submit a website for review, and I think it’s safe to assume people won’t pay to submit unless they’re confident in and proud of the work. Second, a team of creatives reviews each submission before it goes live.
Why you should go to CSSNectar for design inspiration
Three words: Triple. Vetted. Content.
While you can find human-curated content and design inspiration all around the web, a three-stage curation process that includes hand-picked experts really brings the cream of the crop to the top.
Detailed filtering options
CSS Nectar makes finding inspiration for specific site types easy with their tags and filters, which include category, feature, country, and color tags.
Abduzeedo offers up stiff doses of design inspiration on the daily, so there’s always something new to see. And because the staff doesn’t limit itself to web design, you’ll find it helps you stretch your personal design paradigm into new dimensions. After all, there’s nothing to say your next website can’t be inspired by a print ad, right?
Why you should go to Abduzeedo for design inspiration
They highlight the full breadth of design disciplines
Abduzeedo isn’t just for digital design inspiration. Instead, they highlight everything from photography to architecture. And as any creative knows, breadth and variety of inspiration can stimulate whole new ways of approaching any problem.
A wide variety of formats
Abduzeedo also brings diversity to their inspiration game via the wide variety of media they work in. Besides their daily showcases, they also bring the creativity through long-form stories, wallpapers, and even (gasp) IRL events.
Run by Daniel Howells of Howells Studio, siteInspire boasts a huge library of inspirational websites you can easily filter with an extensive tagging system. Using multiple tags at once can really refine the type of web inspiration you get, and diverse combinations can produce some interesting results.
Why you should go to siteInspire for web design inspiration
An elegant tagging system helps you dial in the right inspiration.
As you freelancers and agency designers know well, sometimes you need inspiration for a specific industry or business vertical. Whatever industry you need inspiration for, siteInspire’s subject tags will get you to the right place.
Sometimes, you’re less interested in a subject or industry than you are in the overall layout, or even just a specific design pattern.
Unfortunately, when you search for things like “unusual navigation” on other inspiration sites, the results aren’t usually what you’re looking for. Fortunately, siteInspire has filters/tags just for that and they’re great for finding hyper-targeted inspiration.
5. Behance – Discover
Behance’s web design discover page makes it really easy to find massive amounts of web design inspiration from their huge, diverse creative community. Toggle your search settings to specify timeframes, popularity, and/or location. For example, you can do a search for the “most appreciated web designs from the last week in Toronto, Canada” and find these results. If nothing else, it’ll give you a whole new appreciation for the size — and talent — of the world’s creative community!
Why you should go to Behance for web design inspiration
Given that Behance is part of the Adobe family of companies, it’s probably the world’s largest and most active creative community. And its extremely detailed filtering options can help you find just about anything you’re looking for, from the latest hot typography from Japan, to the most-discussed UI designs coming out of Mexico, to the best copywriting out of your own hometown.
Filters like “most appreciated” give you a peek into the creative collective unconscious, and ensure you see the best of the best — from the perspective of the best.
The “tools used” filter
Most inspiration sites are agnostic about the tools used in the creative process. Not so Behance, which gives you a handy way to see what people are doing with a given platform or tool with its Tools Used filter (under “Additional Filters”). Here’s the world’s most appreciated projects made with Webflow, for example.
Awwwards’ respected award system attracts submissions of the highest quality — i.e., those that continually push the borders between art and web design.
The quality of the inspiration reflects the quality of the jury. (Which includes Webflow wiz, Timothy Noah and our own Ryan Morrison.) Awwwards has enlisted the help of some of web design’s best to judge the quality of each submission.
Why you should go to Awwwards for web design inspiration
If you leave the Webbys (which are a bit broader in scope) out of the equation, Awwwards is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to acknowledging the highest-quality web design produced today. And there are a couple of reasons for that.
Expert jury voting
While most inspiration sites are personal or side projects, Awwwards has hand-picked a jury of web experts to weigh in on each submitted site. And they don’t just evaluate a site based on how “pretty” it is: instead, they consider each site’s design, usability, creativity, and content, give each dimension a score, then calculate a total score. They even explain the scoring system.
Breakdowns in detail pages
But the transparency doesn’t stop at sharing their scoring system. They actually display each jury member’s scoring across all four dimensions, right on the site’s detail page — along with the scores of regular community members (which you’re welcome to become by joining).
Finally, Awwwards tags each site with a host of terms detailing frameworks and platforms used, dominant colors, and industry/vertical details.
Editor’s note: My one wish for Awwwards would be that it give content more than 10% of the final overall score. Seems like an injustice to all those hardworking copywriters and content-rich sites out there.
7. Product Pages
While many of the best design inspiration sites give you a ton of highly granular tools for finding exactly what you’re looking for, there’s also a deep joy to be found in “accidental” discovery.
Pages provides that experience with a feed-focused design you can view in list or grid format — as well as a straightforward search tool that might speed up the process if you need something specific. But I get the impression that Pages’ designers would rather you dive right into the feed so you can find something a little unexpected. As long as you’re looking for product marketing website inspiration, that is.
Why you should go to Product Pages for web design inspiration
If you’re currently in the early stages of designing a product marketing website, this is the website you’ve been looking for.
Marketing website inspiration
While many other inspirational sites focus on more “razzle-dazzle” pages, Pages is the place to go for the (somewhat more) straightforward art of designing to persuade. The sites enshrined here offer a host of great ideas on different ways to present product screenshots, how to tackle the difficult process of writing headlines, and how to build strong navigational systems that don’t distract too much from the holy grail: a conversion.
Inspiration for page optimizations
As designers, we all know how annoying it can be when the marketing person asks for help optimizing a pricing or checkout page. Usually his name is something like Tim and he’s constantly trying to litter brightly colored buttons throughout the site. Luckily, Pages has pricing, checkout, and store page categories that help you give that ugly suggestion Tim gave some style.
8. The Great Discontent
Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come from a visual source — and isn’t limited to a specific project. Instead, you might find a motivational story that pushes you to go further with your work and career, so you can design your way into new avenues.
For those moments, The Great Discontent’s interviews can kindle your creative fire. Jump into Q&As with successful designers, art directors, illustrators, and more, and grab some insight into what makes them — and their careers — tick.
Why you should go to The Great Discontent for web design inspiration
Intimate interviews with design industry leaders
Sometimes, the design industry can feel hyper-focused on concrete things like deliverables, workflows, tools, and best practices.
All that’s powerful, and much needed, but it can also lead us to lose sight of the real human beings behind the pixels — and the often-powerful stories that led them to their dream careers. The Great Discontent affords us a rare, personal glimpse behind the screens to explore more nebulous, but ultimately more emotional topics like the links between creativity and vulnerability, the power of stories, and the often-difficult art of saying no.
It’s powerful stuff, and could do more to inspire you than all the eye-candy 16 Dribbbles could offer.
9. A List Apart
From its origins as a humble mailing list, A List Apart has grown into a key destination for the design community, becoming a reliable resource for quality articles that rise above the norm.
I mean, how do you not read the journal that published Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design”? (Which, in case you’ve been on Mars lately, basically started “the whole responsive design thing.”)
Why you should go to A List Apart for web design inspiration
In-depth written content
If you’re looking for the top 25 WordPress themes of 2019, A List Apart is not for you. But if you’re looking for thoughtful, innovative takes on the finer points of designing for our digital world from the best designers on the web–it’s the best damn design journal on the web.
10. Brutalist Websites
This is a bit of a hot take, but: in a design world dominated by websites that need, above all, to attract new users and make more money, the raw, middle finger raised to UX that Brutalism represents can be a bit of a breath of fresh air.
Overall, the sites gathered here offer an intriguing glimpse of what the web can be when creativity needn’t concern itself with conversions. And while brutalism’s certainly not the only way to explore that theme, it is a weirdly compelling one.
Why you should go to Brutalist Websites for web design inspiration
Truly artistic inspiration
Most of the web is not about self-expression. Instead, it’s about growth: new readers, new subscribers, new customers. It’s popups, ads, takeovers, and sponsored content.
Brutalism, by contrast, is ripping open a space where designers can do what they want, rather than what they should. The works created here eschew all the optimization advice and best practices lists in favor of looks and effects that live in the jarring, and sometimes border on the offensive (to expectations, anyway).
If you like to see creative designers let loose and not worry about making the sale, Brutalist Websites may be your cup of tea.
Straight up fun design inspiration
The other great thing about Brutalist Websites is how weirdly riveting these “unpolished” designs can be. It’s easy to get lost in the sites it curates, marveling at just how 90s-Myspace NO, SHE DOESN’T LABEL is, or even how downright good a site like Internet Warriors is.
Brutalist Websites is a site you go to for surprise. And one of those surprises is just how close brutalist websites can be to the rest of the internet — you know, the parts that haven’t been optimized to death.
11. Admire The Web
Admire The Web is another strong resource due to its high-quality curated content. Searching through the website proves a touch more cumbersome than others, but the reward is in the abundant content.
Why you should go to Admire The Web for web design inspiration
Admire The Web may not be be winning any design awards itself, but its content is extensively tagged, so if you don’t mind straining your eyes a little, you’ll be uncovering a rich vein of themed inspiration in no time.
Something that I think a lot of sites need these days is the classic, Amazon-style “Similar content.” While it’s easy to brush off when the match isn’t so accurate, when you do find that post that really inspires you, similar content makes it easy to keep tunneling down that rabbit hole of inspiration.
12. Template Monster
A theme shop might not be the first place you think of when you’re looking for creative inspiration. After all, the designs tend to the more generic side of the visual spectrum.
However, Template Monster can be a really effective place to jump off from, since quality themes tend to have really good architecture and often pay close attention to best practices.
Use themes as inspiration by reviewing their content structure and design patterns, then layer on your own creative spin based on the project’s needs.
Why you should go to Template Monster for web design inspiration
Quality inspiration for best practices
While design “best practices” can vary across industries, and are often founded more in conjecture and tradition than analysis, they’re well-worth exploring — especially when you’re designing something for an unfamiliar industry. With over 25k templates in almost every vertical, you’re sure to find something that’ll help.
Editor’s note: other popular theme shops, from giants like Themeforest to boutiques like Pixel Union, can also be superb places to look for inspiration.
I know what you’re thinking: why is a site focused on mobile app designs featured in a web design inspiration list?!
Well, for starters, here at Webflow, we’re all about responsive design. So any mobile app can serve as a superb source of inspiration for your smaller-breakpoint designs. Plus, if you abstract away from the medium a bit, it’s not at all hard to imagine how a mobile design pattern might influence your larger-screen designs.
Plus, Pttrns features more screens from each curated app, so you can easily get a broader sense of how design patterns play out across multiple environments, and create consistency (or introduce difference) across the course of a flow.
Why you should go to Pttrns for web design inspiration
Unlike many other sites, Pttrns focuses (surprisingly) on design patterns, divvying up featured apps in categories like “confirmation,” “ask permission,” and “activity feed.” So if you’re looking for inspiration within a small subset of an interaction or flow, Pttrns will serve you up the best collection of results.
While many of the designs and breakdowns in Pttrns are native apps, we all know that mobile web is pretty much on par with native these days, so pulling mobile web layout inspiration from here is great.
Designspiration is like the Pinterest of the design world in that it’s a simply massive, community-curated feed you can dive into for hours at a time. It doesn’t focus on any particular form of design inspiration, but does give you the tools to focus in on particular themes if you’d like.
Why you should go to Designspiration for web design inspiration
Few curation sites add the personal element that comes from allowing you to save the things that inspire you. Instead of focusing on ephemeral, project-based inspiration, Designspiration lets you build up a personal cache of inspiring sites, and adjusts its feed based on your tastes. There’s pros and cons to that, of course, but sometimes there’s nothing like a stream fine-tuned to you.
This is definitely one of my favorites — in part because you can use it as more of a utility than a passive inspiration tool. Calltoidea features web design inspiration in categories for almost every page a designer might come across in their career. Packed with everything from 404 pages to admin dashboards, Calltoidea can help you can find great designs to build off or deviate from whenever you need them.
Why you should go to Calltoidea for web design inspiration
Robust assortment of page categories
As designers, we sometimes get caught up in the really fun work we get to do, like homepages, leading us to focus less on the vital but “boring” pages that hit visitors at crucial/emotional times (such as login, 404, pricing, etc.).
Many inspiration sites skimp on such pages, but Calltoidea focuses on just those – so you can make sure you’re putting some of your best work into those crucial pages.
16. Commerce Cream
Commerce Cream curates some of the best-looking ecommerce website designs submitted by design agencies. If you’re looking for some ecommerce inspiration, Commerce Cream is a great resource to find a wide variety of design styles — including original, bold, modern, and minimal designs.
Why you should go to Commerce Cream for web design inspiration
Commerce Cream is a great place to find ecommerce design inspiration because they only feature the best-looking online stores out there. They also show you the agencies behind the designs, allowing you to discover impressive portfolios from some of the best web design agencies.
Quality designs only
Websites submitted on Commerce Cream are vetted before they make the website. Anyone can submit a store, but only select stores are picked to be featured. This ensures that all websites displayed are backed by quality design agencies.
Find the agencies behind the designs
Being able to find the design agency behind your favorite website design is like discovering a candy store. It opens the door to discovering even more design inspiration from a particular style you like. This can give you the opportunity to view other portfolio work from the agencies that create your favorite designs.
Depending on how often you look for web design inspiration, you’ve probably come across Dribbble. Dribbble is a community of designers that share, grow their skills, and find design work — all in one marketplace. It’s a great resource for any designer, but specifically good at being a resource for design inspiration.
Why you should go to Dribbble for web design inspiration
Dribbble has a large showcase of designs — everything from print to web design. It’s a great resource for finding inspiration outside of just web design.
Finding inspiration outside of web design
Sometimes the best ideas come from you doing something completely new. Try looking for web design inspiration in graphic designs or animations. Dribbble has a diverse variety of designs across multiple fields of work to help get creative.
Maybe you’ve heard of this not so little website called Pinterest? Pinterest is a hub for distributed content across the internet. From cooking recipes to design inspiration — Pinterest has it all. If you search for “web design inspiration” on Pinterest, you’ll see all the users who “pinned” their favorite web design content for others to see.
Why you should go to Pinterest for web design inspiration
Pinterest not only allows you to find inspiring designs for your own work, but it can also help you find content to inspire, shape, or change your whole design career trajectory. Because anyone can post on Pinterest, you’ll find a wide variety of content from website showcases to valuable blog posts.
19. Select agency/designer portfolios
Inspiring agencies and creatives can also help you find that spark your project may need. Which portfolios you prefer and return too, however, can be a little more personal, so it’ll take a little work to build your stockpile. Create a go-to list of portfolios to save time in the future, and add to it as you discover more. Here are a few to kickstart your collection:
Okay, so maybe we’re a little biased. But we definitely believe our very own Showcase section contains enough inspiration to keep you fully stocked for months at a time. Plus, it’s a great way to see what you can do with Webflow — without writing code.
Why you should go to Webflow for web design inspiration
Because it’s the best way to see all the remarkable things people are doing with Webflow, naturally.
Where do you get inspiration?
What inspiration sources get you going creatively? Share your favorite inspiration sources in the comments below, and we’ll add the best to the list.