Note: This post originally appeared on the Cheb.com.au design blog on the 8th Sept 2008 – we have moved it to its new home here at Elastique.
It’s been a long time and boy have I missed blogging. There have been a couple of endeavours I have been working on for the past couple of months which have kept me busy — enough that as much as I’d love to, I just don’t have any hours left over to blog. Hopefully a change is on the way and we see a bit more blogs going up!
We are going to start this week by tackling the issue web designers (and developers) for that matter always face at some stage in their careers; a loss of creative juices. Sometimes losing your creative juices can’t come at a worst time; i.e. you have an appointment to go through a concept with your boss in 1 hour and you haven’t started! Oh Oh!
So let’s get going and look at a couple of ways which have helped me get my creative juices flowing in the past.
Web design inspiration: Getting your groove back…
1. Look around you for inspiration
Where we live, work, eat, sleep and more has a lot to offer in terms of inspiration. Whether it be the retro ‘Astro Boy’ poster on your wall or pattern-infused bed sheets – look around you and you will find something that will get your visual and creative juices flowing. Next time you are on a trip in the car or on a bus/train, look around you. Signage, foliage, Zebra-stripes and more can help.
2. Check out web design galleries
Web design galleries have been shown to offer tons of inspiration. Galleries like: CSS Remix, CSS Mania, CSS Drive, CSS Elite, CSS Beauty, CSS Vault, CSS Import, Screenfluent, Screenalicio.us, We Love WP, Design Snack, Web Creme, Best Web Gallery and more showcase some exceptional design work which will definitely give you a bit of an edge when designing your own websites.
3. Visit your local record store
You may think this is a bit left-field, but there have been numerous times when I have rummaged through a record store for inspiration. Record stores hold a lot of design inspiration in the form of CD/DVD album art. I have found that many alternative/rock bands have cool album art – generally not a physical representation of the band, but a graphical or uber-cool concept art. Here are some examples of cool album art that can offer plenty of design inspiration.
4. Visit an art gallery or museum
Art galleries are a great place to find inspiration. Whether it be a painting, or a statue of a 15th-century water creature – but above all, the buildings themselves! – as they say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
5. Buy some books
Books are always great for inspiration – even non design-based books! Anything from the spine of the book to the front or back cover can provide inspiration – however, actual books based on designs are great too.
6. Check out other designer’s work
This is an important one… There is nothing like looking at your peers’ designs for inspiration. Start with sites like Deviant Art and Threadless - both design communities which are constantly updated with heaps, and I mean heaps of design and other forms of inspiration.
7. Take some photographs of interesting objects and textures
Next time you’re out on a walk or driving around with mates, keep a camera handy. It doesn’t have to be a $900 SLR or anything like that – just anything which is capable of taking, ahh, photos! This is an important step in getting your groove back because you just never know what you come across that offers some sort/form of inspiration. It could be as simple as graffiti which gets those juices flowing, or maybe the sun setting above green pastures. Seriously – what do you have to lose? Try it!
8. Walk around a thrifty or antique store
You know those beaten-down stores that you might have to travel 20km or miles to get to? Yup, those stores that only seem to invite in old(er), men or women – or in certain cases, maybe your mum (or dad, for that matter) seeking that something special. Perhaps a dog-eared special edition of a novel which you cannot find anywhere else, or maybe that Tibetan-inspired lamp. Rummage through these stores for ideas – you will never know how much visual ‘gold’ they store until you walk into one.
As they say, one person’s trash, is another man’s treasure. If you don’t want to buy something, at least take a notepad and a pencil, or perhaps a camera and take happy snaps… As long as the shop owner doesn’t mind, that is!
9. Plan out your designs by creating wireframes and prototypes
Just remember, designs don’t always start out in Photoshop (or whatever you use!). Great designs have a back-story; a skelaton, per say. Start by laying down the basic foundations – i.e. logotype on the top left, search/login on the top right, navigation, sub-navigation, content area and footer – and you will find you are half way there. Simple ideas such as effects on hovers, etc. will guide your design juices into the right direction. Combine that with some imagery and a bit of flair, and you’re suddenly the main actor in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back II’.
10. Check out other types of media for inspiration
Turn on the TV, check out the local newspaper – heck, even listen to the radio. You will most likely see or hear something that will get you off the beaten track. I find magazines and newspapers have plenty of inspiration. Something as simple as a telephone advert in a newspaper can give you ideas about your next gig. It’s that simple. I know it sounds like something every designer shoud know – but apparently some designers believe that the only medium they can seek an oracle on is the ‘net. Reality check, anyone?
So there you go guys – another one bites the dust. I will hopefully have a bit more time on my hands to draft up some more inspiration but for now sign up to the RSS Feed for more news and articles. Till next time, C.