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Helpful Tools and Resources for Web Design Inspiration

by Jake Rocheleau

on February 1, 2013

in Resources

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Over the past few years I have been digging through links containing important resources for inspiration. It can be difficult pinpointing ideas for new website projects, startups, mobile apps, or other types of digital media. But the amount of material already online is simply astonishing.

In this post I want to share a few resources I use for weekly and monthly design inspiration. These probably will not be perfect for everybody, however it is a nice collection worthy of some attention. And I think newer designers will find these resources perfect for learning about the current industry trends. Most people can learn quicker by studying at first, and it helps when applying design styles into your later projects.

Open Source Projects

I feel this is a bit strange for an opening topic, but definitely one of my favorite resources currently. cmmntr is a Japanese website which publishes English news & resources for web designers. However these are not just articles, but instead free open source projects and webapps for use online.

cmmntr website interface laoyut 2013 screenshot

Along with the typical Github repos you will find loads of inspirational goodies. Also plenty of PSD/AI freebies are released on the frontpage, along with some of the best icon sets. I will admit that cmmntr is geared more towards web development – but it is still a fantastic resource for web designers too.

It is also worth pointing out that the website is community-based. This means you can submit articles into the site and they can be reviewed for publication on the frontpage. Developers and designers are encouraged to submit materials and keep the community alive.

CSS Galleries

Another classy resource for design inspiration is within CSS galleries. You can find loads of these examples within Google but I want to present 2 of my favorites. New members will submit their websites and tag them based on colors, columns, and other traits in the design.

CSS Heaven website interface layout screenshot 2013

The first site is called CSS Heaven, which I simply adore for the excellent layout design. Each website is given their own block in the grid and there are simple external links attached onto each one. Sometimes many of these CSS galleries will force you to click onto an inner page before getting an outbound link. Their simplicity has won me over time and time again when digging around for categorized website inspiration.

awwwards carsonified website bestof designs showcase

Also the Awwwards Site Gallery has some pristine examples of modern day design trends. I also find the layout very easy to navigate, but am more impressed with the quality of submissions. Editors on the backend are reviewing each submission for quality assurance, to make sure published websites are worthy of being in the gallery.They have been online for so long that you’ll find hundreds of great examples for any number of keywords.

Dribbble Shots

All designers around the world who know about Dribbble are clamoring to get into the network. It is an excellent marketing tool for displaying your talents, and can potentially replace an online portfolio website(if necessary). It’s also great for meeting other talented artists.

Personally I find their popular section to be packed full of amazing talent. These are the most recent Dribbble shots which have been viewed & liked by the most members of the community. These shots can often include other forms of design, but you will find an enormous collection of mobile and website interfaces.

screenshot Dribbble homepage website january 2013

If you have never been onto Dribbble before I highly recommend checking it out. Many of our recent showcases have included Dribbble shots related to mobile design. And if you are looking for specific design styles you can always limit results in the search bar.

Social News Communities

There are some news aggregators online which are generally geared towards design influence. Other examples tend towards frontend development, software programming, databases, and other technical realms. My current favorite example is Design Newz which is powered by user submissions.

inspiration social news articles webdesign front page

The frontpage does often contain links to more development-related articles. But these will often post their source code for free download which is always helpful as a study aide. Additionally many of the inspirational articles are more unique than the other generic design blogs. I would have to recommend checking out their RSS feed if you are a subscriber of brand-new design trends.

social media news user submitted content designfloat.com

Another classic web design community is Design Float which has been publishing articles for 3-4 years now. It’s a highly-trafficked social media website and there are new publications every day. Most of their articles do pertain to design and inspirational galleries for graphics/photography. But it is definitely a top resource for design influence on the web.

Final Thoughts

I hope this catalog may provide some helpful links for designers. The art of building quality websites can take years of practice before reaching a competitive edge. But the best way to start practicing is by studying what you love, and replicating your favorite techniques.

Start practicing on demo websites you want to build related to your niche. These smaller projects can take 3-4 hours if you’re only doing a wireframe or frontpage mockup. And it is a great technique for stretching out your hands into various areas of web design! If we have missed any cool resources feel free to share with us in the discussion area.

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About Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a frontend user experience designer and frequent blogger. He writes about all things web and mobile design. Check out his updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau. Connect with Jake on google+