Before we start on a web design for a client, the designers spend time doing research and searching for inspiration. When they are working on tight deadlines on multiple projects a week for everything from retailers to manufacturers to insurance companies I am always impressed by their fresh ideas and creativity. How do they do it week after week? (Besides the fact that they are crazy talented!)
I noticed through their time logs that they have a daily routine of surfing the web, reading design blogs, and basically keeping their eyes on what is going on around the web. This time to explore is an investment in their talent and pays off for every site we produce. When I asked Lea she gave me a list of sites that they turn to regularly for ideas and inspiration.awwwards.com
The Awwwards mission is to discover, recognize, and promote the talent and effort of web designers, developers, and agencies who create unique digital experiences that are useful, innovative, intuitive, and beautiful. You can filter a massive archive of sites that got honorable mention or won the Site of the Day awards based on category, tags, or (yes!) color! fromupnorth.com
From up North is a design blog focusing on promoting and inspiring designers with inspiration within Graphic Design, Advertising, Photography, Illustration, Web Design, Motion Graphics, Print & Packaging just to name a few. It also has industry news, interviews with top designers, and articles to help keep our skills up to date and our finger on the pulse of emerging trends. zurb.com/university/library
Part educational, part eye candy. Zurb is an internationally renowned design firm that works with many of the fortune 500 on product, software, and web design. They share a large amount of their work and have created an educational resource for product designers. As part of that they have a library of designs. I love the Triggers, Lea likes their Responsive gallery and on the more technical side, Pattern Tap, which gets into the nitty gritty details of user interaction in websites. siteinspire.com
This is a good collection of web sites and interaction design. What makes it great is the ability to filter the sites based on style, types and subjects. Looking for inspiration for an annual report with interesting typography? it is only a few clicks away. unmatchedstyle.com
This site features sites that are great looking, have great interaction, and show good use of web standards. In addition to the galleries, it includes articles, interviews, and discussion. My favourite feature is a collection of screencasts of design reviews of selected sites. You can learn a lot listening to what they think makes the sites innovative and effective.
And as a bonus, I will throw in Pinterest. Search for "Web Design" and you will find lots of eye candy.