Ok picture the scene – You’re on the last day of your sprint and you need to come up with a solution to a design problem. You don’t feel like you’re in a creative space, the pressure is on. You need inspiration.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is go and look for ideas from somewhere else – you could look at how a competitor handles it. If that isn’t enough, you need to look beyond your own niche and at products in general.
When I have these moments, I need inspiration and ideas. Over the years I’ve gone from reading as much as I could from online galleries, to just boiling it down to a small list that I find gives me everything I need. Here are my go-to sources for inspiration. I’ve divided them into sections, depending on the particular need.
User Interface Design
Design trends come and go, but making something with great user experience will last. When I’m stuck for a design solution, I will check the 3 sources below.
Ok so this one has a lot of ‘Weather UI’ designs… and I think most people will know what I mean by that. Some of the designs here aren’t for actual products.
I love LittleBigDetails,. It celebrates the ‘signature moments’ a designer would add to a product that sometimes we don’t notice. The website is easy to navigate using the tags and the website search.
With websites like Dribbble, a lot of the things that get celebrated are designs that have no basis in reality. LittleBigDetails celebrate the fun and interesting details that actually make it into the live deployment.
Ptterns is a great collection of screen grabs of well designed interfaces. I especially love the way you can sort by device, by platform and also by category. It’s great if you’re stuck on how to arrange a particular page. The patterns that are featured are actually part of real apps or websites that is in use. There are no Weather UI* designs here, no concept designs. (well, maybe there are weather apps, but they would actually be a real product)
Interaction Design Patterns
I find it’s always inspiring to check out the CSS galleries. They can often have some new interaction pattern or animation that I probably hadn’t considered. Here are a few galleries I check out every now and again when I need an animation or interaction pattern.
This one came recommended by a former colleague, and I love checking it every now and again to see what fresh and beautiful solutions are possible with code. A lot of people excited a few years ago with the “Minimal Form” design pattern – it was a completely fresh approach. “Circular Navigation” is another idea that looks really interesting.
Again this is mainly code, but I find looking at CSS techniques is the most inspirational way to find an interesting or suitable interaction pattern.
General Design Inspiration
Working in design can be overwhelming. Every day it seems like there is a new device or a new trend to read up on. Reading every single gallery and blog is exhausting, and you don’t need to do it. To keep up with trends, I check these 2 sources regularly.
Muzli (Plugin for Chrome)
The Muzli Plugin for Chrome is great. When I get to my desk the morning, I drink my coffee, open a new chrome tab and browse the main headlines from a range of sources including DesignerNews, Smashing Magazine and anything noteworthy on Dribbble. While it’s more on the visual side of the scale, it’s great to be aware of current design trends.
Word of warning: once the my.pottermore.com/patronus website that popped up, and our entire team spent about half an hour figuring out which Patronus each person had. Which was fun, but also, you know… distracting.
This one takes me back quite a lot. I’ve been checking this once since college and I still love it. Designspiration is more about graphic design and photography, which are both things I am interested in. If I was stuck on a design problem, I’d check one of the others mentioned above.
So there it is! My current list of sources to stay inspired and up to date with design trends. I hope you find it helpful, and I’d love to hear from you – what are your favourite sources for design inspiration?
*Weather UI : When people make up a concept project to work on.