Whether you are planning to build a successful brand, create a stunning website, or simply enjoy all things creative, the web is packed with inspiration. However, with thousands of sites and blogs devoted to design, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lost in all of the content. Here are my top ten personal favorite sites for design inspiration:

Web Creme: The minimalist layout of this site lets the designs do the talking. Web Creme’s archive showcases some of te most forward thinking sites out there.  When I am looking for web design inspiration, this is usually the first place I go.

Moo: It’s one thing to be able to see something well designed on your computer screen, but actually being able to hold and feel a beautiful piece of print work is something else. At Moo, they are primarily known for their high quality printing, but its best-kept secret is underneath the “ideas” tab. Their inspiration gallery is full of great ideas for print materials – everything from business cards to stickers and more.

Design Taxi: Inspiration can be drawn from many different areas. Something as simple as the curve of a beautiful piece of furniture can lead to inspiration for a logo or an organic layout for a website. Design Taxi goes beyond simply featuring good design, and pulls inspiration from many unique levels of life. It is also packed with articles for designers and firms about leadership, creativity, and running your business.

Pinterest: Pinterest is currently the fastest growing social network, with a primarily female demographic researching craft ideas, recipes, and fashion. But it is also an excellent resource for design. You can either sort through their Design tab, or simply search for what you need. The best part is, Pinterest allows its users to create online ‘pinboards’ where they can collect and display their favorite designs. But be careful, once you start pinning it’s hard to stop!

Behance: Behance is a powerhouse resource for designers. Creative professionals from all over the industry use this site to showcase their best work and collaborate with other users. Some of the creativity on this site is simply mind blowing. Visit their blog for an array of fantastic art and design work. Also if you are a designer looking to build a portfolio site, sign up for Pro Site. This is ideal if you don’t have a lot of web experience – their templates are simplistic and clean, and don’t require any programming.

Web Design Ledger: Like Web Creme, Web Design Ledger has a great showcase of designs, as well as a lot of resources for developers. They also have a lot more specialized articles that showcase creative use of navigation, examples of minimalist web design, and the use of specific design elements. If you’re looking for a wide range of creative web design resources, this is your site.

Design Fridge: This site is wonderfully easy to navigate. All of its designs are categorized by a specific theme. Want a site with a blue color scheme? There’s a category for that. Are you a restaurant? There’s a category for that too. No need to browse through hundreds (sometimes thousands) of designs if you are looking for something specific. Start here.

Cart Frenzy: Looking to build an e-commerce site? Check out Cart Frenzy. E-Commerce, or “shopping cart” sites are considerably different from other sites because of the organization of content. This site will help steer you in the right direction with their showcase of successfully organized and well-designed shopping cart sites.

Logo Faves: As the name suggests, this gallery site is devoted to successful (and really awesome) logo designs. All designs are submitted and voted on by users, so you can browse by the most popular logos and highest rated designs. Check out this site for innovative, clever and beautiful branding work.

Smashing Magazine: Smashing is a great resource for web developers looking for some useful and innovative ideas. Of course not all of us are web developers, but if you are looking to get some perspective into the work it takes to build a site, it may help to browse this site. It’s not as scary as it sounds. (Also every month they come out with some really neat desktop themes to download – for free!) (www.smashingmagazine.com)

One of the greatest things I’ve read about design is “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away1”. As with any design process, it’s important to approach your project with a plan. Know where to go and don’t get too distracted by the never-ending resource that is the internet. Organize your thoughts and focus on what your design needs to achieve. And most importantly, keep it simple.

Elise Thomas
Graphic + Web Designer

1Antoine de Saint Exupéry