When you’re ready to start your website design project, you will likely be asked to choose some sites within your industry niche that you find effective and aesthetically on point. You’ll want to be able to reference websites that you like and don’t like for: color and palette, navigation and site structure, layout and messaging. While not everyone is blessed with the artist gene, most of us have the ability to judge whether a site would be credible in a customer’s eyes based on their industry.
Our customers often struggle to find a lot of well designed sites to offer as examples of what they like . They tend to look at competitors sites rather than finding examples of what they would aspire to become in the online world. We urge our customers to look outside their competitive sphere.
To start your research, try searching your industry niche outside of your geographic borders. For instance “divorce attorney Oregon.” If you are a national or global company, look at industry verticals rather than direct competitors to gather ideas. You might start with a simple search of your industry, followed by “web design examples/inspiration/portfolio” for instance “software web design inspiration” – using an image search in Google. If that doesn’t work, here are some resources that may help.
Website Design Inspiration at your Fingertips
There are several places you can go online to see large portfolios of web design examples. Beginning your project with strong examples of what style you like will be incredibly helpful for your website design team. The more you know about what you want and don’t want before you get started, the faster the process will go.
With that in mind, here are 6 places you can visit to get inspiration for an upcoming web design.
- CSSmania. FYI: CSS stands for cascading style sheet, which is a guideline of how HTML elements will appear “in real life” on a page or in digital media. CSSmania curates excellent website designs (submitted by designers and web design aficionados) and displays them in their online gallery. It’s a great place to go to identify “likes” from “dislikes” to see if any patterns emerge.
- Behance – Great designers from around their world display their work here making it a great source of inspiration. Easily sort by graphic design, interactive design, motion, illustration and more.
- CSS Design Awards. As the name implies, this web design awards site is a gold mine for – literally – award winning website designs. There are awards for the day, month, year, etc. so you can filter your searches to view as many or as few as you like. Winning sites have been scored according to creativity, HTML coding and function, as well as UX (user experience) and content – which means that even those artsy-fartsy sites still have to work in a legitimate way.
- Awwwards. Here’s another site that displays award-winning websites. This site weights their four judgment categories – design, usability, creativity and content. So, for example, design counts for 40% while content only counts for 10%. This is a good thing for you since you care more about “looks” at this point, content will come later.
- PatternTap. This site was acquired by Zurb.com tool and keeps designers and their clients tapped into ever-evolving realm of website design. Look at a range of website patterns and layouts, from various perspectives, and see what resonates with your brand.
- Site Inspire– Website designs that are easily sorted by styles, types, subject and platform.
- Smashing Magazine. We started with the basics and we’re ending with a source fit for pros. Smashing Magazine is an industry website, written specifically for web designers/developers. There, you can glean in-depth insight and design theory for your company’s new website design; plus, you can use the insider’s information you learn from SM to vet potential website design companies. It’s a litmus test for sussing out whether their approach is relevant or outdated.
Studying any one of these great resources for website design inspiration will provide valuable insights into your style and taste. So when you’re ready to pull the trigger on an updated design you’ll be able to clearly communicate with visual examples. Good Luck.
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