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10 amazing sources of web design inspiration

10 amazing sources of web design inspiration

Having a bank of the best website design inspirations has proven a huge asset to my workflow. With a go-to list of inspirational resources, I can jump into projects faster and more effectively with a surplus of design ideas, and better meet the demands of any creative brief.

A web design project’s scope can quickly narrow down the number of resources available, making it tough to find the right web designs for inspiration for your task. But having a few reliable starting places can help you meet clients’ needs, while encouraging you to explore new design solutions, keep up with design trends, and push your creativity.

Whether you’re an experienced web designer or just starting out, here are 20 sources I use for website design inspiration:

1. Best Website Gallery
A highly curated gallery of premium web design inspiration run by one man, David Hellmann. He started this side project way back in 2008, and he’s still going strong, perhaps because it also serves as David’s personal inspiration gallery.

(Which is a pretty great idea, come to think of it. Perhaps, by the end of this post, you’ll be inspired — and armed — to start building a personal inspiration gallery of your own!)

Best Website Gallery, or BWG, uses a tagging system so you can quickly find sites based on their style, design approach, functionality, and more. And with over 2,000 quality websites to peruse, this comes in handy.

Why you should go to BWG for website design inspiration
Because BWG boasts an expansive, high-quality, curated gallery complete with search and a robust tagging system. It’s particularly good for:

1. Portfolio websites
If you’re the kind who likes to take part in the May 1st Reboot every year, it’s handy to have so many other designers’ online portfolios handy to steal from — I mean, get inspired by.

2. Agency websites
Agencies tend to attract the highest-caliber creatives, so their websites often rank high among the best of the best on the web. These can be inspiring not only for your own agency website, but also any client, business, or portfolio site.

3. Color inspiration
BWG gives you the ability to filter sites by color, so you can easily find a beautiful color palette that includes your client’s brand colors!

2. CSS Nectar
CSSnectar’s inspirational websites are triple-vetted. First, there’s a fee to submit a website for review, and I think it’s safe to assume people won’t pay to submit unless they’re confident in and proud of the work. Second, a team of creatives reviews each submission before it goes live.

Why you should go to CSSNectar for design inspiration
Three words: Triple. Vetted. Content.
While you can find human-curated content and design inspiration all around the web, a three-stage curation process that includes hand-picked experts really brings the cream of the crop to the top.

Detailed filtering options
CSS Nectar makes finding inspiration for specific site types easy with their tags and filters, which include category, feature, country, and color tags.

3. Abduzeedo
Abduzeedo offers up stiff doses of design inspiration on the daily — allowing you to keep up with today’s web design trends. And because the staff doesn’t limit itself to web design, you’ll find it helps you stretch your personal design paradigm into new dimensions. After all, there’s nothing to say your next website can’t be inspired by awesome graphic design in a print ad, right?

Why you should go to Abduzeedo for design inspiration
They highlight the full breadth of design disciplines
Abduzeedo isn’t just for digital design inspiration. Instead, they highlight everything from photography to architecture. And as any creative knows, breadth and variety of inspiration can stimulate whole new ways of approaching any problem.

A wide variety of formats
Abduzeedo also brings diversity to their inspiration game via the wide variety of media they work in. Besides their daily showcases, they also bring the creativity through long-form stories, wallpapers, and even (gasp) IRL events.

4. siteInspire
Run by Daniel Howells of Howells Studio, siteInspire boasts a huge library of inspirational websites you can easily filter with an extensive tagging system. Using multiple tags at once can really refine the type of web inspiration you get, and diverse combinations can produce some interesting results.

Why you should go to siteInspire for web design inspiration
An elegant tagging system helps you dial in the right inspiration.

Subject-based inspiration
As you freelancers and agency designers know well, sometimes you need inspiration for a specific industry or business vertical. Whatever industry you need inspiration for, siteInspire’s subject tags will get you to the right place.

Style-based navigation
Sometimes, you’re less interested in a subject or industry than you are in the overall layout, or even just a specific design pattern.

Unfortunately, when you search for things like “unusual navigation” on other inspiration sites, the results aren’t usually what you’re looking for. Fortunately, siteInspire has filters/tags just for that and they’re great for finding hyper-targeted inspiration.

5. Behance – Discover
Behance’s web design discover page makes it really easy to find massive amounts of web design inspiration from their huge, diverse creative community. Toggle your search settings to specify timeframes, popularity, and/or location. For example, you can do a search for the “most appreciated web designs from the last week in Toronto, Canada” and find these results. If nothing else, it’ll give you a whole new appreciation for the size — and talent — of the world’s creative community!

Why you should go to Behance for web design inspiration
Given that Behance is part of the Adobe family of companies, it’s probably the world’s largest and most active creative community. And its extremely detailed filtering options can help you find just about anything you’re looking for, from the latest hot typography from Japan, to the most-discussed UI designs coming out of Mexico, to the best copywriting out of your own hometown.

Community-curated inspiration
Filters like “most appreciated” give you a peek into the creative collective unconscious, and ensure you see the best of the best — from the perspective of the best.

The “tools used” filter
Most inspiration sites are agnostic about the tools used in the creative process. Not so Behance, which gives you a handy way to see what people are doing with a given platform or tool with its Tools Used filter (under “Additional Filters”). Here’s the world’s most appreciated projects made with Webflow, for example.

6. Awwwards
Awwwards’ respected award system attracts submissions of the highest quality — i.e., those that continually push the borders between art and web design.

The quality of the inspiration reflects the quality of the jury. (Which includes Webflow wiz, Timothy Noah and our own Ryan Morrison.) Awwwards has enlisted the help of some of modern web design’s best to judge the quality of each submission.

Why you should go to Awwwards for web design inspiration
If you leave the Webbys (which are a bit broader in scope) out of the equation, Awwwards is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to acknowledging the highest-quality web design produced today. And there are a couple of reasons for that.

Expert jury voting
While most inspiration sites are personal or side projects, Awwwards has hand-picked a jury of web experts to weigh in on each submitted site. And they don’t just evaluate a site based on how “pretty” it is: instead, they consider each site’s design, usability, creativity, and content, give each dimension a score, then calculate a total score. They even explain the scoring system.

Breakdowns in detail pages
But the transparency doesn’t stop at sharing their scoring system. They actually display each jury member’s scoring across all four dimensions, right on the site’s detail page — along with the scores of regular community members (which you’re welcome to become by joining).

Extensive tagging
Finally, Awwwards tags each site with a host of terms detailing different elements like frameworks and platforms used, dominant colors, and industry/vertical details.

Editor’s note: My one wish for Awwwards would be that it give content more than 10% of the final overall score. Seems like an injustice to all those hardworking copywriters and content-rich sites out there.

7. Product Pages

While many of the best design inspiration sites give you a ton of highly granular tools for finding exactly what you’re looking for, there’s also a deep joy to be found in “accidental” discovery.

Pages provides that experience with a feed-focused design you can view in list or grid format — as well as a straightforward search tool that might speed up the process if you need something specific. But I get the impression that Pages’ designers would rather you dive right into the feed so you can find something a little unexpected. As long as you’re looking for product marketing website inspiration, that is.

Why you should go to Product Pages for web design inspiration
If you’re currently in the early stages of designing a product marketing website, this is the website you’ve been looking for.

Marketing website inspiration
While many other inspirational sites focus on more “razzle-dazzle” pages, Pages is the place to go for the (somewhat more) straightforward art of designing to persuade. The sites enshrined here offer a host of great web design ideas on different ways to present product screenshots, how to tackle the difficult process of writing headlines, and how to build strong navigational systems that don’t distract too much from the holy grail: a conversion.

Inspiration for page optimizations
As designers, we all know how annoying it can be when the marketing person asks for help optimizing a pricing or checkout page. Usually his name is something like Tim and he’s constantly trying to litter brightly colored buttons throughout the site. Luckily, Pages has pricing, checkout, and store page categories with design concepts that help you give that ugly suggestion Tim offered some style.

8. The Great Discontent
Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come from a visual source — and isn’t limited to a specific project. Instead, you might find a motivational story that pushes you to go further with your work and career, so you can design your way into new avenues.

For those moments, The Great Discontent’s interviews can kindle your creative fire. Jump into Q&As with successful designers, art directors, illustrators, and more, and grab some insight into what makes them — and their careers — tick.

Why you should go to The Great Discontent for web design inspiration
Intimate interviews with design industry leaders
Sometimes, the design industry can feel hyper-focused on concrete things like deliverables, workflows, tools, and best practices.

All that’s powerful, and much needed, but it can also lead us to lose sight of the real human beings behind the pixels — and the often-powerful stories that led them to their dream careers. The Great Discontent affords us a rare, personal glimpse behind the screens to explore more nebulous, but ultimately more emotional topics like the links between creativity and vulnerability, the power of stories, and the often-difficult art of saying no.

It’s powerful stuff, and could do more to inspire you than all the eye-candy 16 Dribbbles could offer.

9. A List ApartFrom its origins as a humble mailing list, A List Apart has grown into a key destination for the design community, becoming a reliable resource for quality articles that rise above the norm.

I mean, how do you not read the journal that published Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design”? (Which, in case you’ve been on Mars lately, basically started “the whole responsive design thing.”)

Why you should go to A List Apart for web design inspiration
In-depth written content
If you’re looking for the top 25 WordPress themes of 2019, A List Apart is not for you. But if you’re looking for thoughtful, innovative takes on the finer points of designing for our digital world from the best designers on the web–it’s the best damn design journal on the web.

10. Brutalist Websites
This is a bit of a hot take, but: in a design world dominated by websites that need, above all, to attract new users and make more money, the raw, middle finger raised to UX that Brutalism represents can be a bit of a breath of fresh air.

You won’t see a lot of refined interactions, lovingly set type, or rigidly harmonious grids on Brutalist Websites. Instead, you’ll see grids broken 16 ways to Sunday, massive headlines set in ye olde “web safe” fonts, bizarre cursor-based effects that seem designed to obliterate rather than navigate a website, and scroll effects that seem designed to assault the senses.

Overall, the sites gathered here offer an intriguing glimpse of what the web can be when creativity needn’t concern itself with conversions. And while brutalism’s certainly not the only way to explore that theme, it is a weirdly compelling one.

Why you should go to Brutalist Websites for web design inspiration
Truly artistic inspiration
Most of the web is not about self-expression. Instead, it’s about growth: new readers, new subscribers, new customers. It’s popups, ads, takeovers, and sponsored content.

Brutalism, by contrast, is ripping open a space where designers can do what they want, rather than what they should. The works created here eschew all the optimization advice and best practices lists in favor of looks and effects that live in the jarring, and sometimes border on the offensive (to expectations, anyway).

If you like to see creative designers let loose and not worry about making the sale, Brutalist Websites may be your cup of tea.

Straight up fun design inspiration
The other great thing about Brutalist Websites is how weirdly riveting these “unpolished” designs can be. It’s easy to get lost in the sites it curates, marveling at just how 90s-Myspace NO, SHE DOESN’T LABEL is, or even how downright good a site like Internet Warriors is.

Brutalist Websites is a site you go to for surprise. And one of those surprises is just how close brutalist websites can be to the rest of the internet — you know, the parts that haven’t been optimized to death.

 
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