In the current information age where everything is connected and businesses are made (and broken) by engagement and reach, a compelling and stylish website is the key to retain visitors and customers. Whether you are building a personal portfolio or constructing the online bastion of a startup, web design is what will define the face of your brand – or you outright. Here are our top choices for web design inspiration and resources.
Designing an appealing and engaging site can be the key to success in the modern world, but you’ll need a place to start. In the professional world, ideas are cheap and the harsh reality is that most people have no idea what they’re doing – so it’s best to take some pointers from designs that already succeeded. Here are some great sources of inspiration for how your site will look like.
The incredibly intuitively named site dedicated entirely to being a free repository of swanky websites should be everyone’s first stop when looking for ideas and inspiration on building their own pages. You can submit your own creations, as well as pretty much any website on the net.
The whole idea here is to be a free resource, which includes web design inspiration and WordPress themes – but being free comes with some compromises. This isn’t really a technical tool that teaches you how to recreate what you see – the gallery just directly takes you to the submitted websites.
With a similarly intuitive name, the goal and purpose of Siteinspire is pretty much the same as above, with the added twist of being able to curate collections and add design credit to sites you designed yourself.
Additionally, with a tag-based categorization system, you can look for specific characteristics and styles within the repository, narrowing your pool of inspiration based on how you search. This is a great option for when you already have a rough idea.
Behance is a fantastic resource not just for web design inspiration, but creative endeavors of all manners. Featuring not just completed sites – or other stuff – Behance also supports work in progress project showcases, mood boards, prototypes and an even more in-depth search function than Siteinspire.
You also have a more direct way to engage with other creators, planting the seeds of collaboration and cooperation in the industry. Behance also has social features such as likes and sharing, giving you a better idea of what designs have their fingers on the pulse of the modern market as opposed to just being something someone somewhere took a fancy to.
The Dark Souls of online web design inspiration sites, CSS Nectar is a cut above the rest due to the sites appearing on the showcase being triple vetted, and submitting sites has a fee, which is a great filtering system ensuring that only the best of the best get submitted in the first place.
CSS Nectar gives you more insight into the technical side of why the design works on sites where it, well, works. Submissions are scored based on design, creativity and coding, and each day a different site gets the main showcase on the front page.
Looks are one thing – you also need to be able to create that website and ensure that it is usable. No matter how ace your aesthetics are, a site riddled with bugs and usage issues won’t be stormed by visitors. Content is what attracts an audience, but without a technical backbone it isn’t enough to keep them around.
UX stands for ‘user experience’, and has seen huge amounts of focus in recent years across all manner of industries. As more and more companies realized that alongside what users engage with, it’s equally – if not more – important how users engage with it, UX came to the forefront.
Beginners and amateurs make the common mistake of considering UX secondary. If anything, UX is the most essential element of web design. Remember, web design extends far beyond just how your site looks, and poor user experience will have netizens bouncing off your pages hard.
The wonderful thing about web design is that thousands of people have been doing it for decades – luckily, many are more than willing to share their experience, allowing newcomers to learn from their mistakes instead of their own.
Unless you are a web design virtuoso who reinvented the proverbial wheel, chances are other sites already figured out how to do what you want to do, and if you strip away enough of the surface level, many sites have identical underlying frameworks. HTML5 Boilerplate is a resource where foundational back-end files and pre-made building blocks are shared, allowing you to skip making them from scratch.
Color theory commands a much greater degree of influence over our lives than most think. We’re not speaking cuckoo color mysticism here, just basic proven psychology – and even if we don’t think about the various chemical reactions specific colors trigger in the human brain, a good or bad color scheme is still a lynchpin in creating the best website.
Adobe Color is an intuitive tool to play around with color combinations and schemes, while also sporting a library of schemes put together by other users. Not only is this a great way to fine-tune the shade of your site, but it also provides inspiration all in one neat package.
Ultimately, even these resources just scratch the surface of the true depths of web design – but everyone has to start somewhere. Nailing the design of your website can set you on the path to reaching and influencing millions across the globe; it’s best to take that first step as soon as possible.