15 Must Bookmark Sites for Design Inspiration

I’m a writer, not a designer, and when I have a creative block, the best cure is usually to just start writing. I may write pages and pages of crap, but eventually I’ll start to write something good again. That said, as a writer, reading the good writing of others is always helpful. For designers, it’s no different. Looking at good design will only help to inspire you to be better in your own design work. So below are 15 places to turn to for design inspiration.

Unmatched Style

CSS galleries are a dime a dozen, so only a couple made it to our list of inspirational sites for designers. Unmatched Style is one of the best, in our opinion. The designs are always beautiful, and users are encouraged to rate and comment on them. If you’re interested in other web design galleries, then check out the Web Gallery List, which lists over 200 of them.

FactoryJoe Flickr Stream

Open source advocate Chris Messina, aka “factoryjoe,” has one of the best Flickr streams to follow for designers. He’s constantly updating with screenshots of user interfaces, application designs, design elements, user interaction flows, and more. It’s an awesome place to dig through examples of what to do and what not to do when designing a page or an application.

DeviantArt

Founded in 2000, DeviantArt is likely the largest art and design showcase site on the Internet. According to Wikipedia the site has had over 62 million submissions and is receiving new ones at a clip of 80,000 per day. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of great art, photography, and design to sort through for inspiration.

ColourLovers

ColourLovers is a community of people who love color. Users share color ideas, palettes, and patterns on the site, making it an ideal place to draw inspiration for web design projects. Adobe runs a similar web site called Kuler.

LogoPond

As we said, there are a ton of web design galleries from which to draw inspiration, but LogoPond is one of the few galleries out there dedicated to logo design. The site offers up a huge number of amazing logos that can help to get your creative juices flowing.

CSS Zen Garden

CSS Zen Garden is one of the most inspiring design showcases because every page in the showcase is really the same. Starting with the same basic HTML, designers modify the CSS and images of the actual CSS Zen Garden site to create amazing, and original new versions.

Web Creme

The only other traditional design gallery on our list, Web Creme makes it for being discerning. It’s not easy to get a site on Web Creme, and we can see why. This highly moderated site only selects the best of the best designs.

Pattern Tap

Pattern Tap is an interface gallery. It focuses on organized collections of design elements like comment display styles, breadcrumbs, buttons, and 404 pages. It’s a great place to get inspiration for the sometimes under appreciated nitty-gritty bits of web design.

CG Society Gallery

CG Society is home to some of the absolute best 3D artists in the world. Their gallery forums provide both gorgeous finished works, and mind blowing works in progress that allow you to see how these talented people put together their masterpieces. It is inspiring stuff, trust us.

FFFFound

What Delicious is to links, FFFFound is to images. The image bookmarking site is a veritable treasure trove of amazing photography and design work, collected by a membership that has impeccable taste.

Josh Spear

Josh Spear’s blog is about trends. Spear has built a business around his good taste and the taste of those who work for him, and often times the stuff they dig up is amazing to look at. The art, design, products, and web sites that Spear and his writers link to are definitely worth checking out for artistic inspiration.

Veer Ideas

Stock design elements site Veer offers a great Ideas site to give designers inspiration. Especially of note, check out “Lightboxing,” their version of Photoshop tennis, and the wallpapers gallery.

Moodstream

Moodstream is an experimental site from Getty Images, the world’s largest stock imagery company, that mashes up video, images, and music to create a background scene that’s supposed to help creative types brainstorm. Users can tweak variables to change the experience (i.e., black and white or color, lyrics or instrumentals, happy or sad, etc.). “What is Moodstream? It’s a concepting tool. The modern version of the fireplace. An interactive art piece. TV for the future,” said designer Rick Webb of The Barbarian Group, who created Moodstream for Getty.

Behance Gallery

The curated gallery at Behance is an amazing collection of artistic works. From product design, to print, to photography, to video advertising work, Behance’s gallery pages have it all. The site routinely presents hand-picked, curated collections from top names in the design field — including one from the aforementioned Josh Spear.

Function: Logo Redesign Blog Post

Yes, okay, this is a blog post and not a site. But it’s a very good post to check out for anyone experiencing creative block. Very often designers are asked to update someone else’s old design, rather than start from scratch with something new. This blog post from design firm Function illustrates 50 updates of products, web sites, and logos that were able to add a refreshed style to an old design.

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  • Boyohazard

    Great list, but why bookmark all those when you can just bookmark this post? :)

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Boyohazard: That’s also acceptable. :D

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    Awesome list Josh, I hadn’t seen a few of them.

  • Joann Sondy

    Most of these are in my “inspiration” folder on the desktop. Thanks for the new references… maybe I’ll just “bookmark” your post.

  • http://www.newbreedjesusfreaks.com/ mcdanielnc89

    Awesome, Thanks!

  • roosevelt

    Josh, You won my heart :).

    Thank you for your continuous great posts.

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy

    Ok, as a designer, I will have to make a few comments.

    Deviant Art – great photography, great illustrations, generally “hack”-quality logos, and 99% of the time: crap web design. Also a main resource for copycat template designers.

    Logo Pond – the greatest resource for logo farms to copy from. The funny thing is, most of the logo designers on Logo Pond (most, not all) are beginners. The few brilliant ones quickly move their work out of logo pond because farms start copying them.

    What I’m getting at is: While most of the sites on this post are great resources (Notably FFFFound!, Veer Ideas, etc.), be careful where you draw your inspirations from – because you might just be drawing from “immature” designers.

  • nishantk

    Boyohazard Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Great list, but why bookmark all those when you can just bookmark this post? :)

    +10

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @XLCowboy:

    … be careful where you draw your inspirations from – because you might just be drawing from “immature” designers.

    Question, though: does it really matter? I mean, if the design is good enough to inspire you, does it matter who created it? The end game is that you got some inspiration — I would guess that’s all that matters.

  • http://www.clearwind.nl peach

    Webdesignerwall also had some great posts!;
    http://www.webdesignerwall.com/trends/best-of-css-design-2008/

  • Chris

    @ XLCowboy

    You should check out the group designerscouch on deviant art… they’ve got great web design works O_o

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy

    @Josh Catone

    Question, though: does it really matter? I mean, if the design is good enough to inspire you, does it matter who created it? The end game is that you got some inspiration — I would guess that’s all that matters.

    True enough. However, what you would also want to avoid are wrong approaches subconsciously sneaking into your design.

    I’ve always called it the “bad tomato” theory – if you look at several bad sites for inspiration, you tend to produce work that is worse or on par with those bad sites – so you’ve essentially created a design that might have been better if you were looking at well designed sites instead.

  • roosevelt

    @XLCowBoy

    Everyone’s perspective is different. What might look bad to you, looks very good to someone else ;)

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy

    @Rooselvelt

    Errrr, that’s not quite true. Everyone who grows up around art and design, or understands it (and I mean really understands it), can tell the difference between good or bad execution, regardless of taste.

    There is the issue of taste (e.g. that’s not my style, I don’t quite like that, etc.), but designer’s STILL understand why a certain style appeals to other people, even if it doesn’t appeal to them – which is why designers can tell you if that style was poorly executed, or properly executed.

    Think of it this way:

    There are a lot of Grunge-type sites out there. A lot of Web 2.0 sites. A lot of minimalist sites. However, that doesn’t mean that every Grunge site was well executed. Or every web 2.0 or minimalist. And it has nothing to do with how “good” you are with Photoshop.

  • http://europeshops.net loko

    Often I seek the inspiration. Thank You for list!

  • http://www.megapixelicio.us Megapixelicious

    Great site list and the timing is perfect since I am at the design phase of 2 sites right now. It is also reassuring to see that some of my favorite sites are on the list too. At least I know that I have some good taste!

  • Smurf

    You forgot to mention:

    http://www.augensound.de (like deviant art)
    http://www.digital-artist.de.vu

  • roosevelt

    @XLCowBoy I am not a design expert, but I really like what you said about poor vs good execution of work.

    Could you give me some key points to look for in a well executed work?

    It sounds interesting, now feed my brain :D

  • http://alfieindesigns.ucoz.com alfieindesigns

    Wow thanks, nice post i really enjoy browsing them one by one lol

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @roosevelt Without wanting to give too hard a plug, it does sound like you’d benefit from our book on the topic—The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. You can download a sample chapter in PDF format to see whether this is something that resonates for you or not.

  • loganathan

    fantastic links, good, thanks

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy

    @roosevelt – Sitepoint is a very well designed website. You can’t go wrong buying their books. ;)

  • Hierophant

    Thanks for the list. A couple of new sites that I haven’t seen before in the list.

  • Genjutsushi

    Logo Pond seems seriously cool, a great bookmark addition. Thanks for the list.

  • essexboyracer

    add coolhomepages.com to the list, it went commercial a few years ago but is still a good resource for that 99%

  • Van Colombo

    Nice one mate. Great collection.