Thanks to emerging technologies and the growing expectation that we should be able to do almost literally everything online, there’s never been a more exciting time in the field of web design. From huge brands redefining what corporate websites can be to the minimal, elegant work of small boutique design studios, the web has never looked better.
Although there is a very real technical overhead to consider when designing a website, sometimes the biggest problem is one of inspiration. How do you know what design trends are already showing their age? How can you tell if your site is looking stale? How can you make your site look better and provide the experience your users expect?
In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at eight websites that curate some of the best and boldest designs from across the web. If you’re thinking of redesigning your site, or launching a new site entirely, these sites might just offer the inspiration you need.
Dribbble is one of the best design resources on the web—period. For website designers, however, it’s a treasure trove of cutting-edge designs from working web professionals and freelancers, making it an excellent resource to discover new trends and be inspired by the work of others.
Dribbble is primarily a freelancer portfolio service. That means that not only can you find some of the best new and experienced web professionals in the world in one place, it means you can easily contact the designers whose work you like to commission or hire them. Win.
Since responsive design has become one of the singularly most important design considerations for today’s websites, our first source of website design inspiration comes courtesy of ResponsiveDesign.is, a site dedicated to advancing RWD as a design practice and a repository of sites that make excellent use of RWD techniques.
Unlike many other sites that offer galleries of web design inspiration, Responsive Design also delves into the code behind the beautiful designs featured on the site, which can be extraordinarily useful to newcomers to web design or those honing their web development skills.
Crayon is one of those sites that, once you discover it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. One of the most comprehensive visual inspiration sites on the Web, Crayon.co is invaluable to marketers, designers, and developers hoping to spark an idea for their next venture or see what’s hot in the world of web design.
With more than 35 million sites and resources available to search, and a set of smart, highly responsive filters that let you find exactly what you’re looking for, Crayon is a must-see.
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Next on our list is Webdesign Inspiration, a site dedicated to – wait for it – showcasing great-looking websites. I know, right? Crazy.
One of the things that’s really cool about this site is that not only does it feature a comprehensive catalogue of images, you can also search for sites using a range of filters. For example, you can search for websites in specific industries, of specific type (such as ecommerce or personal portfolios), styles (including options such as Experimental and Minimal), and even by color palette – very handy.
The web design examples featured on siteInspire are truly impressive. Seriously, this site focuses on truly beautiful designs, and includes examples from small boutique businesses and major brands alike. It’s also a genuine pleasure to use, as the site itself is arguably as appealing and intuitive as the examples it features.
You can also use filters on siteInspire to find examples of sites that are relevant to your business, and the site’s Showcase gallery is constantly being updated to reflect the bleeding-edge web design trends that can take years to disseminate across the web, making it the ideal destination for forward-thinking business owners who want their site to really stand out.
The Best Designs is a website dedicated to highlighting not only exciting and daring web design work, but also the designers themselves. Similarly to Dribbble, you can find the contact info and online portfolios of designers featured in The Best Designs, which is a great help if you like the look of a designer’s work and want to hire them.
The sites featured on The Best Designs are curated from designer submissions, so each of the sites seen in The Best Designs’ extensive gallery are of the highest quality and also passed muster with the site’s moderators. This means you can be sure you’ll find many of “the best designs” (rimshot) in the world on this aptly-named site.
One prominent feature of The Best Designs notably lacking from similar sites is the Pinterest integration. Pinterest is an amazing resource for website design inspiration, and it’s interesting to me that more sites don’t feature this integration more prominently.
This site has been around for a very long time (especially in Internet time, which I guess is a little like the whole “dog years” thing), and is renowned and beloved among web professionals for a very good reason.
CSS Zen Garden isn’t a collection of beautiful images from around the web, but rather a demonstration of the awesome power that cascading style sheets offer. Every design featured on the site has the same HTML code – the same essential structure of the page – and only the CSS files have been modified.
Aside from being the best demonstration of the power of CSS-based design on the web, CSS Zen Garden occupies a special place in the web community’s heart for many reasons. The first is that although visual design possibilities are the primary focus of the site, so too is the crucial element of accessibility. In the site’s own words, “CSS Zen Garden is about functional, practical CSS and not the latest bleeding-edge tricks viewable by 2% of the browsing public. The only real requirement we have is that your CSS validates.”
Another interesting part of CSS Zen Garden is that you can also view the designs and submissions that didn’t make the final cut – a rarity these days. You can also download the site’s HTML and CSS files freely if you fancy taking a stab at your own design, which is great for experienced and aspiring developers and designers alike.
CSS Zen Garden is an excellent place to find inspiration for your next redesign, but it also demonstrates the amazing power that CSS has over your site’s visual appearance. Maybe your HTML is fine, and only your CSS needs a little TLC.
Web Design Ledger is another site beloved by many in the web community. Although the site does offer plenty of inspirational content, it’s far from just a curated gallery site, and offers interviews, free downloads and templates, tutorials, fascinating blog posts, and just about everything else you could want from a site devoted to advancing and improving the ways we interact online.
Feeling inspired? We sure hope so!
Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.
See other posts by Dan Shewan
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