Sources of Inspiration
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”–Jack London
There are many ways to find inspiration when you are designing a new site or page or revamping an old one. Sometimes, you might want to just start with a blank page instead of a tried-and-true template and see what unfolds. Alternatively, you can try mixing and matching classic elements from your own portfolio with pieces of design from other Web pages that intrigue you. Throw them together and see what emerges, or tweak each element until they all come together in a way that works. Break your own rules once in a while and rethink elements that you usually avoid. For example, if you never use animation, give it a try this time and open your mind to the results.
Be sure to keep up with new trends in design so that you know what is possible and what you would like to try, but do not throw out the old ideas completely. Experiment and see how the new and the old work together in a way that feels intuitive and appealing. You might be surprised to learn that some of these new trends are just classic designs from older media given life on the Web.
Keep in mind that Web designers are not just programmers. They are artists in their own right. Do not be afraid to take inspiration from your favorite sources of art outside the computer. Writers are famously known for paying close attention to their friends, families and strangers and stealing bits of their personalities and quirks to create new characters and situations. Why not do something similar and steal bits of inspiration from your favorite paintings and magazines or even a brilliant sunrise or a wicked storm for your creative Web design ideas?
Step Away from the Computer
Yes, each page must be properly ordered and coded, but consider starting your designs away from the computer. Use a “canvas,” such as a piece of poster board, a sketchpad, an empty table top or even a corkboard, to lay out your ideas. You might find it easier to move elements and colors around and add and remove them in this way until you find something that works. Later, you can worry about how to make it work onscreen, but for now, free your mind and start offline.
Collaborating with colleagues can be a great way to foster creativity and can benefit all of those participating. It is easy to get stuck in a certain way of thinking, but one of the easiest ways to break those old habits and open ourselves up to new ideas is simply to talk to others or work with them on a joint project.
Do not be afraid to join forces with someone outside the world of Web design altogether. Asking for the advice or input of a user or consumer can give you valuable information on how your designs are being viewed from the other end of the screen. Ask them what they like and do not like about the creative Web design ideas of their favorite pages and websites.
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”–Leo Burnett
Do not limit yourself in your learning. Expand your horizons to all of the areas of your life and the world that interest you. The things that you learn in one aspect of your life will filter into your work and help to keep it fresh and ever-evolving.
Healthy Environment, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Whenever you can, make sure you that are rested before beginning work. Give yourself breaks to stretch and move around so that your mind can work at capacity.
Make sure that your environment is as distraction-free as possible and that it makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Try taking the laptop outside once in a while to feel the sun on your face and listen to the birds chirp as you work. When your body is comfortable and your mind is relaxed, you will be more open to thinking of new and better solutions for your design issues.
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