Hello and welcome! If you're reading this, you're likely passionate about design, branding, and web development—much like we are at Rimbo Designs. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, staying ahead of the curve is not just an advantage—it's a necessity. One of the keys to consistently creating exceptional work is knowing where to draw inspiration from.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore:
1) What good design inspiration is
2) The top platforms and agencies to draw inspiration from
3) My Top 10 Industry Leaders for Design Inspiration
4) The Go-To Places for Fonts
5) Best Tools for Color Exploration
6) Manual exploration and trusting your own intuition
Whether you're a seasoned designer, a budding entrepreneur, or someone just dabbling in the creative sphere, this article aims to provide you with valuable insights and resources.
Ready to get inspired? Let's dive in!
Design inspiration is more than just a fleeting feeling or a moment of "Aha!" It's a consistent source of creativity that can invigorate your projects, motivate you through design challenges, and open your eyes to new possibilities. But what separates good design inspiration from mediocre or even bad sources?
In an age where everyone has access to countless design resources, the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Good design inspiration isn't about hoarding hundreds of ideas; it's about selectively choosing from sources that align with your vision and elevate your work. Think of it as curating an exclusive art gallery rather than a flea market.
A good source of inspiration doesn't pigeonhole you into a specific style or trend. It should allow for flexibility, encouraging you to experiment and adapt various elements into your own unique creations. The goal is to broaden your design horizons, not limit them.
Drawing inspiration from industry leaders and renowned designers provides a robust foundation for your own work. Their expertise offers a benchmark of quality, demonstrating what's possible when creativity meets skill. It can also help you identify areas where you can improve and grow.
Design trends evolve rapidly, and yesterday's fad can become today's faux pas. Good design inspiration keeps you up-to-date, enabling you to incorporate modern aesthetics and techniques into your projects.
Lastly, the best sources of inspiration are those that you can easily integrate into your workflow. Whether it's a website that offers downloadable resources or a design tool that seamlessly fits into your process, accessibility and usability are key.
In summary: good design inspiration offers quality, versatility, learning opportunities, relevance, and accessibility. It provides you with the creative fuel you need to consistently produce outstanding work, from conceptualization to final execution.
Navigating the sea of design resources can be daunting. Not all sources are created equal, and it's crucial to know where to cast your net. In this section, we'll explore four core avenues for top-quality design inspiration: Awwwards for honoring the best in web design, renowned online communities like Behance and Dribbble, tips for curating your personal inspiration feed, and the work of leading design agencies and individual designers.
Awwwards is like the Oscars of the web design world, serving as a platform that gives out awards to exceptional websites. These sites are evaluated by a jury of design experts based on various criteria such as creativity, design, content, and usability. For those looking to explore the pinnacle of web design, Awwwards is an indispensable resource.
Webflow's "Made in Webflow" page offers a showcase of web designs created using their platform. It's an excellent source for web design inspiration, demonstrating the potential of what can be built with Webflow (if you don’t know what Webflow is read: What is Webflow).
While Behance and Dribbble do offer a wealth of web design inspiration, their scope extends far beyond that. These platforms serve as a hub for a wide range of creative disciplines, from UI/UX to branding, illustration, and even print layouts. Don't hesitate to venture outside of web design; sometimes, the best inspiration comes from unrelated fields like magazine covers or book layouts.
Managing and organizing your sources of inspiration is just as crucial as finding them. If you can't efficiently access your wealth of resources, it can be as limiting as having none at all. Here are some personalized tips to streamline your inspiration:
All-in-One Figma File: Create a centralized Figma file where you store all your sources of inspiration, from design screenshots to fonts and color palettes. This provides a visual and interactive way to keep your creative resources at your fingertips. Take the extra step to organize your fonts visually within this Figma file, so you can quickly identify the right font for each project.
Use Toby for Bookmark Organization: Toby is a Chrome extension that is excellent for organizing all the links to your inspiration sources. Create different categories like "Color tools" and "Typography" to have quick and easy access to your favorite websites.
Keep It Clean: As your all-in-one Figma file or Toby bookmarks grows, remember to prune and curate it. Remove outdated elements or those that no longer resonate with your current style. A well-maintained inspiration file makes it easier to find what you need when you need it.
Lastly, don't underestimate the inspirational goldmine that is the work of leading design agencies and individual designers. Their projects often set the tone for what's innovative and effective in design today. The next section will delve deeper into some of the standout agencies and designers that are setting trends and pushing boundaries.
In the design industry, having a list of go-to websites for inspiration is invaluable. Each of the following websites offers something unique that can spark new ideas and elevate your creative thinking.
Note: this list is curated based on my values for unique/vibrant personality, aliveness, ease of use, and richness of content/projects.
Discover world-class design, Collins helps the biggest brands in the world. It's simple and clean yet IRRISITABLE.
Established through consistent world-class execution. An endless library of top-notch branding projects across every industry.
Locomotive is the go-to place for boundary-pushing designs, you’ll discover cutting-edge innovation packaged in an artsy/glitchy experience. There are a lot of great projects to check out.
4. Dennis Snellenberg
Love the intro, and the interactiveness is crazy!! One of the smoothest sites I’ve seen.
This site is so much fun. It has a lot of personality, I appreciate every lovely detail. It's small, yet I still lose myself in the infinite scroll loop. The motion effects are world-class.
The SaaS business has the most boundary-pushing websites and Chronicle is one of the best.
Clean, clear communication. Lovely illustrations. The way they use color to communicate is brilliant.
Baunfire has a strong, memorable personality. It's super interactive and alive.
Very high-level interactive design; love the spacey background.
10. Tomorrow Happens
Tomorrow Happens delivers a masterclass in minimalist design bolstered by strong concepts and innovative projects.
If you want to see more, here is my complete archive: Link
Finding the right font can be a pivotal moment in the design process. The right typeface not only conveys your brand's voice but also can dramatically influence readability and user experience. Below are some of the most reliable places to find fonts, both free and premium, to elevate your design projects.
1. Pan Gram
Starting at $30 Pan Gram offers a range of versatile fonts with the added benefit of free trials. If you're looking for quality and flexibility, this is a great starting point.
Looking for quality without breaking the bank? FreeFaceGallery is a curated list of high-quality free fonts that can make your designs stand out without costing a dime.
FontShare is about exploration and quality, featuring a range of fonts with free downloads. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to find something that fits your style.
4. Youworkforthem - Fonts
A comprehensive collection of fonts that caters to all design needs. Whether you're looking for something classic or cutting-edge, this site has it all.
5. Klim Type Foundry
Although on the pricier side, Klim Type Foundry offers free demo versions. An investment here is an investment in unique, top-tier design.
FontPair simplifies the process of matching complementary fonts, helping you create a cohesive design experience without the guesswork.
Looking to discover hidden gems? Typewolf curates top 10 lists that feature some of the best typefaces.
Swiss-type is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but the quality is undeniable. If you're willing to invest, this is the place for high-end typefaces.
While somewhat expensive, TypeMates does offer limited free trial versions. It's a good place to scout for something special that won't be widely used.
A haven for type enthusiasts, Colophon offers a wide array of fonts that are as versatile as they are elegant.
The right color palette can make or break a design. It's not just about looking good—color can convey emotion, direct attention, and enhance readability. Here are some essential tools that can help you make informed decisions when choosing your next color scheme.
Color Hunt is a free, curated collection of beautiful color palettes. Created by designers, for designers, it's a wonderful source for anyone stuck in a color rut.
Quickly generate color schemes with Coolors. It offers an easy-to-use interface and allows you to save and export your palettes.
I mostly use Adobe Color when I already found a color I want to use but still want some complementary colors to go with it. It offers a color wheel and various rules for creating color schemes, such as complementary, monochromatic, and more. You can also use the Adobe community to explore palettes created by others in the Adobe community.
Tailwind CSS Color Generator
This tool includes a contrast grid, ensuring your text remains readable against any background color. Plus, it comes with a Figma plugin to make the design process even smoother. It's not perfect for finding new combinations it is more of a finetuning tool that helps you find the right gradients.
While it offers a more limited selection, Randoma11y provides high-quality, accessible color combinations. It's an excellent resource for those who want to directly see the colors in action since the colors get displayed in a template of web design elements.
While tools and platforms are invaluable for sparking new ideas and providing guidelines, never underestimate the power of your own intuition and experience. Tools can suggest color palettes, but they can't understand the specific mood or emotion you're trying to evoke in a project. They can show you popular fonts, but they can't comprehend the voice of your brand.
A designer's greatest asset is their ability to synthesize various influences and inspirations into something uniquely compelling. So, occasionally ditch the color generators and font libraries. Take time to play with combinations that you intuitively feel might work. Do some sketches. Use your experience to tweak and refine, to break the 'rules' when it serves your creative vision.
Sometimes inspiration doesn't come from a well-designed website or a color tool but from the world around you. Taking a walk in nature, visiting an art gallery, or simply observing the hustle and bustle of city life can invigorate your creative mind. The colors of a sunset, the texture of old buildings, or even the design of a random leaf can spark ideas that you won't find in any tool or platform. Allow the adventure of real-world exploration to surprise and enrich your design sensibilities.
Sometimes, the most striking and effective designs come from a blend of technological aid and human intuition. The magic often happens when you step outside of algorithms and recommendations, venturing into the realm of manual exploration.
Finding the right inspiration is crucial, not just for aesthetic appeal but for communicating the very essence of a brand. As you grow in your design journey, your sources of inspiration will evolve, empowering you to quickly and accurately capture the vibe you're aiming for.
With my expansive pool of inspiration sources, I can help amplify your vision in no time. Ready to take the next step? Book a consultation, and let's transform those ideas into impactful designs.
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