It may be as simple as a mouse-over effect or an innovative way of navigating around the site, but it't always good to keep abreast of the industry and keep the pulse of what's new and cool. Just like the catwalks of Paris, you don't necessarily take a whole site to use, but little bits from here and there, some colour inspiration and some flair can be just what you need to have your users glued to their screen for a few minutes longer.
Here's a list of my top 10 websites to visit when I'm looking for some new ideas or just some of the current trends in web design.
1. The FWA - http://www.thefwa.com
This site has long been the exclusive list of the best in the world. The people and companies pushing the envelope right to the edge of the desk. Unfortunately most of these sites are out of a modest budget range, but very cool none the less.
2. CSS Website Awards - http://www.cssdesignawards.com
This is a neat little site that showcases some quite regular sites that offer things out of the ordinary, or sometimes just look nice. Either way, it's a nice place to drop by now and again.
3. Dribbble - http://dribbble.com
While Dribbble is a new exclusive tight-knit (often snobby) group of designers, it actually had an awesome gallery of web designs and unique web elements. While you rarely see a full site design on the site (due to the small size of the image you can upload), you do see a lot of small pieces which allows you to focus on some fine detail. Good luck trying to get a full designer account, but you can view the gallery no problems.
4. Site Inspire - http://siteinspire.com
A nice little site with a lot of nice design work, but the featured sites often seem to be a little too arty for my preference. Still if that's the look you're going for - this may be just the site for you.
5. Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com
While it's definitely not a place to find cool web designs, it does have a load of very cool art, crafts, architecture, cooking & photography - all of which can spark a cool idea.
6. P22 - http://www.p22.com
A font foundry that produces loads of very cool fonts. If you've never paid for a font, it's about time to start. Fonts have been the focal point of a number of sites I've worked on. I find them very inspirational, and very interesting. On the other hand, if you're looking for a site to get fonts at no charge that can be used commercially - check out Font Squirrel.
7. GettyImages - http://www.gettyimages.com.au
While not a web design specific site, Getty is arguably the premium stock photo provider worldwide. It has an extensive range of royalty free (note this does not mean free) and exclusive rights managed images. If you're looking for a unique photo or set of brand photos that will define your business and brand on your website this is the first place I'd go to ensure nobody else will pop up using the same photos.
8. DeviantArt - Web Interfaces - http://browse.deviantart.com/designs/web/
While DA is a breeding ground of art (of every kind), it does often have some nice web layouts featured on there. Unfortunately the web interfaces category is constantly bombarded with animated gifs, forum signatures and other random banners, there's still some inspiration to be found occasionally.
9. Websites that suck - http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com
While it's not necessarily a positive inspiration. It's good to see things that turned out quite bad from time to time (and to make sure none of my work is ever listed on there). Sometimes the idea was good, and the artwork was good, but the execution that let it down. It can be worth a visit for a chuckle from time to time too.
10. Designspiration - http://designspiration.net
Another site of many cool design pieces, but very few for web design which is why it's so low in my list.
What are your favorite places for inspiration?
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