The Great Discontent
Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come from a visual source — and isn’t limited to a specific project. Instead, you might find a motivational story that pushes you to go further with your work and career, so you can design your way into new avenues.
For those moments, The Great Discontent’s interviews can kindle your creative fire. Jump into Q&As with successful designers, art directors, illustrators, and more, and grab some insight into what makes them — and their careers — tick.
Why you should go to The Great Discontent for web design inspiration
Intimate interviews with design industry leaders
Sometimes, the design industry can feel hyper-focused on concrete things like deliverables, workflows, tools, and best practices.
All that’s powerful, and much needed, but it can also lead us to lose sight of the real human beings behind the pixels — and the often-powerful stories that led them to their dream careers. The Great Discontent affords us a rare, personal glimpse behind the screens to explore more nebulous, but ultimately more emotional topics like the links between creativity and vulnerability, the power of stories, and the often-difficult art of saying no.
It’s powerful stuff, and could do more to inspire you than all the eye-candy 16 Dribbbles could offer.
A List Apart
From its origins as a humble mailing list, A List Apart has grown into a key destination for the design community, becoming a reliable resource for quality articles that rise above the norm.
I mean, how do you not read the journal that published Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design”? (Which, in case you’ve been on Mars lately, basically started “the whole responsive design thing.”)
Why you should go to A List Apart for web design inspiration
In-depth written content
If you’re looking for the top 25 WordPress themes of 2016, A List Apart is not for you. But if you’re looking for thoughtful, innovative takes on the finer points of designing for our digital world from the best designers on the web–it’s the best damn design journal on the web.
This is a bit of a hot take, but: in a design world dominated by websites that need, above all, to attract new users and make more money, the raw, middle finger raised to UX that Brutalism represents can be a bit of a breath of fresh air.
You won’t see a lot of refined interactions, lovingly set type, or rigidly harmonious grids on Brutalist Websites. Instead, you’ll see grids broken 16 ways to Sunday, massive headlines set in ye olde “web safe” fonts, bizarre cursor-based effects that seem designed to obliterate rather than navigate a website, and scroll effects that seem designed to assault the senses.
Overall, the sites gathered here offer an intriguing glimpse of what the web can be when creativity needn’t concern itself with conversions. And while brutalism’s certainly not the only way to explore that theme, it is a weirdly compelling one.
Why you should go to Brutalist Websites for web design inspiration
Truly artistic inspiration
Most of the web is not about self-expression. Instead, it’s about growth: new readers, new subscribers, new customers. It’s popups, ads, takeovers, and sponsored content.
Brutalism, by contrast, is ripping open a space where designers can do what they want, rather than what they should. The works created here eschew all the optimization advice and best practices lists in favor of looks and effects that border that live in the jarring, and sometimes border on the offensive (to expectations, anyway).
If you like to see creative designers let loose and not worry about making the sale, Brutalist Websites may be your cup of tea.
Straight up fun design inspiration
The other great thing about Brutalist Websites is how weirdly riveting these “unpolished” designs can be. It’s easy to get lost in the sites it curates, marveling at just how off-putting (and yet, really well-written) B4XVI can be, or how 90s-Myspace NO, SHE DOESN’T LABEL is, or even how downright good a site like Internet Warriors is.
Brutalist Websites is a site you go to for surprise. And one of those surprises is just how close brutalist websites can be to the rest of the internet — you know, the parts that haven’t been optimized to death.
Admire The Web
Admire The Web is another strong resource due to its high-quality curated content. Searching through the website proves a touch more cumbersome than others, but the reward is in the abundant content.
Why you should go to Admire The Web for web design inspiration
Admire The Web may not be be winning any design awards itself, but its content is extensively tagged, so if you don’t mind straining your eyes a little, you’ll be uncovering a rich vein of themed inspiration in no time.
Something that I think a lot of sites need these days is the classic, Amazon-style “Similar content.” While it’s easy to brush off when the match isn’t so accurate, when you do find that post that really inspires you, similar content makes it easy to keep tunneling down that rabbit hole of inspiration.
French Design Index
I know what you’re thinking. But you really don’t need to know the language to enjoy this site.
French Design Index follows a familiar design award structure, similar to that of Awwwards, just a little more niche, and features the work of French designers evaluated by an all-French jury.
On the upside, only a minority of the websites are in actually in French, so if you really need the English language in your inspiration, you’re in luck. However, it’s fascinating to see how language can impact design, considering a large portion of web design is pushing around text.
Why you should go to French Design Index for web design inspiration
Level of curation
Like Awwwards, the French Design Index is juried as well as crowdsourced, which can build your trust in the quality of what’s featured.
Stretching your design language
If the web has really gone “homogenous” as so many people complain, then it might just be because we all keep looking to the same sources of inspiration. Getting a little bit out of your design comfort design, even if it’s only so far as France, can help broaden your pool of visual reference, and thereby bring a little more creativity to your work.
A theme shop might not be the first place you think of when you’re looking for creative inspiration. After all, the designs tend to the more generic side of the visual spectrum.
However, Template Monster can be a really effective place to jump off from, since quality themes tend to have really good architecture and often pay close attention to best practices.
Use themes as inspiration by reviewing their content structure and design patterns, then layer on your own creative spin based on the project's needs.
Why you should go to Template Monster for web design inspiration
Quality inspiration for best practices
While design “best practices” can vary across industries, and are often founded more in conjecture and tradition than analysis, they’re well-worth exploring — especially when you’re designing something for an unfamiliar industry. With over 25k+ templates in almost every vertical, you’re sure to find something that’ll help.
Editor's note: other popular theme shops, from giants like Themeforest to boutiques like Pixel Union, can also be superb places to look for inspiration.
I know what you’re thinking: why is a site focused on mobile app designs featured in a web design inspiration list?!
Well, for starters, here at Webflow, we’re all about responsive design. So any mobile app can serve as a superb source of inspiration for your smaller-breakpoint designs. Plus, if you abstract away from the medium a bit, it’s not at all hard to imagine how a mobile design pattern might influence your larger-screen designs.
Plus, Pttrns features more screens from each curated app, so you can easily get a broader sense of how design patterns play out across multiple environments, and create consistency (or introduce difference) across the course of a flow.
Why you should go to Pttrns for web design inspiration
Unlike many other sites, Pttrns focuses (surprisingly) on design patterns, divvying up featured apps in categories like “confirmation,” “ask permission,” and “activity feed.” So if you’re looking for inspiration within a small subset of an interaction or flow, Pttrns will serve you up the best collection of results.
While many of the designs and breakdowns in Pttrns are native apps, we all know that mobile web is pretty much on par with native these days, so pulling mobile web layout inspiration from here is great.
Designspiration is like the Pinterest of the design world in that it’s a simply massive, community-curated feed you can dive into for hours at a time. It doesn’t focus on any particular form of design inspiration, but does give you the tools to focus in on particular themes if you’d like.
Why you should go to Designspiration for web design inspiration
Few curation sites add the personal element that comes from allowing you to save the things that inspire you. Instead of focusing on ephemeral, project-based inspiration, Designspiration lets you build up a personal cache of inspiring sites, and adjusts its feed based on your tastes. There’s pros and cons to that, of course, but sometimes there’s nothing like a stream fine-tuned to you.
This is definitely one of my favorites — in part because you can use it as more of a utility than a passive inspiration tool. Calltoidea features web design inspiration in categories for almost every page a designer might come across in her career. Packed with everything from 404 pages to admin dashboards, Calltoidea can help you can find great designs to build off or deviate from whenever you need them.
Why you should go to Calltoidea for web design inspiration
Robust assortment of page categories
As designers, we sometimes get caught up in the really fun work we get to do, like homepages, leading us to focus less on the vital but “boring” pages that hit visitors at crucial/emotional times (such as login, 404, pricing, etc.).
Many inspiration sites skimp on such pages, but Calltoidea focuses on just those – so you can make sure you’re putting some of your best work into those crucial pages.
Select agency/designer portfolios
Inspiring agencies and creatives can also help you find that spark your project may need. Which portfolios you prefer and return too, however, can be a little more personal, so it’ll take a little work to build your stockpile. Create a go-to list of portfolios to save time in the future, and add to it as you discover more. Here are a few to kickstart your collection:
Bonus: Webflow Showcase
Okay, so maybe we're a little biased. But we definitely believe our very own Showcase section contains enough inspiration to keep you fully stocked for months at a time. Plus, it's a great way to see what you can do with Webflow — without writing code.
Why you should go to Webflow for web design inspiration
Because it's the best way to see all the remarkable things people are doing with Webflow, naturally.
Where do you get inspiration?
What inspiration sources get you going creatively? Share your favorite inspiration sources in the comments below, and we’ll add the best to the list.