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Inspiration: 5 Destinations for Designers

Posted on 8.24.2011

Whether the end goal is a steady stream of traffic, off-the-chart sales, endless hours of engagement or all of the above, creating effective Web designs can be a very personal endeavor that is best left to the proven tactics of the artist.

However, even the most creative designers occasionally suffer from their own version of writer’s block, which is why the Web is filled with communities to help one another through the toughest of times. Below are five such resources that invite discussion, offer advice, encourage competition and, most importantly, get those creative juices flowing again after the well’s run dry.

A fairly new community for Web developers and designers, Forrst provides a forum in which creative professionals can critique each other’s work and foster new ideas, share their knowledge and expertise to help build better-looking websites and mobile applications. Forrst is an invitation-driven community in that current members are responsible for inviting new members each month, and members are limited to an allotment of invites based on their participation to the community each month.

Positioned as the Twitter for creative professionals, Dribble is a show-and-tell for Web designers and developers. Members can post screenshots onto the site at maximum sizes of 400 x 300 pixels to be viewed by other members (referred to as “players”), as well as from “spectators” (no comments allowed) and “prospects” (those looking to join the community).

Basically a search engine for creatives, Designspiration helps designers work through their blocks by showcasing thousands of images, colors and schemes based on the information they include in their queries. For instance, if you’re still unsure about your holiday design strategies, type in “Christmas”, “Holidays” or “Hanukkah” on Designspiration and you will most likely find some fresh ideas.

Layer Tennis
This site is beyond cool, whether you are a Web designer or not. For those of us that embrace competition in the spirit of a better Web, this is one for the bucket list. Competitors swap files back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing on each other’s work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and the work is then posted to the site, and a third participant provides play-by-play commentary on all the action as it is happening. Matches last for ten volleys and when complete, fans offer their opinions of each designer’s work.

While Forrst and Dribble require invitations to join, and Layer Tennis requires a certain amount of moxy to participant, there are dozens of freely accessible social networks that can help the inspiration process along for Web designers. The most notable and useful are, without question, Tumblr and Quora, which both have significant portions of their users ingrained in the design community, and Twitter is another excellent resource for finding solutions related to both Web design and fairly high-level development.

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