Top 50: Resources for Design Inspiration

When it comes to your Web design, where do you (or your designers) look for inspiration? Chances are good that it's most often the websites of your competitors. While that's certainly one way to do some valuable benchmarking, you wouldn't want to create a knock-off of someone else's work, right?

Perhaps the best way to get inspired for a specific design project is to look outside of the sites you visit most and even further beyond your comfort zone toward all that is good and exciting in "creative" being developed today.

So where do you look for that kind of guidance and insight?

Developing a list of sites to help Website Magazine readers find something as abstract as design inspiration is challenging, if not completely impossible to do fairly or objectively. Awesome design is everywhere and originates from every corner of the Web. What might be downright edgy and exciting to one person, however, can be the exact opposite of what others think is attractive.

There is no single answer (much less 50), so assembling a list of sources for Web design inspiration is ultimately up to you, the designer, or someone responsible for overseeing design. However, keeping tabs on trends is far easier when you know where to start looking. So, let's consider this month's Top 50 list an excellent starting point.

What we found most interesting when aggregating these online resources is the number of those specializing in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), indicating that a formal shift toward separating style and design from content is complete.

Another interesting thing about design trends is that they are quickly duplicated - once you see it one place, you are bound to see it pretty much everywhere else soon after. Drop shadows - awesome, but everywhere. Big, bold graphics in the headers? Been there, done that. If you're feeling frustrated trying to find something new, fear not. Visit a few of the sites listed here and you will quickly be able to formulate your own opinion on what current Web designers think Internet professionals want.

Mashing up that analysis with your own competitive design benchmarks and intuition will you give the best chance possible of finding the design that meets your own desires, while balancing the needs of your website visitors.

Website Magazine'sTop 50 rankings are a measure of a website's popularity. Ranks are calculated using a proprietary method that focuses on average daily unique visitors and page views over a specified period of time, as reported by multiple data sources. The website with the highest combination of factors is ranked in the first position. Conducting research, making formal comparisons and talking to existing clients and users before making any purchase decisions is always recommended.