Looking Outside of Web Design for Inspiration


It makes perfect sense: If you want to design a compelling website, find other sites out there that inspire you. And, while this works, it’s not necessarily the best way to create something original.

Increasingly, the web is becoming homogeneous. This encompasses the tools we use and yes, the designs we implement. The result is that it can be hard to distinguish one site from another. Especially so when looking through the projects within our own portfolios.

Therefore, if we want something truly different, looking to other websites may not be the best source of inspiration. If that’s the case, then where should we look?

That’s our topic for today. Let’s explore some sources outside of web design that we can mine for inspiration.


As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But the right one can also provide a creative spark as well. That’s why photography is more than just something to embellish a great design – it can actually inspire one.

Like other sources of inspiration on this list, the subject matter may or may not be relevant. Perhaps a picture of a mountain can lead you to the perfect idea for a tech startup’s design. Or maybe an image of a sports car leads to an obvious layout choice for a mechanic’s site.

Creativity is funny in this way. A single image may conjure up thoughts that lead you to exactly the right place. Features such as colors, lines or even a facial expression can wield amazing power.

It’s also incredibly convenient. With the massive amount of photographic resources online, you don’t have to leave your couch to find something that gets those creative juices flowing.

Sports car in the sun.


Whether experienced through imagery or in person, the natural world is bursting with design possibilities. And they can be found anywhere from the most majestic tree to the tiniest insect.

The most obvious revelations here are color and texture. Maybe it’s the intricate pattern displayed by a bird or lizard. Or the magnificent color palette of leaves in the spring and fall. Virtually everywhere you look, there is something unique to fuel creativity.

What’s more, you don’t have to go off to some remote locale to find inspiration. Backyard nature can be just as influential – and maybe more so. Finding the previously hidden details in the things we see every day can be awe-inspiring.

While imagery alone can provide some of this, there are also huge benefits to being outdoors. In addition to seeing nature with our own eyes, we get the full sensory experience. Hearing a bird call, feeling a breeze or smelling a flower have long been sources of creative mojo.

Snowy moutains against an orange sky.

Industrial Design

Here we have the very opposite of nature. Industrial design spans everything from the phone in your pocket to the tallest skyscraper. We can see it pretty much everywhere humans have made their mark.

It also provides an eclectic mix of styles. There are uniform structures that are reminiscent of the block-based design that is dominating these days. And then there is the controlled chaos of engines and assembly lines. They can lead us to employ design in ways we may not have thought of before.

This variety serves designers well, because it can be made to fit just about any need. Whether you’re looking to create something with stark minimalism or clever complexity, inspiration can be found here.

A city skyline.

A Fresh Perspective

It stands to reason that, if you look at the same thing each and every day, what you see will stick in your mind. Web design is a little bit like that. Browsing through so many websites can lead us to stale ideas when it comes to building one of our own.

Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing. For example, predictability in UI design is always a welcomed feature. The idea here isn’t to make our creations more difficult on users. Usability and accessibility still need to be priorities.

That being said, originality counts for something. Finding it often means looking outside of the web design bubble. The sources above can offer a solid starting point.

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