March 10, 2015 Getting inspiration for your website design

Peter Parker is SpidermanDesigners don’t have super powers, some photographers do, but generally speaking, designers have studied, read lots and taken exams just like any other professional, making the occasional blunder along the way. Inspiration doesn’t just happen, it takes work, and just about always comes from a new combination of a number of existing ideas.

Many designers I know keep these little nuggets of inspiration in scrapbooks and more recently websites such as Pinterest. I do this myself, and often when I see something I think is cool, I take a photo of it on my phone, or simply add it to my own Pinterest page.

This all brings me nicely to today’s subject, which is ‘Inspiration Boards’. I create an inspiration board for every single project I do. I start by asking the client to send me links to a few web sites they like, I get them to use there phone to take pictures of stationary, sides of vans etc and send them all to me. I then collate all these elements in a simple powerpoint presentation along with screen shots of any existing design they have, be it good or bad, as negative inspiration can bring out a lot of opinions and make a good ice breaker at the beginning of a discussion. I always have one slide dedicated to words that the client can use to state their business values, such as ‘trust’, ‘expert’, ‘strategic’ etc. Once I have all this in place I tend to add some suggestions of my own. I find sites like really useful as well as doing some competitor analysis. Inspiration boards are not just good for colours, textures and fonts, as I can also put forward a few layout directions without investing anytime designing them myself.

Once all this is in place I arrange a meeting with the client and the other people on the project and we discuss what we like and don’t like about each item in our inspiration board, making notes and gaining a deeper understanding of my clients requirements, taste and business sector. It is vital that the designers role in this meeting is as a facilitator and not an expert, as this is a perfect opportunity to listen to your client and understand what they want from you, as well as developing a shared dialogue which will pay dividends throughout the project. 

The next stage in my design process is to create a style tile (like a pallet of colours, fonts etc) for the website, which I will blog about soon.