The Best Places For Design Inspiration
The UX/UI process can almost be described as building a house and then painting it, but with so many different colours and styles out there, where do you even start?!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best platforms our design team like to use in order to find some design inspiration. As an app design agency, this has helped us to streamline our design process and make it faster and more effective. We hope that it will do the same for you.
If a starting point is what you're looking for, here is a quick summary of the steps we recommend you follow
- Start by researching what is already in existence.
- Determine what screens you'd like inspiration for, and how long the certain app flows should be based on industry standards.
- Pay attention to different design languages.
- Start designing
1. Find Inspiration in what Already Exists
There are plenty of platforms, forums and websites out there which are dedicated to continually finding the best designs on the market and sharing it with their audience.
DesignRush is one such platform, dedicated to sharing the best app designs in different industries over time. This platform actually ranked Specno among The Best Wellness, Health & Fitness App Designs for the WardWorx App!
You can also follow your favourite designers or design agencies on platforms like Dribbble or Bēhance to stay updated with their most recent work and stay inspired!
2. Getting Flow Inspiration
When designing a common, but vital flow, don't try and re-invent the wheel. Rather start with a solid base of proven methods by looking at how other successful products have done it. We like to find inspiration from Mobbin and Page Flows.
Mobbin is the largest mobile app design reference website in the world. This platform has “a comprehensive, expert-curated library of interfaces from the best-in-class digital products that helps product designers find relevant design inspiration and references with significantly less time and effort” (Mobbin, 2021). On Mobbin you can browse through hundreds of iOS apps for UI and UX research.
We like Mobbin because:
- They only display launched products (instead of concept designs), which is great as this allows you to establish what designs work best by looking at total users, etc.
- They showcases every screen, which is very useful for you to get a holistic idea of how all the designs come together (without having to go to the app store to download an app in order to see all of its screens)
- A quick scan through Mobbin helps to ensure that you are not missing any small, but important details (e.g. remembering that a phone rotation should be taken into account when designing a video screen)
Page Flows also showcases numerous screenshots of various products in different categories. What makes this platform a bit different is that it specifically focuses on many desktop user flows.
What we like about this platform is that you can select the specific user flow you would like to look at and then it provides you with a variety of examples.
2. Design Language Inspiration
It is often useful to get inspiration for certain elements that make up your unique design language. Elements such as fonts, colours, shapes or visual elements like icons. We love using Dribbble and Bēhance for this purpose!
Dribbble is one of the main design platforms where we find inspiration. It was founded in 2009 and has grown so much over the years that it has become more than just a platform - it's a world-wide creative community.
Dribbble provides a space where creatives from all over the world can come together to:
- Network - in person and online
- Find inspiration
- Showcase their work (A lot of people use dribbble as their portfolio.)
- Find a job
- Hire a designer
- Get a design mentor OR become one
- Shop or sell on Dribbble’s marketplace
One of our favourite features on Dribbble has to be the platform’s filters to discover different designs. For example, you can filter designs by colour to visualize design ideas that work with a specific colour. We also enjoy that Dribbble does not only consist of design concepts, but features creative work used in our daily lives.
Bēhance is also a leading online platform, that was created for creatives all around the world to showcase and discover creative work. It was founded in 2005, and acquired by Adobe back in 2012.
Bēhance is very similar to Dribbble when it comes to providing a platform where creatives all over the world can come together to form a community.
What makes Bēhance different from Dribbble is that the platform does not have in person networking events, but creatives can learn tips, tricks, tools and techniques from other artists’ LIVE streams.
At Specno we like to get some free resources like mockups and fonts on Behance.
Dribbble vs Bēhance
While there are many similarities between these two platforms, there are subtle differences that might influence which one you would prefer, based on the context of the design you're looking to create.
When you look at Dribbble’s “inspiration” section and Bēhance’s “discover” section - which is the same concept named differently, you would realise that the content shared on Bēhance differs to what is available on Dribbble.
- Dribbble features topics such as: Animation, Branding, Illustration, Mobile, Print, Product Design, Typography, and Web Design.
- Behance features topics such as Photoshop, Graphic design, Photography, Illustration, 3D Art, UI/UX, Architecture, etc.
A lot of creatives prefer to present their portfolios on Bēhance because of the functionality allowing them to present a case study, whereas in Dribbble limits your posts to an image with a caption (which is not always ideal when presenting a portfolio). If you would like to read more about how you should be presenting your design portfolio, read our blog post about it here!
3. Finding Thought Inspiration
When it comes to app design, visual inspiration is not always enough. Thought inspiration helps us to think about how we solve a certain problem and also challenges us to think why we solve a certain problem the way we do it. In this regard we find reading blogs and listening to podcasts very helpful.
Many prominent platforms (like medium.com or Spotify) have entire libraries dedicated to topics related to UX and UI Design. Here are some examples:
There are certainly too many resources out there to even start linking to! The benefit you'll get from each source really depends on what you're looking for.
4. Start Designing
There is a fine line between drawing inspiration and copying another designer’s work. We like to use the popular saying “steal like a designer” which means that there are certain things like user flows that should not be re-invented, but other things like visual elements, which should be.
To illustrate what we mean by this:
If you know that a “back” button on a mobile app is always at the top left of the screen, then you should keep it there, because that is what the user is used to. When it comes to visuals, take inspiration such as colours, fonts, photo usage, etc. from various sources and not just one. Make the design your own.
We highly recommend reading the book “Steal Like an Artist” written by Austin Kleon. A quick review can be found here.
To ensure that you take inspiration from good examples you need to know your basic design rules to establish how "good" a certain example is. To ensure that we always keep the basics in mind, and that we keep up to date with the latest industry trends and best practices, we refer to this website.
It's as simple as that!