A secret to great design is to be a copycat. In other words, see how others are doing something and try it yourself. There is no shame in doing this – getting inspiration from other people’s work is a great way to jumpstart your own creative thinking.
In preparation for and during our own discovery phases of projects, we spend a lot of time sifting through UI patterns and websites looking for inspiration, trends and UX best practices.
Here are 8 of our favorite places to dig through, ranked somewhat by popularity and frequency of visit:
8. Issuu (for reading & publishing books, magazines, publications, etc.)
Pros: Useful for brainstorming layout and typography treatment – I’m most often browsing through the “Architecture & Urbanism” category.
Cons: Anyone can upload content. So, occasionally you may browse through a series of eye-catching cover designs, and then get accosted by a sour grape of a magazine cover. Grant it, I’m not using Issuu for it’s intended purpose. I look at it strictly from a design standpoint, not to actually read anything. Issuu’s categories are grouped together by content, not be aesthetic.
Pros: You will always find something that gets your creative juices flowing. Since Pinterest pulls from all of the sites mentioned in this post and several more, so the pool of content is strong.
Cons: It’s Pinterest. I might be searching for line icon ideas, then start searching for medical icons for an m-health product and oh! …look at all these DIY planters for my porch??…hello distractions at work.
Pros: There is a running list of categories that you can filter through which include type (for example, “content screen”) and task/action (“find friends”). There is an additional option to filter by year (2013-2015) which can be used to see the progression of how a particular task has been designed over the years.
Cons: With an account you can create a stack and upvote items by hovering over the item and selecting an arrow icon. I’m not a fan of the new hover UI because it completely whitens out the interface design you are looking at. I would like to see a more subtle hover effect so that if I upvote something it does not obstruct my view of what I actually want to upvote.
5. UX Archive
Pros: You can filter by task. This is helpful when analyzing general user flows like “discovering,” “tagging,” or “commenting.” What is also nice about this is that it only features real applications; you won’t find any concept design here.
Cons: I am ready for more content. My visit to new content ratio is imbalanced; I’ve scoured through the majority of the tasks and I need more new!
Pros: All the websites they feature are live, so you can test out the responsiveness and experience the website instead of just looking at a flat comp.
Cons: I’m a new adopter to SiteInspire, but I’ve been told that the content does not update regularly enough.
Pros: It’s Dribbble. I love all the things.
Cons: It’s hard to determine if a “shot” is an example of a real and functional website or product. I love everything that I find on Dribbble, but many times the work does not link to a live website because it is conceptual and not actually a real product. After working with developers for the past three years, I have started scrutinize design more closely to figure out how some design comps actually work – if they do at all.
2. Pattern Tap
Pros: Strong curation of websites with a large list of categories. I also like the ability to search by type/tag like, “ecommerce,” “form,” or “progress bar.”
Cons: The navigation can be a little screwy. For example, you’re on the homepage and decide to select a type like “good copy.” You start browsing through the results for that category, then you click on one of the results. Wow! It’s beautiful, but I want to see more examples…when you click back, the navigation does not take you back to your results page. Instead, it takes you to the homepage.
Pros: My go-to for mobile UI. I find myself visiting InspiredUI the most. At this point it has become more of a habitual thing because it was the first site I browsed through when I started designing mobile interfaces almost two years ago. I prefer because of its comprehensive mobile app library.
Cons: Don’t bother using the search bar. If the keyword does not match a category in its menu, then you will not get any results. For example, a search for “content” yields zero results, but a search for “content screen” (an actual category) returns many results.
Need help creating a better digital experience for your audience? Let’s talk!
Lis Warren | @lissythornberry
Featured Image: 20+ Awesome Dashboard Designs That Will Inspire You designrfix.com (that I discovered on Pinterest)