Every once in a while, as I’m sure is the case for many designers, I find myself struggling for inspiration. Depending on the project and whether or not a mockup is needed, sometimes it helps me to code out a basic layout structure in HTML and CSS and then I start getting some ideas for the actual design. Whether that works or not, I eventually have to actually start designing at some point.
Here are a couple of things that help get my creative juices flowing. (Although, I am thinking more in the area of designing for websites, these can also be helpful for designing for other projects as well.)
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One of the first things I like to have in mind when starting to design a website is a colour scheme. I may not always stick to the original chosen scheme or I may expand on it in the process of designing the website, since sometimes more colours or shades are needed for contrast. This definitely helps to get me started. My favourite place to go to find colour inspiration is . The site was developed by Adobe, making it especially useful when working with Adobe software, like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Kuler contains thousands of user schemes to browse through, edit, and use for your designs. If you have an Adobe ID (if not, its free and easy to sign up), you can sign in to Kuler and download the .ase file for any colour scheme. You can also create and save your own schemes privately or publicly for others to use. The downloaded .ase file can be imported right into Photoshop or Illustrator (via swatches panel) so you don’t even have to worry about typing the Hex, RGB, or CMYK values incorrectly. The colours are added to your swatches panel automatically.
One of the things I love about Kuler is the tool they have for creating your own schemes. The site has a tool to create schemes that follow analogous, monochromatic, triad, complimentary, and compound colour rules as well as shades. And you can create a completely custom scheme not following those rules as well. This is especially useful if you have one colour in mind that you really want to use but aren’t sure what colours to put with it. The colours displayed on the page change automatically as you move the spokes (for lack of a better word) around the colour wheel. You can also upload an image to take colours from.
Best of all, Kuler is completely free to use, so even if you’re using design software, other than Adobe Creative Suite, you can still use the site.
More information about Kuler:
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I love fonts. I have an enormous list of fonts on my home computer. Although, half of them never get used because I forget that they are there. But sometimes coming across a font I haven’t used in a while inspires me in a creative way.
Fonts are important when it comes to design. They can really either make or break your design. And I don’t just mean that sometimes they break your layout (we all know that does happen) but they can also just plain look bad, even if they fit the way they’re supposed to.
That nagging issue of browser/platform compatibility will probably never go away entirely, so keep that in mind when choosing fonts to be used in a web page. One thing some designers occasionally struggle with, browser issues aside, is simply finding just the right font for a design.
The standard serif fonts like Times New Roman and sans-serif like Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana are sometimes good enough, but people see them so often that they become boring after a while. They’re safe. Most computers come with them loaded in the operating system, both Mac and PC. I add them to my CSS just as backup fonts in my CSS for older browsers that don’t support @font-face. Then, if the user’s machine doesn’t have the font I put for my first choice, it will be replaced with the first font listed that the user’s machine has.
Now with the ability to embed fonts into a web page, it gives us the opportunity to be more creative in our font choices.
When it comes to finding the right font there are lots of sites on the web where you can download fonts to use for free. There are so many fonts on these sites though, you could (and I have on multiple occasions) waste hours looking through them and downloading, when all you really intended on doing was finding one simple font with a specific look.
I recently learned of , from a former classmate of mine and it seems to be a pretty good resource.
These are just two of many great resources out there on the web for designers and developers. I could probably go on for ever talking about either one of these sites or listing many more awesome resources, but since I feel that colour and type/font are fairly important for designing for the web, I decided to focus on these two.