Escape That Creative Rut: Tips From Designers For Website Design Inspiration

February 23, 2022

By: Kari Amarnani

Escape That Creative Rut: Tips From Designers For Website Design Inspiration

Are you looking for website design inspiration to spark some motivation in you? Then, chances are, you’re finding yourself in a bit of a design rut. Let’s remedy that, shall we?

It’s common for graphic designers to encounter creative blocks; it pretty much just comes with the territory. Fortunately, they never last too long, especially if you try to find your way out of it by seeking inspiration. And guess what, inspiration is also never too far away.

It helps drastically to broaden your horizons with the type of content you take in daily, especially with design blogs. Some blogs feature topics like the art of fonts and typography, logo designs, graphic design prints, and so much more. There are also blogs that contain insightful content about design principles, while others are more visual in nature.

Regardless of which content structure tickles your fancy, they can all help with rebooting your design mojo and giving you fresh ideas for your next project.

The creative process requires you to be in a certain state of mind, which, let’s be honest, is not easy to come by at times. Your life is bigger than design work, and there could be many things happening at once that restrict you from feeling focused and inspired.

Give yourself a friendly pat on the back and know that it’s temporary. You should also know that there are some ways to make creative blocks less frequent in your life, and a lot of them entail a rewiring of your mindset and habits.

Website Design Inspiration: 5 Tips To Avoid Creative Block

Creative block is the absolute last thing you need when your entire job relies on being inventive. Sometimes, you can do everything right but still, run into that dreaded block. Fear not, weary designer! Check out these five helpful tips to reduce creative blocks:

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1. Take Time Away

As a designer in the digital age, you likely create most of your work online, meaning your eyes are glued to the screen day in and day out. Sometimes, doing too much can leave too little. In those moments, the best thing you can do is go back to the basics and step away.

There is such a thing as being too close to your work, and it's the whole reason people ask for feedback and critique. When you spend a lot of time and investment on something, it’s hard to see the holes and blind spots. This contributes to both a lack of inspiration and the inability to carry on even with the willingness to do so.

Get away from your daily routine for a while, and take a walk in the park. Turn your brain off after keeping it on and active for too long. You may just be pleasantly surprised at the rush of inspiration that occurs when you turn it back on.

This is the harsh reality of being a creative. You can’t expect yourself to always have the ball rolling with new and fresh ideas at all times. Taking time away to recharge is a must, and it comes with the responsibility of creation.

2. Separate Tasks Into Manageable Chunks

There are times when a task or project feels so large and overwhelming that you lose track of what really matters. It’s hard not to feel stuck in those situations, but luckily, there’s an easy fix. Take a step back and reassess your approach.

If you conflate the big picture with the results, that kills your creativity. Instead, take it one step at a time by breaking down large tasks into manageable chunks. You know your design process better than anyone does, so you know exactly what you can handle at any given time. Give yourself leeway to be productive in a way that works for you.

When a big project is divided into small chunks, you get the opportunity to manage it without feeling overwhelmed by the paralyzing thought of perfect completion. You can tackle each part one step at a time, and find how the puzzle pieces connect for a beautiful finish.

3. Understand That Creativity Is Fleeting

If nothing seems to be working, do not force it. Forcing yourself to be creative when you can’t is pointless. And guess what? It’s totally okay. You’re not a robot programmed to constantly create on the go with a snap of the fingers. You’re a human being before anything else, and it’s okay to not have everything figured out.

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Creativity is not a manual skill that you either have or don’t have—it is a series of mental, physical, and emotional wires that need to come together to work. And sometimes, they don’t.

One of the biggest symptoms of creative block is external or self-imposed pressure. Don’t underestimate how liberating it is to understand that creativity is not a consistent and everlasting motion. This new mindset takes the pressure off and relieves you of any challenging standards you feel you have to meet to create good work.

4. Take Care Of Your Health

You might be wondering, “What does that have to do with design inspiration?” Oh, plenty.

If you feel tense with pressure, give yourself permission to let go of that struggle and listen to your body. Take deep breaths, eat your favorite snack, take a nap—whatever you want! Sometimes, being kind to yourself and taking care of yourself is all you need to have a breakthrough. Trust and believe.

Design pressure also has a tendency to restrict healthy sleeping schedules. If you’re a creative, you likely know this feeling well. People feel more alert and ready for the day when they get enough sleep, so make sure to take care of your health.

Everyone, regardless of what they do, needs a little self-care every now and then. And yes, this kind gesture to yourself absolutely affects how you treat yourself at work. You need to provide for your body’s needs to be in the right frame of mind to get things done. Forgetting to eat or sleep while working on a daunting task comes right back to hit you in the… behind.

5. Find Sources Of Inspiration

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Not kidding.

Looking at what other designers have achieved can be incredibly motivating. They face more or less the same struggles you do, whether it’s creative blocks, ruts, a lack of self-care, you name it. And the same applies to your work. Has it occurred to you that someone out there saw a creation of yours and felt a rush of inspiration?

Taking a peek into what other graphic designers are doing can generate tons of new ideas, especially when it isn’t the sort of thing you would do. It’s a great opportunity to get yourself out of your comfort zone, which is scary, but the good kind. It also inspires you to reach new heights in your craft—and isn’t that what everyone wants for themselves?

Even the smallest things can lead to the freshest of ideas. Take yourself out to a movie and open your mind. You might just awaken your senses and uncover some of your greatest works yet.

Though inspiration is everywhere, it isn’t always easy to see when you’re in a rut. Hopefully, this will help!

We’ve spoken to 12 graphic designers and website owners about what gives them website design ideas when they’re fresh out of inspiration to go on. This might just give you the insight you need for your next big project.

Win-Win: Website Design Ideas For Website Design Inspiration

Knowing what other people are doing when they lack inspiration makes you feel less alone in the struggling endeavor of finding motivation. A sense of community can do so much to make you feel like you belong in the industry you’ve chosen.

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Check out what these 12 graphic designers and website owners have to say about finding design inspiration:

1. Alexander M. Kehoe, Co-Founder, Caveni Digital Solutions

Website design styles are just as much a form of artwork as more traditional mediums. With that in mind, finding inspiration can come from the oddest things.

Even our current website is actually designed based on an interesting-looking video of ink being placed in water and the way it forms colorful clouds. The way the colors contrasted in this video spoke to our design team.

If there are designers out there that are looking for new places to find inspiration, don't feel constrained to traditional sources. The interesting picture of the desert you saw online can have just as much applicability to a website as a more traditional style seen elsewhere.

Browse an image-sharing site like Unsplash and inspiration might strike at any given time.

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2. June Escalada, Co-Founder, PhotoshopBuzz

I’m a graphic designer, and I’ve worked on different web design projects together with developers. My job was to come up with creative interactive ideas and provide visual design.

Visual design is definitely important for any website, that’s how you can catch attention. I get most of my inspiration from Pinterest and Behance. I can always find something interesting and related to what I’m looking for.

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A good way to boost creativity and get inspired is to sketch, draw your ideas by hand instead of starting right away on any design program you’re using. You can start drawing or writing down random thoughts you have because progress is the most important part of creation.

From my experience, the first ideas (without thinking too much) are usually the best ideas. That’s another reason why you save your original ideas.

Don’t overthink, and if you think, think outside the box. If you think too hard or try to follow rules all the time, it limits your imagination/creativity.

3. Michael Varga, Senior UX Designer, Creative Navy UX Agency

My inspiration comes from delivering utility for the user, and I put their needs first by asking how our design can yield their desired outcome.

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Having a method to ensure you never run out of ideas is key, and we use an evidence-based approach to determine what’s beneficial for the user and why, so design thinking then has a path to follow that’s diverse and allows design imagination to explore alternatives.

Communication with the client means weak ideas are dropped, but strong ideas are subject to iteration and converge at a point of perfection.

Using the double diamond process to drive the divergence-convergence model means we never run out of ideas, we just need to choose the right ones and apply them in a context that makes sense for everyone.

Check out this short video on the double diamond approach; it might just work for you:

4. Gregory Yong, Chief Experience Officer, Convincely

One of the best things I did to keep ideas flowing was to create a swipe file of inventive websites or UX designs.

This design bank consists of designs that I want to draw inspiration from or emulate in some manner. I use this resource as a reference when I'm storming up ideas for a new project and hunting for inspiration.

Simply getting exposure to this cornucopia of individuality and expression motivates me and keeps my productivity running high.

I particularly enjoy comparing my design against that of successful case studies in the industry to take note of differences and identify any weak points. Whenever I get designer's block, this is the first thing I do to boost my creativity.

5. Roy Morejon, President and Co-Founder, Enventys Partners

Committing to actively breaking out of your comfort zone is the key to keeping your ideas flowing. If you do something you’ve never done before, or learn about something you thought might be too difficult, you’re pushing yourself past any and all limits - that’s how your imagination stays sharp.

I also like to keep up with young brands and sites that are seeing a lot of success online to see if they at all indicate any new trends, and it’s also inspiring to look at what the competition is doing well. I also like to use social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to follow artists and curate feeds and boards that spark my imagination.

6. Asya Kuchina, Head of Marketing, QArea

I know a lot of people who take inspiration from music, books, dancing, or other hobbies. Sometimes it helps when you're looking for a solution and gives you the ability to think in the right direction. But it won't help when you need to create website elements or design user-friendly filtration.

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There can be a huge list of resources, and a lot of them are on the surface. Designers use Behance and Dribbble as a source of trends.

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But it's difficult if you need to search for some specific element. And right here, I can recommend Collect UI, which is a source where designs from popular websites are categorized, so you can easily find something that can help you with your project.

7. Tomasz Lisiecki, Founder, Nerd Cow

I firmly believe that the constant stream of inspiration is hard work. It requires one to be innately observant, caring, and curious about the world because an idea often comes when it's least expected.

When stuck, it's worth busting the routine bubble and introducing a new stimulus for the brain.

For example, one can go to an art gallery, attend a lecture, or simply let the brain drift off on a bus ride or on a bench in a park. Inspiration is nothing more than newly formulated neuron connections that, like a map, create electrical paths between unrelated stored information.

8. Shiv Gupta, CEO, Incrementors Inbound Marketing

Behance is a portion of the Adobe family of businesses; it’s likely the world’s largest and most active innovative community.

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Behance's web design discover page makes it easy to find massive amounts of web design inspiration from their huge, creative community, for example, roofer web design or a personal portfolio. When switching the search settings from one view to another, it sets timeframes, popularity, and/or location.

If nothing else, it’ll give you the complete size and talent of the world’s creative community!

9. Lindsey Allard, CEO & Co-Founder, PlaybookUX

I get my inspiration from a few different traditional places:

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One, from browsing the Internet and finding websites I like, I find motivation! Finding new and refreshed websites that are designed nicely and uniquely makes me want to create new content and try to create the best websites possible.

Two, I’m constantly browsing some of my favorite design news sites, like Smashing Magazine. They share new updates, trends, and styles that are popular. I respect the content on these types of websites, and it’s a great source of motivation for me when designing.

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10. Amiel Alcala, Lead Web Developer, ExaWeb Corporation

My favorite places I go to boost my creativity are Behance, Dribbble, and Pinterest. When I want to explore the latest trends and I want to go for a specific style for a website branding, these websites can provide exactly what I need.

Before designing something, I want to write down the goals and objectives of the website so I won’t lose focus on it during the process. I also prefer formulating hypotheses from user feedback and behaviors to see the pain points and frustrations so I can arrive at a conclusion on how to solve these problems.

Now that I have a proper research, I will now come up with a plan, and it usually starts with something as simple as a mood board, then it progresses to sitemap, wireframes, up to the actual mockups. If these inspirations are still not enough, my last option would be benchmarking competitors’ websites for comparison.

11. Arek Nowakowski, Product Designer, Spacelift

I browse ProductHunt every day to get inspired. ProductHunt is a website where founders launch SaaS products. These SaaS products typically involve a website - most often built out of templates.

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But it is exciting to see how founders and entrepreneurs modify the template to suit the product. Some do it remarkably, and some fail terribly. But it is always cool to glance at the new website every day.

The trick to never run out of ideas is to keep mixing the designs. For example, combine a font from a website with the new gradient to produce something new - it may be ugly, but something refreshing. If you think about how you can modify the elements, you will always have ideas.

Think of the design as the amalgam of various elements, like font, weight, gradient, background, colors, shadow, etc. Furthermore, each element can be modified, giving numerous ways to display a single word.

12. John Rodgers, Principal & Co-Founder, The 215 Guys

There are so many ways and places to get inspiration. The staples: Awwwards, Dribbble, The Webby Awards, etc, are all solid places to see a curation of creative design decisions.

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Another keen way to get inspo is to go international or look at designs from major markets like San Francisco and New York City. For example: when designing for a coffee shop, googling “coffee shops in Copenhagen” can lead you to designs that may not be on an awards website but are genuinely creative in their execution.

The main key is to always be looking. If you see something you like or inspires you: bookmark it and save it for later. You never know when that kernel of an idea is going to pop back into your head.

Website Design Inspiration: Never Too Far From Home

Creative block happens to the best of website designers, but it doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. With some advice from the pros in the field, you can regain the inspiration you lost and find your way back to making beautiful and refreshing designs.

If your creativity ever hits a rut, come back to these tips and advice on overcoming these challenges and know that you’re not alone. Your creative juices will flow again, and it’ll all be worth it.

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