Top 8 Places to Feed Your Inner Artist (Plus, Win a Gift Card and Travel Mug)

Here's a little secret: web designers like to be bossed around. Nicely. Under certain circumstances. They like to be told of your color preferences. They like to know what styles of fonts to avoid. They want to know what things you find hard to use on the web and the things you prefer to visit. One of the worst things a web designer can hear is, "I don't care. Just make it look good." "Good" is one of those enormously subjective words, the way some people think cilantro is "good" - ugh. Even if you don't think you know what kinds of design elements you like, the chances are high that what a web designer thinks looks super may not be what you think. You really do have preferences, even if you think you're a design noob. You just have to learn to tap into them. Then, when you go to create a project brief, you'll have somewhere to begin.

Where to find web design inspiration

Here are a few places for finding design inspiration:

Check your stationery for branding.

If your organization or corporation already has business cards, letterhead, a logo or anything with approved colors or branding, you should look here first for design guidance.

Look through random magazines.

Flip through a few magazines at the library or bookstore and focus on the design rather than the articles. Note typefaces you like, colors, pictures, layout - anything that grabs you.

Scan your environment for cool things.

You might have unknowingly cultivated a design aesthetic through the pictures on your wall and the stuff on your desk. Look at this interesting coffee mug photo contest, where you can see the beauty in a cup of joe.

Look through image sets on Flickr.

This enormous image database has not only photographs that might spark your interest, but also all manner of design projects, products and just about anything that someone else finds inspiration.

Check the design of other websites.

Look at other web design for inspiration. Note down what resonates with you, including overall design and good logo examples, and why.

See artwork in galleries and museums.

Check out the masters to see how they use colors together and what kinds of patterns they put together. We once built a website to match the architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Check for design in nature.

Nobody does it better than Mother Nature: the colors, patterns, textures. All wonderful fodder for design.

Read a few children's books.

Kids' books have masterful balance, color and content. You can use them to glean some great ideas from the layout and textures.

Web design gift card and super cute mug

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Contest time

[Update! Congratulations to Linda, who won the drawing for one of the cutest travel mugs on the planet. This contest may be over, but you're still welcome to keep sending ideas for creative inspiration.] Now that you've got some solid ideas of the kinds of design elements you like, do something with it. Enter our drawing for one of these enormously cute Brewed by Talance travel mugs, and you'll automatically receive a $150 gift card good for any new web design or update work from us. It's part of Talance’s Customer Appreciation Month, where every week through December, we're offering a new giveaway or contest. How do you enter? Just add your ideas for how you find design inspiration in the comments below, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win the mug and will receive your gift card via e-mail. Deadline for entries is January 9, 2012. We’ll pick one winner at random from all entries on January 10, 2012 and will notify the winner via e-mail. You must leave your name and a correct e-mail address to qualify. Enter now!

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