Bookmarking inspirational and interesting web designs is all well and good but how can these be used when starting a design project?
When I researched the new hospital website design I knew the sort of design I needed to create very early on. I knew it had to be clean, simple and have a lot of white-space. It also had to look like an ‘NHS site’ but significantly different to our old site.
Pulling inspiration together
So I spent some time noticing key features on certain sites I frequented and when I saw something new I would bookmark it for later use.
Once I had a decent library of inspirational work I took screenshots and then printed them off so I could physically play with them and move them around on a spare wall in my office – this became known as the ‘inspiration wall’:
Similar to a giant mood board (which I’ve used in the past but not on this scale) the wall supplies a constant reminder of the style that you are trying to achieve.
Making your own inspiration wall
- Find a blank wall (doesn’t have to be in the office, try a corridor)
- Print off A4 sized landscape screenshots in black & white (no colour please)
- Don’t just use the homepage/above the fold also print footers and sub-pages
- Use post-it notes to leave ideas and comments on inspiring elements
Why this is a great thing to try
- Your screen may be big, but its not as big as the wall behind it
- Its tactile, you can draw and sketch, cut, tape and play with things in a new way
- Common design trends are more easily noticeable
- It helps engagement with other people
You can also try this little test with one of your co-workers, preferably not another web designer:
- Make 5 post-it notes with the numbers 1 to 5 on them
- Find a willing participant who has never seen the wall before
- Give your participant one minute (no more) to rate the designs on the wall on a scale of 1 to 5 by sticking the post-its on the designs they find most appealing
- Repeat the test with other participants and note down any interesting results
The one minute time-frame is the key here. Don’t make people think about what they like, let instinct decide.
My inspiration wall for this project worked better than I imagined for a number of reasons but the main one was the feedback and conversations that came from collogues who would experience the wall and use it as a way to better understand the hows and whys of the web design process.