This guest post was written by Elizabeth Phillips. She is a former web designer who is currently freelance writing. She enjoys reading and writing articles that have anything and everything to do with design. She can be found typing away on her laptop in Philadelphia, PA.
Web design is constantly changing as technology grows. Developments like fiber optics have dramatically improved Internet speeds - and faster speeds have opened up the possibility for high-tech innovations like parallax and 3D animation.
No matter how tech-savvy web design gets, some things never change. Even the most advanced designs still need to wow with the basics - colors, fonts and images. Here are a few tools that will help you balance high-tech with aesthetic and keep your design inspiration fresh.
Have a photograph you want to turn into a color palette - or just need to browse for some creative inspiration? Color Hunter can help you do both. Upload images to create custom color palettes, or search existing palettes by shade and theme. Save the ones you like to your Favorites.
There are tons of font databases that allow you to search for fonts and even find the closest match to an unknown style. But FontStruct allows you to create your own fonts - for free. Use geometrically shaped “bricks” to build your own font in a grid interface. Once you’re done, share your font in the gallery, where you can also see and download others’ creations.
Adobe Kuler is a free web tool that allows you to create your own palettes using a vibrant color wheel. Choose up to five shades on the wheel, and adjust hues on a slider. You can also explore existing color themes, including the most popular and most used. Even cooler? You can use the Adobe Kuler app and your iPhone camera to extract color palettes from your surroundings on the go.
If you have designer’s block and need to check out some finished products to get inspired, try StyleVault. The site showcases web designs from a variety of sources. You can search mobile, commercial, animated and CSS designs. You can also follow the portfolios of individual designers.
SwatchSpot is another great site for color inspiration. It has an incredibly simple interface - all you do is hit “Shuffle Colors” to come up with random palettes of six hues. You can lock in the shades you like and shuffle again until you find the perfect combination. Save your favorite palettes, download them to your computer or grab the color codes.
Like StyleVault, Web Creme features hundreds of pages of web design ideas. The only difference? Web Creme’s examples are organized by upload date, and there’s no real way to search through them. To make the most of this site, you have to be willing to sift through tons of examples to find your inspiration.
LogoPond is the mecca for designers looking for logo ideas. The site contains thousands of logos for a wide variety of brands and themes. You can browse featured, popular and recent logos. Filter results by designer, status and date of upload. LogoPond also features a forum for design discussion, questions and critiques.
Shutterstock is every designer’s best friend, with more than 30 million stock photos, illustrations and videos. But the site got even better in early 2013 when it released Shutterstock Spectrum. The tool allows designers to search stock imagery by color. Just choose your shade on a gradient scale, and refine by theme - like “forest” or “home.”
Designspiration is my favorite site to visit when I need a little creative stimulation. The site houses thousands of images, searchable by tags, categories and colors. Browse images of art, books, fashion, illustration, typography and more. Choose up to 5 colors and find images that incorporate them all. Save your favorites into collections.
TinEye Labs Multicolr Search extracts color from more than 10 million Creative Commons images on Flickr, allowing you to search images by shade. Select up to 5 colors, and then adjust the hues using a color wheel. Easily change the color composition of your search by clicking and dragging.
What are your favorite online tools for design inspiration?
Elizabeth welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.