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Inspire me! Where to go when creative block strikes
If the inspiration you seek is more about code than colour, dedicated sites such as .net regularly publish useful and inspirational features, so for example at the time of writing Five Killer Ways to Integrate Social Sharing demonstrates some very different and very appealing ways to get sites sharing. Sister title Computer Arts does some great inspirational stuff too covering everything from design ideas to the nuts and bolts of smartphone UI design, while architecture and interiors magazine Dezeen provides the exciting, inspirational architecture your local area might lack and Design Week’s news in pictures is a nifty way to keep on top of others’ bright ideas.
If you’re in web design – or just fancy looking at some interesting designs – then the trusty design showcase is alive and well (CSSRemix is a particularly fine example, while PatternTap.com is particularly good for specific interface elements such as forms, copy and even 404 pages). The undisputed king of design showcases, though, is Dribbble: it’s a kind of Twitter for graphic design, where users upload small screenshots (400×300 pixels max) to show off and/or invite comments from other users.
There are two things that make Dribbble particularly special. One, it’s not just limited to a single discipline, so you might find a shot of a cutting-edge CSS website next to somebody’s iOS application icon and someone else’s product label. And two, navigation is superb: shots aren’t just classified by the usual tags, but by colours too – so if you like the palette somebody’s used and fancy seeing what other people have done with similar hues, you can browse by colour too. For best results, it’s a good idea to approach Dribbble as you would Twitter: if it seems dull or predictable, you’re looking at the wrong people.
Like any high profile website Dribbble hasn’t been entirely without controversy, and that’s partly because of its membership policy: while anybody can sign up as a Spectator, you can’t leave comments or post your own shots until you’re a Player. For that to happen, you need to be drafted – invited – by a member. That, inevitably, has led to the odd allegation of elitism, but Dribbble says the system is there to stop the site growing too quickly and becoming a monster. Whatever the politics, as a place to see what other creatives have been up to, it’s hard to beat.