Practical Tips For Website Designers: How To Be Inspired Without Copying

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A wise man once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I would like to hear what the same man had to say about copying, but it could not have been that positive.

In designer’s line of work, encountering a creative block and struggling to bring the project to life not uncommon at all. A stroke of genius does not always come when we need it and that is why we search for inspiration from other designers.

However, there is a fine line between drawing inspiration and outright copying. So, how to catch that elusive magic dust called inspiration and use it to flesh out your own creations?

Copycatting is not an option

In this day and age, creative output and information are transmitted across the digital universe. Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, including design blogs, gallery sites, marketplaces like ThemeForest, and real life.

Alas, tapping into them can a double-edged sword. When chasing inspiration, one quickly ends up on a slippery slope and falls into a copying pitfall.

If you ask me, designers should always strive to produce unique and quality solutions. Setting yourself apart is the name of the game, the best way to succeed in the overcrowded digital landscape.

Yes, it is not always easy to separate creative minds from those who are versed in copying. Still, instances such as news of big brands shamelessly ripping off artists raise eyebrows and prescribe caution.

Make no mistake: It is possible to get away with it. But, even if you manage to avoid getting caught copying, there are strong reasons to refrain from it.

Facing the learning curve

It goes without saying you need to seek the design that you love. That is all fine, but can you pinpoint what you like about it?

Ask yourself what are the specific aspects and elements that strike a chord with you. Take your time getting to the bottom of it and evaluate whether it would work in the context of your project and design tools.

After all, you want to take away something out of it and make it your own. Following these steps, you should be able to capture the design essence and eventually translate it into your own concept.

Facing the learning curve

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In other words, to successfully emulate, you first have to analyze and learn from good design. And if you are a novice designer, it might be helpful to first conduct a test and copy the chosen design.

Yes, it is OK to copy when it is for learning instead of publishing purpose. Not only you have a chance to hone your skills, but also to develop a deeper understanding of what constitutes great web design.

So, ponder using programs like Photoshop to reproduce a layout or get into some coding.

Stealing like a master thief

In a nutshell, to successfully steal a design, you must distinguish its pieces of the puzzle and recognize how they fall together into a coherent picture. So, inspect the general aesthetics and specifics of construction.

Get to know the “why” behind design choices, principles and ideas that guide the workflow. What is more, determine how the specific design fits the purpose of the website and business goals such as increasing conversion rates.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to pay special attention to fine details that make the design stand out. These are most often not the first things you notice about the design.

Yet, they are crown jewels of a visual identity, ones that make everything look well-rounded and polished. They can take the form of neat typography, smart spacing, functional navigation bars, effective pixel solutions, superb color palette, etc.

It is your task to recognize all subtleties, intricacies, nuances, and personal design touches. You are going to replicate them only as long as they make sense for your brand and improve the user experience.

Thus, bear in mind that work inspired by someone else’s creation has visual ties and reflects similar sensibilities and design philosophy. At the same time, it is a far cry from its mere doppelganger.

The hunt is on

Naturally, it helps to have more than one source of inspiration. Namely, you should take different aspects of design (intersections in the layout) from multiple sources.

What is more, you cannot blatantly copy every element you adore. Some things you can steal, others you can rework, and then there are also solutions you ought to replace.

This due diligence increases the chances of your final solution being an original rather than a copy.

The hunt is on

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The good news is that there are so many websites, portfolio collections, and examples of striking website designs of 2018 worth checking out.

We will leave it to you to do your homework and carry out the creative hunt. One piece of advice, though: do not blindly follow trends.

Many of them come and go faster than summer downpours. With that said, feel free to keep up the pace with trends and latest developments.

Note that you can use various tools such as Evernote to record and categorize your sources of inspiration, as well as staple solutions you mean to borrow.

Therefore, work out your approach. Keep an inspiration notebook and add new examples regularly. Or, bookmark all the inspiring places you visit.

That way, you will avoid getting lost in the design process and will always know where to turn to for guidance.

Keep it real

Finally, make sure to branch out and look beyond obvious resources.

For instance, many designers lose sight of the offline sources of inspiration. This is a shame because some of the most riveting experiences and visuals wait to be discovered in the real world.

The beauty of it is that inspiration can come from any direction, be it a book, movie, nature, your memory lane, or architecture. Moreover, you are not really in danger of merely copying someone else.

So, go outside and observe the world around you. Walk the bustling streets and soak in the vivid urban culture. Head to nature and explore its sanctuaries.

May the lines, movements, sounds, and colors elevate you to a place of sheer inspiration. Those who know where to look can always find glimpses of pristine beauty and echoes of sublime creativity.

Submerge yourself in that ocean and coming out of it, see your own design in a completely new, brimming light.

Get the creative juices flowing

There are so many great design examples out there, yet they are no substitute for a lack of your creative vision. So, be honest with yourself and draw some lines.

Find designs solutions try to understand them better before doing anything else. Develop an eye for detail. Focus on the specifics that spark attention and capture the imagination.

Get the creative juices flowing

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Take advantage of a diverse set of sources, both in the online and offline realms. Once you absorb inspiration and take different parts of a design, make it all fit your brand identity and target audience.

As a finishing move, apply your personal design stamp. It is time to ignite that spark of creativity and let your unique signature style fully shine.

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Meaghan Yorke is a web designer and content writer for DesignRush – a new digital destination to offer an inspiration and overview of the current design and technology trends. You can connect with Meaghan on LinkedIn.