I don’t even know where to start with Smashing Magazine, it’s so vast. Here you’ll find absolutely anything and everything that’s trending in web development, from graphics and design to coding and WordPress.
There are quite a few big royalty free photo sites out there but I always use iStock because of the range and quality. The site is easy to use and everything on there is top notch, even the illustrations and video clips.
Sometimes the biggest barrier is that of possibility and Ajax Rain always throws up ideas for little tweaks which I’d never even considered, or had seen somewhere else without the slightest clue how they were done. It’s always worth a trawl before you concrete anything to see whether it could be done better.
deviantART is a veritable hot bed of design inspiration, from illustration and artwork to page layouts and graphics, it’s all there. There are also vast reams of application downloads and plugins including Photoshop brushes, custom shapes, patterns and textures so it’s equally useful once you’ve got some killer ideas and want to mock them up.
Computer Arts was the first magazine I ever read and I still flick through my old copies, even the ones from years ago. As well as all the great tutorials and feature pieces about innovative designers, the magazine itself always looks like a piece of artwork. I also advise going through the forums, where people post up their latest work for critique and showcase.
When I first stumbled on CSS Play many years ago it was just a place to get a few drop down menus. Now though, it’s grown into a bit of a monster with all manner of different CSS based tips, examples and resources including dozens of different menu systems and layouts.
The colours you choose can make or break a website design and that’s why Kuler is always my first point of call. You can use it to find swatches and colour combinations which have been uploaded and rated by other users, or create your own from either a base colour or image.
Site Inspire is a directory of websites which you can sort by theme and type, so if you’re looking for examples of other websites from the same industry then it’s the perfect place to go and compare. Once you’re done you may even want to submit whatever you were working on and see if they include it!
As photography and illustrations are the subtle marks of exceptional design over just OK, so typography has it’s place. Changing fonts can have a dramatic effect on your design work and, whilst in many cases you’ll want to stick with web friendly standards, there’s always a place for some flair.
You probably think I’ve flipped my loop or something at this point but I really do advocate Amazon as a great place for web design inspiration. Check out album covers here and wherever you go. You can also look at the way book covers have been put together, there are often great examples of photography, typography, illustration and design which are easily overlooked.