Thanks to social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it is easy to become exposed to fantastic web designers, recommended reading on web design, jaw-dropping examples, and tutorials that can help you build up your design toolkit. Taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from others is a great way to spark inspiration and create unique and innovative web designs of your own.
It is a good idea to look at social networks, RSS feeds, and design galleries to improve and learn new techniques. Any designer worth their stuff will tell you that the trick is to constantly learn as much as you can and find new ways to implement it.
With all that being said, it is also important to moderate yourself on the consumption of design tutorials and inspirational sources. While it is good to gather ideas and light that fire under you to start a new project, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. While you can keep up with the community of web design this way, staying on top of all the new techniques and ideas, it could be considered poor form to use only other’s work as a reference to your creativity.
By nature, designers strive for uniqueness. Always attempting to produce exciting and new results to share with the world. It may very well be a common goal among designers to be as unique as possible, adding a personalized touch to the community. However, bad results will come in droves. No one is perfect, and you have to learn to accept these bad results as reality. It is the only way to grow.
If you are trying to reach an out-of-the-box way of thinking and experimentation, then you have come to the right place. We want to share some innovative and unique ideas with you for web design. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
One way to produce unique and wonderful website design ideas is to collaborate with others. When you work with a team, it can be a wonderful experience, it can also be wonderfully frustrating. Having multiple experts designated to specialized areas of a website’s creation will produce great results in a short period of time. However, it can be challenging when you try to communicate your own ideas and thoughts with another person, much more a whole team. You have to also be considerate of their take on issues that arise.
With that being said, when you partner with another designer (or a team of designers), it can be quite inspiring and fun. When you design based on the work of others, you are given a chance to force creative outcomes that are based on the unpredictable efforts of another designer while facing limited restrictions.
Don’t Use CMS
Content management systems (CMS) are amazing tools that can save a lot of time and hard work while you maintain an appealing design standard with open flexibility. While platforms such as Expression Engine, WordPress, and Drupal provide innovative ways to design websites, they come with several restrictions that can interrupt the flow of creativity. Especially when grid systems are thrown into the mix. CMS can be a danger to your own creativity.
It is important to maintain your freedom over content, and CMSs tend to be easier, but they disrupt that flow. While they do make updating and changing sites easily, CMSs block the possibilities for the design you are working on. Limiting you to what all you can actually do as a designer.
Begin With a Blank Canvas
Building a new design off of another one or a portion of one is a wonderful way to save time on projects. Unused designs are able to be reworked and recycled into new ones, which increases productivity. While this practice is a great way to save time and refresh old ideas that didn’t quite fit before, it isn’t how you will come up with that new and innovative design that will ‘wow’ the world.
Instead, begin with a blank canvas. Setting the background to white right off the bat is even a bad thing. While it is the default in many of the graphic editors on the market, you don’t know what the color of the background is yet, so save it till you decide. Don’t restrain yourself to a top to bottom design. In fact, work where the inspiration strikes you. Build off how you want the navigation to work or how you want to display the page or post titles.
Going about the workflow in the opposite direction (Working with the details first) is a wonderful way to get your creativity flowing. Now Now, we know that starting big to small is normal, but thinking outside the box is the goal here. A blank canvas is your playground.
Working with smaller details will allow new thoughts to fill your brain with different ideas on other parts of the website. Doing it this way will result in you bouncing all over the layout, adding ideas and tweaking additions to keep up with the flow of ideas.
Do It The Old School Way
There are a lot of designers nowadays that belief using tables with web design is a sloppy practice that is poor taste. This isn’t entirely wrong. Tables are still an important aspect of web design, and though they are not ideal for layout development of your web pages, they still have valid applications like showing tabular data.
Truth be told, tables aren’t the only method that has been hung out to dry. Marquees (or blinking elements) can also cause some PTSD in designers. They developed a poor reputation from the dark ages of web design.
It would be challenging to use a marquee element in a classy way. However, it is an excellent way to take an old element and make it new in a different light. What we are trying to say is, recycling the older methods of web design can be a way to spark creativity. Kind of like going back to the root of the way things work and attempting to make them better.
Avoid Pre-Described Layouts
Using grid systems, like the 960 Grid System, is a wonderful way to display web content. Not just because it is easier to set up, but because they can increase efficiency in website deployment and maintenance as well as improving consistency and usability of the layout.
Some projects, especially the ones dealing with a broader (mainstream) audience, can find consistency with cross-browser support. However, a strict layout could be a great restraint for designers that are trying to think outside the box.
What if page size wasn’t a factor? What if the layout wasn’t crucial? How about, instead of going through the motions, you start a project to challenge yourself into a new solution. There isn’t a set rule that your site has to be in the 960-pixel box to be accessible. Don’t curb your ideas around this. Instead, build your idea and find a way that makes it work the way you want it to.
The bottom line of thinking out-of-the-box is to explore many different types of layouts. Look at the new standards, and find a way to implement them to make your work more than what it is.
Try To Avoid Online Inspiration
Looking to other designers for inspiration isn’t a taboo practice. In fact, it is encouraged to take ideas and improve upon them. However, if you are trying to be truly innovative and unique, you need to avoid doing that. Design galleries and showcases are great reference points when you are working on CERTAIN projects, but they will limit the creative juices from flowing the way they should.
The blog posts and galleries found online can contain inspirational examples, and for web designers, they are excellent for inspiration. It just takes some of the fun out of it when you create a design based off of someone else’s work.
When a client wants a website built for them, they may provide links to websites that they like the layout of the functionality of. They expect something similar. And when you are trying to start from scratch, looking at these different links can spark inspiration. However, if you are working on a personal project, try going with something unique. Don’t use the work of others to inspire you, instead go with the flow based on your own ideas. Find a way to make them work without relying on others.
New School Techniques
Though necessary, browser debugging and testing have to be the worst task involved with designing web projects. It is easy to assume that web browsers (and platforms that we can’t control) are the most restrictive restraint we face in web design, but they put our work on display.
However, the browser market is filling up with the competition, browser vendors trying to constantly do better than the last guy. That being said, competition can be a great thing, mainly because browsers don’t necessarily accept the status quo. They are constantly implementing future standards for the web quicker than ever.
There is an unfortunate side, however. Cross-browser compatibility tends to put the fire out a bit, limiting the extent we will push when exploring CSS3 and HTML5 improvement to function and form. That being said, if you can understand the new specs, you should be able to work on your project without neglecting any web browsers that don’t support future standards.
Try Something New
Obviously, you want to take advantage of the experience you have gained building projects based on techniques that you have developed over the years. Doing this is standard practice for any web designer. However, if you don’t try to do things in a different way, you will never progress as a designer. This industry’s nature shifts quickly, and because of that, we need to encourage ourselves to try and forge new skills and try new things. While trying new things on projects won’t always be successful, it isn’t about the times we failed, but the times we have succeeded.
Produce Unique Constraints
Almost all of these ideas we have listed are intended to inspire you to think outside the box. Your mind is full of limitless possibilities, and you can turn those possibilities into true designs. However, mental blocks are a real thing. So when you have one of these blocks, try giving yourself some restraints. Don’t restrict yourself to the standards; instead, design some clever limitations and bend your design around them. Play by your own rules.
You can make any kind of constraint, such as avoiding the use of the same colors you always use in your designs. What if the site is designed in a different font than you are used to using, or what if you only used one font for the entire thing. What about limiting the page weights of your designs. Making a design based on your own limitations can force you to refine your skills, using all of them to create something unique and innovative.
Pretend That Coding Isn’t Necessary
It is heavily debated on whether or not a web designer should know how to code. But that fact is, knowing how to markup your own web design is important, at least in HTML and CSS.
That being said, most web designers realize that they will end up having to use coding on a web design. Normally, when you know that a transparent PNG won’t work with IE6, you will avoid it altogether. In fact, the more browser-rendering issues you encounter with HTML and CSS will only affect the way you develop the mockup of your websites.
In fact, in order to execute your ideas on a graphical level, you have to understand how hard an interaction or element design is going to be to insert with CSS or HTML. This isn’t a bad thing at all. Actually, it is why you should have the coding knowledge to code your own designs. Once you know the limitations of your medium, you can craft realistic websites that are fully usable. You will be a prolific web designer if you have a deadline and the knowledge to alter a design while retaining visual quality.
Ignorance is bliss in creative freedom, however. Constantly dwelling on “impossible” things or the difficulty of implementing certain aspects is your biggest restraint.
In short, these ideas are going to be your best bet on creating a website that is out-of-the-box. Here is what happens if you execute these ideas:
- You could use code that isn’t supported by all web browsers. (HTML5 and CSS3).
- You will not have a layout that is standard.
- You may find yourself using old-school techniques.
- Without a lot of tweaking, your design may not function properly in CMSs.
- Your designs may include ideas that won’t work.
- You won’t be using the experience you have acquired.
- You won’t be relying on the work of other design professionals.
While it sounds like it has its flaws, utilizing these methods may still work in wonderful ways. In fact, even if you only get one good idea out of these practices, then you have found success. You could get a better gauge of your skills or even create a new technique.
All it takes is one idea of your own that you fall in love with, then you have a leg up on web design. It won’t happen that easily most of the time, sometimes it won’t happen at all, but the real value is in the exploration of your own creativity. You should always be striving to do that one thing no one has ever thought of before. You want your creations to be eye-catching, unique, and functional in ways that no one has ever done.