Here are sites and people I’ve found particularly inspiring, informative or useful this year. This list isn’t meant to be definitive or a reflection on trends; it’s just a way of sharing sites and highlighting individuals who influenced me.
These are a mix of web design-focused magazine and tutorial sites alongside a couple of broader design blogs.
This is one big inspiration feed. The creator Chris Spooner, a UK based graphic and web designer, writes great tutorials at on design projects typically focused on Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS and Wordpress.
Covers design ideas and trends as well as providing tutorials on the more technical aspects of web design. The complete Wordpress theme guide is one of the best introductions I’ve found so far on how to install and customise your own Wordpress site.
Gustavo Pimenta created this collection of screenshots using flickr, organising them into user interface elements, styles and tasks. This collection is handy when you’re facing a creative block.
A resource for designers (focused on the web side) with tutorials, articles and site galleries.
For all things type.
I’m hooked on portfolio sites. When I worked as an editor for the book publishers friends of ED, a great part of the job was browsing portfolios to commission new authors to write about web design.
While it’s easy to get hung up thinking that your own portfolio sucks, portfolio sites can often be the most inspiring. Here are four of my favourites:
- Piotr Kulczycki travel photography: As well as the actual photo content and an aesthetically-attractive site, I like the way Piotr uses tags and sets to make his portfolio straightforward to browse.
- Eleven3: George Huff’s portfolio is a nice example of a highly customised Wordpress site with some nifty scripting. I love the retro background images, footer design and clever sidebar navigation.
- Marius Roosendaal: Beautifully-presented work in a clever one-page site design making use of a simple, intuitive navigation.
- 2Advanced Studios: Personally, I was saturated by too many Flash-based portfolios several years ago. However, for high visual impact, Hollywood standard production, all guns blazing, jaw-dropping Flash magicianry, 2Advanced Studios still surprise me. This is web design as an experience; it’s way beyond information communication.
Twitter and Birmingham Bloggers
After a failed attempt in 2007, combined with some encouragement from a vocal group of Twitter enthusiasts at WordCampUK, I started using Twitter to meet other web types based in Birmingham. It’s been a revelation.
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool where individuals post a note up to 140 characters long answering the question ‘what are you doing?’
Starting out on Twitter can feel strange; it didn’t make sense for me until I followed a sizeable number of people (following other people means that you see their updates). Finding others to follow can be difficult but fortunately Stef Lewandowski brought everyone together in 50+ Birmingham Twitter users you need to follow [no longer online].
You can follow me on Twitter @gavinwray.
As a result of Twitter, I discovered a whole new community of people blogging about or in Birmingham: commentators, artists, consultants, technologists, musicians… oh, and a few web designers too!
Social media and the public sector
In July 2008 I helped to launch Observations, a new blog for the West Midlands Regional Observatory where I work as the Web & Data Officer. In tandem with this new project, I’ve been looking for individuals working in, and examples of, social media in a public sector context.
Dave Briggs works as a ‘digital enabler for the public sector’. His blog has been helpful in learning about the world of digital technology in communities, local government and other public sector contexts, specifically
public sector bloggers [no longer online] and the UKGovWeb Twitterverse.
Nick Booth is a ‘social media doer, teacher and consultant’. As well as attending a couple of Nick’s presentations introducing social media, I’ve been reading his informative blog on how social media is being used and its potential in community contexts in Birmingham.