When you’re stuck, in a rut or brain drained, it’s hard to be creative on demand. Here are some resources that may give you visual inspiration and visual ideas.
You may find inspiration for designing an entire course, a title screen, a job aid or a way to make an abstract concept concrete. Please share your favorite inspiration resources in the Comments section below.
1. Graphic Design Portfolios
Look through the portfolios of designers and artists at these sites, which serve as platforms to showcase creative work and collections. They can give you visual inspiration for layout, color palette and overall design.
Browse online and print magazines to observe the layout, typography and ideas used in advertisements. These can provide visual ideas for using a magazine layout for eLearning and for print materials, such as job aids and newsletters.
3. Design Museums
Museums are places for visual inspiration. Although we rarely design environments, walking through museums in person or online may be the catalyst you need.
- Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
- Design Museum
- Design Museum of Denmark
- Museum of Arts and Design
- Design Museum Holon
These sites may help you with web design if you’re creating a learning portal. Or they may present visual ideas that you can use in web page style eLearning, similar to the pages in Articulate Rise.
5. Retro Design
Certain audiences and content lend themselves to a retro or vintage look. Study examples at these sites to see the attributes you can use for a retro look.
- Emergence of Advertising in America Collection
- Old Posters from Library of Congress
- Vintage European Travel Posters
- 50 Retro and Vintage Web Designs
- Vintage and Retro Typography Showcase
- Celebration of Vintage and Retro Design
6. Information Graphics and Visualizations
Real infographics (not infoposters) could be used more frequently to facilitate learning. Perhaps you’ll find a solution to your problem by viewing the wonderful variety found at these sites.
- Information is Beautiful
- The Information is Beautiful Awards
- Visual Complexity
- Flowing Data
- 30 Examples of Creative Infography
- Chart Porn
Even if you don’t plan on creating motion graphics, animations can show effective ways to visualize concepts.
- Vimeo Animation and Motion Graphics
- 20 Inspiring Animated Infographics
- 14 Animated Infographics
- 59 Poster Examples
- Eye-catching Posters
- 50+ Inspiring Poster Designs
- Minimalist Poster Designs
- Hollywood Posters on Pinterest
9. Stock Photo Sites
Search stock photo sites and image galleries for concepts that have you stumped. You don’t necessarily need to buy or use an image. This is a way you can see how others are visualizing a concept in ways you hadn’t imagined. It’s a good starting point for ideas to flourish. See my critical look at stock photos: 21 Reasons Stock Photos Make Me Cry. And also read about some ways to improve stock photos.
- My Favorite Stock Photo and Illustration Sites
- Google Images (search for a concept, see how it’s visualized)
- Wikimedia Commons
There’s so much to learn about type. Before you use it as a dominant graphical element, check these sites for inspiration. In addition, see What Font Should I Use? for the basics of typography. If you must manage a lot of text, see Designing Text-based Information.
11. Graphic Design Around the World
- African Graphics
- African Graphic Design
- Middle Eastern Graphic Design
- Middle Eastern Design Themes
- Polynesia Design Themes
11. “Best Designed” Websites
12. Visual Design Books
Start a collection of visual design books that have lots of examples for inspiration. Buying used books through online stores reduces costs.
- See my list of 10 Books of Visual Ideas for starters.
- National Geographic
- National Archives Digital Photography
- 1000 Words Photography
- British Journal of Photography
- 50 Cool Photography Websites
Most people appreciate that storytelling through comics appeals to many learners. It’s also a more complex style than meets the eye. Here are some sites to check out the visual language and storytelling features of comics. Also see this interview for some insight into creating comics: Using a Comic Book Style for Learning.
15. Interactive Graphics
- Interactive Media Awards
- Interactive News Graphics Collection
- Interactive Infographics on Pinterest
- Fun Things to Do Online When Bored
16. PowerPoint & Keynote Slide Decks
- Pinterest CD Cover Pinboards
- Pinterest Album Cover Pinboards
- 99 Examples
- Hip-Hop inspired Covers
- 100 Obscure and Remarkable CD Covers
18. Label Design and Packaging
19. Book Cover Designs
- Book Cover Archive
- 86 Beautiful Book Covers
- Book Cover Design Ideas for Pinterest
- Best Book Cover Designs of 2020
- 30 Awesome Book Cover Design Ideas
20. Children’s Books
- Childrens Books for Design Snobs
- Childrens Books Pinboards on Pinterest
- Childrens Book Covers on Pinterest
21. Playing Card Design
Some learning games lend themselves to playing card activities (physical or digital). Here are ideas for designing the cards.
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