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Is the Internet the Enemy of Web Design?

Inspiration is the heartbeat of successful web design.

Web designers work hard to find and sustain inspiration. Like a sailor relying on the wind, a web design professional requires a degree of inspiration in order to design and develop creative solutions.

The internet is a fantastic source of inspiration for web designers. Like in every profession, it’s an amazing source of articles, journals and industry news that helps us adapt what we’re doing and keep pace with changes. It also helps that as web design professionals we’re able to access sources of inspiration throughout the working week, constantly seeing examples of good and bad website design. Looking at a website which solves a particular problem or contains certain visual features can help bring the inspiration that is required to meet the client’s needs and improve the quality of the website design that we’re working on.

That said, is it possible that we’re experiencing too much of a good thing? Is the internet, the source of such varied inspiration, stifling our creativity?

Many of us spend huge amounts of time surfing the web. Even the commute is now dominated by mobile browsing; the internet has entered almost every part of our day. It can be the first thing we look at when we wake and the last thing we check before putting out the light at night.

The mobile ingredient is of particular interest. As Gary Marshall puts it, this has hugely impacted the influence and omnipresence of the internet in our lives:

When the internet was something you did at a desk, you could escape it by going where the desk wasn’t. Now, though, the internet is everywhere I go. It’s a constant companion, a fellow traveller and sofa sidekick. It’s turned me into a 24-hour pointy person. I’m someone who can’t go ten seconds without going online to try and amuse myself.

It is certainly true that catching up on news, social media and favourite websites can be a strange experience. There are times when it’s not refreshing, not particularly informative and almost seems to be working against genuine creativity and productivity. It alleviates boredom, but only in a superficial, temporary way.

If you’re working in the web design industry, you need to take responsibility for maintaining your inspiration. Whilst the internet is a wonderful source of website design inspiration, be careful that it’s not the only place you go for new ideas. Look for inspiration in other places – literature, art, design, architecture, cooking – in fact, anything that helps you think differently and encourages you to create. Instead of downloading an e-book, why not pick up a book or magazine and make notes with a pen. Be deliberate, take your time and chart your progress and learning.

It’s clearly an overstatement to say that the internet is the enemy of web design – the website design industry is completely dependent upon the internet. However, when we’re looking for inspiration, particularly if the creative juices just aren’t flowing, a break from the web might be just the thing that you need…