Image credit: unsplash
Launching your design career starts with a great portfolio. You will want to demonstrate to your clients that your talents are of the moment. And for that, you will need to find out where the design bar is currently at.
If you are just starting out in your creative career, you will need a bank of inspirational ideas to draw from. And that’s where social media comes in. Easy to use, free, and full of some of the most inspirational content on the web — social media is where you can go to top up your design swipe file.
Set Up Your Inspiration Folder
You have to be organized in order to be inspired. Find a way to collate your social media journeys into online swipe files.
Evernote has a cool bookmarking tool — but there are also some design specific ones like Dragdis.com which can help you create visual mood-boards.
Speaking of mood-boards, Pinterest is the ideal places to collate visuals and typography into themed boards that can be easily shared and discussed with colleagues and clients. Get a Pinterest widget added for your browser; this will allow you to save and organize your favorite links quickly and comprehensively.
Get To Know Your Hashtags
Hashtags are essential for design discovery as they help organize social media content. Start looking around for ones that are worth following and tracking.
Sites like Hashtagify are great for searching hashtags and finding related terms to help you narrow, broaden, and generally improve your searches on social media.
Your hashtag collection may be comprised of several different intentions. If you are searching for photography you may be looking for #blackandwhite images, or then more refined details like #bokeh lens effects. Think on both a micro and macro scale.
To keep the flow of designer tips and sources up-to-date, set up Google Alerts for your preferred target keywords in order to get alerts straight to your inbox.
As arguably the most prominent social network for sharing visual content, Instagram is a leading source of inspiration for creatives. Regardless of the topic and interests you are most drawn to as a designer, you will be able to search and find a host of inspirational accounts to follow.
It’s THE place to be for anyone with an interest in lifestyle photography, so start commenting and engaging with people.
Image credit: unsplash
Developers at Instagram have now enabled users to save posts they like. You can also follow specific lists of hashtags for easy access. Make the use of these new features.
Going beyond just a collaborative portfolio site of featured design work, Dribble has a great search and upvote system.
This feature turns the platform into more of a social network for inspirational designers. The site is fantastic for those looking to contribute and get feedback on their ideas in a public setting.
Dribble categorizes favorite works as ‘shots’ throughout their site. These ‘shots’ are screenshots of design works that have attracted a lot of engagement through the site. Popular posts give hints to the hot ideas and trends that may prove to be very popular with consumers.
Digital asset building tools (e.g. Adobe) use sharing platforms like Behance to encourage users to share their best examples with other customers. This kind of user-generated content can offer a massive source of inspiration to fellow designers.
Behance has some useful galleries and categories to follow, and setting up your own portfolio takes next to no time at all.
This is a great site for both creative inspiration and professional networking.
Little Big Details
You should also be taking note of feature functionalities and how they can be applied to your projects.
One site, Little Big Details is dedicated to collecting examples of great design when it gets down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of what makes a site work well. The posts are set up as screengrabs and a short blast of text describing the feature:
Don’t forget that design isn’t all about colors and bold graphics — it’s about the small things too.
Follow Design Influencers
Find interesting designers and industry commentators to follow online. This will allow you to combine design research with some competitor analysis and social networking. You can learn a lot from design influencers — including how and why they have specialized and found their niche.
James Curran from SlimJimStudios.com is a very talented GIF animator and designer whose Twitter and Instagram are fun and engaging to follow.
Matt Willey tweets a lot of interesting design-related content:
Following accounts like Wiley’s will help you get to grips with industry trends and commentary faster.
Lastly, Be Inspired By Social Media Itself
As a designer, paying attention to how the biggest websites and apps in the business solve their UI and UX problems makes sense. As well as taking inspiration from other social media users and networks, look to how the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat have evolved over the years — and why.
Instagram is a class-act in compact visual design — and more and more ecommerce brands and online store builders are including Instagram-like imagery and layouts as a way to organize and sell products.
Why? Because it’s a super engaging and ultimately familiar layout for the user. Take this lesson on board when creating your own designs — you have a lot to learn from social media.
Social media is an essential source for design inspiration, as the medium favors concise messages. Starting a social media design collection will encourage you to begin critically evaluate design as you get on with everyday life. Implement what you have learned and start following and interacting with the design community as you advance further in your design career.