Inspiration, Images, Insight, Imitation, Innovation

Just a quick post on this pre-holiday weekend, with my design-leaning kids out of school / back from college for the holidays, and a general sense of creativity mixed in with the holiday spirit.

Inspiration …

… can come from many places. Nothing new there, but I like to get inspiration for X from looking at a different kind of Y. Spice up a presentation? Browse a library of web site designs. Capturing a business process? Learn about alternative user interfaces. Brainstorming a new concept? Wander through an image library.


There were more than a few postings over the last few months, regarding Multicolr Search Lab. This site is stunning, both technically (practically defines “intuitive UI”) and creatively (very easy to lose yourself in different color combinations). Pick your favorite corporate colors, and even staid corporations could find some interesting CC-licensed photos to liven up their presentations. (Funny, I can’t get a decent kelly green option on the site – bummer).


I’ve posted before about visualization libraries, but here’s one I’ve found since then – A Beautiful WWW is a great site to monitor if you like visualization technicques, and are willing to surf and experiment. This post is a nice summary of libraries – potentially helpful for presentations, applications, even reports. Next time they ask for Yet Another Ledger Report, you be the one to shoot Old YALR, and replace him with a total page featuring a few Tuftettes (sorry, sparklines).


I’m never above a sincere bit of flattery, and often look to other sites for design inspiration. SitePoint and A List Apart will often post about the techniques required to spin your own magic, but they will also refer to plenty of examples – check out this list of 15 sites to browse for some design inspiration (some I’ve seen before, but PatternTap was a particularly good one!).


The most interesting stuff I’ve stumbled upon lately are innovative mixes of site design, UI, and search – for images. A result set of similar offerings, really …

  • Pixolu (via) starts with a keyword, and then lets me pick images that are close to a mental image I’m trying to capture.
  • A little bit quicker, a little less free-association, is the “show similar images” option over at Live Search. Points for speedy response, however.
  • Today’s addition (ibid): Google Image Search (that old stand-by) – a new search attribute that limits the results by image style.

All dynamite stuff, but I think I’ll rely on Pixolu for my style of stand-up.

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.