This post first appeared on the tsoHost blog
Whether you run a web design agency or work as a freelance web designer, you’re bound to have days when your creative well runs a little dry.
There are several ways to address the designers’ equivalent of writers’ block. Advice for combating creative block ranges from going for a walk and taking a coffee break to having a nap.
One of the best ways to overcome the curse of the blinking cursor, however, is to have a little snoop around what other designers are doing – for inspiration.
After all, Mark Twain famously said that there was no such thing as an original idea. He explained: “We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
So, with this in mind, we’ve rounded up a collection of websites that have been created by designers who have really taken their thought process out of the box.
They may be a little too out-there or left field for your current clients, but they should certainly get the creative juices flowing again.
Bruno Simon Dot Com
This is the website of Paris-based creative developer Bruno Simon. On paper, this is a simple portfolio website about Simon himself and his work. However, you navigate your way around it by using the up, down, left and right cursor buttons on your computer keyboard to drive a truck.
You can drive to areas of the homepage where you’ll find details about the projects he’s worked on as well as areas where you’ll find his contact details, but you can also head to the ‘playground’ where you can use your truck to do things like bowl a bowling ball into an alley of pins or knock down walls.
It takes a little time to get used to driving the truck, but the site has won various awards including the Awwwards Site of The Day accolade.
This Website Will Self-Destruct
Essentially, the site was created to give people an anonymous outlet to get their thoughts off their chests during the crisis. Visitors to the site can leave an anonymous message or read a message – chosen at random by the website – from another visitor. Or both, of course.
The homepage to the website reads:
I’m a website. I’ll be gone soon, and that’s okay.
You can send me messages using the form below. If I go 24 hours without receiving a message, I’ll permanently self-destruct, and everything will be wiped from my database.
That’s okay though.
Until then, let me know how you’re doing. Other people will be able to read what you write, but your name or identity won’t be attached to anything, so feel free to say what’s on your mind.
It’s been a rough few months.”
Elsewhere on the website there are links to official mental health support organisations in the USA, UK and Europe.
Am I A Cake?
This website is not what it seems. Visitors to it are asked to tick a box agreeing that they ‘are not a cake’. They are then asked to select a series of images from a puzzle that looks like an image-based captcha and the website tells them what sort of cake they are – from onion cake to a torta tre monti cake.
However, this website isn’t about cake at all. This cake-based game is the homepage to a website about the crisis in Yemen, and a list of links to charities that are supporting people through the crisis. The cake game attracts attention, then the line at the bottom of the home page that reads ‘Yemen is in crisis. Here’s how you can help’ stirs up enough curiosity to make visitors click through to the main content of the site. Smart.
At first glance, this website might seem completely useless. Visitors arrive on the site to find a number of images of cats bouncing around the screen. They can then drag and drop those cats to make them bounce more, or click the ‘make it rain’ option to see the screen flooded with falling cats.
This website won a Webby Award in 2019 and received countless media mentions. Mashable called it ‘the most addictive site you’ll click on all day’.
What this site is, essentially, is a cleverly disguised equivalent of an online CV. It showcases the skills the designer had to create a viral website. Yes, you can find a list of volunteer organisations that offer free tutorials and learning materials for coding, but this section also showcases the email address of the developer Tara.
The Useless Web. Site
Whereas the Cat Bounce website appeared useless at first site, this website serves up a list of truly useless websites. You can visit sites like Look a Dead Fly, which simply showcases an image of a dead fly, or Instant Ostrich, which just shows an animation of a laughing ostrich.
While this site might not offer the sort of design inspiration and trickery that the above websites do, it could certainly serve to take your mind off your creative block.
And as mentioned in the introduction to this blog – a break is often all it takes to get your creative mojo back.