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New Poll: How do you keep track of design inspiration?

Published by Chris Coyier

There is a new poll in the sidebar folks. If you are reading via RSS you'll have to make the jump over to see it. This time I'm asking about how you manage design inspiration you find around the web, if at all. I believe that it can make you a better designer if you have some kind of system for remembering inspiring bits of design you come across in your daily web travels. There are lots of ways to do it, how do you?

  • General Social Bookmarking (Delicious, Magnolia, etc) - There are lots of these services, and most of them offer some kind of browser add-on to make quick work of adding new bookmarks.
  • Image-based Social Bookmarking (ScrnShots, FFFFound, etc) - Regular social bookmarking sites can do the job, but aren't necessarily perfect for design-bookmarking since they are based around text. There are a handful of image-based systems though, which may gel with your system better.
  • Local Bookmarks - Like to kick it old school?
  • I don't keep track, I just cruise the galleries when I need to (Best Web Gallery, PatternTap, etc) - Let other people do it!
  • I have my own system - Use a notebook? Save screenshots locally? Photographic memory?!
  • I don't


  1. Permalink to comment#

    I use a image bookmarking tool called zooTool.
    The service is for free and pretty easy to use.

    You can check it out over at

    (If nessesary you can switch the language from german to english on the bottom of the side…)

  2. Permalink to comment#

    Nice, I always like to see what others are doing when it comes to organizing thoughts and creating a smooth workflow. I personally use what is probably a somewhat unorganized combination of many. On a daily basis I might browse a CSS gallery, snap a shot to Scrnshots, tag something in Delicious or clip something to Evernote. To add to the confusion I recently started a design notebook in Google Notebooks for those instances when inspiration is more than an image. It is a mess but there seems to be a method to my madness. Looking forward to the comments to learn, I am sure there will be a lot of good suggestions.

  3. Permalink to comment#

    I just really hit the net when in need, dont keep track of it all. I do keep some bookmarks of good places to visit when I need inspiration.

    The other method I like is, when doing a site for, say, a Sushi restaurant, I look up other sites related to sushi restaurants and I try and fix the problems I find on those sites, so mine dont suffer from ‘em :P

  4. Permalink to comment#

    Right now I just use the Screengrab! extension for Firefox to save images locally. That makes a nice, easily browseable directory of full-size images, but if I ever want to visit the site again I have to google it. Not so fun.

    @Oliver – I’m gonna give zootool a week. It looks pretty slick so far, thanks for the link :)

  5. Permalink to comment#

    loads of blogs, museums, magazines and other designers really.

    although blogs are the main place i tend to search in mainly due to the format.

  6. Permalink to comment#

    I use SnagIt to take a screen cap and upload it to flickr

    but I also have patterntap and a couple of sites like it when looking for specific components parts.

  7. Permalink to comment#

    I use delicious and designfloat to bookmark blogs that feauture design roundup, to bookmark screenshot of WordPress themes I like
    and sometimes surf gallery to find new sites for inspiration

  8. Permalink to comment#

    I save them locally and import them into Picasa, then I add some comments.
    I don’t miss any sort of tagging : I don’t need it and tagging/categorizing is not always easy.
    What I really want (and picasa provides it) is to quickly browse all the saved design.

  9. Permalink to comment#

    am i alone in using more than one system? i use local bookmarks and screenshots, that way i can link to whole websites and also save captures of specific details/images.

  10. Permalink to comment#

    I use yojimbo, a great tool to keep track of whatever you want (passwords/notes/bookmarks/images/pdf/…)

  11. Paul
    Permalink to comment#

    I keep a local scrapbook of inspirational stuff. Mostly I will fireshot something inspiring and tag/caption it with picasa.

  12. Marc
    Permalink to comment#

    I use an Image-based Social Bookmarking called

  13. Local book marking, ’cause I don’t have the need to see the list elsewhere. =]

  14. Brian K
    Permalink to comment#

    I use the local bookmark system. It is by far the most idiotic thing too do, but I can not get away from it!

  15. I stock with Scrnshots, easy to use lets me share my inspiration on my own website.

  16. Permalink to comment#

    I gotta get with the times. I guess I kick it old school.

  17. I use delicious, but I also put them on my blog! :)


    Nice redesign btw :)

  18. i use some sites like deviantart, smashingmagazine and sometimes social sites.

  19. Demers Designs
    Permalink to comment#

    I use the screengrab for FF and upload screenshots to Flickr into a Design Inspiration set. Not an original idea by any means, but works like a charm.

  20. Permalink to comment#

    I seem to always end up having lots of snapshots on the desktop of design inspiration CMD SHIFT 4 is my friend. Apart from that I keep track of them using xPad (I used have way too many txt files on my old windows pc. I’m always curious about using a social bookmarking tool but I never seem to get around to using one and I guess I don’t like the idea of relying on a social bookmarking service. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and start though.

  21. carlos
    Permalink to comment#

    I write them down or put them in a text document.
    Old school but widgets and what not take up a lot of space in my browser and on my computer

  22. Permalink to comment#

    Google Bookmarks FTW :D

  23. I just browse the web for ideas I don’t store them yet, but after reading this post I think I will.

    Btw Chris I love the new site :-)

  24. hey man, I dig the redesign. I like the UI stuff you added in. And love the new article headers

  25. Permalink to comment#

    I’m reading lot of CSS Gallery etc. RSS and store some screenshots on

  26. Brick
    Permalink to comment#

    Evernote is the tool for me.

  27. I have an Inspiration folder inside my bookmark toolbar and i have an inspiration tag in my google reader that i put on anything that comes close to that. i tag almost everything in google reader.

  28. Permalink to comment#

    I keep folders (but not very organized) in my Firefox toolbar.
    P.S. Love the new design!

  29. Ross
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey, Chris

    Just wanted to say the new design is great. Especially the comments section, especially the cool WYSIWYG feature.

    I noticed you used one big graphic for the top of the page and just laid everything else on top. At 60kb it’s not tooooo big, but I guess we can get away with that now that most users have high bandwidth connections.

  30. Ross
    Permalink to comment#

    Also, the orange fade-in on the top right nav is cool, but have you tried it twice as fast? Might be nicer. JQuery, right?

    Also, also, a tutorial on integrating and styling a forum into a WordPress site would be nice.

  31. frujo
    Permalink to comment#

    Well, I use as an inspiration for my work.

    Actually my method combines social bookmarking sites, their rss feeds and Google Reader. I subscribe to the popular bookmarks tagged as “css”, “xhtml”, “javascript” and so on. It is very comfortable way to get all the news in one bin.

    The only disadvantage of this my method is that you may get the same link for few times again and again.

  32. Mayur Somani
    Permalink to comment#

    I use delicious.

  33. Permalink to comment#

    I use delicious for global bookmarks and I store a few images locally. I’ll give a try to zootools thx to the first commenter.

    Congratz for the redesign ! (and the comment preview is pretty cool !)

  34. I don’t keep track of my inspirations cuz I theft em!

    Ps: I love your new design!

  35. Lets here it for delicious. My favorite by far.

  36. Permalink to comment#

    I kick it old school and bookmark them in my favorites :) I only bookmark REALLY nice ones though and I have them all tagged and in folders so its easy to find. I also just star them in google reader

  37. Brett
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned skitch yet. I find it pretty handy

  38. I use It’s fantastic! The most beautiful websites I have ever found are in there.

  39. Stuart
    Permalink to comment#

    I occasionally make a note on a spare sheet of papyrus, or paint it onto my cave wall (SO old-skool!) but I usually use delicious!

  40. I have a lot of Showcase-Sites in google reader and I keep them in one folder which is almost always closed, only when I start a new project I go through all the sites. When I stumple upon other inspirational art/sites, I bookmark them on and tag them with “design” (

  41. Mister Ken
    Permalink to comment#

    I have a folder called ‘Inspiration’ where I keep screen grabs, but I’ve also become a big Evernote fan. Having it sync to my iPhone gets double bonus points.

  42. Permalink to comment#

    As I’m reading this article & (nice) comments, My Tabs grew 10+ and this is very annoying, that’s why I use

    Instapaper to postpone the reading (very simple interface, with a js button, mobile friendly)

    Or when it’s worth keepin it, I put it and tag it in Delicious (which is getting really nice and complete since last update) I embed some of the tags on my website too.

    Or I star or share it in Google reader (when read in reader)

    Or I CMD+SHIFT+4 it and organize them into an inspiration folder (I do that because we know some sites don’t last and people like to put away old stuff off their portfolio … now I may be beginning using one of your web screenshot suggestions)

    Or, sometimes, I know it’s not nice but I use CocoaWget to get all the images of a website and organize them locally

    For text based inspirating stuff (very few for my case, so I don’t need some kind of online service for it > maybe going to check Gnotes), I have a folder called notes with a nice icon in my dock

    You guys forgot to talk about inspiring this you see in .. “real life” these things basically end up in my Iphone photo folder and notes (which I can’t sync and this is annoying) which I later put in my inspiration folder…

    I think there’s something to merge with all these services, and developers are beginning to get it. Our ways to read & organize information Is very important and evolves everyday. The world is big and so Internet and I have too much feeds to read and not enough time to do it.

    btw I love css-tricks, it’s one of my everydays reading (among my 1000+ feeds), new design is nice

    sorry for this “long” comment

    Good thing to do would be to summarize all these service in an article update

  43. C
    Permalink to comment#

    I have a tag in my WebNoteHappy for inspirationally hot web sites. (Tho’ I do appreciate @toma’s comment that web content is almost by definition ephemeral. C’est la vie.)

    If it’s to do with a project that is on the horizon, I’ll do screenshots and slap them in the Curio I have set up for that project.

  44. Permalink to comment#

    I use local bookmarks, then add it to my own online bookmark list (at my domain). In addition I also use the Screengrab!-addon on Firefox and save those locally on my harddrive in a categorized folder, for instance “Simplistic” or “Eye-candy”.

  45. Alex
    Permalink to comment#

    I use Delicious and Netvibes.

    I have 32 seperate RSS feeds for design and web development blogs, and when I find something really cool or read something that I could foresee helping me in the future, I will bookmark it into Delicious.

  46. Permalink to comment#

    I subscribe to RSS feeds and use Google Reader to organize everything. RSS feeds are a great way to scan, search, and index the internet. I not only subscribe to design blogs, but also to design showcases (only showcases that show screenshots in their feeds).

    I star articles or sites that I find really inspiring, and then everything gets tagged. So if I am working on a new site and the customer would like me to use blue, then I can search my blue tag for inspiration.

  47. René
    Permalink to comment#

    I use Jingproject – captures both image og video with sound.

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