A Guide to Enhancing Creativity as a Web Designer

As a web designer, one of the most challenging aspects of the job is staying fresh and creative. After a while, all of your projects can start to blend together and lose their style. How can you avoid getting stale and overcome career-damaging designer's block? Let's review some of the top tips from those who've been there before.

Network With Other Designers

You can only do so much on your own. While you certainly don't want to copy other people's designs and styles, you can benefit from surrounding yourself with other creative minds. Networking with other artists and designers helps open your eyes to new possibilities and may even allow you to see existing issues in a new light.

Designers - while all different - are always open to helping their peers. As you know, it's a relatively close-knit community with mutual respect for arts of all mediums. Exposing yourself to others in networking situations can be both professionally encouraging and artistically invigorating.

Find Offline Inspiration

Far too often, when struck with a case of designer's block, people start browsing online galleries and pulling bits and pieces from a variety of portfolios. While there's nothing wrong with gauging current trends, it's not always an effective solution. It may benefit you to start looking offline.

Designer Steven Snell suggests keeping an offline inspiration notebook. "This way when you are in need of inspiration without having time to hunt it down, you can pull out your inspiration notebook and browse through what you have already collected,"he writes. In Snell's opinion, an inspiration notebook forces you to become less reliant on a single artistic medium and leads to more originality in your work.

Let Music Guide You

For decades, researchers and psychologists have studied and discussed the effect of music on creativity. While there are discrepancies between theories, the underlying conclusion is the same: Music inspires creativity in the human brain. "Music is one of the most exquisitely effective ways of allowing you to enter the mind-wandering mode," explains Daniel J. Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music. "Mind-wandering mode" is his term for "daydreaming and flitting from thought to thought."

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The type of music you listen to is up to you, though. Ask a group of people and you'll wind up with a diverse set of answers ranging from Metallica to 2Pac. It's largely a matter of preference and has a more to do with volume and tempo than genre or style. "The 'right' music - meaning, the right music for you at a particular point in time, because it's subjective and idiosyncratic - pushes you into this mind-wandering state," says Levitin.

Change Up Your Environment

Few things are more restricting to a designer than a stale environment. Whenever possible, you should try to switch things up. This could look like reorganizing your workspace, spending the day outside, moving offices, or bouncing around from coffee shop to coffee shop for different vibes.

One of the more unique ideas - and probably unnecessary - to check into an expensive hotel. Some writers, designers, and artists swear that you work better when you're surrounded by luxury. Maybe it'll work for you, or maybe it won't - but the important thing is that you try something new. Shifting your environment can subsequently shift your mindset.

Work at Different Times of the Day

Everyone's wired differently and that directly impacts our productivity at certain times of the day. For example, some people work best first thing in the morning. They get up, pour a cup of coffee, and immediately dive in. For you, that may be impossible. Mornings may be your worst time of the day, while late nights represent your window of opportunity.

You won't know which time works best until you try different schedules. Don't automatically assume you're not a morning person, or claim you only work at night. It's even possible that your internal time clock could change on a seasonal basis. If you're in a rut, consider switching things up for a few days.

Take More Breaks

"If you want to boost your productivity, focus, creativity, or sanity, you need to leave your desk and take a walk," says Rachel Gillett, former editor for FastCompany.com. She's referencing a Stanford study that says going for a walk actually unleashes creativity and tears down mental roadblocks.

While you don't have to go on a walk around the parking lot, you should heed Gillett's advice and at least take regular breaks. Breaking up your work responsibilities with a little mental relaxation can greatly enhance your ability to concentrate.

Channel Your Inner Child

Children ask lots of questions - basic questions, dumb questions, intriguing questions, unique questions, and everything in between. While you may find an endless stream of questions annoying, there's something to be gleaned from this childlike mindset.

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Asking questions forces you to consider different answers. No matter how basic your dilemma is, start posing questions and see where the answers lead you. You may be surprised to find out where you end up.

Hone Your Creative Talents

Designer's block - or whatever you want to call it - is never easy to deal with. It seems to come out of nowhere and totally kills any ability you have to create or innovate. While every designer is different, many have found these tips helpful and constructive when encountering hopeless creative situations. Which tip have you found to be most helpful?

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