I need some insperation
November 7, 2005 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Design ideas for a web based application? Great web-apps? I've got artist's block.

So our company makes this internet device for corporate use, and we want it to have this really slick web-based interface. I'm trying to come up with some HTML/CSS templates that we might use.

A little back story: A company owed us some work and the came up with a few templates. They were so bland, uninspired and artless that I, as someone with some web design experience, was personally offended. I asked my boss for some of our basic logos and whatnot and so now I'm planning to do a rough mockup on my own time. (I'm employed as a programmer, not a designer)

All I need to do, basically, is come with some kickass CSS and graphics (I will have control of the HTML for this mockup). But I'm a little stumped as far as how to start. Most of my design experience is with "information display" type pages (like a blog) with lots of text rather then an administration-type application which will be mostly text-free.

So do you know of any really cool web-based applications that I might draw inspiration from? Anything else I could look at?

I'm having a hell of a time just getting started.

posted by delmoi to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A terrific site for inspiration, if nothing else, is the CSS Zen Garden. It shows what you can do with CSS (none of the underlying HTML is modified between the different templates.) and it's a great starting point, if for nothing else, than to just see a collection of terrific designs and concepts.

For further inspiration, and perhaps to cheat a bit, Template Monster offers some amazing templates, including all related graphics and code and Flash, if desired, for around $30-$60. The designs are inspired, catchy and usable for the most part, and well categorized to boot. Definitely a decent resource for getting the design aspect of things out of the way, or just to see how else things can be done.

Hope this helps!
posted by disillusioned at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2005

The most popular site for CSS and templates seems to be Open Source Web Design. The site seems down at the moment, but you'll find OSWD-related templates mentioned on people's homepages as part of their portfolio, and they're all free.
posted by Mozai at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2005

Response by poster: Also, if anyone knows a good place to get free icons, that would be much appricated :)
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on November 7, 2005

Response by poster: Template Monster templates look nice, but mostly seem to be for marketing, but they do look nice. I've known about CSS zen garden for a while, but I'll check out the latest designs.
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on November 7, 2005

Some icons, previously popular links on del.icio.us: http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/, http://www.everydayicons.jp/, http://www.intersmash.com/300images/.

I recommend doing a search on the "icon" tag with del.icio.us.
posted by fishfucker at 4:27 PM on November 7, 2005

For those interested in oswd.org: SitePoint forum thread and a SlashDot thread.

One of the better designers, Andreas Viklund, has collected some of his designs and posted links to others on his blog.

Other css/standards inspiration sites:
CSS Vault
CSS Beauty
Liquid Designs
posted by ceri richard at 4:34 PM on November 7, 2005

Hah, I managed to completely skim the second half of your request.

For control panel/administration tools, one thing you could do is peruse Source Forge and look around at other existing open source utilities and the interfaces they use.

Check out some of their larger projects and look at the concepts they use for building control panel tools.
posted by disillusioned at 4:43 PM on November 7, 2005

The Tango Project has some great looking icons and UI widgets. CC licensed.

I really like the look, feel and icons of Roundcube.
posted by blag at 4:45 PM on November 7, 2005

I've actually been doing almost exactly the same thing for my company over the past few weeks.

There have been some really great sites that just went live posten on CSS Reboot.

9 Rules is a loose conglomeration of websites that all have great designs.

I've also found some great stuff using the design and css tags together at del.icio.us.

A List Apart also has nice articles on design that could be inspiring.

Post back here if you find anything you think is great, cause I'm still on the lookout too :).
posted by freshgroundpepper at 5:11 PM on November 7, 2005

I also apparently need to find a thesaurus and look up some alternatives for "great" :).
posted by freshgroundpepper at 5:12 PM on November 7, 2005

Specifically regarding administrative/statistic apps, there's Mint. Not nearly as deep an application as I'd hoped, so if the web app you're designing is complex Mint may not be of much help. It is damned pretty, though.
posted by chrominance at 5:40 PM on November 7, 2005

Response by poster: I did manage to come up with a design idea, and a very cool one at that :)

Keep the answers comming. I'll go through tommorow and best-answer everything cool :)
posted by delmoi at 5:40 PM on November 7, 2005

Go and look through the stuff at iStockPhoto. There are tons of buttons, icons, logos, etc.. all very professional and all available for a few dollars. They inspire me constantly.
posted by wackybrit at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2005

I would recommend looking at competitors that doing similar things, not looking at generic templates, for inspiration.
posted by xammerboy at 9:45 AM on November 8, 2005

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