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I always enjoy browsing the web in search of new design inspiration, but after browsing Dribbble, Instagram, Uplabs, etc. it’s hard not to feel that all designs look very same-y. And it’s only natural, it’s hard not to unconsciously follow trends. When you see design patterns everywhere as they become popular, they seep into your thought process without you even noticing.

Also, it’s not realistic to expect radical, new designs to be coming out all the time. For one, it’s hard to think of something completely new, and for another, you might not want to do that in the first place because when you trade the familiar for the new, you also trade previous knowledge for some learning curve. Using familiar design patterns reduces the burden on new users to learn how your product works since they’ve probably used something like it before and they can just focus on doing what they need, instead of puzzling over your innovative design.

But you can find ample design innovation in the details. You’d be surprised how often little details are behind people sticking with one product over another. One way I love finding design inspiration is from adjacent fields. For example, in the quote below, Jared Sinclair suggests borrowing an aspect from game onboarding design.

In Friday App Design Review – eHarmony, Jared Sinclair writes [emphasis mine]:

There are ten screens to choose from in the basement menu, and each screen has its own subcategories and sections. It’s difficult to figure out which, if any, is the main screen of the app.

Again, a solution could be to take a cue from video game design. Character abilities are rarely available all at once. They are unlocked as the gamer progresses through an in-game tutorial. New abilities are announced with little moments of fanfare, creating a sense of accomplishment and expertise.

That’s a great example of finding inspiration in an adjacent field. By the way, borrowing from game design in this case shouldn’t be confused with gamification. This is strictly onboarding design, not a gaming mechanic with trophies and such.

What’s the lesson here? Keep your radar on even when you’re not looking at design content. That’s where you’ll find the best kinds of inspiration. Happy designing & hunting. ❤︎