Surfing for Inspiration: Digital Inspirational Material in Design Practice

Design Research Society 2018 Catalyst, DRS2018.
How designers search for inspiration?
Behance Niice Niice Niice
  • Recently there has been an outgrow in online platforms that offer tools for seeking and storing inspiration.
  • In addition to online material, desingers reuse their earlier work in new projects.
  • Earlier work and online sources are used in slightly different ways. Online sources are good for finding trends and earlier work for design templates.
  • Designer have high standard for the material they use. They want it to be reliable, innovative and well-tested.

Over the last decade, many new opportunities have emerged to support creativity and problem-solving in design by finding inspirational materials via the Internet. Online design communities such as those of Behance and Pinterest showcase portfolios and user-made artwork, and they offer support for designers’ day-to-day work to find and collect inspirational material. However, very little is known of how these communities affect inspiration-related practices of professional designers and how designers view them. This paper presents new data on the practices designers employ when seeking digital inspiration sources online and reflecting on, tracking, and managing them in today’s Web design tasks. Current practice and views on sources of inspiration were described on the basis of responses from 51 professional designers. The results suggest that the Internet has become a prevalent source for ideas in design, yet designers experience mounting issues of trust and relatedness with regard to the online sources. Therefore, encouraging both should be considered a guiding principle for current and future tools aimed at supporting designers within the realm of design practice.


All materials are open for anyone to use.

Press Releases

PDF, 0.3 MB
Koch, J., László, M., Lucero, A., Oulasvirta, A., 2018. Surfing for Inspiration: Digital Inspirational Material in Design Practice Design Research Society 2018 Catalyst (DRS2018).

author = {Koch, Janin and László, Magda and Lucero, Andrés and Oulasvirta, Antti},
booktitle = {Design Research Society 2018 Catalyst (DRS2018)},
title = {{Surfing for Inspiration: Digital Inspirational Material in Design Practice}},
year = {2018}

For questions and further information, please contact:

Janin Koch

janin.koch (at)