Some of our most useful websites.
The web sometimes gets a bad name in the working world. However, for every story you see about loss in worker productivity thanks to the latest buzz-worthy website or social media outlet, there are countless corners of the internet that we rely upon while we work. Everybody’s got a few pages bookmarked that they lean upon to get their work done. Equal parts inspiration and education, here are a few of my top useful websites:
Little Big Details: Though I don’t often work in the realm of user interface design, I love Little Big Details because it showcases the tiny features of our favorite sites and apps that make the experience so much more engaging. Plus, it shows you that the best solutions are often the most simple — and most elegant.
Coudal Partners: The official site of this Chicago-based agency has been a core part of my daily web life for years. The brains behind Field Notes and Layer Tennis deliver their “Fresh Signals” – little jolts of inspiration, creativity, culture, and miscellany — on a daily basis. Each month, Fresh Signals has a guest editor who supplies his or her own favorite links. I was lucky enough to be a guest editor back in 2010.
Austin Kleon’s Tumblr: Much like Coudal Partners, Kleon’s site is a catch-all for inspiration and motivation. The author of Steal Like An Artist delivers on a daily basis. You could easily spend a day transfixed in his archives relating to advertising, design, and process, among many others. Kleon calls his Tumblr “A scrapbook of stuff I’m reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about …” and I guarantee you’ll be hooked after giving it a look.
Key Caps: As a Mac-based designer, sometimes I have to know how to make the ¢ symbol. Or the ™ symbol. Or, when I’m spelling out my colleague Renée’s name, the accent mark over the second “e.” Enter Key Caps. The site looks like it was built in the mid-’90s, which makes me like this vital resource even more.
Brands of the World: Quite often, usually in the mocking-up stage, I’ll find the need for a corporate logo. Apart from the vast file of client logos we have on the servers here at Melamed Riley, I’ve found that Brands of the World is a wonderful resource. If you can’t find a logo here, chances are it never existed. What’s more, they’re free and available in vector format.
Beyond my list, I wanted to enlist — see what I did there — a few of my colleagues to share the most useful websites they keep coming back to in their daily lives. Without further ado:
I follow Copyranter (who is now on Buzzfeed) just because he gives equal time to drool-worthy ads and to miserable ads alike. Sometimes it not only helps to see the kind of work I aspire to, but also what pitfalls to avoid.
I often find myself perusing Laughing Squid for inspiration (or sometimes, just a pleasant distraction). The San Francisco-based blog is a treasure trove of all things nerdy, quirky, funny and cool.
This might not be the most “obscure” list, however it’s one that encourages high productivity levels. Just as important as coffee and breakfast.
Quipsologies: Jumpstarts the creative motor.
TED: Inspires do-goodery and deep thought. The brain is a muscle, exercise it.
NPR: There’s a whole world out there. Keep up on current events. It’s important.
Spotify: Sets/compliments the tone/mood for the day.
Brain Pickings: Discover something new.
Twitter: All of the above.
I have an RSS feed set up with Branding Strategy Insider. They cover a very wide range of branding topics that have given me ideas on how to be thinking about the different brands we work on as well as how to best communicate branding principles with different clients.
I use LinkedIn almost daily. Along with my own connections, I find the groups to be especially valuable as worldwide networks for gaining insights, sharing information and floating ideas. My groups include: Brand Positioning, Market Research Marketing Professionals Group, Strategy & Corporate Strategic Planning Xchange, and Neuromarketing (just for fun).
Netvibes: It is a great aggregator site that allows me to pull in various RSS feeds and sources for one easy go-to location to view new content.
Divvy HQ: A great online content management calender that allows you to manage multiple content calendars more efficiently.
HootSuite: This is my go-to social media management platform. Their customer service is superb and they continue to evolve the platform as social media continues to expand.
Microsoft Tag: A great free quick-response code software platform that allows you to easily and quickly create QR Codes and MTAGs with essential tracking and customization features other platforms don’t offer.
Pingraphy: Allows you to schedule Pinterest pins in advance, as well as track each pin’s performance. This helps social media managers work more efficiently with the ability to schedule the content.
Sports Illustrated: I need to stay current on snarky things said about Cleveland sports and anything of interest on Jimmy Traina’s “Hot Clicks.”
Huffington Post: As content aggregators of the vast left-wing mainstream media conspiracy against conservative values go, Arianna Huffington sure is one.
Daily Beast: Ditto (pardon the expression) goes for Andrew Sullivan.
Rotten Tomatoes: Rotten Tomatoes allows me to be conscientious about which terrible films I am going to choose to pay $10 to see anyway.
Rolling Stone: A vestige of my mis-spent youth, I get to read about all of the music and culture that I no longer listen to or keep up with.
Trend Hunter: In this business, you always feel about six months behind anyway, so why not make sure that lag-time doesn’t get larger?
Motionographer: The latest of what’s going on in the motion graphics world.
Changethethought: A great site for visual inspiration and the like.
So, what websites are most useful to you? Let us know in the comments below.