Posts categorized as: design

A Frame of Reference, Part 2: Capturing Ideas

by Matt Ward

February 10, 2011 in design Resources

In Part 1 of his two-part series, we looked at the concept of inspiration, and how it is something more than just a commodity to be found and consumed from any one of the numerous design galleries out there on the web. I also suggested that, in many cases, what people are actually talking about when they point to “inspiration” is reference material, which they can subsequently use to direct and inform the progressive evolution of a design.

The crux of the article, however, was the suggestion that there is more to the world than just a collection of galleries, and designers should also consider getting out into the real world and partaking of all the potential solutions that it has to offer. We looked at colour, typography, patterns, textures and even just the randomness of thought.

In this second article, we’ll be looking at a number of practical things that you can do to help capture and record and even build upon ideas and reference materials that you come across in the real world.


Certainly one of the best tools for capturing ideas and reference materials would have to be a camera. Back in the summer of 2010, there as an article published over on Visual Swirl entitled “5 Reasons Every Designer Should Carry a Great Camera”, which offered some insightful tips in this area. The article suggested that a camera is a great way to capture “inspiration” (or reference material), and for capturing textures or images for colour schemes, all of which are directly related to the present discussion.

a camera is a great way to caputre ideas

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New App Created to Make Surveys Easy

by Brant Wilson

February 3, 2011 in design Resources

Let’s face it, creating online surveys can be a real pain, especially if you want those surveys to be hosted on your own server and integrated directly into the existing framework of your own website. You would either have to build the functionality from the ground up or use an existing product and either hack it into your site or build a new skin to create the illusion of the surveys being seamlessly integrated with your overall design.

There had to be a better way. At least, that was the thinking of Matt Ward, designer, developer, contributor and creator of a new product called Survd.

“I’ve had to create surveys in the past myself,” says Ward about the creation of the application, “and it’s always been a process that I felt took much longer than it should have. I also haven’t been all that impressed with the interfaces of some of the survey products that I’ve tried. So, I set out to create a better solution. That solution is Survd.

“Basically, the intention was to create a product that was as close to being plug-and-play as possible. I envisioned a self-hosted solution that could be uploaded, installed quickly, and which allow users to start setting up their surveys pretty much immediately. That was the vision, and I think that the initial release does a pretty good job at reflecting that.”

That it does. Once you’ve purchased your license, Survd does install quickly and easily. It’s just a matter of filling in some basic information and you’re all set.

Survd installation screen

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A Frame of Reference, Part 1: Finding Ideas

by Matt Ward

January 16, 2011 in design Resources

As designers, I’ve found that we spend a lot of time and energy talking about and discussing something that we commonly refer to as inspiration. We see it all over the design community. There are countless different galleries showcasing some of the best work being produced, and list posts that fulfill a similar function, though usually with some commonality that thematically binds all of the designs together.

In another article, entitled “The Myth of Inspiration,” I have discussed some of the problems that I think arise out of this understanding of inspiration, which tends to commodify the entire concept, turning it into a product that can be acquired (usually for free) from whatever site happens to have accumulated the best collection of representative works.

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