Photo by Chris O’Brien on Flickr.

For designers and all artists alike, inspiration is known to hit at the most inopportune times. When you are driving and see a funny license plate, in the shower, at a client meeting. The thing about inspiration is, no matter how great your memory, it is essential to record your ideas the minute you get them. Otherwise, they are likely to simply disappear.

Fortunately in this day and age, you no longer have to walk around with a little notebook in your breast pocket and pencil tucked behind your ear (although you are more than welcome to if that is your style). If you aren’t looking to channel the Clark Kent style, then it’s time to start using your smartphone for more than just checking Facebook and sending text messages.

Your smartphone = the cool way for the web designer to capture inspiration. Here are 5 ways to turn your smartphone into a recording muse to be used when you sit down to a blank screen and a project due in 12 hours.


Your phone’s camera is the most obvious way to capture inspiration. With your phone, you never again have to worry about remembering your camera, making sure it has its memory card, and is charged. Instead, you just snap and go. However, this could easily leave you with a phone full of pictures that simply look like an accident. The key here is to use your phone to upload the photos (using an app) to somewhere like Pinterest, Flickr, or another source where you can add a quick comment. As an added benefit, this is a perfect way to keep your social media presence going.

Note Taking

OneNote (from Microsoft) and EverNote are both popular note taking programs which you can sync to your desktop, tablet, laptop, phone, and other devices. With one of these products, you will be able to take notes anywhere, and access these notes again from anywhere else (provided you are connected, which most designers always are). Notes are pretty straight forward – when you get an idea just write it down!


This tip isn’t necessarily about only capturing inspiration, but also for stimulating inspiration. If you have a touch screen smartphone, you can easily find an app that allows you to doodle pictures with your finger. This is a great way to pass the time while you are on the bus, waiting for your dentist, and other time-consuming but necessary activities where boredom is present. Use this time to tap into your own designs, not only work dictated by your clients, and save your favorites to pull up and expand upon later when you are at your work station.


Similar to note taking, Mind Map software allows you to create bubble charts just like you learned to do for brainstorming when you were in grade school. This can be a much more visual stimulation for some people than simply a list of notes. Try downloading a Mind Map app so when inspiration hits when you are out and about, you can record it and start furthering the idea right there on the spot.


This isn’t the most fun tip, but probably the most practical. If you think of a project when you are away from your work space, open up your calendar/planner/task manager app and record a deadline for yourself. This way, there will be no excuses when you do find time to work later on.

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About the Author

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Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic and web designer based in Fribourg, Switzerland, as well as the co-founder of We Jobshare.