10 Amazing Designers that Influence the Community

By / Nov 6, 2008 / Inspiration
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I come from a print background of 9+ years. The last 4-5 I have been designing for the web. I have been following these 10 amazing designers that have influenced and taught me plenty through their books, websites & even recent portfolios. I asked around for other designers opinions of whom their favorite’s were and realized the choices were pretty close if not the same. I chose to feature a little bit about each one and show some work they have done. I think the following designers have influenced and shaped the way we (younger designers) think today.

Jason Santa Maria

Jason Santa Maria is a Graphic Designer living in sunny Brooklyn, NY. He serves as Creative Director for Happy Cog Studios, both in New York and Philadelphia. This status grants him access to most black-tie galas and groundbreaking ceremonies.

Cameron Moll

Recognized as one of the industry’s most balanced new media designers, Cameron Moll is proficient in functional web design, clean markup, and savvy print design. Cameron has been involved in the design and redesign of scores of websites, and his influential techniques have found favor in circles across the web. He was a contributing author for the book, “CSS Mastery”. Cameron’s work has been recognized by respected organizations such as National Public Radio (NPR), Communication Arts, and Veer. His personal site, CameronMoll.com, delivers design how-to in the form of engaging conversation, on-topic banter, and downloadable artwork source files.

Jeffrey Zeldman

Jeffrey Zeldman was one of the first designers, bloggers, and independent publishers on the web, and one of the first web design teachers. In 1998, he co-founded—and from 1999 to 2002 he directed—The Web Standards Project, a grassroots coalition that helped bring standards to our browsers.

He publishes A List Apart “for people who make websites;” has written two books (notably the foundational web standards text, Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Edition); co-founded the web design conference An Event Apart; and founded and is executive creative director of Happy Cog™, an agency of web design and user experience specialists.

Dan Cederholm

Dan Cederholm is a web designer and author living in Salem, Massachusetts. He’s the Founder and Principal of SimpleBits, LLC, a tiny web design studio.

A recognized expert in the field of standards-based web design, Dan has worked with Google, MTV, AIGA, ESPN, Blogger, Fast Company, Inc.com, and others. With each new project, comes an opportunity to minimize markup and embrace the flexibility of CSS.

Dan co-founded Cork’d, a social network and reviewing application for wine aficionados, and launched IconShoppe, a storefront for stock web icons hand-crafted by SimpleBits.

He is the author of two popular books: Bulletproof Web Design (New Riders, 2005) and Web Standards Solutions (Friends of ED, 2004). Dan also runs the popular weblog SimpleBits, where he writes articles and commentary on the web, technology and life.

Daniel Mall

An interactive designer, living the heart of Philadelphia, PA. To me, being a designer doesn’t just mean I make pretty pictures (although I can do that too); it’s about conceptually and visually helping to solve people’s problems. Professionally, my passion is generating ideas, theories that haven’t been explored yet. Technically, I specialize in Flash, XHTML, CSS, and typography.

Andy Clarke

Andy was making web sites for food when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. These days, he pretends to work hard as Creative Director at Stuff and Nonsense, but according to his wife he actually has rather an easy life. In his spare time he dreams of having a misspent youth and blogs at For A Beautiful Web.

Shaun Inman

Shaun Inman is a successful designer and developer living and working out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Originally from Norwood, Massachusetts, he studied Graphic Design at the Savannah College of Art & Design after which he spent a few years in Baltimore, Maryland. His interest in design gradually shifted to web design and development thanks to many well-documented open-source and standards-based technologies.

Dave Shea

Dave is a graphic designer for his own Bright Creative in Vancouver. He’s the creator and cultivator of the highly influential css Zen Garden, as well as being a member of the Web Standards Project. Dave writes about all things web for his daily weblog.

Andy Budd

Andy works as senior web designer for Message Digital Design Ltd. In his spare time he runs SkillSwap.org, a project that provides FREE training for his local new media community. He also occasionally posts to his blog.

Eric A. Meyer

Eric is an internationally recognized expert on the subjects of HTML, CSS, and Web standards. A widely read author and sought-after speaker, he is the founder of Complex Spiral Consulting, a company that aims to help clients save money and increase efficiency through the use of standards-oriented Web design techniques.

Which designer has influenced you the most? (Doesn’t have to be on this list!)

61 Comments

  1. acedab
    November 6, 2008

    Collis, what say???

    Reply
  2. Jason Armstrong
    November 6, 2008

    Simon Collison (http://www.collylogic.com) is another influential designer and from what little I know a great person as he responded with a recent request of mine for a critique.

    Also, Elliot Jay Stocks (http://elliotjaystocks.com) is one of my favorites. He does fantastic work!

    Reply
  3. Eric Hillerns
    November 6, 2008

    Nice list, here. Well done. Tough to overlook guys like Khoi Vinh, but I get it. Not a gal to be seen, though?

    Reply
  4. Mirko
    November 6, 2008

    Well… he may be too young to be in the list, but I really love the work of Liam (http://wefunction.com/). His wp themes are simply amazing.

    Else I also come from a print design background, so most of my inspirations are graphic designers and typographers (Joseph Müller-Brockmann FTW!).

    Reply
  5. kyle steed
    November 6, 2008

    As far as women designers go that have inspired me:

    Veerle Pieters – http://veerle.duoh.com/

    and

    Adelle Charles – http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/

    Reply
  6. Atherton Bartelby
    November 6, 2008

    Are there no inspirational female designers out there? Jemma Hostetler of Prate fame? Jessica Helfand? Paula Scher?

    Reply
  7. Lee Munroe
    November 6, 2008

    Great list Adelle, nice to put faces to the names you hear and read so much about.

    Ryan Singer (http://www.37signals.com) has also influenced many web app designs and Nick La (http://www.ndesign-studio.com) has a continuous influence with his inspirational blog posts and designs.

    @Atherton: Good list of female designers http://www.leemunroe.com/25-hot-female-web-designers/

    Reply
  8. Kyle Boyd
    November 6, 2008

    Great list, some of which I hadnt heard about…

    For me it has to be Dan Cederholm, I read his book Web Standard Solutions, and thats how I learnt CSS.

    For that we thank you Mr Cederholm.

    Reply
  9. liam
    November 6, 2008

    Brilliant list, and some true genius’s here. I’d certainly stick Jason Santa Maria at my number 1!

    Reply
  10. Tyler Hayes
    November 6, 2008

    I’d definitely second the motion for Elliot Jay Stocks.

    Though, for me, I like to find inspiration in the user experience and application interface. In that sense, the designers at 37signals and Carsonified have greatly impacted who I am/what I do.

    Reply
  11. Josiah Platt
    November 6, 2008

    Shaun Inman was really my first view into the incredible world of inspiration we have around us, and through his old (but awesome) Designologue (http://www.designologue.com) site, I met Daniel Mall, and through him, the glorious company that is Happy Cog.

    I’ve been inspired by almost everyone on this list for a long time. The only difficulty with inspiration of this caliber is how daunting it can be.

    Further up and further in, I suppose.

    Reply
  12. Desk Coder
    November 6, 2008

    CSS Mastery was an excellent book. I thought I knew everything about CSS before I read that book, but in reality, I didn’t know a thing. That book is a must read.

    Reply
  13. Ronan
    November 6, 2008

    I have looked at most of these guys work in the past and will continue in the future; I wouldn’t be able to say which has influenced me in particular. This is because some of them haven’t at all. For me around 6 of them have raised the awareness of using proper xhtml and useability issues etc.

    In saying that I do design and build websites those of the above who have published books, well I’ve read them and am very glad you have and will continue to.

    Reply
  14. bgalmar
    November 6, 2008

    nice list. Lots of all stars here. My only argument is that Eric Meyer is not a designer. He is an amazing developer and front end wizz, but I think the title designer may not fit him. Either way, they are all influential.

    Reply
  15. Monique
    November 6, 2008

    I no longer design, but I have followed in one way or another each of these gentlemen and learned a great deal from them. AS great as they are, and each is, I am surprised that there is not one woman on this list. Is it really that rare for a woman to be a top web designer?

    Reply
  16. Andy Clarke
    November 6, 2008

    Lovely to be included here, thank-you.

    One thing, can you please change my bio to remove “He is also a director of Karova.” as I sold my shares in that company several years ago after a terrible experience working with them.

    My And All That Malarkey blog has also been in mothballs for two years, but I do blog about design at For A Beautiful Web.

    Again, thanks for including me.

    Reply
  17. Kelly
    November 6, 2008

    @Andy Clarke – Sorry about that. We have corrected the mistake, and you’re welcome.

    Reply
  18. Steven Snell
    November 6, 2008

    Andy Budd and Dan Cederholm both influenced me through their books a few years ago. I highly recommend their work to others.

    Reply
  19. Christopher
    November 6, 2008

    This really is a great list. I had the priviledge of seeing almost all of them at An Event Apart Chicago. Another designer that influenced me a great deal was Naz Hamid. You can check him out at weightshift.com.

    Reply
  20. MM
    November 7, 2008

    As a young female aspiring to work in interactive design, the first thing I did before I started reading was scroll down the list to see if there were any women. A bit disheartening, but I know there are tons out there, just not as recognized.

    Reply
  21. Adrian | Rubiqube
    November 7, 2008

    I really love the work of Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain of 31 Three. I think he deserves a spot here as well.

    Reply
  22. Lynsey
    November 7, 2008

    I would have to Nick La (www.webdesignerwall.com) Always loved his work.

    Reply
  23. Andy Harris
    November 7, 2008

    Veerle Pieters HAS to be on this list, and another vote for Elliot Jay Stocks too.

    Also Larissa Meek and Matt Brett are awesome.

    Reply
  24. Leigh Taylor
    November 7, 2008

    Great round up but as the comments have gone it should really be a list of 20 (maybe at least)

    There are also some great designers that work behind the scenes and are steadily breaking through now.

    Great times, lol

    Reply
  25. Nate Koechley
    November 7, 2008

    Khoi Vinh – http://www.khoivinh.com/
    Richard Rutter – http://clagnut.com/

    Reply
  26. adelle
    November 7, 2008

    Thanks everyone for the great comments and you’ve definitely pointed out some awesome additions to the list & I appreciate that. Maybe there will be a part 2!

    I’ve heard a few “complaints” as far as no woman being on the list & since I myself wrote the list (a woman) it was a personal list on who has inspired me as a designer when I started out & was only stating whom inspired me.

    I wanted to create some interaction from the community by raising the question “which designer has influenced you the most – doesn’t have to be on the list” and I really think it’s great to see what others / people are inspired by.

    5-9 years ago I hadn’t heard of some of these designers that had been added to the comments but they do appreciate the praise as they are amazing designers too.

    Cheers! Enjoy!

    Reply
  27. Ben G
    November 7, 2008

    awesome list, I have had the pleasure of hearing 7 of those guys speak at conferences before & they all rock!

    Reply
  28. Danh ba web 2.0
    November 7, 2008

    Nice list. Thanks you !

    Reply
  29. Nathan Beck
    November 8, 2008

    The list could go on and on, but I must say you’ve hit mine pretty well.

    I’d love to hear some of these guys talk, when I get the chance. And I’ve read or at least glanced most of their books. I’m currently working through Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS which is fantastic.

    I’d probably also add Elliot Jay Stocks, Ryan Singer and Nick La.

    Reply
  30. Lucian Lature
    November 9, 2008

    I would add Lucian Slatineanu ( http://www.emblematiq.com/ ) on the list. He’s a great designer.

    Reply
  31. Andrew Hedges
    November 9, 2008

    I’d add Mark Bixby (http://markbixby.com/) to this list as well. He designed the kudos-winning Fluther (http://fluther.com/) and is now busy tidying up Facebook. In fact, when I first came to this page, my first thought was that this looked like a Bixby page. :-)

    Reply
  32. Daus
    November 10, 2008

    Definitely love Jason Santa Maria. I also love the work of Jon Hicks and Wolfgang Bartelme.

    Reply
  33. ali stone
    November 12, 2008

    I agree that Veerle Pieters and Elliot Jay Stocks should be on here fo’ sure…

    Reply
  34. SDI
    November 17, 2008

    best site in the world…

    Reply
  35. tim elwood
    November 18, 2008

    great item thanks for your thoughts one observation – no women on the list is design the domain of us blokes!

    Reply
  36. Nathan Beck
    November 20, 2008

    It’s kinda funny, a lot of them are part of the same elite ‘crew’. In fact 3 of them all work for Happy Cog!

    I don’t know if I’d regard Eric Meyer as a ‘designer’ though…

    Reply
  37. alimdar
    November 23, 2008

    Hi,
    I suppose this is North – American -designer list only?
    Without a single women?
    Sorry, I had to post this, I am not trying to attack you, this is just the impression you have created with the list.

    Greetings,
    R.

    Reply
  38. Shaun
    December 1, 2008

    I’m pretty sure the bio for Andy Budd is for somebody else.

    If not it’s VERY out of date. Andy is director of Clearleft (http://www.clearleft.com/)

    Reply
  39. Matt
    January 14, 2009

    It’s interesting that several of the people listed above are affiliated with Happy Cog in one way or another. That really says alot about that organization.

    Reply
  40. Chris Gwynne
    January 23, 2009

    Just out of curiosity, 10 amazing designers that influence the “community”, is that the CSS/XHTML frontier community… or as amazing designers in general?

    Reply
  41. Jeevan4u
    January 30, 2009

    This is a great list; I really love your works.

    Reply
  42. Jason
    February 6, 2009

    You missed…

    Jeff Croft

    http://jeffcroft.com/

    Wilson Miner

    http://www.wilsonminer.com/

    Reply
  43. bran
    February 10, 2009

    Zeldman influenced me, but there were others, too. “Webmistress Jo” had a site called thenetstar, which stands out in my mind even though it’s been gone 8+ years now. Kitty of Full Moon Graphics for her fun sense of retro and color. Jason Kottke’s pared down look. Heather Champ.

    Reply
  44. mdoo
    April 7, 2009

    can we put some women on your list? Molly Holzschlag maybe??

    Reply
  45. Darryl
    April 14, 2009

    Affirmative action for lists of people that inspired you. I like it.

    Reply
  46. Steven Grant
    April 27, 2009

    Can’t believe Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain hasn’t been mentioned

    http://www.31three.com

    Reply
  47. Raj
    April 28, 2009

    This Nise Site

    Reply
  48. Rephlexs
    April 29, 2009

    It’s curious to see how web design has changed in the last 4 years. This list is entirely comprised of ‘semantic web’ designers. That’s great and all, but it would be fair to mention that the first breed of designers that made a significant change in web design are mostly from the Flash field, and many of them, by the way, can still kick some serious ass using just markup, style sheets and standards-based methods.

    Just a thought.

    PS: Not sure Erick Meyer should be listed as a designer.

    Reply
  49. amol
    May 7, 2009

    Eric Jordan. Ingo Ramin.

    Reply
  50. Rohan
    July 2, 2009

    Definitely Collis Ta’eed.

    Reply

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