10 Amazing Designers that Influence the Community

By / Nov 6, 2008 / Inspiration

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!)

  • acedab

    Collis, what say???

  • http://managedexpectations.com Jason Armstrong

    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!

  • http://www.pinch.nu Eric Hillerns

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

  • http://www.designer-daily.com Mirko

    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!).

  • http://www.kylesteed.com kyle steed

    As far as women designers go that have inspired me:

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


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

  • http://athertonbartelby.wordpress.com Atherton Bartelby

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

  • http://www.leemunroe.com Lee Munroe

    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/

  • http://kyleboyd.co.uk Kyle Boyd

    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.

  • http://www.wefunction.com liam

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

  • http://tshayes.com/ Tyler Hayes

    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.

  • http://www.josiahplatt.com Josiah Platt

    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.

  • http://www.DeskCoder.com Desk Coder

    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.

  • Ronan

    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.

  • http://www.bobgalmarini.com bgalmar

    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.

  • Monique

    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?

  • http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk Andy Clarke

    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.

  • http://webdesignledger.com Kelly

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

  • http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/ Steven Snell

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

  • http://www.conspiratordesign.com Christopher

    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.

  • MM

    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.

  • http://rubiqube.com Adrian | Rubiqube

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

  • http://www.twelve4.com Lynsey

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

  • http://pepperdigital.com Andy Harris

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

    Also Larissa Meek and Matt Brett are awesome.

  • http://www.leightaylor.co.uk Leigh Taylor

    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

  • http://nate.koechley.com/blog Nate Koechley

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

  • http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com adelle

    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!

  • http://www.bengood.org Ben G

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

  • http://www.danhbaweb20.com/ Danh ba web 2.0

    Nice list. Thanks you !

  • http://www.redswish.co.uk Nathan Beck

    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.

  • Lucian Lature

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

  • http://andrew.hedges.name/ Andrew Hedges

    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. :-)

  • http://daus.trala.la/ Daus

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

  • http://www.studiosixtysix.co.uk ali stone

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

  • http://www.sdi.la SDI

    best site in the world…

  • http://www.scholarshippress.co.uk tim elwood

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

  • http://www.redswish.co.uk Nathan Beck

    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…

  • alimdar

    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.


  • http://www.jigsawinternet.com Shaun

    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/)

  • http://www.apacheadvertising.com Matt

    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.

  • http://helloimchris.com/ Chris Gwynne

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

  • http://www.jeevan4u.com Jeevan4u

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

  • http://twitter.com/jason23z Jason

    You missed…

    Jeff Croft


    Wilson Miner


  • http://www.brandelion.com/ bran

    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.

  • mdoo

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

  • Darryl

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

  • http://www.g1media.co.uk Steven Grant

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


  • Raj

    This Nise Site

  • http://www.rephlexs.com Rephlexs

    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.

  • amol

    Eric Jordan. Ingo Ramin.

  • Rohan

    Definitely Collis Ta’eed.

  • http://www.dnnseoconsultants.com Mike Niel

    what about Ali Nawaz http://www.alinawaz.net

  • http://www.xaby.com Web Design Singapore

    Just curious, what did you come up with the list?

  • Varitek

    I would add Roan Lavery of http://www.renegadezen.com/

  • http://www.zachalig.com Zach

    Your link to Andy Budd is broken. Great list!

  • http://www.friskdesign.com Matt Hill

    Your Andy Budd bio is several years out of date!

  • Ally

    I’m pretty upset that there are no women on this list. I’ve seen many female designers who are better than many of these guys.

    • Elle

      I was thinking the same thing. I always see these websites awarding designers and they never show women. Let’s start an equal opportunity site.

  • nhdesign

    Vincent Morisset all the way!

    engineer of the Neon Bible interactive video and many very cool and unexpected creative ideas

    def. in my top 2

  • http://iamfrankstallone.com Frank Stallone

    Wow, what an amazing list; personally I would love to take all these guys out for dinner… Maybe not at the same time that would be ridiculous but seriously some amazing minds in this post. I am happy to say that I too follow and look up to all these outstanding individuals.

  • JanB#

    “Dave Shea… _daily_ weblog”
    that made me laugh out loud! No seriously, Dave posted 9 articles this year (!) conaining his unfortunate chalkwork iconset, test-entries and other lets, just say it, boring stuff. It might be caused by these new webdesign ressource “magazines” like Smashing Magazin that push out at least one “ultimate guide to XYZ”-article per day but Dave seems to have lost the track and focuses on other things (nothing against that).

    He deserves respect for his CSS Zen Garden project though.

  • http://nellynton.com Nellynton

    In Brazil, i dont have doubt about the quality of work from Gringo Cardia.

    Check it!