The easiest way to find what your looking for online today is to “Google it;” but if your looking for a more structured approach to finding pin pointed information, StumbleUpon just might be your answer. StumbleUpon is a personalized discovery engine that recommends sites to users based upon their individual interests. StumbleUpon allows you to join by connecting your social network accounts through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, or by entering your own username and email. Once signed in, you can make a user profile or skip right to adding personal interests and stumble away.

You can further personalize your experience by giving the pages you stumble upon a thumbs-up (or down), which adds them to “Your Likes” pages for future reference. This is in essence the same as bookmarking pages on your browser that you like to frequent more often than not. Utilizing this feature when researching allows you to stumble for hours and still go back to pages might inspire your next project or task.

As a graphic/web designer, I’m always on the hunt for inspiration. StumbleUpon allows me to tailor my experience to certain industries or themes that I may be interested in finding more information about. For web design, StumbleUpon has enabled me to easily ‘stumble’ many different types of web pages and sites, which often enhances design research and development. In short, it’s a great research tool, and easier to use than typing and re-typing search queries into Google.

When designing anything, website or otherwise, I always start with StumbleUpon. This is mainly because I think it’s useful to look at other industry standards and what’s currently ‘hot’ out in the market before beginning a project. Remember, it’s not about copying other people-it’s about inspiration. As a good friend of mine who is an Art Director once told me, “In order to have output, you need to have more input.”