These 7 free tools can help you up your design game.

Great design doesn’t have to come at a high price. As powerful as premium products like InDesign and PhotoShop are, designers can easily access a wide assortment of free tools that offer similar advantages at no cost.

Whether you’re responsible for your brand’s marketing strategies or you’re simply an amateur design enthusiast, these seven programs make valuable additions to any designer’s arsenal.

1. Fonts: Google Fonts and WhatTheFont

Thanks to its range and versatility, Google Fonts has become one of the most widely used design tools on the market, offering designers access to any font they might want or need. To make it even simpler to try out a given font, every available Google Font has been compiled for easy downloading via GitHub. If you don’t recognize a font, MyFonts’ WhatTheFont program can immediately identify it by analyzing an uploaded snippet of text.

2. Inspiration: UI Space

Creating new, innovative designs is never easy, but UI Space makes the process as smooth as possible by providing a vast database of high-quality templates, mockups, icons, vectors, and fonts that graphic designers can draw on for inspiration. Since everything on UI Space is free, designers can experiment with and finetune whatever elements they like.

3. Colors: Colour Lovers

When it comes to color selection, most designers must grapple with the paradox of choice. Now that most browsers support the full spectrum of 24-bit color, there are nearly 17 million shades from which a designer can choose. Suffice it to say, it’s easy to feel lost in this vast field of possibility. Fortunately, Colour Lovers helps solve this dilemma by providing an open community where designers around the world can post their favorite palettes, patterns, and colors. It’s a must-visit site for any designer who finds themselves agonizing over color.

4. Icons: Fontastic

Icons are critical to any app or website, but unfortunately, they can be one of the hardest elements to design. Fontastic provides a helpful solution to this problem, as it allows for the easy creation and editing of vector icons. The platform provides over 9,000 customizable icon options, but designers can also upload their own files to edit.

5. CSS: CSS3 Generator & CSS Animate

Design might be a primarily visual process, but when it comes to web and digital projects, beautiful, dynamic sites can’t be made without coding in languages like CSS. While it provides great results, CSS can be cumbersome and inefficient to work with. Luckily, two free sites help address this challenge: CSS3 Generator and CSS Animate.

CSS3 Generator is true to its name, letting users choose the elements they need and specify their exact parameters before the site generates the appropriate code. Currently in a free open Beta phase, the similar CSS Animate allows users to design dynamic animations before automatically generating the underlying code.

6. Javascript: Unheap

Javascript is used on over 94% of all websites, but it often feels clunky and difficult to navigate. Thankfully, Javascript libraries like jQuery can make programming in this language much more intuitive. One of the best for designers is Unheap, a free library that hosts lots of plugins and display options to make web and app development a breeze.

7. Wireframing: Balsamiq

As any designer knows, wireframing is an essential step in UI/UX development for websites and apps. Yet despite its importance to the design process, it’s still typically done by hand on whiteboards or scrap paper. Balsamiq is a free tool that replicates the wireframing process digitally, helping designers to prepare prototypes much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Balsamiq also facilitates collaboration and communication, making it easy to share and discuss wireframing mockups for websites, apps, and software.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offers digital strategy services, including website branding, style guides, persona development, and audience segmentation. We’re a partner in making content work for your business. Learn more about digital strategy here.

Author Andres Clua

Originally hailing from Uruguay and a graduate of Universidad ORT, Andrés runs design and web development at L&T, generating original, interactive graphics and designing professional publications across a range of industries.

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