ME: What do we want?
ME: When do we want them?
YOU: NOW! But we don’t have Photoshop, or have design experience and can’t hire a designer cause we need it now!
ME: Perfect! Here’s 25 FREE Design Resources & Tools For Non Designers that will produce high quality results in a short amount of time. Fancy expensive software, years of training or an in-house designer NOT required!
This list is broken down to 5 areas and I’ve listed 5 of the best (in my opinion) and/or my favorite non-designer resources for each:
- Adobe Color
Very useful if you’re not a color risk taker and need help conveying different messages. This is one of my absolute favorites and I’ve relied on it for about 7 years now for out of the box color combinations. By clicking on the name of the Swatch, you can get a better sense of the overall feeling the combination creates.
This combines a free image library with a type of effect that’s created in Photoshop between two colors and filters called Duotone. Depending on the colors chosen, you can get some really cool (and even strange) images that are great for backgrounds on websites, ads and promo graphics.
Pixlr is one of my personal favorites for making quick graphics when I can get the job done faster than it would take Photoshop to load. There is a little more “freedom” with Pixlr as there aren’t really any template resources to work from. The bonus is the access to additional free tools like an online vector editor, fonts and image/graphics resources.
If you prefer templates as a starting point, Fotojet has quite a few templates for posting on Facebook, event invitations and marketing tools like business cards. Even getting started is easy – no signup required! Combine a cool background image you created from Duotone with one of their unique layouts to instantly make your work look professional!
Gimp is perfect for the intermediate non-designer who’s comfy with online design tools and would like a tad bit more Photoshop like flexibility. Best of all, this downloadable software is absolutely free and can be a great stepping stone into Photoshop, if you want to go that route.
- Adobe Color
- Google Fonts
Google Fonts is a free font library with hundreds of typefaces that you can use not only on your website, but can download for use in your projects! Because Google Fonts is extremely popular and widely used, you’ll find fonts integrated within quite a few tools ready for use. Downloading them allows you to use them in your own programs like Microsoft PowerPoint or even Gimp!
- Font Squirrel
Fonts from Font Squirrel are high quality, unique and available for commercial project use – meaning you can use them for your business without purchase. These fonts are available for download to use but can occasionally be found in online tools.
- Fonts.com Web Fonts
Even though Fonts.com provides premium fonts, some of them have different weights (bold, thin, semibold, etc.) that you can download for free and sometimes, that’s all you need. But be sure to check licensing for commercial use before you download!
- Fontspring (Free Fonts)
Just like Fonts.com, Fontspring is a collection of premium fonts with some providing free downloads of particular font weights.
- Font Pair
With all these fonts, how do you know which ones to use? Picking no more than two as a rule is a good place to start, then use Font Pair to see which Google Fonts are perfect together to create certain moods.
- Google Fonts
- Free Images
An awesome stock image library that’s perfect for blog post images. An advantage to using free stock images (besides being free) is the “realness” of the images. They look more true to life and not staged with perfect lighting and smiles. Be sure to credit the author!
Unsplash is the stock photo library behind Duotone and it’s easy to see why. They have an awesome collection of high resolution photos – which means you can also use them for print! It’s a designer favorite for website “hero” backgrounds – the very first, usually large section that’s loaded on the homepage with text and a call to action for the next step.
Dreamstime is another great collection of “real” images that are great quality. They tend to provide the not so typical type of photos you’d expect to find from other expensive subscription stock websites.
Compfight has a huge library of free stock photos – it relies on the power of Flickr users that provide images under the Creative Commons license so they can be used just about anywhere.
Sometimes I like to choose images based on the angle it was taken (it can create some nice open areas for placing text) and Gratisography offers high resolution photos featuring original eye catching angles and filters. I recently came across this site and it’s become my favorite fairly quick – there’s a lot of fun images here!
- Free Images
- Flat Icon
Not only does Flat Icon have a ton of free icons, it’s also an online icon editor! No more rejecting icons just because it isn’t the color you want or because it’s an Illustrator file. In order to use the icons, you’ll need to credit the author and they provide that info right before download.
Iconmonstr is also an icon editor for its collection of bold, thick lined icons. Just like Flat Icon, you can choose the format type of your icons after editing, but unlike Flat Icon, these icons don’t require attribution to the author!
- Font Awesome
Font Awesome is the most popular icon set used on the internet today. It’s embedded in many website templates because they works well with any type of style and add just the right touch for creating lists and embellishing headlines. These icons are also available for download to use in print and other graphic design projects.
Iconfinder is an old favorite of mine due to the variety between a lot of different icon collections and authors. Icons with color details tend to require purchase but Iconfinder has so many for free that I often find what I’m looking for and in the style I need.
- The Noun Project
The Noun Project provides beautiful, clean and simple icons – very similar to Font Awesome. Although you have to pay to create the icons in different colors, the simplistic and modern feel of the icons make only getting them in black just fine.
- Flat Icon
Step up your background image game on your website by swapping it for a video! It’s an easy way to have “movement” without knowing how to code animation and it will definitely grab more attention than a static image. Videvo is an excellent place to start searching for the perfect (and free!) background video.
Pexels has a nice library of videos that are completely free thanks to the Creative Commons license.
- Life Of Vids
Life of Vids features very crisp, high resolution videos that would work great for looping. Bookmark this one definitely and come back often as new videos are added weekly!
- Clip Champ
While high resolution videos look great, they can also make your site run slower if you have to host them yourself (instead of downloading to YouTube). Clip Champ lets you compress up to 5 video files without losing quality per month for free. It’s also perfect for creating animated gifs of short videos.
If you’re looking for an easy video editor now that YouTube has discontinued theirs, Shotcut just might do the trick. Add text to videos, edit and combine videos like the pros! If Gimp is the perfect free alternative to Photoshop, then Shotcut is the perfect free alternative to After Effects.