The number of free tools and resources for web designers and developers is overwhelming, to say the least. Some are an all-in-one type of solutions, others tackle specific design problems and issues and there are those who are nothing more than a waste of megabytes needed to download them. But how can you know for certain which are the ones you might find useful in your design process? To help answer this question, we’ve prepared a list of 10 Best Free Tools And Resources For Web Designers you can use to make your design work easier and more productive.
CSS Cheat Sheet
CSS or Cascading Style Sheets are an essential part of modern web design and is regularly used in various developmental processes. Whether you’re a novice when it comes to web design or a hardened developer with years of experience, CSS cheat sheets always come in handy when working on a project. What’s great about this CSS Cheat Sheet made by Adam Marsden is that it’s simple to use, up to date with the latest and greatest CSS has to offer and provides further details by linking directly to the Mozilla Developer Network.
Design Rush is an excellent source for everything design related. It’s a digital destination to discover the latest trends in marketing, technology, and design to grow your business online. You can browse the latest designs and design-related guides, news, trends, and insights, go through industry-related interviews, look for web design tools and resources, you name it. Designers can also use this platform to register their web design agencies and increase the chances of getting hired.
There are a couple of categories available on the website, including best designs, trends and insights and a dedicated agency listing organized according to different niches and industry branches such as apps, e-commerce, marketing, technology, websites, etc. This allows for an easy browsing and navigation and saves a lot of time users would normally spend looking for just the right agency for their design work.
Free Design Resources
As the name implies, Free Design Resources is a free source of high-quality design-related resources with over 240.000+ active subscribers. The platform was created as a collaboration between artists and professional designers from around the world who were looking for a way to collect and distribute the best and the latest in free resources. You can browse through fonts, graphics, mockups, templates, icons, photos and UI kits.
Any experienced web designer worth their two cents will tell you just how important typography can be for good web design. Usually, if you run into a font you like and want to find out how it’s called, you would have to search through the web page’s CSS in order to find out. Fortunately, Font Inspector will not only show you the name of the font, but also a little “ABC” preview text written in that same font. You can find out font family and name, its location and @font-face code. Did we mention its made by Mozilla?
Learn CSS Grid
CSS Grids are becoming an increasingly popular way for web designers and developers to create design layouts that are complex, highly responsive and render consistently across different browsers. Created by Jonathan Sun and based on a similar learning method he used, Learn CSS Grid is a well-organized guide and resource for CSS Grid. You can jump between sections using the table of contents and see a visual example for every element it explains.
Sidebar is an open-source link-aggregator for design-related links. You can find articles, news, resources, inspiration and even design experiment. This is particularly useful when you hit a design-wall and can’t think of a good design to save your life. Every link sent to Sidebar needs to be accepted first and the top five links that were accepted that day get featured on the first page or sent to users via their newsletter. The topics include CSS, design and UI, typography, user research and other design aspects.
Slides is an easy-to-use platform for creating, sharing and presenting slide decks. The in-browser suite contains everything you would want from a modern presentation tool. You can create regular slides, vertical slides, private decks, browse through their media library and slide templates or important the work you saved in PDF or PPT. Every slide you create can be tracked through their analytics page, shared privately or presented live to your audience.
It’s not that uncommon for clients to ask for a color to be picked from a real-world object. SwatchMatic is a mobile app that allows you to point your smartphone’s camera at anything you imagine and it will tell you the name of that color, as well as the values needed for you to recreate it. You can build your own color palettes or use the built-in color matcher to match your color with one of the five other colors the app will suggest. It allows users to capture colors, combine them into different configurations and share them with their friends.
Made by Kaspars Dancis, Whimsical is a simple and lightning fast visual collaboration tool used by designers from around the world. You can use it to create and collaborate on diagrams, flowcharts, wireframes and sticky notes (a feature that will be made available soon). This bright colored tool is ideal for mapping the user journey, create sitemaps and is also available as a mobile app.
Wireframe.cc is a clutter-free tool for creating wireframes. The click-and-drag functionality allows users to draw on the canvas and simply select the type of stencil they want to insert. The majority of the UI is visible to the users only when needed, meaning you can create wireframes without any distractions. Even the editing options are element-oriented and only shows options that can be applied to said element. You can design for browsers, tablets, and smartphones and annotate each wireframe using a single click.
Freebiesbug is a regularly updated blog dedicated to showcasing high-quality, free design resources, including fonts, icons, HTML templates, PSD files and much, much more. Designers can browse the blog and download any Illustrator, Photoshop and Sketch file they need, subscribe to their newsletter and be notified via e-mail whenever there’s a resource available that they need or submit a freebie that other fellow designers can incorporate into their own body of work.
It may have started off as a real coffee shop offering free internet to its customers, but today, CoffeeCup Software offers a number of free tools and resources for web developers. These include a simple, but rather a powerful HTML editor, simplified and intuitive FTP client that works quickly and reliably, developer-friendly shopping cart creator and shopping cart designer and even a comprehensive web calendar you can use to keep track of personal and business schedules, organize events and import information from other calendars.
It offers both Windows and MacOS apps and hosts a community forum where developers can read stories from and interact with other developers and use their experience to improve on their own web design practices.
Around 30% of all websites are built using WordPress. The majority of WordPress running websites, including their pages and content, are stored on a web server owned by a hosting company. However, when it comes to developing and testing said websites, web designers would often install WordPress on their own local computer, either at home or at the office.
MAMP and WAMP are programs that provide developers with the necessary tools needed to run a WordPress website on their own machines. MAMP is the MacOS version of the program and WAMP is for machines that run on Windows. The functionality and purpose of the program are nearly identical, with some minor differences in regards to the different operating systems.
While we’re on the subject of mac-related software, ITERM2 is one of the most valuable tools for Mac OS developers. Those who have already worked with Mac’s know just how clumsy its command-line features tend to be, especially the built-in terminal. ITERM2 emulates a terminal that functions in pretty much the same way as the default Mac terminal, however, it offers a far greater array of additional functionality.
For example, the most notable feature has to be the split panes. Each pane is showing a different session and any inactive session is dimmed for the sake of convenience. Furthermore, users are greeted with a robust search with autocomplete that boasts both search and paste history, among other features.
LightShot may not have anything to do with web design per se, but it’s by far one of the most useful apps, especially for developers who often have to take a quick screen-grab of their work and send it to a client or fellow developer. In short, LightShot is a quick and simple way to take customizable and highly editable screenshots that can either be hosted on the company’s servers, easily shared online or cross-referenced with similar images. It’s very lightweight, meaning it doesn’t take up many resources such as RAM and processing power and can be installed on PCs, Macs or implemented as an addon into Chrome, Firefox, Opera and even Internet Explorer.
Color Hexa is a free tool that provides you with information about any type of color spectrum you can think of. All you have to do is type a color value in the program’s search bar and it will generate a detailed description with the added option of converting it to its corresponding value in Binary, Hexadecimal, CIE-Lab, CIE-LCH, CIE-Luv, CMYK, HSV, HSL, Hunter-lab, RGB, XYY, and XYZ.
Only available for iOS users, Napkin is a powerful mobile tool used to design mockups on the fly. It offers layer controls for adding various layer types to individual artboards that can further be controlled and optimized in their appearance. You can set up multiple artboards in order to visualize more ideas than one and use the editing controls to manage the properties of specific layers and change their order, lock them or even delete them.
55+ Elements Free UI Kit
55+ Elements Free UI Kit is a clean and modern user interface kit that features a predominantly minimalistic design. It includes icons, Photoshop vector elements, an example preview and allows developers to completely change and redesign the main wireframe. It’s a simple yet very useful project hosted on the Behance platform that you can easily browse for more design elements, UI kits and anything related to web development.
Typography an essential part of good web design. Fonts are the carrier of words and they are the ones who make the text readable and legible. Choosing the right pair of Google Fonts can be tricky, especially for novice designers with little to no previous experience, but Font Pair is a perfect resource to help you pick just the right pair of fonts to use on your projects. The website offers a number of featured fonts right off the bat, so you don’t have to waste your time scouring page after page to find the perfect match.
Simple Sharing Buttons
Unfortunately, some web designers tend to forget checking their work for usability issues, especially if they spend a lot of time working on their website. That doesn’t happen on purpose, but working long hours makes overlooking important tasks fairly easy. Userium is a perfect tool for this type of work, as it helps you catch specific usability issues and errors before the website is even open for user testing. The website hosting this tool provides a nifty little checklist you can use to catch the most common issues, including ways how to deal with them appropriately.
Craft is one of the more recent benchmarks for user interfaces found in Sketch plugins. It allows for direct manipulation, as well as what-you-see-is-what-you-get-type of treatment for various mock data. The built-in interface can be used to extend any sample data simply by copying and pasting flat textual files. You can click on different content blocks related to existing websites and pull the data into your design for further development and editing.
Placeit is super simple to use and lets you create amazing assets in seconds. With hundreds of new designs every day, from mockups and video templates to logos you can surely make unique designs for your brand’s campaign. Placeit even has free tools like it´s image cropper, video to gif converter and video cropper that make your design process easier. Find some inspiration for your brand by choosing the right template for you!
Bjango offers a rather comprehensive collection of app-icon templates for Affinity Designer, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Sketch. The templates themselves cover iOS, MacOS, iMessage, tvOS (Apple TV), watchOS (Apple Watch), Android, Windows and windows phone and even web favicons. Whenever possible, the templates will automatically export the final development assets, which makes a significant change in the time needed to finish your work. The templates are all completely free, open-source and are featured under the BSD license. The website also offers help with adding artwork, using the different templates, bitmap and vector scaling, image compression, tips and style guides and version history.
We’ve tried to cover every web-design aspect we could think of and these are just some of the many free tools you can use in your everyday work. Whether it’s finding the right font, matching the exact color, creating, editing, sharing, learning or even pulling data from other websites into your own projects, these tools and resources are bound to save you valuable time and help you finish your job with ease and productivity.