13th March 2018
Every UX/Graphic designer has a different design toolkit, different websites and resources that they use when they work. In this blogpost I am going to go through the equipment, handy apps and resources that I use throughout my design process. These are things that I use pretty much on a daily basis, they have greatly helped me speed up and improve my workflow and will hopefully help other designers save time researching design freebies and resources.
The 5 categories of resources I am going to talk about today are the following:
My main advice when you need ideas before starting a project is not to worry too much about following exactly what other people are doing. You should use other designers’ work to get ideas, remix things, make something new, etc. What you can do is use some websites for inspiration, see what the designers are doing, how they are pushing the boundaries and use that to create something unique that has your own signature.
Some really good websites that I use before I start brainstorming are Dribble and Behance where you can get inspired and also build your network with other designers and find work opportunities. Land Book is a good site for Website inspiration. It’s a repository of different landing pages and quite easy to use since everything is in one place which prevents you from having to think of a bunch of different products. Site Inspire is another good one for that which mostly includes people’s portfolios and you can get ideas for animation on your site pages too. Inspiration grid is another website that provides different types of work in a vast amount of categories like typography, advertising, logo design, packaging, web design, etc.
This category is quite short because I try to create my own assets and illustrations most of the time. A good website you can use for icons is Noun Project. It is a huge inspiration repository of iconography. It has a good amount of different styles and variation which you can interpret in your own style. There’s a lot on there that you can use for free by crediting the designer. Flaticon is another website you can use for the same reason, and also has the option for you to download multicoloured icons which is a very cool feature. There’s also SketchApp Resources which also is a repository specifically for sketch format files like icons, buttons, wireframes, mockups, plugins, useful tips and tricks, etc.
I’m pretty sure most people are aware of Google fonts and for a good reason. It has a pretty good amount of free web fonts that you can use. The content that google provides is super fast which is a huge bonus for your website. You can add fonts to your collection, view them as a paragraph or poster which are also some very nice features to have. My fonts is another website that has a few free ones and is specifically for testing fonts that you like in your own text to see what they look like and compare them. Font Squirrel and Dafont are some other good options for free fonts.
Obviously the best websites that you can find out there in terms of good professional-looking photographs are not free but I’ve found a few good ones that I use sometimes for lower budget projects. One of the best free stock photography websites that I’ve been using is Unsplash. What’s special about this is that it has collections of photos that help speed up the browsing process. Pexels and Pixabay are another good ones that have different download sizes too which can help reduce downloading time.
When it comes to tools and apps that you can use throughout your design process, one of my favourite ones is Coolors. It is a fun tool that I use for getting inspiration for colour palettes. You can hit enter and it throws 5 random colour palettes at you. You can also lock the colours that you like and keep reversing the rest until you get one that you’re happy with. It’s a very good starting point for colour palettes instead of aimlessly hitting the colour picking tool. Another is Canva, whose Design Wiki gives the lowdown on everything you need to know about colours, their meanings and the best colour combinations, hopefully giving some inspiration for your next design! Invision and Marvel are both free prototyping tools that allow you to share wireframes with people who in turn can leave feedback on. I find that prototyping tools like those help make wireframes very professional-looking instead of having to attach png files to client emails. They are great for internal feedback and a must-have for all UX designers. Last but not least, Tinypng is another good tool that compresses images without losing quality so your site loads faster.
These resources are all a good place to start for inspiration and to start building your designs, and are the ones I use regularly – but inspiration is wherever you find it, and there are many more resources out there which can help on more specific tasks. Check out my article on rebrands in 2017 here to see how companies have changed their image to see if you find any inspiration for your own!
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