Web design is a great opportunity for sharing your creative tastes with the universe. The right tools make it an easy and fun endeavor. If you’re not using the following tools, check them out to see if they can earn a place in your web design toolbox.
Self-described on their website as “an international creative community that helps people discover their inner designer,” COLOURlovers is all about making an impact through the powerful use of—you guessed it—color. Even if you have already discovered your inner designer, you’ll still find the endless selection of colors, color palettes, and patterns inspirational. Use COLOURlovers software to create and share your own unique color ideas.
The social aspect of COLOURlovers is particularly handy for designers, since it helps you keep up with current color trends and gives you inspiration from fellow creatives. Just looking for ideas to spark your next project? Want to find a palette that fits the mood of what you’re currently working on? Give COLOURlovers a try.
One of the most essential keys to a successful project is smooth and easy communication between team members. Creately provides a platform on which you and your team members can easily collaborate. Share what you’ve done with your team, and even invite clients to take a look at your progress and make comments.
The user-friendly web interface allows you to draw or diagram pretty much anything. Creately even goes so far as to say that their Contextual Toolbars “make diagramming a pleasure.” The plethora of templates and tools is handy, of course, but you’ll also value how safe it makes your work. When collaborators make changes to a design, the changes automatically get saved to a new version. It’s also easy to back up your work on your own computer.
Looking for some fun icons to complement your smashing design? Try the following tools, which multyshades.com lists as web design tools you’re probably not using.
- Endless Icons. Endless is right, since this collection grows regularly. All icons are monochromatic and in the style of hand-drawn sketches. Ideal for retro-themed or funky designs.
- Mobile Tuxedo. This tool is particularly useful for our increasingly touchscreen world. The icons featured here give users directions on how to interact with their touchscreen to produce a desired result.
- Makeappicon. Granted, with the title of this one all smashed together, it might take a moment to figure out that it’s a tool for making app icons. It resizes icon designs for mobile platforms.
Tools for Photo Editing
A few little changes to a photo can make it go from being almost right to being just right for your intended design. Adobe Photoshop is fantastic, certainly, but it won’t hurt you to try these free photo editing tools.
- GIMP. It’s a funny-sounding acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program, but don’t let its amusing name deter you from giving it a try. This open source program got rolling in 1996, and now it has oodles of features to help you get photos just the way you want them to make the most impact in your design. It might take a while to get used to the interface and become familiar with all the things GIMP can do, but it’s certainly work checking out.
- Funny Photo Maker. With this one you can, well, make funny photos. There are tons of different effects to choose from. Make a collage or put someone’s face on a billboard.
- Fotor. What sets this photo-editing platform apart from the others is that it’s easy to take with you, since it’s available on both Android and iOS.
No matter what operating system your smartphone has, however, there are design tools you can use on the go. For instance, BlackBerrry Curve apps also include some that are very useful for your web design work.
Tools for Responsive Web Design
Designing responsive websites is an essential skill. A blog at crazyegg.com listed some useful tools to help you out. Here are a couple of examples.
- Multi-Device Layout Patterns. This site helps you decide what type of responsive layout you should use with examples showing how different layouts work.
- Retina Images. This is a system that automatically displays high resolution images on devices that support them. Only one image gets downloaded a time, so it spares a user from extra wait time.
Whether you’re a design pro or just starting to dabble, it’s important that you have a set of tools at your disposal that you can comfortably use. If you’re not happy with your current tools or just looking for something fresh, make sure you check out the above options.