Finding Design Tools & Assets
- Icons: Try the Noun Project, Illustrio, and Flaticon.
- Graphic assets: Browse through the selection of images. fonts, code, and more at Freebiebug.
- Photos: Check out Pexels and Unsplash. Then don't forget to sign up for the Death to the Stockphoto monthly newsletter.
- Fonts: There are tons of free fonts at Font Squirrel.
- Color Palettes: For inspiration, try Design Seeds. For pre-made palettes as well as ones you can customize yourself, try Coolors.
- Design Asset Bundles: You can check out Pixelo's latest bundle, but if you're interested it's best to sign up for their mailing list so you can stay on top of when new ones are launched.
- Discounted Resources: Find out about deeply discounted design software, services, and more by signing up for AppSumo and StackSocial's mailing lists.
- More Free Design Assets: Try searching through Pinterest. There are loads of free and cheap design resources pinned there. Plus, there are a lot of people who curate Pinterest boards for free design assets (including me).
Making Design Resources
Quick Narrated Videos: Take a look at my favorite video app (and possibly soon yours too) Adobe Spark Video.
- Quick Montage Videos: Make great photo and video montages with Quik.
- Screen Capture and Recording: Snag-It is perfect for annotated screen captures and recording narrated software tutorials.
- Quick Sketches: Give the ever popular Paper by 53 a try. It lives up to the hype.
- Vector Graphics: Assembly makes creating simple graphics and icons easy. If you're looking for something more powerful, try Affinity Designer: an affordable alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
- Complex Photo Editing: Affinity Photo for Mac/Windows and iPad offers many of the features of Adobe Photoshop, but at a fraction of the price.
- Shot Composition: Want some assistance with how to layout your photo and video shots in interesting ways? Use the Composition Cam app.
- Text-Enhanced Photos: Retype creates photos with fancy typography in a tiny amount of time. It's particularly great for using with social media posts.
- Tech Mockups: Both Dunnnk.com (free) and PlaceIt (inexpensive) allow you to create tech mockups and illustrations of your content on the screen of a number of devices by just choosing a stock image and then uploading the image you want on the device's screen.
- Infographics: Infogr.am is a great drag-and-drop infographic creation tool.
- Graphic Design: Need something with a slick design but can't afford to hire a graphic designer? Try out the customizable templates at Canva.
- Prototyping: This team of two tools can help. The Adobe Comp CC app allows you to quickly mockup screens/pages. Import those into the Pop app or in Marvel to make quick interactive prototypes of interactive media.
- Layout Ideas: If you'r stumped for how to layout a page or screen, get some great ideas from this PDF poster. Leveraging the grid method for layout, it shows ALL 892 unique ways a 3x4 grid can be used for layouts.
- Even More Free Tools: Tracy Parish curates an amazing collection of free tools for people in L&D on her Zeef site. There's tons to browse through here.
Building Your Design Skills
- Cheap (Maybe Free) Tutorials: Lynda.com has a wealth of amazing video-based tutorials for all sorts of design and development skills. Bonus: some library systems give free access to this site as a library membership benefit!
- Free Tutorials: Amazing design tutorial videos are thick on the ground on YouTube. Use them to learn skills or even just for inspiration.
- Play With Color Combos: The Color Supply app is a fun site for helping you explore how different color combinations work together.
- Email Newsletters: It may seem a bit old school, but newsletter content is a handy, bite-sized way to learn about design. There are two short newsletter series that I'd recommend checking out: Design by Numbers and Design by Hackers.
- Typography Games: There are three mini games I love for building your skills with designing with text. I Shot the Serif helps you practice recognizing the difference between serif and sans serif fonts though a fast-paced shooting game. KERNTYPE helps you learn to adjust the spacing between individual letters through activities and feedback. TypeConnection is a design "dating game" where you try to find compatible fonts to pair together harmoniously.
- Podcasts on Design: It's amazing how much you can learn about design from a medium that isn't visual at all. While there are tons of great design podcasts out there to choose from, two great places to start are 99% Invisible (one of my all-time favourite podcasts) and Design Matters.
- Find Even More Tools and Resources: One of the best sources I've found for keeping on top of new design tools and trends is just following fellow design nerds on Twitter (and then looking at who THEY follow to get even more great sources for info). Accounts I regularly get great design stuff from include:
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