11 Free Design and Inspiration Tools You Should Use

There are many great design tools online, and here are 11 free design and inspiration tools that we know you’ll love to use!

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The web is a massive engine for learning, creating, and finding advice on what you should be using to better your design. I love looking up new tools that people are creating online that help me design in a more productive and accurate manner, and just overall better. Whether you’re a novice designer just starting out or working for an agency, these 11 design tools can help you out immensely and easily in what you’re trying to achieve.



1. Niice.co

Niice is an excellent inspiration tool that gives you a little more flexibility. It’s similar to designspiration that I mention later and actually pulls content from there as well, but it gives you the options to make your own board that you can customize. It also pulls from other sources of design work as well, including Behance and Dribble. It also has a search engine as well, so you can type in some keywords if you want to hone in on some projects that might apply to what you want to see at the moment. If you like niice, I‘d recommend signing up for the service so you can further use their product!



2. Adobe Color CC (formally Adobe Kuler)

I absolutely love this tool for designing. If you need a basis for a color or branding scheme to follow, this is definitely the place to start. You can easily make yourself a five-color palette, and they have a ton of preset palettes that you can choose from to use or tweak in your own way. Often times I’ve found myself struggling with finding inspiration or honing in on what colors I should use for a project or campaign, and this tool easily allows me to mess with colors and be inspired to pick a refreshing palette for design.



3. GoodUI.org

This is a website that I refer to for good advice when I’m creating a new website or user interface. They run through a bunch of tips of how to create a successful UI, so this website runs as an advice/inspiration and tactical helper site when it comes to creating interfaces. They give you great information and also back it up with real data. For example, they have an idea that tells you to repeat your primary action in your website. If you were to ever doubt whether or not that would be a good idea, they immediately follow it up by telling you that sites who did this saw a 49% increase in email sign ups. That’s what I love about this site, when they give you ideas to try, they’re based on data that actually proves they work well, and not just because they might think it should work.



4. Designspiration.com

If you’re having a day where you’re feeling a little dry on a project or need something to spike up your inspiration, designspiration.com is a great place to go to look at different projects, brand ideas and campaigns all in one place. I browse the site almost daily to see what kind of projects people are making, and it has examples from experimental photography and exhibition design all the way to modern UI practices. It’s a refreshing wide variety of work presented and that’s one of the reasons I love browsing the site so much.



5. Google Fonts

If you haven’t learned about the great ways of Google fonts, you must familiarize yourself with it. Lots of web designers are using Google Fonts as an easy way to implement beautiful alternative text for their websites. They have plenty of great typefaces for whatever you might need whether it’s a serif, sans serif or script alike. I highly recommend Google fonts for use in any website you’re creating, and it’s incredible easy to implement into your site.



6. PlaceIt

This website can be a really handy marketing tool – and is super easy to use. The premise is that this website gives you templates of live devices being used and you can easily drop in your own graphics into their images. This really comes into good use when you want to see a live mock of what your screens would actually look like on a live device, or need it as an image for your website that is professionally taken of your app in the real world. I highly recommend using this website to fulfill your live product image needs for your marketing or website.



7. Axure RP 7

For wire framing and prototyping, Axure is the leading software for getting your mocks done. They create an environment that you can easily lay out the website for UX or placement purposes, and then hand that off to a UI designer to build from there. I always recommend using this before starting to design a website, as it’s always nice to be able to visualize the placement of elements that are going to be in your site. Doing this also helps you design, as it is already set in stone what you need to design and where, and how it correlates to the rest of the site. So I highly recommend this software if you’re looking for something to fulfill your prototyping needs!



8. Colourco.de

This is another color tool that has a pretty unique system for looking up colors. You open up the menu on the left to choose what type of color scheme you want to view, and use your mouse to effect the shade and hue that is shown in the colors. Once you feel like you’ve met a good medium on what you might be looking for, you click to lock in that scheme. From there you can save the scheme, share it, or change individual colors. I feel like this tool is a pretty unique and dynamic way to look up a color scheme and is definitely worth checking out.



9. Awwwards.com

For a whole heap of design inspiration, learning, and tools that designers are talking about, the awwwards.com site is a great go to place to see what is going on in the web world. The site will critique and give awards to websites that show outstanding design, usability, and overall creativity. It’s a great little community of designers who come together to find the best of the web, and your last little push you need for inspiration on your next website could be there.



10. Codecademy

So let’s say you’re a designer that wants to learn the basics of frontend code or website building. Well, go no further then codecademy.com. It’s easy to sign up for free courses that will take you through learning how to build a simple website, make your first portfolio online, or teach you the basics of the coding world. I always recommend that anyone who is a graphic designer on the print end or on the UI end should learn the basics of html/css, as it will always be useful when looking for a job or when you might nee to make quick mock ups live on the web.



11. Lipsum.com

If you are a designer and somehow don’t know what Lorem Ipsum is, well, now you will. Lorem Ipsum in short is filler text that you can use if you don’t have real content yet for your website or print project. This dummy content has been the industry standard since the 1500s and continues to be used widely today. So if you wanted to see how a project would look with the text filled in, you can use this until you have the real content instead of leaving it blank or as a colored box. Go to the website and tell it to generate however much content you want, and then copy and paste it into your project from there.


These are all great tools that can be effectively used to make you a better designer, so I recommend checking out each and every one! Each is unique in its own way and can serve a different purpose, and I’ve learned over time that taking advantage of these great tools and others like it have really improved my ability to be a good designer. So check out these tools, start using them, and design away!

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