‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’, so the saying goes. And every freelancer needs to keep those words of wisdom close to their heart, to ensure they stay in the black.
Shelling out on expensive design tools and programs isn’t an option for many people working independently, so you need to be smart.
Luckily there are a lot of online tools, designed to make life (or more specifically, design) easy. Here we take a look at a selection of the best. And the best bit is, since they’re all free there’s no reason not to give them a whirl…
01. By People
By People is an incredible resource when it comes to putting together everything from a website to a CV. Their incredible selection of visuals includes menus, patterns, search boxes, CV templates, icons, fonts, shadows and even little animated characters.
All of these are free to use but it’s the enormous selection on offer that makes this site well worth a look.
Adobe gives designers a real leg up with this great tool, now part of Adobe Capture CC, a free app for Android and iOS. It enables members to create, upload and edit colour schemes. If you’re looking for colour-related inspiration, you can browse thousands of colour palettes, which have been put together by designers all over the world. Each combination comes complete with a natty name and can be easily imported into any Adobe application.
This clever colour palette generator allows you to upload an image and then, by analysing and sampling colours within that image, it creates a custom colour scheme.
This colour palette generator can be used alongside everything from logos to the photo you want to include on your business card. And, since it has been created by the people who brought you MailChimp, you know it’s good.
04. Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel scouts the web looking for the best high-quality, design-friendly, commercial-use fonts and puts them all in one place for easy downloading.
Its search tools point you in the right direction for headers, paragraphs and display-friendly fonts and enable you to filter by a range of different criteria, from a feeling such as ‘cute’ to a glyph outline that is ‘chiselled’.
Whatever you’re working on, Dribble.com is a place to show, tell, promote, discover and explore that design – and get a bucket-load of inspiration while you’re at it.
This kinetic site is full of artists, web designers, typographers, graphic designers and similarly creative types, showcasing what they do for the purposes of the furtherment of design. The masses of work available through Dribble.com is searchable via colours, tags or collections of shots knows as ‘buckets’.
06. Less Framework 4
Web design has become a little trickier given all the ways a site can be accessed these days. That’s where Less Framework 4 comes in. Assuming you’re savvy when it comes to HTML and CSS, this CSS grid system can help you to design adaptive websites with ease.
It contains four layouts and three different typography pre-sets, all of which work around a single grid. It’s designed to work with pretty much all devices on the market, so it should take the headaches out of making a site work across all formats.
If you’re truly on the go, then you need to be able to access everything you’re working on (and indeed, an archive of pretty much everything you’ve ever done) anywhere, anytime. To that end, Dropbox can be an incredibly useful piece of software to have in your back pocket.
By syncing your files online as well as across your various computers and devices, it streamlines your working world and makes access foolproof. Kiss goodbye to that stomach-sinking feeling you get when you realise you’ve left your working docs on your bulky desktop at home. After all, it’s free!