If you’re working online more than ever before, collaborating across distances and given an increased focus on efficiency, building a personal library of online resources to aid the design process is not just crucial to help you work faster, but also to save money, energy and improve your workflow.
The best resources are paid. But there’s a whole section of resources that are really good, but often free only for a limited time before they become paid. Free resources don’t always cut it in terms of quality or versatility. And while we pay for some tools and services essential to the design function, I spoke with our design team to collate a short, but effective list of free resources that we use here at Flooid. These include tools for inspiration, workflow, widgets, illustrations, images and the like – a host of assets that you’ll find worth considering.
Typography and fonts: These are some of our favorite places on the internet to source quality fonts that can be used for commercial or personal work. Categorized by style, aesthetic, design, they’re perfect for easy search and download, we find that free fonts are great assets for mockups and multiple versions of a particular design.
Stock images, icons and vectors: Images, icons and vectors are amongst the fundamental elements that can either make or break the continuity of a design, so it’s not uncommon for designers to painstakingly take on the work of finding just the apt fit.
For images, our top picks are: Pexels for a vast variety of royalty free images and videos, and imagesbazaar because their library is diverse and inclusive, which gives access to images that are more suited to Indian subjects. For vectors, we typically turn to freepik or vecteezy.
Icons are probably the most crucial in terms of form and function. Using the right icons can speed up user interactions if they are apt, immediately recognizable and universal. Our top resources for icons are iconscout and the noun project.
Illustrations: freepik or vecteezy are reliable resources for illustrations too. But we also use the following sites for variety in style, themes and for a diverse range of topics and categories to choose from, if the storytelling demands it.
Ouch by icons8
Color palettes: Since color plays such an important role in creating the visual appeal, communicating the brand’s personality and essence, as well as directing the users’ eyes to the spaces you wish to, it’s a well established practice to work with color palettes that are not just balanced and visually pleasing, but also effective functionally. Coolors, Colour Hunt and Paletton are some sites where you can generate colour palettes for free.
And when we say inspiration, we mean exactly that. Inspiration, not clever replication and plagiarism in disguise. Exploring the work of other designers, understanding different ways in which the same user issue can be looked at, learning through observation and through the works of others who came before us are definite ways to up the game and seek to make better work. While dribbble, Behance and awwwards are very commonly used platforms where designers showcase their work for others to see, some sites that we prefer are onepagelove which has a distinct category for inspiration and trends, and muzli which is available as a plug-in on your browser as well an app and provides a curated-feed-like experience of design inspiration based on your preferences.
Software and Collaboration
Like with any design-based function, we are big on planning and managing our projects such that our team members, who often collaborate remotely across cities, are not operating in silos. Without this, projects tend to go askew and so we have grown to depend heavily on tools that allow us to stay connected and on top of project status throughout the project life-cycles.
Like many other organizations, we use project management tools like Clickup, but we’ve also adapted to using Discord, which doubles up as a meeting room, white board, voice call and hang out all at once. While predominantly used as a social media platform to tune into channels of your choice, we’ve picked the most useful features of this tool – creating servers and channels – to create virtual meeting rooms that we can jump in and out of. Virtually. Our channels may be organized by project, discussion at hand or team and our team members simply enter the relevant chatrooms to have live discussions while they’re at work.
Our preferred design tool is Figma, and we found this resource to be a pretty comprehensive collection of plugins that are useful in our day to day work. And to stay on top of our ideas and workflow, we use these tools for mind-mapping, working out information architecture and workflow, as well as wireframing and mock-ups, to organize our creative selves better: Whimsical, Figjam, Lucid Charts
Our top picks