It’s always useful to be able to mock-up what a screen will look like before entering the asset creation phase. But it can be a little daunting if you’re unused to paint or photo-manipulation software.
However, there are some tools which have been created to make the design of websites and software that bit easier – if you know where to look…
Balsamiq isn’t free software, but the trial version is fully functional for 30 days which should give you time to design whatever it is you need on a smaller project. It’s available through the browser or to download for Windows and Mac – and is just a fabulous and easy to use mockup design tool.
Invision offers a fully free version which allows you to not only create wireframes, but is also a collaborative design tool used by lots of larger software companies.
There’s a 15 day free trial version of HotGloos wireframing and website mockup tool, thereafter their starter plan is €4 per month. However, MockFlow offer a basic free account for one designer with their wireframing and collaboration tool. MockFlow is also particularly intuitive to use.
A simple, free way to manipulate and output photographs for your website or print is important for many businesses’ marketing. Thankfully, there are a wide range of packages available that don’t cost a penny.
Simple Photo Editors
Photoshop Express Editor is a free, online tool that allows you to quickly edit your photo to make it look better or add a variety of effects. IPiccy is similar, allowing you to edit photographs in a number of ways and doesn’t require installation so works on a number of operating systems. Another editor that’s available online and also supports ios and android is Befunky which also features a nice collage-maker. There’s also Fotor’s editor that offers editing, collages and a card designer, all through the browser or app. Finally, for an app to download (but unfortunately only works with Windows), we’re big fans of Irfanview, probably the most useful image viewer around which also allows image editing and manipulation.
More Advanced Photo Editors
Photoshop is the defacto standard for photo manipulation software; however it isn’t free. Gimp is a free alternative that works on multiple platforms including Windows and Mac. For an online advanced editor, Sumopaint works straight in the browser and offers many similar features to Photoshop. The online version is free to use and there’s also a downloadable version that’s available for a small monthly charge.
If you find any other tools that you think we should include, please let us know below.
You’d think it’d be impossible to get logo and branding design done for free. And you’d be almost right. But not quite. There are logo editing sites which allow you to enter your company name and build a logo, often in just one or two clicks. If you want something more bespoke, you could hire someone from a budget pay-per-job or pay-per-hour site. Either way, here’s some of the best options we’ve found to get your logo done for free or not very much.
Free Logo Generators/Creators
Cooltext is a free logo creator which you can enter a company name and it’ll create a logo for you at the touch of a button. You can fiddle with a few variables then download a small but usable version of the graphic free of charge. Similarly, Flamingtext allows you to enter your text and get a cool looking logo in just a couple of clicks. For personal use, it’s free, for business use it’s $19.95 a year. Logomaker is a little more complex to use but allows you to create logos and text together. When done, you can add your logo to your website for free by using their code (or screengrab the logo) but for a higher resolution version, they charge $49. They also give you the option to buy company stationery and promotional items. All three give very passable results that’ll get your company identity up in no time.
Bespoke Design Work
There’s a new generation of websites where professionals (and, it has to be admitted, unprofessionals!) offer their services on a pay per project or pay per hour basis. The great thing about these sites is that you can review the designer’s feedback and samples of their work before taking them on – and they often work for minimal fees. Working up in cost, with Fiverr you pay a fixed cost of $5 for a pre-set service. Generally you can see exactly what you’ll get – if you want more, each supplier has a list of paid-for extras. At PeoplePerHour suppliers offer a fixed price for an hour’s work. You can review samples of their work and see feedback from previous customers. Prices tend to range from £10-20 per hour. At Freelancers you can post up exactly what you’re after and freelancers can apply to do the work for you. Or you can search various freelancers in a variety of fields and pay a fixed project cost.