I am a huge fan of Adobe Creative Suite products and they’re great for all of my designing needs, but I realize that not everyone has the budget or the training for this bundle of applications. This article will touch on five of my favourite tools for beginner and advanced designers alike. The best part is, they’re all free and can be accessed online (no downloading necessary!). Not to mention, they’re all aesthetically stunning websites.
I’m starting this list off with my favourite tool of the bunch, Coolors.
Coolors is an automatic colour palette generator that creates beautiful colour combinations. I love this tool when looking for inspiration in branding or logo design. It’s one of the first steps that I take when working on a project. You can adjust the number of colours, shades, hues, and so much more. A few of my favourite things about this tool are:
- A function to check the accessibility of your colour palette for different kinds of colourblindness.
- Different generation methods such as monochrome, complementary, triadic, and more.
- Ability to generate a colour palette from an image you upload.
You can then copy the HEX codes into whatever design tool you like, which brings me to my next tool.
Web FX HEX to RBG Converter is a simple but useful tool.
Here is a basic breakdown of HEX and RBG:
RGB is the combination of colours that show up on a screen, you see this everyday on anything from your Instagram feed to Episode 201 of The Office. RGB is represented as rgb(x,x,x) where the x’s are values of Red, Green, and Blue. HEX is the code that makes up the RGB, and is represented by #xxxxxx, where the x’s are a combination of letters and numbers.
HEX to RGB Converter is useful if you find a colour you like in either RGB or HEX and need to know the other (it works either way). There really isn’t much of a difference between the two as they represent the same thing, it’s more of a syntax thing. Some programs will display or require the colour using RGB syntax and some using HEX, it’s just a useful tool for the conversion.
Once you’ve rocked your colour palette and syntax, this next tool will help you with your copy.
Look, I like Google Translate and it’s totally saved my butt when I needed to ask donde está el baño on a trip or two, but the translations it spits out can sometimes be questionable. That’s why I like to use DeepL Translator for all of my professional needs.
From what I understand, DeepL uses a more complex machine learning process than Google Translate. You can also translate entire documents and add your own customizations if there’s a specific word you need to use.
The reason I think this tool is good for designers is that sometimes you have to test what your poster, logo, etc. would look like if the text is in a different language before getting the final copy. In Canada, many of our advertisements and such are in both English and French. I find that French text tends to be longer and there have been times where I’d make a design, only for the French version to not fit or look wonky.
Note: I still wouldn’t rely on this tool alone for creating material that people will see before getting it proofread by someone fluent in the language, but it’s a great start.
So you have your colours and text all mapped out, now where do you get your images?
Number four is a two-for-one, since they pretty much do the same thing. Canva recently acquired both of them. Pexel and Pixabay are two image stock sites that let you use any of their images for free commercially. This means you won’t have to stress over copyright issues (a fear that genuinely keeps me up at night).
The main differences are:
- Higher quality images
- Larger bank of images
- Offers media in the form of videos, vector graphics, and illustrations in addition to just photos
These are a favourite of mine when building a website for a new business that doesn’t have any content yet, or if you need pictures for social media. You’ll be amazed at the quality of the images you can find on these websites and how they don’t look like the cringe-worthy images you’d think of when you hear the words “stock image”.
With all your content ready to go, get ready to throw it all together in my last recommendation.
5. Adobe Spark
I wanted to include Adobe Spark as an alternative to Canva since many people have already heard of or are using the latter (which is soaring in popularity, by the way).
Adobe Spark is a nice tool to create professional-looking posts, and it’s extremely intuitive. While there are paid versions, the free version is typically enough for most needs (with a nice line up of formats and templates). Not to mention, it’s created by the same great brains that made Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
For my more complex design projects, I still like to use Adobe Creative Suite products, but Spark is excellent for throwing together a quick social media post or if you just want an overall easier experience.