When you're getting into the web and digital design field, it's important to have a grasp of the best tools out in the market. And that world is evolving constantly, giving designers the chance to work with a huge array of tools that allow them to deliver fantastic work. Even better, many of these tools are now free, which means that designers can build their skills and portfolios without needing to invest large sums in software licenses.
So if you're new to the digital design world and growing your skills, these are some of the best free tools to know and experiment with:
As a website designer, your job is to start with the end in mind. Prototyping tools make it easier for you to visualize how the webpage will actually display after development and design are both applied. There are several great tools to try:
Mockplus is quick, easy and very simple to use out of the box. The basic edition is decent - and free - and there is a pro edition too that you can pay for. Mockplus can be used for mobile and web designs alike.
Wireframe.cc isn't just free, it's super fast and you can access it immediately. Again, it's easy to use, has a great recall option if you leave the site, and it has an excellent simplistic style.
Vectr.com - ideal for creating UI prototypes and vector graphics. The offline version is good and it's suitable for mobile and web pages. There are also some decent tutorials available that run you through the basics in rapid time - not bad for a free product!
Design and editing tools
Also called 'core' tools, these are the basic design packages that do everything in one - and every web designer needs one or two to flow through the process.
Canva is perhaps the best all-in-one and completely free editor that any designer will need. It can be used for creating templates, infographics, eBooks, logos, cards, signatures and more. It has a mobile version that is also ideal if you're designing on the go and it's often recommended by designers and clients alike.
Every designer needs to work with a wide array of fonts. There is basically one to recommend in this category as it's so good - Google fonts! It's free, open-source and packed with every font for every purpose. Link fonts to your webpage online or download your choices for future designs.
Every client loves a beautiful, detailed and intuitive infographic. And with infogram.com it's easy to make these look great. Create highly interactive, stunning and data-rich infographics that fit the bill in no time at all with this fast and intuitive package.
When you're working with design you're always considering the visual feel which comprises a blend of pictures, graphics, colors, fonts and video. Sometimes an entire brand story can be told with a hero image, or presented against a backdrop image. The right visuals can make or break a website, so a good image website is absolutely essential.
Pixabay is renowned in the industry for its completely free and extreme;y high quality graphics, illustrations and videos, with vector versions for editing.
Pexels is also well worth a look, and again it's completely free.
Even new designers can build a website and develop its basic functionality with ease if they use a website builder. If you know what you're doing you could create a website in under a day with the associated domain name. hosting, maintenance and SEO optimization in place! Even better, from a designer's perspective, these tools are packed with beautiful templates, app compatibility and other useful design features. There are two main sites that designers tend to recommend most:
Wix is the best website builder by far and it has a completely free version. Even the paid-for basic plans are very affordable though. With a drag and drop editor, this flexible interface makes it easy for beginners to pros to build and design a great looking, highly functional website.
Squarespace - alternatively try this site which has flexible designs, top-quality features and attractive pricing models.
Finding the right free web design software
These are some of the best free tools in the business and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve without even paying for a service. And if and when you want to use more powerful features, or customize beyond the parameters of the free version, you can pay surprisingly affordable subscription fees to unlock premium features.
It's well worth keeping an eye on the design landscape to see which tools are being developed and released, as many new website design tools are created all of the time, often via apps and usually with open-source coding. It just shows how much the industry has changed in just a few years, and how motivated, talented and hardw-w0rking designers with even a little experience can rapidly learn how to create beautiful and functional websites that their clients will love.
Grow your digital skills
Keen to grow your digital skills and forge an exciting and rewarding career in this fast-paced industry? Ironhacks is a global tech school with a wealth of high-value courses on offer for coders, designers, developers and more. Whether you are completely new to tech and digital or a more seasoned professional, we have remote and in-person courses that can propel your career forwards! Find out more.