21 free design tools

21 Free Design Tools and Resources for Non-Designers

Sometimes, you can just say it better in pictures. And we all know visual content has benefits far beyond just looking pretty. Social metrics tends to improve with visuals and content becomes easier to consume.

That’s great if you’re a cracking designer (or have the resource to hire one) or if you’re one of those people who just instinctively knows what looks great. But if, like me, you have the graphic design capability of a dead goldfish, you might just need a helping hand. Here are 21 free graphic design tools for non-designers.

The quick version… for those of you who just want the tools and don’t give a crap what I have to say about them, they’re listed in the Slideshare presentation here.

Free Social Media Image Creation Tools

Sometimes a post just needs a bit of a visual edge.

1. Canva

Canva free design tool

Canva actually does a whole load more than just social media images. There are dozens of templates from social images, social media cover images, posters, book covers, flyers, ads and a ton more. It’s a very simple free tool that lets you essentially drag and drop elements onto a template to create great looking graphics. There is a huge free offering and there are additional premium elements you can choose to use at $1 each.

 2. Pablo by Buffer

pablo by buffer free tool

Pablo is really simple. It’s text on a background, in essence, but enables you to make great looking social media images in seconds. Just one template, as opposed to Canva’s dozens, this is the ideal free tool for someone who just needs something really simple.

3. Spruce

Spruce twitter images free

Spruce has a remarkably similar interface to Pablo. With the added option to search from a bank of millions of images, you have more background options readily available. But where Pablo enables you to add a logo, Spruce doesn’t. A similar tool nonetheless.

Free Infographic Creation Tools

Ok, let me start by pleading with you not to create infographics for the sake of it! There are enough crappy infographics that should never have been made out there. But if you do have some content or information that is best displayed in this format (and again you don’t have some awesome designer to do it for you) these tools are worth a try.

4. Infogram

infogram free tool

Infogram is a really easy to use free infographic creator. There are paid options that come with additional functionality, but even as a freebie, this is a nice little offering.

5. Venngage

venngage free infographics tool

This is another infographics tool very similar to Infogram in a number of ways. You can create 5 infographics free of charge. A premium account removes these limits and gives you access to additional templates.

6. Zanifesto

zanifesto infographic tool

Zanifesto is another tool with both free and premium options. Unlike Infogram and Venngage, it does have “instructographic,” and other similar templates rather than just data focussed ones. The free version of Zanifesto has branding on the final graphic. Premium accounts have the option to remove branding and offer additional features too.

7. Piktochart

piktochart infographics tool

Another infographic creation tool with free and premium options. Piktochart is really simple and does offer a huge number of different templates even on the free account.

8. Easelly

easelly infographics

Easelly is one of the first tools I ever tried for infographics creation. Its free offering has plenty of different templates and, as the homepage now boasts, over 1 million infographics have been created using it.

9. VisMe

visme infographics tool

Free Logo Design Tools

Reckon businesses get too hung up on logos? Then you might want to come up with your using one of these nifty tools.

10. Hipster Logo Generator

hipster logo generator

A step by step logo building tool that takes you through a process and gives you a simple logo at the end of it. You can download a 600 x 500 pixel PNG for free, or for $5 you can get a much larger file.

11. Square Space

squarespace logo generator

Square Space is another logo generator that lets you download a smaller file of your finished logo for free or a higher res (and non-watermarked) version for just $10. Another simple tool. Put your business name and, optionally, tag line in, find an icon and voila, you’re done. You probably won’t win any prizes for most imaginative logo using one of these, but it does the job free of charge.

12. Design Rails

design rails logos

This is an interesting concept. Design Rails claims to combine “art and science,” in its tool and uses machine learning to come up with a logo for your brand. It’s free – but maybe not for long. The site says “free for a limited time.”

13. Logoshi

logoshi logo generator

This site is a little different. You loosely sketch something out in a box reminiscent of Microsoft Paint, and Logoshi converts it to a selection of different potential logos. You select a combination of a font and one of the logos and then Logoshi shows you what it would look like if said logo was on a business card, the side of a building and a letterhead. Fun! But don’t expect particularly slick looking logos 😉 You can download small logos free and larger files for $5.

Colour Palette Pickers

Half the battle, I am told, is getting a set of colours that work together. There’s help available.

14. Material Palette

material palette

You pick two colours you like, Material Palette then gives you a palette of 8 colours for use on your design project. Simples.

15. Brand Colors

brand colors

Don’t fancy coming up with your own colour palette? Seen a brand whose palette meets your liking? Brand Colors is what you need. It shows you the colour palettes in use by tonnes of the biggest brands out there and gives you the colour codes.

16. Palette for Chrome

palette for chrome

This is very nifty. It’s a Chrome plugin that will allow you to generate a colour palette based on any image on the web. As you are browsing, simply right click on the image that takes you fancy and you can opt to generate a colour palette of 16, 24 or 32 colours (or a custom size).

Free Stock Photos and Icons

If you’re going to use stock photography, do it as well as you can. That means DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use cheesy photos that have been used all over the web. You know the sort… a women in a headset smiling at the camera or two men looking way too smiley for a Monday morning sitting in a boardroom looking at some graph that doesn’t actually mean anything.

There are other options.

17. Freepik

freepik

Countless free resources all in one place and available for download in multiple formats. Nice.

18. Stock Snap

stock snap

Stock photography can be beautiful. Stock Snap offers totally free (no attribution required) photos for use personally and commercially. And they’re great photos too. Even a search for “business,” (which typically throws up cheesy boardroom shots) has some decent results.

19. Pexels

pexels free stock photography

More stunning free photos that should make everyone stop using cheesy, crappy stock photos!

20. SmartIcons

smart icons free icons

Free icons. It’s that simple.

21. Flat Icons

free flat icons

A nifty little resource that offers up a ton of flat icons for download. In addition, you can customise them all as you see fit using the on site customiser and download for whatever use you like.

I Know I’ve Missed Loads of Resources

There are hundreds more great free design resources out there. I know I’ve not included them all. That would be a post that would have taken way more time to write than I have the attention span for. But do feel free to include any particular favourites of your own in the comments!