Business BootStrapping Tips – 06. Design 101

Business BootStrapping Tips – 06. Design 101

Business BootStrapping Tips – 06. Design 101

This article originally appeared in issue 213 of .net magazine – the world’s
best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Bargain-basement tools for design

When you’re working on a site’s visual design, it pays to have handy tools
available to inspire you and to speed up the creative process

Unless your shoestrings are made of platinum and you’re reading this feature ironically,
anything ‘CS’ won’t be on your radar. However, tools exist for anyone who can’t afford
Adobe’s powerhouse, or who wants extras to augment tools they already own.
The most famous is GIMP, a free Photoshop alternative for Windows, Linux and Mac that’s
limited but usable if you can’t afford a commercial equivalent. For vectors, try Inkscape (Mac and Windows).

Inspiration is important in design. For experimenting with color palettes,
try the free Adobe Kuler and COLOURlovers, and the iPhone apps Color Expert (£5.99)
and cliqcliq Colors (£1.79).

If you’re looking for imagery, Flickr and DeviantART are two essential resources
(although thoroughly check image licenses before using anything you find on those sites),
and both Web Snapper for Mac ($15) and SnagIt for Mac and Windows (£38.95)
enable you to save full-window grabs of websites you’re keen on.

Opera software web evangelist Daniel Davis recommends scouring the web for free icons,
clip art, grids and UI: Open Icon Library, iconSweets 2, The Noun Project,
Icons by Dmitry Baranovskiy, Open Clipart, UI elements (365psd.com), 960-pixel grid templates
(960.gs) and iOS UI templates (www.teehanlax.com/blog/2010/06/14/iphone-gui-psd-v4/).

And Joel Morgan recommends staying online when you’ve a design fragment you don’t want
to waste time and money sourcing: TinEye is an increasingly competent reverse image search,
and What The Font does much the same with typography. And on typography, web fonts cost money,
but if you’re strapped for cash, Typekit gives you a single freebie
(one site, two fonts from the trial library), and Google Font Directory has a growing selection.