Tools and resources to design and prototype without being a designer

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On many occasions both freelancers and small businesses do not have money to hire a designer, that’s why you’ll love this article.

I design for about 11 years, and although I do not dedicate myself to design I can say that I have learned a lot over time. I have never been very creative for the theme of graphic design, to create out of nowhere, if not rather I am given to creating things from others. In other words, improve or adapt what is already done. Similarly, I master several design tools and now that I’m working the world mobile apps in all its aspects (design, prototype, development, launch, positioning, etc.) it comes to me to know how to use them.

With this article, I hope that my dear design colleagues do not feel bad, because even if I share resources and techniques, experience and creativity cannot be replaced. 😉

Recommendations before designing

If you don’t know the design I invite you to read my recommendations so you can try to get the most out of what you have

  • Forget about doing complex things at the beginning
  • Try using the default templates or controls to learn
  • Always customize everything with the brand’s colors to give it a corporate touch
  • Don’t abuse putting the brand logo everywhere
  • Consider the centralized theme for both images and texts
  • Beware of small texts
  • Trying to maintain the same graphic line
  • Avoid the colors that hurt your eyes
  • Avoid capitalization throughout the text
  • Use the brand’s own typography or a very related typography
  • Avoid heavily loaded designs
  • Sometimes, less is more
  • Make designs tailored to the target platform

Do you want to learn how to design?

  • HackDesign – Do you have a lot of time and want to learn how to design? Then HackDesign is for you.
  • Checklist Design – If you are designing or building a website, these checklists can be a lifeline.

Good overall resources to design

Before using any design tool you will need resources to create your arts, then I share them, which for me are my best resources (and most of them are free 😉).

Free image banks and vectors

  • Freepik – the best image bank where you can get vectors, images, icons, and PSD
  • Unsplash – The internet source of free images.
  • Freeimages – a bank of free images (was previously sxc.hu).
  • MotionArray – Download thousands of templates and more.
  • Vecteezy – a bank with free vectors.
  • Vector3free – another bank with free vectors.
  • Piktab – Image bank image bank.

Icon bank

  • Flaticon – a bank of icons that you can download in png, SVG, PSD, or icofont.
  • FontAwesome – one of the most popular icon kits.
  • IconMoon – Icon solution with perfect pixels.
  • TheNounProject – a vector icon finder, some are paid and others paid 

Illustration bank

  • Error 404 – Awesome to find illustrations that you can use for page 404 of your website or show bugs in mobile apps.
  • Smash Illustrations – fashionable characters and simple illustrations.
  • Control – high-quality illustrations in solid and linear style.
  • DrawKit – more than 220 free illustrations to use and offer animated illustrations using Lottie.
  • Free Illustrations – many illustration backgrounds.
  • Mixkit – the Unsplash of the illustrations.
  • Delesign – many clean illustrations for free. Its main strength is its diversity.

Free typography banks

  • Dafont – a free font finder.
  • 1001FreeFont – more free baby fonts.
  • Pallet Converter – Choose your beautiful, rare, italic letters and fonts…
  • Google Fonts – free fonts that work perfectly in browsers.
  • FontSpark – allows you to discover your next favorite font generating different ones until you like it.

Colors

  • Coolors – create the perfect palette or get inspired by thousands of beautiful color schemes.
  • Paletton – creates color combinations that work well together.
  • ColorBox – creates a color palette.
  • colors.lol – the right place to go looking for very descriptive palettes.
  • ColorMind – generates color schemes using Depp Learning.

Resources for inspiration

  • Dribbble – is a portal where good designers gather to illustrators to share their works that can serve as an inspiration and sometimes even find free resources.
  • DevianARt – is another community of designers where you can find inspiration.
  • Behance – One of the most well-known Social Networks for Graphic Designers.
  • Meetinarts – Social Network for Graphic Designers with artistic profiles.
  • Threadless – Original Social Network for Graphic Designers and Illustrators.

Graphic design tools

1. Design at Power Point

I’m going to start for the basics, don’t imagine the easy thing it is to create parts in PowerPoint, especially when you don’t know the design or when in your office they don’t want to pay you the Photoshop license

2. Use Canva

Without a doubt, Canva is the coolest and easiest to use tool to create social media posts, banners, RRSS headers, posters, and a little bit of everything. Among its features you can find the following:

  • All drag and drop (dragging things)
  • It allows you to import your own images
  • It comes with pre-default templates for most things you need
  • Includes beautiful designs that will serve you
  • You can customize everything that already comes predetermined with your colors and fonts

3. Other graphic design tools

  • PhotoShop – one of the tools that are everywhere.
  • Illustrator – the most pointer in illustration.
  • Affinity Designer – a professional workhorse designed for the end-user.
  • PicMonkey to create graphic parts with templates.
  • PiktoChart to create infographics.
  • Ucraft – if you need a quick logo for a side project you loved it.
  • RemoveBG – makes it very easy to remove the background from your images.

Prototyping tools

UI Inspiration

It is no secret that almost 90% of them will go to Behance & Dribbble. I’ll list just a few of the best examples you can find online today.

Graphic editor

  •  Sketch – Design Toolkit for MacOS.
  • Adobe XD – Creates and shares designs for multiple platforms.
  • Figma – collaborative design tool that you loved.
  • Invision – allows you to test your prototypes before they launch.
  • Proto io –powerful web to create impressive prototypes.
  • Fluid – a free and very simple way to create mockups and prototypes.
  • Marvel App – upload your PSDs and link your screens and animate transitions.

Other Tools

  • AppMockUp – lets you generate mockups for Android and iPhones without much work

I hope that with this list of resources you can create designs and prototypes easily if you know any other tools that may recommend you can leave it in comments.😉

For more up-to-date content, follow me on Instagram and LinkedIn! Thank you for reading!🚀

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Luis Matos

Luis Matos

I help professionals and companies to create value solutions. I am a Systems Engineer, blockchain executive, and international mobile application speaker. Founder of the Malla Consulting Agency and several international technology communities.
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