Free Tools to Aid Your Web Design
Good web design is so much more than simply making a website look good. You have to ensure it conforms to the standards put in place by Google.
For example, of the 10 billion page views in April 2013, according to Kiss Metrics, the average loading time was two seconds. Your website has to be coded so it can remain at this competitive level.
There are so many things you have to take into account with web design. Here are some free web design tools recommended by web design experts like WSI.
You need photographs for your website and custom themes to build it with. This is all well and good, but you need to make sure you're getting the best deal. Licenses are expensive, and anything you can save will help.
Lootback is a free online tool you can use to compare the prices of themes in different marketplaces. There are, sometimes, some quite marked differences between prices, depending on where you shop.
Although this is a free service, they don't do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an agreement with major sites, such as Themeforest, where they'll gain a commission from every sale.
As a web designer, you need to be able to send invoices to all the right people. If you're making your own invoices, this is time-consuming. The obvious option is to pay a monthly subscription and get someone else to do it for you.
Nutcache allows you to get the most value from your accounting practices. It's a free service which lets you send professional invoices to all the right people. Now payments don't have to be a frustrating part of the design process.
If you need to buy and sell witty domain names quickly, it would be handy to have them all in one place. Namebox is an online auction website. The makers saw the problems associated with relying on your web hosting service for domains.
Nameboxdoesn't differentiate between the various sites. They simply supply a list of domains up for sale with their prices. If you have any spare domains lying around, you can also set them up for sale with a price. Let the buyers come for you and make some money over time.
- Google Web Designer
HTML5 is the language of the future. It's quickly replacing Flash for a lot of web applications. If you want to get ahead on your education, and build some easy applications for your website at the same time, use Google Web Designer.
It's a fairly recent addition and has received a massive uptake. Consider this an easy way to impress your client by adding new and innovative applications to their website. It also saves on work in the future.
When Flash eventually does disappear into the history books, you won't have to upgrade their existing Flash applications to HTML5.
Fonts are an important part of the effect you get from a website. It's also surprisingly time-consuming. You have to spend lots of time typing the code in and previewing the website. All you want to do is find out what it would look like.
TypeWonder is a free tool designers can use to preview a font without typing code in and deleting it again. Itwon't change the way you design websites, but it will make the process a whole lot faster.
AnimateScroll is a jQuery plugin available for designers who want to do amazing things with menu bars in a short space of time. This is something, which might go out of fashion over time, but for now animated menu bars are hot. For a free tool, this provides unbelievable value for money.
All you have to do is enable this plugin and you can interact with a menu bar with over 30 unique effects, allowing customisation of your website.
- CSS Deck: Forms
During your training, you would have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out how forms work in the grand scheme of things. They're amongst the most important tools to a web designer.
Forms are used for everything. Use CSS Deck: Forms and you can generate them quickly and simply without spending hours agonising over coding. Feel free to make them as complicated as you like. You can see how the form would look in a preview window without typing in all the code.
Beginners will also benefit from this free web design tool. Whilst we would never suggest skipping out on your education on forms, it's a way to get started designing without months of trying to remember what line of code goes where.
If you're building a complicated website, the apps will take up a considerable part of your time. Make the job easier with Topcoat. This is an open source CSS library which helps developers build apps quickly according to their specifications.
You can take Topcoat and manipulate it to suit your work habits. The fact its open source means you can adjust the code and change everything about it. If you have some spare time, you could change in such a way so it drastically increases your productivity.
Originally, Topcoat came from Adobe. This Adobe-like language evolved through the community, which changes and supports it today. It's truly an app designed by web designers for web designers.
Web designers know how important it is to have some advanced graphics on their website. Its how it's going to stand out from others and impress their clients. Most designers tend to subcontract this work to someone else, because they don't have the artistic ability to do it themselves.
If you want to save money, you could try drawing something yourself. Two.js is a free drawing library, which allows you to experiment and create things.
You might still struggle with the more complex areas of illustration, but it's a good start and it can save you a lot of money.
Overall, these nine tools just scratch the surface of web design. They focus mainly on saving you time and effort. This is the key to staying ahead of your competitors. If you can deliver a high-quality website in a faster time than anyone else, this is an awesome marketing point you have.
Many web designers have found reducing the time they spend on menial tasks produces better results. They have more time to focus on the things, which really matter. Try out some of these tools and you won't be disappointed with the results you see in your business.
(web design tools / shutterstock)
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