digital design resources

45 Digital Design Resources

Tim Hopma 6 years ago

2014 was an exciting year for the design community. With the continued growth of responsive design and widespread acceptance of flat design, the web is changing and this time - we can actually see it.

As designers, we should never be happy with where we are. Without progression, there is no challenge. We should always be striving to improve our skills and our knowledge of the design process as a whole. With so many tools and resources available on the Internet, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start.

Here at Zazzle Media, we take pride in our design services, sharing great content and helping others in the online industry.

Check out this list of useful digital design resources, tips, and tools for designers of all skill levels. If you would like to access our 2017 guide to web design trends please click here.

Online Communities

Designers can be found all over the Internet. Here are some of the best places to monitor the latest work within the creative community.

    1. Dribbble - Self-styled as a ‘show and tell for designers’ and one of the greatest places to share and comment on the latest creative from designers within the community. Top tip: Spend a few minutes every morning to check out the featured work and monitor the latest design trends.
    2. Behance - An awesome and professional community that allows members to share entire portfolios, comment on creative projects and follow other artists. Behance also offers ProSite that allows designers to create their own personal and branded gallery.
    3. Twitter - Twitter is a great place to follow leading artists or agencies within the industry but it is also an amazing tool to share interesting articles and engage other creatives in conversation. See yourself as a thought leader and you can soon become an influence.
    4. Pinterest - This is a great tool to quickly organise and group a design that might inspire or influence you. Top tip: use categories such as ‘flat design’ or ‘typography’ to organise your collection.
    5. Awwwards - Another great resource that showcases some of the most stunning websites on the web. A great resource to find some inspiration and to monitor the latest in interactive development.

 

Blogs

The internet is full of blogs. Here are some of the best blogs to help push your skills and help you create working prototypes of your designs. A must-have skill for the modern designer.

    1. The Great Discontent - One of the most personal design blogs on the web featuring interviews with creative individuals around the world. Giving you an insight into the everyday lives of professional creatives and their sources of inspiration.
    2. Medium - A beautiful and well-designed platform that allows readers to create and collect ideas and ‘stories’ written by other contributors. Although topics are varied, there are some very well written articles about design philosophies ranging from Colour theory to UX.
    3. CreativeBloq - A design-focused blog sharing a wide range of materials including tutorials, font collections, amazing illustrations, free resources, and plenty of useful content.
    4. Codrops - Looking to improve your development and prototyping skills? Codrops is a brilliant place featuring a massive amount of code for you to download. The best part: it’s free.
    5. Smashing Magazine - Styled as an online magazine, Smashing is an incredibly useful place to learn more about design and development. You can find well-written articles, case studies, eBooks, code snippets, and plenty of other useful items on this site.

 

Downloadable Resources (Free & Paid)

There some great sites that provide some top quality resources - free and paid. These resources typically include PSD’s, Vectors, Patterns, and Product Mockups alongside plenty of other useful downloads. Here are some of the most popular sites.

    1. Envato Market (Paid) - This is a payment-based collection of sites that offers almost everything a budding creative could need - eight different markets offer something for everyone. With a vibrant ecosystem and professional network - it’s one of the most established.
    2. Creative Market (Free & Paid) - If you’re a web designer or web developer, this is another fantastic payment-based site that should be on your bookmark list.
    3. Pixeden (Free & Paid) - A great tool for digital designers offering a subscription of paid and free downloads. A surprising low-cost monthly cost of $6 will grant you Premium access to some pix-perfect resources.
    4. Designmodo (Free & Paid) - This site offers some well-written and thought invoking articles with a focus on digital design. However, the site also offers free and paid downloads designed to a high standard.
    5. GraphicBurger (Free & Paid) - A site with a collection of ‘tasty design resources made with care for each pixel’. Digital designers should be able to find a variety of useful downloads - definitely worth checking out.
    6. Behance/Dribbble (Free) - Both of these communities have a large number of artists that share their work for free. Some of the most recognisable digital designers in the world can be found on these sites.
    7. Subtle Patterns (Free) - Whenever you need a pattern or texture to a surface or layer, this is the first site you think of. Top tip: Download the paid Photoshop plug - it’s worth it.

 

UI Kits

These kits can be a real time-saver for those looking to design a web or mobile user interface. These packs feature some pixel-perfect elements.

    1. Flat UI Pro (Paid) - This popular design framework is ready for use with the Twitter Bootstrap and also includes the PSD elements as an extra bonus. Perfect for prototyping, personal, and commercial projects. A great investment with a free version available for download.
    2. Morph UI (Free) - A clean and flat PSD kit with sharp colour options and a grid-based design. An Adobe Fireworks version is also included in the download.
    3. Bootflat (Free) - An amazing open-source Bootstrap framework that has some clean and tidy designs with an available PSD to download.
    4. FlatIcon (Free) - Styled as the largest database of free vector icons, you should be able to find just what you're looking for. Top tip: A plugin is available for Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects if you want to add icons directly into your design.

 

Fonts & Typography

Arguably the most important piece of any creative is the font. Although some incredible fonts have to be purchased, there is a massive selection of free fonts available within the design community.

    1. FontAwesome (Free) - A massive collection of scalable vector icons wrapped up in a tidy package including desktop fonts and CSS files to integrate into any site or prototype.
    2. Fonts In Use (Free) - A great gallery featuring plenty of different font uses in a range of media formats. This is definitely the place to look if you’re trying to identify the font used in a specific newspaper or book cover for example.
    3. Type Connection (Free) - Need to find a complimentary font? Look no further than Type Connection styled as a dating game for typography.
    4. WhatFont (Free) - Possibly one of the most useful Chrome extension available to designers and developers. This free add-on allows you to quickly check which specific font is being used on a site page or heading.
    5. WhatTheFont (Free) - If you’re struggling to identify a specific font in an image then this tool from MyFonts could be a huge lifesaver.
    6. FontShop (Free & Paid) - While this site mainly offers some incredible paid fonts, there’s a healthy choice of free and well-designed OpenType fonts to help you out.
    7. Font Squirrel (Free) - This site has a great select of fonts in all styles. The best bit? All of these fonts are 100% commercial free.

 

Online Tools

There are whole host of online tools available at our fingertips nowadays. Here are some of the best resources to help bolster your design toolbox.

    1. uiGradients (Free) - Possibly the quickest way to find a silky smooth gradient to add a splash of colour to any design. Top tip: Add a gradient layer above an image and set the blend mode to overlay for a nice effect.
    2. Adobe Kuler (Free) - A great online option that offers a simple and easy to use tool to create your own colour palettes. The clean interface helps you find just the palette you need for your latest project. There’s also a huge choice of existing palettes made by other artists.
    3. COLOURlovers (Free) - Another great option and another useful site to remember. Features a great community of artists and plenty of colour palettes for you to sink your teeth into.
    4. Webflow (Free & Paid) - A monthly subscription service with an outstanding UI and an impressive amount of features, this tool can help you build a responsive site or prototype without writing a single line code. There’s also a free version available that’s perfect for landing pages or single page pitch concepts.
    5. Balsamiq (Paid) - This excellent tool is perfect for creating wireframes in a flash. Whether you’re designing a new app or website, it's a fantastic resource to have at hand. You can either purchase a licence for a desktop app or subscribe to a monthly payment model depending on your needs.
    6. Moqups (Free & Paid) - With pixel-perfect vectors, this is an excellent resource to design a mockup or wireframe. Although it is a subscription-based service, there is a free version available for small projects.
    7. Breezi (Free) - This intuitive browser-based tool that gives you the ability to quickly create working grid-based prototypes with everything you’d need and want with some impressive features.

 

Coffee Table Books

With the Internet offering almost everything we could need to help us learn, nothing beats a good book. Here’s a few awesome reads to get stuck into on your next beach holiday or rainy afternoon.

    1. 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design - This light read will cover most of the influential changes in the design world - many of which we may not have given proper thought to.
    2. The Great Discontent, Issue One - A beautifully designed 272-page magazine featuring great interviews, stunning typography, and crisp photography. Full of inspiration.
    3. Pantone - The 20th Century in Color - Colours are important in every design. Learn about the vibrant history of colour and the progression of different colour palettes through the 20th century.
    4. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide - If you’re looking to learn more about typography and learn the basics, then this is a great resource to start with. Featuring plenty of what-not-to-do’s, this book should help you communicate your designs more effectively.

 

Product Mockups

Product Mockups are a great way to demonstrate a new design and can help you showcase how your creative looks in the real world. Here are a few product mockups to help get you started.

  1. iPhone 6 Mockup (Free) - Download Here
  2. iPhone 6 Plus Mockup (Free) - Download Here
  3. Macbook Air Mockup (Free) - Download Here
  4. Macbook Pro Mockup (Free) - Download Here
  5. iPad Mockup (Free) - Download Now
  6. Minimal Browser Mockup (Free) - Download Now

If you know any must-have tools or resources that aren’t included in the list above, feel free to comment and add your suggestion! If you're looking for creative support on your next project, take a look at our design services or feel free to get in touch with our awesome team.

If you'd like an update on web design trends we've seen take an impact, check out our 2017 web design trends guide here:

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