The tools you use can make or break your design process.
Every designer (web designer, graphic designer, or otherwise), tries out several tools before they find the combination that really works for them. The dream is to find tools that are easy to use and handle as many tasks as possible. I’ve alreay done the legwork, so now you can reap the benefits. I’m going to tell you about my 6 favorite tools for web and logo design and why I rely on them.
1. Managed WordPress
Not a design tool? I beg to differ. The reason I use Managed WordPress hosing is because it makes automatic daily backups and keeps them for a rolling 30 days, it automatically updates WordPress when new versions come out, and it has a useful dashboard for monitoring. Not to mention, it’s one of the lowest-cost WordPress-specific hosting platforms on the market. I’ve looked at a few others with the same resources, and most of them are more expensive.
How does that make it a design tool? Automatically taking care of all those techy details for me saves me time, allowing me to focus on the design.
2. Adobe Creative Cloud
This one is a bit of an investment. Don’t let that scare you! It’s well worth the money. A bargain, actually. First of all, it’s an industry standard tool that you’re expected to be able to use when you do any kind of web or graphic design work. More than that, the fact that it’s so widely used means you can find a multitude of tutorials from Adobe and on Youtube as well. There are so many tools and features in each App that it can be a bit intimidating, but once you find your way around it’s super user-friendly.
Adobe offers a few different packages so that if you want to use Photoshop only, or any single app, you can pay less to get access to just that. Personally, I prefer to have access to the whole suite.
The two main Apps I use in the Creative Cloud are Photoshop and Illustrator.
3. Divi WordPress Theme
My secret weapon. And honestly, the secret weapon of almost every modern WordPress designer out there. This is one of a few, extremely versatile, standard themes for web designers to use. The beauty of it is that it has a visual builder that’s so incredibly easy to use and saves so much valuable time. You don’t have to know any code to use this, but you’re going to miss out on some of the best features if you don’t, and your sites can come out looking a little flat and generic. A basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help you take advantage of all the benefits.
Best practice tip: Use a child theme. That way you can edit files directly without your edits being overwritten by Divi theme updates. To make it even easier, you can use the Divi Marketplace Child Theme Creator. You can also get a Divi Builder Plugin if you want to use your own theme & use Divi’s visual builder to build in the content areas.
My best friend actually found this one for me. I was frustrated that a client had nixed a second round of image choices because I’d paid money to download good quality royalty-free stock images, and now they would be useless. Being the helpful person that she is, she immediately started searching for cost-free solutions. I told her not to bother, that I’d already searched all possibilities and had chosen the best option. Yeah, I was wrong. My pride tells me it must have been a recent addition. I’ve been using it almost exclusively ever since.
Real, unique photos are always best, but most people aren’t equipped to provide you with those and often don’t have the budget for a photographer. In those cases, Pexels is a life saver.
I know, if I already use the ever-powerful Photoshop, what do I need Canva for? The answer is simplicity and speed. It’s specifically social-focused, so it already has all the sizes I need and templates laid out for creation. So, when I’m trying to get something done quickly and don’t need to do anything super sophisticated, Canva is an excellent resource. It’s a great alternative if you read #2 and said, “Yeah right!” Whether because you don’t have the budget or can’t face the learning curve.
Even if you have a graphic design degree and are trained in all the top tools, I encourage you to take Canva seriously.
6. Fontjoy & Colormind
I grouped these two together because they were made by the same creator. They’re really simple to use, you just hit the Generate button. You can “lock” a color or font that you like, hit Generate again to get new results for the others.
End a Creative Block
It’s nice to have these when I’m out of inspiration for new font and color combinations. Fontjoy has a lot of fonts that I wouldn’t normally use, but I can get a general idea of what style I want by the options it offers. It’s just nice to see the fonts together in different combinations to get ideas for what I might like to try on my design.
Good for Brainstorming
These tools are good for both websites and logos. There are plenty of free online tools that will help you make font or color choices, but these are my favorites for brainstorming. I don’t want something to do the actual designing for me (that’s my job! …and I like my job), but I do need something to get the creative juices flowing from time to time.
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