Guide

100+ web design software tools 

20 August, 2020

One would think those who want to become a designer have no problems with finding the theme-specific information. However, the popularity of the design subject has caused turning the abundance of information into its excess: so that to find something in the information field that would meet your expectations and requests, you need to spend time comparable to studying at the Faculty of Design at university. This results in demotivation to development and trying to gain experience and proficiency in such a popular profession.

We’ve carried out an analysis of the following frequently asked questions from novice web designers:

  • Where can I find free web design software?
  • What design software could be recognized as a professional one?
  • How could I use Open Source web design software?
  • What is the Adobe web design software?
  • What is the Adobe software used for in web design?
  • What is Microsoft’s web design software? When do we use it?
  • What is the difference between Web design software for Mac and Windows?
  • What software is best recommended for beginners in web design?
  • What is the best software for web design?
  • Which of the following web design software would a web designer choose to create videos?

Some resources have realized the existence of such a pain of the creative field “recruits”, and have started their own blogs to share their experience. Amongst the texts dedicated to trends and working cases, they provide a selection of software tools useful while working on a new project. The disadvantage of such selections is that they are prepared by copywriters, and given in a list, without a description of why a particular tool deserves to be paid attention to. These selections can be fully understood by a skilled designer who has already experienced the whole underwater roughness of the workflow. But to a beginner with minimal experience, such lists of tools are all Greek.

Today, we present a short, but complete and accessible to the utmost, guide with the description of software tools which are useful for web designers bent on starting their career in the modern Internet market. This article will also work for experienced professionals wondering about what is happening in the world of web design now.

We will go from the general to the specific. First, we’ll consider the main trends in web design and discuss which way to move so that to gain experience and be a highly-demanded specialist both in a year or even in five years. Next, there will be a selection of useful resources:

  • where to seek inspiration for your projects;
  • the services, automating routine moments of the workflow;
  • websites and galleries where you can derive inspiration and ideas from the examples of the best web designers in their field;
  • libraries, drains, and banks, where you can get the necessary materials for projects.

In the article, each service will be supplemented with a description of what differentiates it from similar tools so that the readers immediately understand whether the offered solution will come in handy to them in their work, or whether they should search for some other software resources.

Part 1. The market of web design: the history, realities, and trends

Trends in website design change from year to year, likewise Haute Couture. When website design began to exist as a branch in the 2000s, designers aimed to maximize the artistic design, worthy of exposure in the Louvre.

In the early 2010s, there were enough websites that such a thing as page load optimization appeared. Internet connection dictated the trend: the faster the page loads, the less likelihood of its failure is. In addition, minimalism, coming into fashion, began to gain momentum (Hello, Steve Jobs, and the iPhone fashion). Users required pages to be “more informative, and have less design rush”.

In the new reality, the technical team of web development agencies became elated, but the web designers clutched their heads. On the Web and the sidelines of specialized design forums and conferences, they took to worrying about how to defend the design, not sacrificing resource usability.

This dilemma became the arena for the appearance of design solutions, which began to change every season, dictating the trends for development. First, there was a flat design, implying the emphasis was transferred from the use of textures to special types of natural, “dirty” shades. The design itself tended to be primitive, up to the usage of only basic shapes, such as a circle, square, and triangle.

Further, Google, with its algorithms and an army of analysts working in tandem with full-time designers, began to interfere in web trends. Their work resulted in material-design, which appeared in the second half of the 2010s. It featured unusual double shadows, a specific style of icons, and a color palette, which was a slightly expanded version of the flat-design palette.

Сurrent trends in web design

Nowadays, the main focus is still on minimalism. Minimalism reaches extreme values — so extreme that the customer, not in the know of the trend, asks a reasonable question: “There is just white space, and where is the design?”. And the specialist has nothing to do but to explain the concept of “emptiness” in the design of web pages.

Both flat and material design are still in trend, only the details change:

  • the corner radius of buttons, forms, and icons;
  • the feathering of shadows and volume – from sharp borders to an almost imperceptible gradient;
  • the quantity and depth of colors in gradients – from multi-color rainbow schemes to peremptory monochrome;
  • block structure on the website;
  • the length of pages and their orientation – from multi-screen longreads to a new trend, that us flipping the page like an album or catalog using scroll (more on this below);
  • interactivity and animation of functional elements.

From words to facts: what is popular in web design at the junction of new decades.

Storytelling

Now we observe an individual approach, the brands, losing the trust of the audience, but at the same time, everyone undoubtedly believes the word of the new caste of bloggers and thought leaders. These conditions dictate manufacturers to forget past formality in communication with potential and existing customers, inherited from the mass marketing of the 20th century.

Now brands tend to be on the same page with their customers, trying to speak with them in the same language, not with all at once, but individually with each customer. What seemed to be undue familiarity yesterday is now a friendly manner of communication, at least as with an occasional traveling companion. And this is the manner, in which brands reveal their stories: briefly, vividly, but simply and clearly. This is aimed at grabbing the audience’s attention and letting them understand that this is exactly what they need.

The trend has been called “storytelling”. The web interface is also directly involved in narrating the story, but not just as a background for text. Web design is the structure of a story. It consists of the following semantic blocks: the beginning, culmination, denouement, and moral. A web designer becomes a writer and director, dividing the page into these logical blocks, and designing each one so that the block has its own idea. Then all the ideas are put together into a general narration, based on which the user could draw a conclusion.

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Each business has its own way of storytelling:

  • e-commerce uses 3D images of the product, which can be viewed from all sides using the cursor or scrolling — just as if the customer turned the product in their hands when buying in a regular store;
  • sale of services uses spectacular video presentations — not just an interview with the director, but a whole film, demonstrating the situation in which the company’s services are used;
  • already well-known brands apply no less spectacular video back drops with the company’s presentation, placed on the initial screen of the site.

Emotional contact

If you fail at storytelling quickly and in common terms, the same opinion-shapers are involved in the case as the ambassadors. Provided that the blogger is known for his competence of narrating a beautiful, interesting and useful story, they are listened to, paid attention to, and are ready to be devoted not the standard 4 seconds, but the whole 5 minutes to.

Without an ambassador, emotional contact between the business and the audience is established by other, non-verbal, methods, such as the usage of recognizable design elements and bright colors, if the business area allows.

Animation and interactivity

When designing websites, the web designer tends to place emphasis on targeted actions. Previously, they were highlighted in color, but this manner became cloying. In addition, if the business area excludes the use of bright and loud design, the animation of key actions and conversational interaction is used in web design to attract the user’s attention. An inconspicuous, but interesting animation is observed when performing some simple actions on the website, such as hovering the mouse cursor over a functional element, block, button, or even just changing images when scrolling. All this is laid down by the web designer at the design development stage, thinking through the animation of each interactive element.

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The animated illustrations, inherent to the design of even the most serious companies’ websites, are especially effective and beautiful. Such an element brings the playing effect in the interaction with the resource and makes the user pay attention to it at least for a while. Sometimes, this may be enough for the user so that to do what the call-to-action suggests.

Motion Design tools

Once, the underestimated GIF image format gained a new interpretation. It was used for animated emoticons since the format could not satisfy requests for realistic textures and color depth, which existed in the early noughties.

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A new era with flat monochrome design elements and saving traffic on loading media content has given GIF a new chance. If a business offers a product or service which can be described with a bright animated GIF illustration, then adding such an element to the initial screen ensures attracting attention and being remembered by the user. Using GIF animations in web design allows one to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds: the web designer gets the opportunity to make great play with usability, and technical specialists – to implement a light resource that does not require anticipation of loading. It’s not worse, but even better than the usual video presentation, which significantly slows down the page processing.

Сonciseness, accessibility, speed

With all the will in the world to speak of your offer as much as possible, and to provide the website with as many bright accents as possible, the business has to bear with the realities of the modern Internet user’s attitude to everything seen on the web. They can be described with the fabled phrase “You have 15 seconds to get me interested”. This is indeed the same argument with developers about the page load performance. Modern web designers walk on the razor’s edge, trying to find a balance between future technical optimization of a web resource and bright usability with the most effective storytelling. All other things being equal, the closer they are to the “balance” mark, the higher the website performance indicators are.

Mobile-first web design

Search engines, specifically Google, add more fuel to the fire. In January 2018, the number of users accessing the network via a smartphone exceeded 50%, and their number is constantly growing — at the average, by 4% per year. Soon afterwards, a new rule was announced on Google’s official website. It regulated how the search results index would be generated: one of the key ranking factors will be optimizing sites for viewing on mobile devices.

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Developers were strongly recommended to optimize, first of all, the websites’ mobile versions. No matter how well the resource was optimized for viewing on the PC screen, the site would fall under the filter if it had no mobile version.

For web designers, this meant that the framework for implementing ideas in terms of design and usability was getting stiffened. Now you primarily need to think about the convenience of web design for viewing on a smartphone, and start with sketching on a mockup for a smartphone (and not on a landscape sheet, simulating the desktop screen, as it used to be previously). Now web designers, proceeding to a new project, do not go to Behance, Dribble, or Pinterest software for inspiration, but refresh their memory of guides for mobile development from Apple and Google. The whole idea is to understand: will the button fit in the designated 48 pixels for a tap? Could the user view all the menu items on the same screen without scrolling down? And further down the list of requirements.

Landing page software

The tendency to develop one-pagers with a minimum of information and text was also based on the principle of conciseness and minimalism that took over the web in the 2010s. Still, the popularity of this solution does not fade. The secret is simple: such a website can be studied within minutes, and then, one makes a decision — to be or not to be?

In the period between 2017 and 2018, when the first landing page boom began to subside, and the first prerequisites for commitment to mobile-first appeared, some experts believed one-pagers to become a thing of the past:

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But there are web designers who put ultimate faith in the power of one-pagers. The universality of such websites’ model, its affordability, and the ability to quickly sell services and products allowed it to gain a foothold in the world of web design and become a classic. And it remains so up to now.

Separate agencies have fully focused their resources on developing such websites, and they don’t hesitate to provide services in this narrow niche. B the way, “narrow” doesn’t mean “unprofitable”. In light of the popularity, efficiency, and versatility of one-pagers for any business. Notwithstanding the forecasts of some experts.

Typography software tools

The fact that the text has gone to the background of the design does not mean that it is of no importance. Peculiar demands are put forward towards it, as well. Cast aside the content — we are interested in the font.

Users have specific preferences for fonts: they should be interesting, readable, and authorial. A group of web designers moved into a narrow niche of the author’s typography development.

From a purely functional element, the font has become a design element. Some designers manage to create a design of a new site just by the successful selecting of fonts, and their sizes, as well as the collating of text blocks, which would let a user’s glance dwell on for a long time.

Everything ready at hand

In its time, iconography became widespread, in particular, as a way to schematically denote the features of individual blocks. As it was with the burger icon concealing the main menu items. Click on it — and a window with the website’s sections will appear.

At the interface of decades, the jig was up of the buttons, simplifying viewing and hiding entire forms. Fed up with all sorts of web design Easter eggs, the recent trends have been rich in, users now want everything to be ready at hand.

This means that if there is a menu bar, let it be in the limelight. Let it be attached to the border of the screen and lose color if it is not used. It may even occupy the lateral side of the website, covering the main content. But no more burgers or hiding buttons!

The new trend has begun to steadily transform websites into instrument consoles. However, web designers got another woe: how to manage not only to place everything necessary on this functional surface but also to convey the business offer.

Outcomes and forecasts

In short, the current conditions for working as a web designer are as follows:

  • stick to minimalism;
  • place all function blocks so that the user has anytime access to the main functions;
  • manage to combine these two mutually exclusive planes, so that the business reaches the website user, and the web resource itself does not look overloaded with information.

So that the picture does not look sad, let us talk about the long-term prospects in web design, which have not gained strength yet, but already demonstrate great potential.

3D design software

The intricacies of 3D design software are so far actively conceived by those who are in a hurry to go to GameDev. For computer game designers, developing a 3D space with head-snapping realism is a daily routine, aimed at making money for games designed for special 3D monitors.

The target audience of both games and monitors are avid gamers who wouldn’t mind paying several thousand dollars for such a version of visual pleasure. An average consumer can’t afford to buy a 3D monitor yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

For web designers, interested in long-term career prospects, we recommend looking at materials on 3D development for game designers from time to time. The day will soon come when one will need to master 3D Max and Maya instead of Photoshop to enter web design. Mozilla, with its MozVR API and A-FRAME framework, offers developers to practice developing 3D spaces. With the help of these software tools, one can develop 3D scenes using simple HTML.

VR/AR development tools

Virtual and augmented realities go hand in hand with 3D technology. The only difference is that in VR/AR, the hat will be hung not on realism, but on the interactivity brought to perfection. Even today, some developers are slowly implementing these technologies in their projects: VR (virtual reality) proves useful in website development, and AR (augmented reality) is applied in some mobile applications, reacting to separate user’s gestures. An example is the use of the palm swipe feature to capture a screenshot on top-of-the-line models of Samsung smartphone: to take a screenshot, just swipe the edge of the hand from left to right, or from right to left on the screen (depending on what the user chooses in the phone settings). Another example is the much-talked-of PokemonGo – a game for mobile devices, working completely on augmented reality technology.

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In the coming years, we are already expecting the mass release of devices that will be on a par in technological effectiveness with their counterparts from science fiction films. Like J.A.R.V.I.S., the assistant system of Tony Stark, the Iron Man. It would turn the entire room space into a computer and distinguish commands given not only with a motion of the hand but even with the blink of the eye.

WebVR was developed with the purpose of speeding up this process. This technology turns the browser into a screen for augmented reality, using the special cardboard for $3-4 from Amazon.

All it takes so that to use the technology is to buy the simplest VR glasses, insert a smartphone into them, connect to the Internet — and the user can get into virtual reality. Web designers and developers have done their best to ensure that the user can hear sounds, swipe through the image gallery without a mouse but with the move of the head, switch between screens with a nod, or control video viewing. More details about the technology can be found on the Telegraph website. This material presents other implementation examples.

And this is what is already there by now. WebVR technology will keep progressing so that to allow the user to use not just the currently available head movements, but as many gestures and commands as possible.

Artificial intelligence software tools

Anyway, attaining the independence of Tony Stark’s AI system will take some time. Nevertheless, even nowadays chatbots, imitating the behavior of the support agent, allow one to execute a list of commands, find information, and make payments automatically without involving the service company employee.

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Artificial intelligence will be implemented in web design. Today, we are talking about the ability of AI to learn by the experience of users and web designers, as well as to create working web pages with a business-specific structure. This phenomenon even triggered the concept of “generative design” or “algorithm-driven design”, implying that a machine analyzes data and produces an ultimate product based on examples of similar implementation. Such technologies are used by Medium, Readymag, and Squarespace to provide the user with a ready-made template, thus allowing them to save on designing a web page by a specialist.

Does this mean that AI will substitute the web designer? No. Technologies, including AI, themselves have a limited ability to self-learn without human participation. After all, machines do not make mistakes, and it is the mistakes that training and development are based on. It is completely impossible to replace a live specialist with a machine in web design. However, machines can make their life easier: just make AI their assistant and delegate the responsibility for analyzing user experience data. The machine is still second to none in its ability to process arrays of information.

Get more information on the possibilities of using artificial intelligence in website development and design by following the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence.

Part 2. Helpful tools for the web designer

Having considered the current conditions for website design, let’s proceed to the practical part. A few blocks of web software resources and services, given below, help a web designer to master the profession, stay up to date with all trends, and maintain the competitiveness of their services.

Inspirational, instructional, and training software

Let’s start with a selection of software resources for inspiration and searching for ideas.

  1. A List Apart is the resource, which used to exist as a mail list for web designers in the late 90s, but has grown to the level of an advanced online magazine, exploring trends in the world of design, website development, and web content in general. Due to more than 20 years of experience, the A List Apart team notices trends and is one of the first to talk about the change of existing and appearance of new trends in the world of web design.
  2. Awwwards is the resource where you can try to identify trends by yourself, getting inspired by and studying the implementation of the best projects in the design, engineering, and creativity categories of the web industry. All studios and developers in the world aspire to get into the list of the best ones according to the Awwwards. Even just making the cut and presenting your project on the website is already prestigious. This will allow you to find new clients, or raise your rating in the eyes of the existing ones.
  3. Behance is the place where one can be inspired by the projects of the best designers in the world. Here you can submit your works to the experts’ approval. Besides, you can find colleagues for collaboration or even new clients. Behance is what all designers start their presentation with. The link to your profile on Behance is the must-have information for your advertising card along with your LinkedIn or Facebook profile.
  4. Dribble is a professional platform for finding inspiration, presenting your works, as well as finding colleagues and customers. If you have become a resident of this resource, then you have opened your way to great design with projects from Apple, Airbnb, Facebook, Dropbox, Slack, Shopify, and other famous customers.
  5. CSS Winner software presents exclusively web design works. The gallery is a respected industry-specific resource. It is no less prestigious to get into the rating of the best developers of the year according to the CSS Winner version, then to the TOP according to the Awwwards version. And this is another way to add pips on your shoulder in the eyes of your colleagues and customers.
  6. Land-book is a gallery of the best single-page websites from all over the Internet, providing the ability to get selected ideas directly to your email.
  7. Moodboard is a tool for creating a moodboard, collecting ideas for the future website. They can be collected from already existing items, divided thematically, or you can start with a clean slate and create your own selection, and then share it in the community.
  8. UpLabs is the resource, gathering passionate designers, publishing daily news from the world of web development, and challenges for creative participants. This is a daily dose of inspiration from the world of material design. When you subscribe, you can access materials for downloading, such as UI kits, templates, layouts, and themes.
  9. FltDsgn software is a daily selection of the best websites and mobile apps in flat-minimalistic design.
  10. Pttrns is some sort of Pinterest that presents ideas for the development of websites’ mobile versions and mobile apps. Strictly mobile-design only, no garbage — watch and gain inspiration.
  11. Creative Live — you saw an interesting effect in a designer’s work and would like to reproduce it, but don’t know how? Try finding it out in the database of lessons on this resource. You are most likely to find whatever you’re interested in. There are both paid and free courses not only on web design but also on other topics, such as retouching and photography, earnings and finances, hand-made in addition to audio and video processing. You don’t need to search for lessons and streams on YouTube. The service’s database is enough – all educational materials are gathered in one place, and this will save time and effort on searching.
  12. Design Shack is an online magazine dedicated to design and all forms of visual art. Fresh materials on new trends in the design of web resources, new techniques for working with computer graphics are published on a daily basis. Apart from the theory, there are also practical lessons, master classes, and whole courses, which will help you to make a particular vision a reality or invent something on your own, and then publish your guide on the resource.
  13. Design Guidelines from Apple is a step-by-step instruction from Apple on how to develop applications and web resources for Apple devices. This guide encompasses not only recommendations and specifications for development, design, and UI design, but also auxiliary software tools that make it easier to integrate your products with Apple platforms. This is a library of SF fonts, a selection of links for downloading recommended apps, and to the best projects of the year according to Apple, technical instructions, and even instructions on marketing promotion and presentation of your product.
  14. Digest MBLTdev software is a Russian-language resource which offers a selection of worldwide hot news for web designers and developers working on iOS products. A weekly digest with updates on Fridays. The subscription is free of charge.
  15. GraphicBurger is a resource from the self-named Slack community. Each publication on the resource is a separate thematic selection of PSD templates, icons, backgrounds, and mockups on different topics. Professional designers took care of the smoothness of each pixel in the provided materials and gathered all the collections on the resource. When time is running out and you need to quickly gather ideas for project implementation, this resource will be of help.
  16. PixelBuddha is the resource, created by another designers’ community to share the examples, cases, elements, and best practices of premium quality for free. They also require a paid subscription for extended paid items published on Shutterstock by the community.
  17. DBfreebies is a place where the works of the best designers, ranked by Dribble and Behance, are gathered. You can either get inspired by their example, or you can adopt their practices by downloading them for free.
  18. Tech&All is a web-based media revealing the latest news in the world of design and technology. In addition, it has its own library of free PSD templates for web designers.
  19. Web3Canvas software, or W3C blog, is renowned in the circles of layout designers and front-end developers. The resource comprises articles on web design, UI/UX, interface development, along with their own library of free PSD templates for web designers and bootstrap templates for layout designers.
  20. Colorful Gradients collection resource provides soft pastel gradients automatically generated by the computer for inspiration and grabbing (the latter will have to be done manually). The collection displays examples generated over the past 48 hours.

Images processing software tools

The first thing needed for working on a new website is the images. There are universal photo stocks. Moreover, some resources offer images only in a specific, narrow subject, fully satisfying the needs of their users in high-quality images and photos.

  1. iStockphoto.com is one of the two most reliable and proven photo stocks with a large selection of classic photos for business and marketing. The content is accessible through a paid subscription.
  2. Shutterstock.com is the second photo-giant, next to iStockphoto.com offering high-quality photos, vectors, and videos. A paid subscription is also required to access the content. However, by subscribing once, you can get access to the largest library of images suitable to any topic of your project.
  3. Pexels is the largest bank of free photos and videos for your projects. The search results can be filtered by color so that to select those that best match the website’s corporate identity. In addition, it comprises a wide system of tags, auxiliary sections like “Similar photos” and “Customers also liked”.
  4. Pixabay is the photobank, whose materials exceeded 500,000 free images and vectors, as well as more than 1,000 videos at the beginning of 2016. This software makes a specialty out of images for business and social networks. Searching by keywords, selecting multiple photo size options are available. You can both download and upload your own portfolios. Videos should be uploaded from the homepage: the bank is linked to the paid Shutterstock photobank via search.
  5. Foodie’s Feed is a free photo stock with a large collection of food photos divided by the product names. Feel free to use all the photos, even for commercial purposes.
  6. Gratisography is the photobank which has chosen the creativity, pushed to the limit, as its specialty. The collection encompasses works by fashion and indie photographers: some of them are humorous, some – outrageous, but you won’t find them anywhere else. All this is absolutely free and has no authors’ rights restrictions!
  7. Unsplash is another creative photobank that has chosen the old-school style of the 70s, 80s, and 90s as its specialty. Wallpapers, textures and patterns, food photos, and even experimental psychedelic ones are gathered here. The collection can’t compete with Pixabay or Pexels in terms of quantity, but the guys win over by their creativity and quality. Even among 300,000 images, you’ll definitely find something for your project, or at least for inspiration.
  8. Free Nature Stock offers professional, high-quality, completely free, and open for any use photos and videos of nature.
  9. New Old Stock is the resource specializing in vintage, old-time photos. They can be used both for inspiration and for your own project.
  10. Morguefile is a photo stock distinguished for its daily thematic quests: the community members fill in their images on a specific topic. Thus, it is convenient to view ideas on the topic of interest. This is a good place to search for photos for social networks since there is no strict quality moderation, and you don’t have to be a photographer to add your work.
  11. Landingstock is a place where high-quality images for single-page websites can be searched. This is a free alternative to image search on Shutterstock. It is convenient provided that you have no final project yet, and everything is only at the idea testing stage.
  12. Stockvault software provides you with photos, textures, illustrations. A premium account subscription enables you to download files simultaneously from Shutterstock. The resource itself is small, but it features careful moderation and daily replenishment.
  13. Reshot is an ideological community that unites would-be photographers to share their works. Thereafter, all the content is free, and there’s no copyright restriction.
  14. Picwizard is the photo stock, which not only offers the collection of photos and images, but also has its own editor allowing you to add text, apply a filter, or make other small changes before downloading an image. Provided with a paid subscription, you can get access to all the features of the editor, which can compete with stationary applications.
  15. Picjumbo is a photo stock created by a photographer, aged 24, who was tired of constant rejections from Shutterstock and Pixabay. A huge collection of free photo content on various topics.

Video editing software tools

Using videos is the easiest and fastest way to brighten up your website. You can create a presentation on your own from available material, and optimize it for the web or use a ready one offered by special libraries.

  1. Cover software will come in handy for a web designer to select a beautiful video background for the presentation screen. Although, not just for the home page screensaver, but for any needs if necessary. The resource is absolutely free. Everything you take here can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.
  2. Mazwai is a huge collection of professional videos for the presentation screen in HD quality, sorted by themes and hashtags.
  3. Stomp 4.0 – Typography can also become a great way to draw attention to the homepage. Create a text message of 100 words, enter it in the field, and a special HTML template will adjust it to rhythmic music — that’s it! Your website will definitely be remembered by the user as the famous promo “Apple – iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 107 seconds”. It is good for landing page design, or for the teaser page of a new web resource being launched.
  4. Compressify – is the video too heavy? Reduce it to 60% with the help of this software tool by converting it to WebM format using the new VP9 codec. It is only very attentive professionals, distinguishing 50 shades of each individual pixel, who will notice the difference between the videos. For an average user, the effectiveness of the video presentation will remain unchanged.
  5. ScreenSpace provides promo videos comparable in quality to recordings from a professional studio. There are pre-installed templates for working in the app: choose the appropriate one, adjust it to custom design with a few mouse clicks – and that’s it! Its specific feature is the templates enabling you to stylize future promos for movies of the early 20th century, in the style of the 30s and 60s.
  6. Naker.back is a simple WYSIWYG editor allowing one to create interactive illustrated backgrounds and gradients – an alternative to videos on the initial screen of the homepage. You can both create your own effects and gradients in branded colors, and choose ready-to-use templates.

Vectors and illustrations for web design

Illustrations and vector elements can be a more winning alternative to photos. Their advantage is that a flatter background shading, in comparison with full-color photo images, is easier for users to perceive, and fits more harmoniously into the concept of minimalism. From the psychological point of view, a vector or illustration in web design makes the project more professional.

  1. Free Illustrations is a bank of free vectors and illustrations in high resolution. It offers a wide range of topics, updated weekly.
  2. Fresh Folk is a bank of illustrations depicting purely people and objects. This is a rather popular resource to select illustrations for email marketing.
  3. Rawpixel is a place where one can come across vectors, PSD templates, and separate types of rare images, such as, for example, illustrations in the Japanese line art style — just the thing for the website of a sushi bar or Japanese restaurant. On top of that, by subscribing, you support the Hope for Children Charitable Foundation.
  4. Subtlepatterns is a place where you can feel free to choose elegant, subtle patterns that will draw attention to your project, by making it eye-catching and special.

Icon maker software

Iconography stands its ground. The user finds information represented by an icon faster than by the text. Therefore, icon banks enlarge their collections every day.

  1. Shape.So is the service which makes it possible not only to find the desired set of icons, but also to adjust them to one’s needs: change the size, color, background, and stroke thickness. It is subject not only to static sets but also to animated ones — more than 1000+ content items are waiting for your attention. You can export them to React, SVG, and Lottie code.
  2. IconStore is a library of free icons. A team of professional and experienced designers and editors is working on collection development. The creators came up from the heart to both the design and cleanliness of the resource itself. They use the same approach in the provided content.
  3. Animated Vector Icons is another library. It offers the users to download content and not only in PNG, but also in JSON for Lottie, GIF, and After Effects.
  4. Streamline 3.0 — the stock of thirty thousand icons and vectors drawn manually, divided into 53 categories and 720 subcategories.
  5. iOS 11 Icon Glyphs – a separate service, presented by the Icons8 group, which comprises icons created in accordance with Apple’s guides, which were presented with the iOS 11 release. Pixel-perfect icons can be downloaded for free in popular PNG, SVG, and PDF formats. The community is regularly updated.
  6. IconFinder is a library with a fund of 4 million icons. The resource features a fairly large section with free icons, which may be applied for commercial use. Therefore, in case you are at full blast working on a new project, do not forget to see what this resource can offer in free access.

Typography and font design software

We have already mentioned that some designers are able to create a beautiful web page, making a great play of fonts. Some people have an intuition for favorable combinations. Others use special software tools and are on a par with their colleagues, endowed with the ability to turn their project into a masterpiece.

  1. Google Fonts is a collection of free fonts from Google designers.
  2. Typegenius from Canva is a software tool that makes it possible to choose a favorable combination from a large library of free fonts.
  3. Font Squirrel is the library of free fonts. It is characterized by a well-developed filter system enabling one to find what meets the project requirements — the number of styles, working with licenses, languages, and alphabets.
  4. Fontface Ninja is the Google Chrome extension which makes it possible to determine the font being viewed on the web page by clicking on it.
  5. http://font-to-width.com/ – by this software tool one can check whether a certain text typed in this font will fit into the size of the block assigned to it or not. By default, it does not adjust the font size to scale. Instead, the width and thickness can be changed, and then the letter-spacing can be made a play with.

Graphic editors

No, we won’t start with the Photoshop software (although, we’ve added one Adobe product in the following sections). Let us just provide its analogs, which have their own specific features.

  1. Sketch — suppose Photoshop is Android, then Sketch is akin to the iPhone, and these are two constantly competing services. Accordingly, the owners of iOS, Mac, or MacBook, have a fancy for this editor. All the guides for modern formats are already included in the basic firmware. The Sketch developers drew inferences from the reviews of their competitor and launched a product with all adjustable features: the functionality package is updated through plugins, settings can be downloaded through presets. They finally astounded with the ability to work on a single file in a team.
  2. Moose Photos – create realistic photo collages and professional quality backgrounds. You may choose one of the dozens of themes, compare it with another, or set it as a background for the product or service which the website is being developed for. Do not hesitate to download and use the ready image for free.
  3. Remove.bg is the editor that enables one to automatically utterly remove the background from the image. You don’t need to manually select the background or foreground objects or separate them. Instead, just select an image and upload it to the editor. It will take 5 seconds for the app to do everything you want by itself.
  4. Humaaans is a free library which is created by Pablo Stanley, a designer and Illustrator, to mix or edit illustrations with people. You can adjust their posture, clothing, color, and hairstyle to suit the needs of your project by creating different scenes and backgrounds. The service has an additional Humaaans Design Tool for rapid prototyping.
  5. The Paaatterns tool is something like the previous one. It differs only in a collection of vector patterns that can be edited to create your own version of an interesting project design. Ready-made files can be saved in such formats as .ai, .sketch, .fig (for work in Figma),. xd (for work in Adobe XD).
  6. Overflow is a useful software tool for creating a project presentation of a mobile app, or even a website. With this tool, the user’s movement between screens can be illustrated both as a diagram, and, when firing a slideshow. It also displays how transitions will be performed in real mode.
  7. Animation Desk is a simple and easy-to-use editor from Microsoft that provides a means of creating animated illustrations. The resource has its own community. All designers are invited to share their works here and acquire professional acquaintances.

Color gamuts

Artists have spent years refining their skills to match colors. A web designer doesn’t have to take a course in color theory to create a good palette for their project. The software tools enabling one to automatically generate a suitable combination, sometimes even without a web designer’s participation, are at their disposal.

  1. Material Palette is a simple and convenient color library in the Material Design style. In addition, there is a library of icons in the same style.
  2. Material UI Colors is an extended material palette for Android, Web, and iOS, with the ability to download any color you like in #HEX, Hex, RGB, RGBA formats.
  3. Flat UI Color Picker is a small but convenient library of flat colors, sorted by hues. The selected color can be downloaded in such formats as CMYK, RGB, HEX, etc.
  4. 0to255 – select a color, then its hue, copy the code – and that’s it! No manual configuration of RGB parameters in photoshop is needed.
  5. Palette for Chrome is the Chrome extension that provides a means of pulling the color palette from any image opened in the window.
  6. Color is a service for creating smart color palettes. Select a color, and then choose the matching shades applicable in web design.
  7. Brand Colors — a selection of color schemes used in the corporate style of well-known brands and resources.
  8. Flat UI Colors tool represents its pallets sorted by country – the USA, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Spain, Turkey, etc. 280 colors for your project have been developed by 13 designers from across the globe.
  9. Skala Color – the service automatically identifies colors copied to the clipboard. Just click to apply it.
  10. Coolors – this tool helps to choose a color scheme suitable for any topic. The simple process of choosing color becomes as simple and fun as a game. Palettes can be created, saved, and immediately shared with colleagues and friends.
  11. Adaptive Backgrounds is the jQuiery-algorithm that pulls the dominant colors from an image for background filling.
  12. WebGradients software offers 180 free linear gradients equally suitable for the background and button. Each gradient can be downloaded via cross-browser CSS code, or as a PNG image. One can separately download the packages for Sketch & Photoshop with gradients in CSS3, .sketch, and .PSD formats.
  13. Grabient — is what you need in case you’re just seeking a ready-to-use solution. The WebGradients’ younger brother has an application for generating configuration of CSS code gradients. Create, configure, and share the solutions with your colleagues.
  14. Hello Color is a generator of contrasting colors in web design. What’s peculiar is that these are not just contrasts, but rather color options for a website design. Thereafter, if the background is black, white color will not be offered, as well as yellow to blue. Instead, one will be offered modern color options from the flat- or material-design palette, which will be shown to advantage on the selected background.
  15. Klart is a collection of data-driven gradients, generated by the designer from Pexels who made up his mind to create something on his own. The user just needs to click on the desired color and the service will offer them the best combinations.
  16. COLOURlovers is not purely a service for selecting palettes. It is also a behind-the-scenes assistant for aspiring web designers who are wondering what palette will suit their theme. The participants of the web resource blog share their ideas of palettes for different themes. And not only palettes, but also patterns, logo sketches, frames, and other design elements from the large community, provide a means of assembling your own bright project in the shortest period of time.

UX prototyping tools

UX designers have not only paid-for Axure with its limitations and whims. The world of prototyping is developing, and now there is a whole range of software tools enabling one to use the drag&drop interface with the purpose of creating interactive prototypes that are visually close to the finished website.

  1. InVision is a service used by HBO, Amazon, and Netflix. InVision has cloud storage, making all the projects easily accessible regardless of the user’s location. Everything, from a mobile prototype to a moodboard, is available online.
  2. Adobe XD is the brainchild promised by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. XD was created in a bid to transfer prototypes to Photoshop as quickly as possible (Yes, we’ve named it after all), reducing manual transfer control to a minimum.
  3. Flinto 2.0 for Mac is a Mac app, popular among leading designers from China to Peru, for the development of interactive and animated prototypes of their apps. Release 2.0 includes the Behavior Designer feature, due to which interaction can be animated — pulling out of forms, unrolling of menu buttons which will exactly imitate the interaction in the finished product.
  4. Principle software is a direct competitor to Flinto in iOS apps development. Create animated and interactive prototypes in 5 minutes. The same ability to reflect the user’s interaction with the product as closely as possible to the implementation of the final product. The importer makes it possible to transfer the ready-made projects from other applications (from the Flinto, for instance).
  5. Balsamiq Mockups is a popular tool by which one can create small projects for free (up to 300 elements in one project). The cloud storage offers an unlimited holding of projects and easy collaboration with comments and customizable access levels.
  6. Figma 2.0 is a software tool for user experience design and development. Its key feature is the reliance on the convenience of collaboration. Figma is beloved by independent design specialist associations from different geographical locations.
  7. UX Flow is a tool that enables one to create a beautiful prototype presentation for the client. More than 450 themes and project design variants for Sketch, 4 preselected color schemes for creating a presentation in 5 minutes.
  8. Frames — this library will allow you to make a presentation with a product image in iOS as economically as possible, in case you are working on Windows. In the service, you will come across window mockups not only for different operating systems, but also for applications such as Sketch, Figma, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Moreover, you’ll find mockups of gadgets such as iPhone X, iPad, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, etc.
  9. Napkin is a pocketable app for UX designers. If you went to a briefing with a client, and at the meeting, there occurred a need to present the website’s draft, then use Napkin. This software tool enables you to design websites and applications on your iPad and even iPhone with the same quality as on your computer. The client asks you to drop him the version? Import a PDF and create your positive professional prestige.

UI tools and component libraries software

Pressing deadlines happen to web designers when they cannot sit for a long while over each button or other element of the future website. There are also situations when, sacrificing the order, they proceed to work on the design of their portfolios. They can take advantage of the resources with ready-to-use templates, UI-kits, and mockups for the project presentation.

  1. TETHR from InVision is a special UI-kit, provided by the developers of a well-known application for prototyping, which comprises more than 250 elements.
  2. Freebbble is a library of free templates, fonts, backgrounds, illustrations, patterns, mockups, and other useful web design trifles, supplied by advanced Dribbble designers, and collected (carefully adopted) on one resource.
  3. uiPrint software is intended for use by web designers who enjoy drawing by hand. This is a set of templates, mockups, prototypes, and sketchpads for artwork and design engineering on paper that would solve the “clean slate” problem.
  4. Sketchize is another set of mockups for printing and creating page sketches by hand. There are separate sets for smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
  5. Premium Pixels is a library of PSD templates, icons, and other raster elements in thematic collections. A good brainstorming tool, when you need to collect maximum ideas on a specific topic within the conditions of pressing deadlines.
  6. Freebiesbug software offers free PSD, AI, and Sketch for almost any situation occurring during work on the development of a website or application. Here you can come across layouts, fonts, UI-kits, icons, templates, patterns, and much more needed for quick project work.
  7. DesignerMill is a regularly updated library with modern mockups for portfolio design and presentation of its websites, mobile applications, and trademark products on a network.
  8. UI Space comprises more than 700 SVG icons, fonts, vectors, a selection of mockups and UI-kits, designed manually and carefully collected by a professional design team. It can be used freely and at zero cost.
  9. https://sketchrepo.com/ – the design community has assembled a collection of elements to make it easier and faster for fans of Sketch to work in the app. The resource provides more than 1000 mockups, prototypes, templates, UI-kits, plugins, and much more.
  10. 365PSD is a library with the collection of PSD templates, vectors, and UI-kits, daily replenished. Having paid for the subscription, one can access premium content. Pixeden is the resource providing access to a large collection of logos, WordPress themes, icons, vectors, and mockups to present your designs. Each section has a free subsection with quite a large selection available for free use, including for commercial purposes.
  11. iOS GUI Tools from Teehan+Lax Studio is a section of tools from Teehan+Lax Studio, where users can come across UI-kits for iPhone, iPad of different releases, and models in pixel-perfect execution.
  12. Sketch App Sources is a library of doo-dads and resources for Sketch providing the ability to receive weekly additions by email.
  13. PlaceIT is a library of smart templates for presentations, video creation, photo collages, mockups for web design, and trademark products. They all can be downloaded directly to your own storage on Dropbox.

Other useful software tools

In this chapter, we will add the remaining tools not fitting into the categories above. These are converters of images and codes to different formats and random data generators.

  1. Wirify is a means of converting any web page to a PSD layout without extra information. Just insert a link to the page and the app will convert it into a layerwise prototype. It is suitable for competitor analysis or the study of the market leaders’ decisions.
  2. PSD to Sketch Design Converter software converts files from PSD to Sketch and vice versa. The service is suitable for those cases when you have to finalize the prototype, partially created by another designer, or you need to cooperate with a colleague or present the prototype on someone else’s computer.
  3. Skaffolder is the app that makes it possible to check whether design solutions are efficient for implementation at the technical development stage. It enables developers to build websites and mobile apps much faster, due to different software programming languages being available with full control over the result. AI converts the finished layout into code that is saved in the user’s GIT repository.
  4. Felipe for Sketch is more like a utility function of Sketch, which makes the interaction with the software tool much easier. The resource tends to guess the designer’s actions, thus saving him time to switch between functions. For instance, all needed so that to create an inscription in H2 format is to outline the field with the cursor and write H2 there. That’s it! The tool will realize that the second-level header format should be applied to everything in this field.
  5. HEX to RGB is a service that comes in handy to quickly convert color codes from HEX to RGB and vice versa.
  6. UInames is a simple software tool generating random names to be applied in web design. This is a good alternative to the shopworn Lorem Ipsum, evoking customers’ sensation of the project being done half-heartedly by the web designer.
  7. http://uifaces.com/ is a service intended for searching for as well as generating avatars and user pics that are necessary for working with apps, social services, and creating portraits of the target user.
  8. Window Resizer is the Chrome extension enabling to check how screens with different resolutions will display the design. A must-have tool for web designers.
  9. Sonics is a charge-free collection of UI sounds that will come in handy in the development of interactive prototypes, which are designed as close as possible to the live implementation of the project, up to the soundtrack.

Outcome

We have described only a small portion of the existing software tools for web designers. The collection of tools is updated each and every day. However, this set will be enough to feel confident and spend less time on project work.

But we will keep a wary eye on advanced developments and timely provide new collections of the best solutions in the world of web design. Stay tuned!