Product Design Tools On a Startup Budget
If you want to pursue a new side project, launch an app, or build a startup, the beginning stages are typically lean. You don’t want to sacrifice design, but you also can’t afford to pay someone hundreds (or, let’s be serious, thousands) of dollars to create app mockups or a landing page video. Luckily, there are a number of incredible tools that will help you keep your design costs low without leaving your website or app looking like an elementary school art project. Here are 10 of our favorites to get you started. Happy designing!
1. Pexels 2.0
The best free stock photos in one place.
Finding stock photography for your startup’s website, product, and/or blog can be a huge pain — not to mention a time suck. That’s where Pexels 2.0 comes in. It’s a high-quality, free alternative to paid (read: expensive) stock photo sites like Getty Images and Shutterstock. No more spending hours looking for the perfect image of someone typing on a laptop. And no more paying hundreds of dollars to use a photo, either.
2. Startup Videos
Showcasing the best startup videos.
Startups videos is a spectacular reference collection of videos companies have created to pitch their ideas, products, and services. When you’re first launching a startup, just about everyone will tell you that you should create an intro video for your homepage — and it’s probably a good idea. But, what if you’re lacking ideas or a budget to produce something great? Here, you’ll find the creative juice you need to knock your startup video out of the park.
Amazingly simple graphic design.
Oh my goodness, Canva is THE BEST. This tool is like “Photoshop for Dummies” x 100. If you don’t have great design skills, but you want to put something together that doesn’t looks halfway decent, this tool will work wonders for you. Choose from beautifully designed pre-existing templates built to help you spruce up your social media posts, presentations, posters, blog graphics, flyers, and more. Canva is so easy and intuitive to use; you’ll be up and running with beautiful designs in no time.
Landing page inspiration.
If you're a designer building out landing pages — or a non-designer who wants to give your designer some inspiration to work with — LandingFolio is an awesome resource. You’ll find almost 150 different landing page examples, tagged by category to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are design example pages for eCommerce, courses, real estate, CRM, mobile apps, food, fashion, and more. This is a bookmark-worthy site if you’re looking for landing page inspiration.
5. App Screenshot Builder
Create gorgeous images for your app page in minutes.
App Screenshot Builder makes it easy to make well-designed, custom images for your App Store or Google Play page. This builder was created so that anyone can use it—even if they don’t have previous design experience. If you’re working on launching a product with little-to-no budget, this is an invaluable tool that will help you create a sharp looking page without spending a ton of money on screenshot images of your app.
Free HD stock footage and motion graphics for any projects.
If you’re looking for free stock footage or motion graphics for a project, you’ve come to the right place. There are over 3,000 clips on Videvo for you to choose from, so you’re bound to find something you’re looking for here. All of the content is tagged in a way that makes it really easy to discover relevant clips (e.g. sports, people, food and drink, animals, nature, space, etc.). While the clips are free to use, the site does offer an option for the user to make a donation to the artist on some of the pages—which we love.
7. Smart mockups
Create product screenshots for free with just a few clicks.
Smart mockups is a ridiculously useful tool if you’re trying to make product screenshots that don’t look super cheesy. It can be time-consuming to go through countless mockups to try and find one that fits what you’re looking for. This site whittles it down by only highlighting high-quality images, which are all free (hooray!). You don’t even need to use Photoshop; just choose your favorite mockup, upload your design, and voila! You’ve got yourself a decent looking product mockup in minutes.
Creating infographics just got easier.
Infogram makes the process of creating charts and infographics genuinely fun. All you have to do is choose from a series of templates, input your data, and decide whether you want to turn it into a chart, map, video, icon, image, etc. With over 35 different charts and 200+ maps, this tool makes it easy for you to present your data exactly how you want it to appear. Whether you’re adding an infographic to an article, or putting a bar chart into an investor deck, you can get it all done seamlessly on Infogram.
9. Landscape by Sprout Social
An interactive tool for social media image resizing.
If you’re a social marketer, content creator, or business owner, you’re likely managing multiple social networks. Of course, every single one has its own image size requirements, which can be a total pain if you don’t have forever to resize images for each one. Enter: Landscape by Sprout Social. All you have to do is upload a single image, choose all of the social networks/post types you want to resize you’re image for, and out comes a set of perfectly optimized social media images. We love tools like this that make design work more efficient and significantly less laborious.
10. Designer's Block
Helping designers with creative block.
If you’re still feeling stuck creatively, Designer’s Block is a simple, sweet, and (of course) well designed tool to help you get unstuck. It’s simple: every time you hit the space bar on the site, a new prompt will come up recommending some way—sometimes serious, sometimes funny—to help you get your creative juices flowing again. A few favorites: “Dance!,” “Go for a walk and take three pictures,” and “Treat everything like a rough draft.” We think those are good rules for life in general, if you ask us. :-)
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Design isn’t always easy (or cheap), but it does make a huge difference in the quality and usability of whatever you’re building. Even if it’s not your core competency, it’s worth investing in–and we hope the tools above help you make more beautiful things.
Still hungry for more design tools on a startup budget? Check out the full collection of Product Design Tools On a Startup Budget on Product Hunt.