Well I am back at it again making another Top 100 Tech lists except this time I am aiming at the world of graphic, app and web design . Technology and design are inseparable these days. Designers rely on computers and software to express their creativity and in turn, technology companies like Apple rely on good design for distinction and differentiation (from industrial design to marketing). In short, design makes the world go round.
What can you expect to find here? I’ve rounded up the top 10 items that I have deemed either cool or useful in several categories. You’ll find everything from font and color resources to infographic tools to apps for designers to mobile and web app development tools to design communities to top design schools and plenty more. This is the ultimate design resources and tools list; the roundup to end all roundups.
This post will probably be most useful to design newbies and students who are just getting to know the ins and outs of the online design community and the full ecosystem that is available to them. For the more experienced designers and experts out there, this list will be a great resource to bookmark as I’ve tried to arrange these sections in order of usability (what you are most likely to check most often). Either way, this post was so massive that it has it’s own built-in navigation to get you where you need to go quickly. Even though I’d consider myself and expert designer, I still dug up plenty of new resources that were new to me during the 3 days, 20+ total hours and 40+ revisions it took to research, compile and curate this post, so I think there’s truly something for everyone here.
Before you get any further, let me explain that yes, this is a curated list meaning it is based purely on my own opinions. You may wish to see a certain resource here that I chose to leave off or perhaps didn’t know about. If that is the case, leave a comment and add your items for the community to benefit from.
The Big 4 Online Design Networks/Empires
- Envato – Helping designers earn and learn online.Includes: ThemeForest, AppStorm, Rockable Press and more.
- Behance Network – Showcase and discover creative work.Includes: The Served Sites, 99U, Prosite, Action Method, Creative’s Outfitter.
- Smashing Magazine – Covering coding, design, mobile, graphics, UX and more.Includes: Noupe, Smashing Shop.
- Fuel Brand Network – Jump-starting creative minds.Includes: Coding, Creativity, Illustration, Photography and more.
Font Resources (Print & Web)
- I Love Typography – Fonts, typefaces and all things typographical.
- MyFonts – The world’s largest collection of fonts.
- Typekit – The easiest way to use real typefaces on your website.
- FontShop – The world’s best fonts.
- The FontFeed – Fonts, typography, lettering and design.
- TypeInspire – A showcase of typography and text effects.
- Google Web Fonts – 500+ free web fonts to use online.
- WEbINK – High quality web fonts for your website.
- Letterhead Fonts – Rare and unusual letter for the professional artist.
- Fontspring – Buy fonts and web-fonts without subscriptions or cumbersome restrictions.
Color Resources (Print & Web)
- COLOURlovers – Color trends + palettes.
- Adobe Kuler – Exlpore, create and share color patterns.
- ColRD – Create and share color inspiration with the world.
- 0to255 – A simple tool that helps web designers find variations of any color.
- ColorMunki – Innovative color creation and control.
- Pictaculous – Ever wonder what colors to use with an image (web + app).
- Color Hunter – Create color palettes made from images.
- ColoRotate – Browse color palettes or create your own. Get the Photoshop plugin.
- Check My Colors – Analyze the color contrast of your web pages.
- Color Scheme Designer 3 – Easily create 6 different types of color schemes.
Vectors, Icons, Bundles, Brushes & Deals
- VectorFinder – Search the most popular stock sites from one central location.
- MediaLoot – Premium graphic design resources. Library of interface, vector and icon resources.
- Design TNT – Awesome resources for designers.
- Brusheezy – Free Photoshop brushes.
- Designious – Vector packs, Photoshop brushes, bundles, freebies and more.
- InkyDeals – 24 hours only deals for creatives.
- Vandelay Premier – Thousands of design resources at your finger tips.
- Pixel Snacks – The design bundle that grows.
- Bundle Hunt – Highest quality design software bundles at the lowest prices.
- Ultrashock – Over 21k Flash, audio, vector and image assets.
iPad & iPhone Apps for Designers
- myPANTONE – Advanced functionality and thousands of inspirational colors.
- Paper – Ideas begin on paper. Closest thing to sketching on real paper on the iPad.
- Photoshop Touch – Create, edit and share multilayered images.
- CSS3Machine – Create amazing CSS3 styles and animations on your iPad.
- iMockups – Design on the go with this wireframing and mockup app for iPad.
- Gusto – Full-featured website development environment for iPad.
- Adobe Ideas – Edit using vectors, layers and color themes. Compatible with Illustrator.
- SketchBook Pro – A professional-grade paint and drawing app.
- What the Font Mobile – Identify the fonts in a photo or web graphic (iPhone).
- iFontMaker – Create your own hand font in 5 minutes (iPad).
Mobile App Development Tools & Resources
- Fluid UI – iPhone and Android mobile mockups.
- Cabana – The visual way to make custom, gorgeous mobile apps.
- Heatma.ps – Amazing visual UX feedback for your iOS app.
- App Cooker – Design iOS and mobile mockups, wireframes and prototypes.
- Crashlytics – Powerful and lightweight crash reporting for iOS and Android apps.
- App Annie – App store analytics and market intelligence.
- CloudMine – The backend as a service for mobile and web apps.
- Mobile Roadie – Mobile app creator for iPhone, Android, iPad and mobile web.
- Parse – Add a powerful and scalable backend in minutes.
- Appboy – Your complete mobile CRM solution.
Infographics & Data Visualization Resources
- Visual.ly – Infographics and data visualization community.
- Infogr.am – Create interactive infographics.
- Piktochart – Infographic and presentation tool.
- Tableau Public – Free data visualization software.
- Ease.ly – Create and share visual ideas online.
- Revu – Turn your social profiles into an infographic resume.
- Wolfram CDF – Turn infographics into info apps with always-current data.
- Gephi – Open graph visualization software.
- StatPlanet – Create fully-customizable, feature-rich interactive maps.
Web Development Tools & Resources
- Coda – The best HTML, CSS and web coding software ever. Period.
- W3 Markup – Convert PSDs to HTML and CSS. Code is art.
- Firebug – The most popular and powerful web development tool.
- Style Tiles – A visual web design profess for clients and the responsive web.
- Mobify – Make your website mobile.
- Responsive Grid System – Fluid grid CSS framework for fast development.
- SnipSave – Save code snippets for future reference.
- Retina.jsj – Open source script that makes service high-rez images easy.
- jQuery++ – jQuery’s bald-spot covering toupee (collection of useful DOM helpers).
- WooThemes – Premium WordPress themes can save you time; just customize!
Web Testing & Optimization Tools
- PageSpeed Insights – Make your website faster.
- Adobe BrowserLab – Ensure your content displays as intended.
- Silverback – Guerrilla usability testing software for designers and developers.
- Userlytics – Website usability testing and evaluation.
- Scribe – SEO made simple.
- Ethnio – Intercept visitors for live research.
- FiveSecondTest – Landing page optimization for your mocks and wireframes.
- SEOmoz – Search engine optimization and social monitoring.
- Optimizely – A/V testing software you’ll actually use.
- Pingdom Tools – Test the load time of a web page.
- Dribbble – Show and tell for designers.
- Favwork – Supporting designers to develop their careers.
- design:related – Portfolios, inspiration, jobs and networking for creative pros.
- Forrst – A community where developers and designers improve their craft.
- DESIGN 21 – Social design network.
- Designbump – User submitted and voted design news, articles and inspiration.
- The Web Blend – Summarizing the latest design and development news and trends.
- deviantART – Where art meets application.
- Dexigner – Design news, events, competitions and more.
- Meetup – Do something, learn something. Search for “design” within your area.
Design Galleries (Get Inspired)
- Creattica – An online resource for design inspiration and freebies.
- The Dieline – The #1 package design website.
- Awwards – The best websites from around the world.
- PatternTap – Providing the inspiration and education that designers need.
- Logopond – Identity inspiration.
- Bitique – Daily design goodness for graphic addicts.
- Design Snack – CSS, HTML and Flash gallery. An inspiration tool.
- FWA – Favourite Website Awards. Internet award program and inspiration portal.
- Designsperation – Discover and share great design that inspires you.
- siteInspire – Web design inspiration.
- Co.DESIGN – Business + innovation + design.
- Webdesigner Depot – Exploring different web and graphic design techniques.
- 1stwebdesigner – Tutorials, inspiration, roundups, articles and more.
- David Airey – The interesting blog of a well-known brand identity designer.
- Six Revisions – Useful information for web developers and designers.
- Abduzeedo – Abducted by design. Tutorials and inspiration.
- Tripwire Magazine – Handpicked goodies for web developers and designers.
- Line25 – A drawing board of creative web design.
- Speckyboy – Web design, development and graphic design resources.
- Web Designer Wall – Design trends and tutorials.
- .net – The world’s best-selling magazine for web designers/developers.
- Communication Arts – Premiere source of inspiration for designers & art directors.
- Computer Arts – Inspiration, technique, great design.
- Web Designer – Defining the internet through beautiful design.
- CMYK Magazine – A truly rewarding visual experience.
- Layers – The how-to magazine for everything Adobe.
- HOW Design Magazine – Graphic, web and freelance design.
- GD USA – Graphic design news, trends, people, ideas and products.
- Print Magazine – Bimonthly magazine about visual culture and design.
- Digital Arts – Inspiration for digital creatives.
Learn Graphic Design & Web Development Online
- Tuts+ Premium – Learn creative and technical skills
- Codecademy – Learn to code.
- Fan Extra Network – Awesome tutorial sites for creative professionals.
- Treehouse – Learn web design, web development and iOS development.
- Lynda.com – Online software training videos that really work.
- PSD Learning – Learning resources for Adobe Photoshop.
- Udacity – A 21st century university. Learn computer science, programming and more.
- P2L – Pixel2Life – Photoshop, Flash and other tutorials.
- Mozilla School of Webcraft – Learn web development.
- Khan Academy – Learn almost anything for free.
Great Design Schools
- Art Center College of Design (Pasadena) – Learn to create, influence change.
- RMCAD (Denver) – One of the nation’s premier art and design institutions since 1963.
- Yale University School of Art – Ranked 2nd for the undergrad design by US News in 2011.
- RISD (Rhode Island) – One of the oldest and best known colleges for art and design.
- Parsons the New School for Design (NYC) – Pioneering design education since 1896.
- School of Visual Arts (NYC) – Known for innovative and experimental program philosophies.
- MCAD (Minneapolis) – Educating professional designers and pioneering thinkers.
- Full Sail University – A premier art, music and film school (campus and online).
- OTIS (LA) – LA’s first independent, professional school of art and design.
- Academy of Design (Ontario) – Offers students a high-energy, hands-on learning environment.
Find Design Jobs
- LinkedIn – Find jobs, connect through people you already know.
- Krop – Creative industry job board.
- Authentic Jobs – Where companies and creative professionals meet.
- Coroflot – A simple and direct way to connect with creative opportunities worldwide.
- AIGA Design Jobs – Professional job listings for all design disciplines.
- Creative Hotlist – Job search and creative talent directory.
- Sensational Jobs – The job board for web professionals.
- 37signals Job Board – Design, programming and executive jobs.
- Mashable Jobs – Design and development jobs from Mashable.
- Indeed – Search multiple job listing sites for design jobs.
White Label & Affiliate Services for Designers
- LightCMS – A brandable content management system for designers.
- Campaign Monitor – Let clients send their own email newsletter campaigns at your prices.
- CushyCMS – Pro features include the ability to use your own logo, colors and domain.
- Site5 – Reseller hosting.
- Shopify – Ecommerce software. Become a partner and receive 20% on referrals.
- CakeMail – Email marketing software for small businesses.
- 1ShoppingCart – Private-label this shopping cart and commerce software.
- Wrike – Project management software that pays 100% commission.
- Weebly Designer Platform – CMS for designers and clients.
- Page.ly – Resell managed WordPress hosting.
- UPrinting – “Spread your message!” 24 hour phone support on weekdays.
- MOO – Custom business cards, MiniCards, postcards and more.
- Print Runner – “Printing for less.”
- Vista Print – “Make an impression.”
- Mimeo.com – “Prepare to be delighted.”
- PsPrint – Print online with up to 60% off.
- Smartpress.com – “Real people who really know print.”
- PFL – Printing for Less. “Let’s grow your business.”
- PrintPlace.com – “Passionate about printing.”
- OvernightPrints – 40+ years of experience printing high-quality products.
- Inkd – Buy and sell custom graphic design templates.
- Hartli – Visually analyzes websites and tells you about colors, typography, grid use and more.
- Art of the Title – Leading online resource of title sequence design, from film to games.
- NO!SPEC – Educating the public about speculative (spec) work.
- Google Art Project – High-quality scans of famous artworks.
- FreelanceSwitch – Freelance blog, forum, jobs and directory.
- Freelance Folder – Freelance tools, advice and resources.
- Library of Congress Digital Collections – Historical art and design archives, preserved online.
- 99designs – The fastest growing design marketplace in the world.
- Graphic Design Blender – Business tips for designers.