12 Free Design Tools We Love

Visuals. We love ‘em! And so does everyone else: According to Kissmetrics, content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without images.

But if you’re already wearing more than one hat, adding “part-time web designer” to your resume is probably the last thing you need right now. That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite free design tools to help you save time and money – and still make it look like you have a designer on call.

Canva 

1

With it’s clean user interface (UI) and drag-and-drop functionality, Canva was built with the non-designer in mind. From social images to infographics, Canva can be used for projects of all types and sizes. We love it’s easy-to-use templates that make us look like pros.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Pablo by Buffer 

2

Our friends at Buffer built this easy-to-use tool that allows users to create beautiful social images in seconds. With Pablo, you can create custom social images to promote your brand. It may not have as many options as Canva, but don’t let it’s simplistic feature set turn you off – it’s pretty much foolproof.
Best For: Social Media

Landscape by Sprout Social 

3

Want images that are optimized for social media? Look no further than Landscape, the social image resizing tool from Sprout Social. No more time spent cropping and resizing photos – Landscape does it for you.
Best for: Social Media

Over 

4

Create beautiful photos straight from your phone. Over coins itself as the “fastest, easiest photo editor” and we have to agree! With over 10,000+ images and graphics to choose from, inspiration is only a few clicks away. (Think of it as the 2016 alternative to WordArt.)
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

InVision 

5

InVision is a design-driven project management tool that’s best for creating prototypes and workflows. It’s especially good if you’re taking on your own website design or working with a small to mid-size team since you can suggest edits right onto the page. Once you upload your design, you can add animations, text and gestures to transform static images into interactive prototypes. Plus, you can test your designs on mobile devices to make sure it actually works.
Best for: Teams, Websites, Email Templates

Giphy 

6

Though the debate is still out on how to pronounce the term, it’s safe to say that much like a photo, an animated GIF can speak a thousand words – and possibly more. (This is especially useful when you’re facing a 140-character limit.) That’s why we love Giphy, the internet’s biggest library of animated GIFs. It’s database is easy to search and there hasn’t been a time when we couldn’t find the perfect GIF for the job.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Instagram

7

With all of the supplemental photo editing apps out there, sometimes we forget where it all started. We love Instagram’s in-app editing features and filters. Plus, it’s a great place to collect user generated content (UGC) from your fans to use on your website, blog or social channels.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

VSCO 

8

Short for Visual Supply Company, VSCO Cam is a photo app that brands itself as a community of discovery and expression. It’s much like Instagram in that you can edit and share photos, but in your own library. And that’s why we love it! VSCO is a great place to edit and curate photos before you share them to your followers. We use it to test out different filters and styles to see how they look as a whole. (This is especially important for keeping a consistent look and feel to your feed.)
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Priime 

9

Priime teamed up with top photographers to create over 100 beautiful styles you can apply to your photos on both Mac and iOS. It’s no-frills interface (sorry, no stickers or text overlays here) makes it super easy to create clean, beautiful images. Our favorite part is the batch editor, which means you can give an entire photo shoot or campaign a consistent look in just a few clicks. Plus, each style is broken down to reveal how it’s built, as well as its best use cases.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Death to the Stock Photo 

10

Royalty-free stock photos sent to your email every month? Sign us up! Death to the Stock Photo sends monthly downloadable images from talented photographers and artists so brands no longer have to shell out a lot of money for aesthetically pleasing images. We love that each pack tells a story, which is great for giving a consistent look to a blog post or email campaign.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Pexels 

11

Pexels brands itself as having the “best free stock photos in one place.” And well, we can’t disagree. The site adds over 50 new photos daily, so it’s unlikely that you’ll run out of things to choose from. No generic stock photos here; the ones on Pexels are actually good.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Unsplash 

12

Ten new photos every 10 days by email. (That’s one photo per day if you do the math.) Oh, and you can use them anywhere: As per their website, you can “copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.” Win-win.
Best for: Social Media, Blog Posts, Email Campaigns

Let’s Start Creating

Have you used any of these tools? What are your favorites? Send us a tweet @AWeber or leave a comment.

3 Comments

  1. Nick Daws

    7/29/2016 5:37 am

    Thanks for a great list, although a bit surprised you didn’t include PicMonkey. This is a powerful, versatile web-based tool I use all the time. It has some similarities with Canva, but personally I find it a bit more user-friendly.

  2. Olivia Dello Buono

    7/29/2016 8:54 am

    Thanks for the feedback, Nick!

    PicMonkey is a great tool, very similar to Canva. I wanted to give a bit of variety in the roundup, but I’m glad to hear that it’s working for you!

  3. Bruce Swabb

    8/8/2016 3:14 pm

    I love Canva – and just found Unsplash last week. Excited to dig into these suggestions – many thanks!