Creating a well-designed site, product, or project usually isn’t cheap. You know you want to make something that looks good – but how do you do it if you’re working with a limited budget?
While there’s no substitute for hiring a great designer, there are ways to build something beautiful without spending thousands of dollars — and it starts with the little elements, like getting the font, icons, photos, and colors right.
Check out the list below for 21 of our favorite free (or close to free) design resources. They are sure to make your next project visually stunning, whether you’re a design novice or a professional.
Stock photos and videos are notoriously expensive. While they are super important for making your website, presentations, pitch decks, and sales materials look sharp, few startups can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a limited license image.
If you’ve found yourself in this predicament before, here are a handful of sites with free (or cheap) stock photos that are actually captivating and don’t look like you just pulled them from a 90s business brochure:
All photos on Pexels are free for personal and commercial use under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. They currently have 30,000+ stock photos on the site and add around 3,000 new images each month.
The Stock Up site features 15,000+ indexed photos from over 30 different stock photography websites, like Life of Pix and Splitshire. Most of the photos fall under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license but always refer to the original image for details about the specific license before use.
On Coverr, you’ll find beautiful, free videos for your homepage. Just download your favorite one, upload it to your website, and add the corresponding snippet of code to your site. Every Monday, you’ll find seven new videos on the site.
If you’re looking for “artistically loud” images, you’ll find them on Skuwak Public Domain Photos. This collection is more limited than what you’ll find on some of the other photos sites, but if the aesthetic fits what you’re looking for, this is a hidden gem.
Death to Stock is a simple stock photography resource that is built around “packs” of photos, each of which has a particular theme. Sign up for their email and get packs delivered right to your inbox. You can also sign up for a premium subscription and get access to all 1,500+ photos and videos across the site.
The quality of photos on Pixabay is a bit more hit or miss, but the selection is much larger — you’ll have close to a million photos to choose from. All images and videos on this site fall under Creative Commons Zero (CC0), so feel free to download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free. You can also find illustrations and vector graphics on this site
Burst launched not too long ago and already features over 1,000 beautiful free images. This resource exists specifically to help entrepreneurs build more visually appealing websites, products, and marketing campaigns. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken in-house and typically trend around various business themes. They even have a bunch of in-depth case studies to help you start your own business.
Have you ever sat in front of a document or a content management system attempting to find the right font for your website? Scrolling through dozens — if not hundreds — of fonts can take hours. Plus, it might be one of the most tedious tasks ever.
Luckily, there are tools to help you find the right font (or combination of fonts) in a fraction of the time. Here are some of our favorite font resources:
Type Anything is a simple tool that helps you create great font combinations. Sift through font families and once you’ve found the one(s) you like, you can adjust basically everything about the font, including: size, weight, line height, opacity, letter spacing, capitalization, and more. Type in your own content, and browse away!
Google Fonts is an intuitive repository of Google’s fonts, which you can explore, sort through, and use in more than 135 languages. For each listed font, you can learn more about the designer and the inspiration behind its creation. The thematic collections will also help you discover new fonts that have been vetted by various designers and engineers at Google. Sort fonts based on popularity, trends, and your geolocation, and create your own collections for reference down the road.
One of the coolest things about Font Fit is that you can quickly see what your preexisting website looks like with different fonts. This is a fast way to get a visual on how different fonts impact the overall aesthetic of your site. It’s also kinda fun to go to a well-designed site like Apple and see what it looks like when everything is in Comic Sans. ;-)
Typewolf creator Jeremiah Shoaf said it best: “Seeing type samples set in ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ isn’t very useful when it comes to web design — seeing how real type performs on actual websites is much more helpful.” This is one of the best font resources you’re going to find on the web. Browse through a bunch of curated lists featuring fonts from around the web to help you find the perfect one for your latest project.
In the IconStore, you’ll find over 200 icon packs created by best-in-class designers. Sift through everything from pizza icons, to Harry Potter icons, to landmark icons. Download PNG and SVG files for anything you find; each icon pack can be used in personal and commercial projects — no attribution required.
The Stocks features a growing collection of icons that you can download in an format, color, and size you need for a project. Choose from hundreds of icons, and download PNG, SVG, and XML files for any of them. This site also features photos, videos, fonts, mockups, and colors. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for most of your design needs.
On the Swifticons site, you’ll find more than 2,000 high-quality icons, which you can download in six editable styles: outlined, filled, colored, jolly, flat, and pattern. You can download the entire pack of icons for under $100 — or opt for the activities pack (152 icons), which is yours for free.
Get ready to spend a lot of time playing around with icons on Illustrio. There are hundreds of icons to choose from, and each one is highly customizable — get each one in 16 different styles, and make each one any color you want.
Need to create a color palette for your latest website or project? It can take a surprisingly long time to create a color scheme from scratch. Make the process easier and browse through these sites for color palette inspiration:
On Color Hunt, browse through countless palettes, comprised of four colors each. You can browse and sort through the list based on what’s hot and popular, or just pick “random” and see what comes up. Create your own and share it on the site.
Web Gradients is a collection of almost 200 background gradients, created by the itmeo team. You can use each of these content backdrops for any part of your website. You’ll find a .PNG version of each gradient, as well as easy-to-copy CSS3 cross-browser code. Bonus: there are even curated packs for Sketch & Photoshop.
Coolors is a super fast color scheme generator. You can explore thousands of pre-existing color schemes (each one features five colors). Or, you can generate your own in a matter of minutes. Once you go to the “generate” page, hit the space bar to start with a different color scheme, and then you can adjust each color’s hue, saturation, and brightness accordingly.
It has to be said: we just love the name LOL Colors. This site features a curated selection of color palette inspiration. If you’re starting from scratch and aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for yet, this is a fun and quick way to browse through various color scheme options.
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