If you’re new to creating websites, then you probably don’t want to spend a bunch of money on web elements and applications right away. To help you get started, I’ve chosen 10 of my favourite free resources and tools for web design beginners, including sites where you can find free stock images, textures, fonts, web buttons, and icons.
I’ve also added some free applications which will allow you to build websites, monitor and analyse site traffic, manipulate and create images, upload files to your site, and edit your website’s code.
Icons can really help complete a website’s look, and they’re perfect for adding a bit of interest and colour to pages with lots of text. You can spend a fair amount of money on purchasing premium icons, but there are loads of free ones available. IconArchive has thousands of free icons for you to choose from, and they come in a range of different colours and styles. Before you spend money on a set of premium icons, be sure to check out IconArchive first!
This open source application started out as a simple blogging platform, but it is now a full-fledged content management system used by millions of people to create personal, professional, and even ecommerce websites. WordPress is free and easy to use, and its great for people who don’t want to design a website from scratch. Plus, there are thousands of free and premium WordPress plugins and widgets you can use to enhance your site’s functionality, as well as thousands of free and premium themes you can use to completely change the look of your site. WordPress really is an amazing application, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is new to web design.
Texture, such as wood, fabric, and paper, has been a major trend in web design over the last few years, and it helps add colour and depth to otherwise simple sites. If you want to experiment with different textures without spending money, then have a look at Texturise. They have lots of high resolution images of various textures, including rust, plastic, and concrete. Texturise also offers a number of free seamless images you can tile to create large backgrounds for your website.
Google Analytics is arguably one of the best free tools available for site owners, because it provides a wealth of indispensable data. Do you want to find out how people are finding your site? Google Analytics will give you a breakdown of your site’s traffic sources, including referring sites, advertising campaigns, and search engines, as well as the search terms people use to find your website. Do you want to know which browsers your visitors use, the amount of time they spend on your site, the number of pages they look at, as well as the amount of new vs. returning visitors your site gets each month? Google Analytics can tell you all this and more, making it an invaluable tool for anyone with a website!
Fonts can completely transform the look and feel of your website, so you have to experiment with different typefaces to find the ones that work best with your design. Thankfully, Font Squirrel offers hundreds of free fonts in lots of different styles, including grunge, hand drawn, retro, stencil, and calligraphic. If you’re looking for a unique typeface for your website, then you should visit Squirrel Font before purchasing a premium font.
Images can add so much to a site’s design, but it’s very easy to spend a lot of money on stock photography. If you don’t have a large budget, then check out Stockvault, a website offering free stock images. They have over 28,000 photos for you to choose from, including images of people, animals, and buildings, as well as backgrounds, illustrations, and objects. While Stockvault may not have every image you’ll ever need, it’s worth checking out before buying a stock photo.
If you need some buttons for your website, then check out FreeButtonWeb! They have hundreds of sets of buttons in lots of different colours and styles, including retro, glossy, and grunge, so you should be able to find some to use on your site. Plus, FreeButtonWeb offers a mix of blank buttons which you can customise with your own text, and ones which are already labelled with common terms, such as Home, Download, Submit, and Subscribe.
If you can’t afford Photoshop, then check out Gimp, a free image manipulation program. You can use Gimp to create banners, logos, and other web elements for your site, and you can also use it to crop, resize, and retouch photos. It takes a little getting used to, but Gimp provides detailed documentation and tutorials designed to help you along the way. If you’re looking for a free image editing application, then you should definitely give Gimp a try!
In order to upload files to your site, you’ll need a stable and easy to use FTP client. While there are lots of FTP clients to choose from (including some premium ones), I recommend FileZilla. It doesn’t have a sleek interface, but it is reliable, fast, easy to use, regularly updated, and completely free, which is everything you need from an FTP client. Plus, FileZilla offers versions for multiple operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.