Some of our favorite design tools for non-designers

Good design can make or break a burgeoning brand. It can be the difference between looking sophisticated and professional or coming across as amateurish, and the difference between guiding potential customers to your desired outcome or just plain confusing them.

The good news is, it’s not hard to get started. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite design tools for non-designers. These certainly won’t replace your graphic designer when you need a logo or a UX whiz when thinking through your next app idea, but they’re great to have in your pocket the next time you need to create a header for a blog post, a postcard, a spiffy-looking document or just your latest, greatest Instagram post.

  • Canva is a darling of the startup world for good reason. Dozens of stylish templates will help get you started on everything from a Facebook post to a presentation to a Kindle cover, or you can start with a blank slate. Use photos from Canva’s library (many are free, some cost $1) or upload your own, then layer on text, shapes and borders to your heart’s content. It’s user-friendly, fun and easy to get started.

  • For stock photography, we like Pexels for its large, searchable library, Unsplash for unique and inspiring shots and Startup Stock Photos (created in Iowa!) for more shots of laptops, notebooks and modern office spaces than you’ll know what to do with (they know their niche and they know it well). Also check out Public Domain Archive, Gratisography, New Old Stock and Little Visuals. All of these sites share photos that are completely free and legal to use, even for commercial purposes.

  • For type and color inspiration, play around with the Flat UI Color Picker, Coolors, Paletton, ColorHexa, Beautiful Web Type (click on anything you like to find that font in Google Fonts) and Canva’s Font Combinations tool.

One parting word of advice before you explore: When in doubt, keep it simple. Straightforward and clear is usually better than complex and ornate, especially if you’re not quite sure of your skills. Often a hallmark of good design is that the user doesn’t even stop to think about it. Have fun!

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