Some are new and innovative. Others have been on the market for some time, but they have constantly been updated and improved upon. The intent of this article, is to give web designers and design agencies an opportunity to improve their design techniques and workflows, and take advantage of technological advances wherever they see a need to do so.
Professional web designers are always interested in the latest design trends and how they might apply them to maximize UI/UX performance. You should find any one of these items beneficial in one of more of the following ways:
- By enabling you to work smarter and faster; thereby increasing your productivity.
- By giving you the means to improve skills critical to your advancing in your chosen specialty.
- Making it possible for you to have more free time, or accomplish more in a given time.
- Enhancing your reputation (and marketability) as a result of higher quality deliverables.
Learning New Skills or Improving Existing Ones
Relatively new freelancers tend to charge less out of fear of losing potential clients. Seasoned, professional freelance web designers can and do charge more, and this fascinating and helpful book will tell you why they are able to do so.
While the author offers many useful tips and techniques, the “secret” lies in acquiring a mindset that focuses on your clients’ needs and recognizes your talent as a problem solver.
A generous use of diagrams, infographics and photographs makes what could be a difficult technical read a relatively easy one. This two-book set provides a highly effective learning tool for new web designers and front-end developers.
Visual Hierarchy has assembled a selection of 200 quality freebies, many of which you will find extremely useful. Just go to the site and choose what appeals to you. You’ll find a number of UI kits, some interesting and unique font styles, icon sets, a neat dashboard freebie, Sketch freebies, kits for mobile apps, and more.
Free is fun, and these are all quality picks.
The UI Basic Set is a minimalist set of icons that comes in two parts; 100 line icons, and 100 identical icons filled in and with color. These icons are simple in design, and they will easily be recognized in a general UI layout. Examples of how they can be used in layouts, including a To-Do application, accompany the set.
When major corporations use a certain prototyping tool kit to test mobile app designs before investing in development, you know that tool must be top quality. That’s the case with Proto.io. You can create innovative, interactive and animated prototypes with this tool in minutes, without any need for code.
Use the native iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile UI elements, or use your own. Just as impressive is Proto.io’s program management function, which make communications gaps between team members and project stockholders a thing of the past. Proto.io’s superior prototyping capabilities can help you create better apps.
PowerPoint users take note. PowerPoint is not the easiest platform for building and presenting prototypes, but PowerMockup changes all that. This handy tool builds upon PowerPoint’s strengths, and turns it into a powerful prototyping platform.
The secret lies in PowerMockup’s library of more than 800 UI elements and icons created from PowerPoint shapes. Simply drag and drop the PowerMockup shapes to where you want them on the screen and let PowerPoint take over. Project presentation and collaboration becomes a piece of cake.
Design to Code Services
PSDgator will do an excellent job of converting your PSD files to HTML5/CSS3, but this multi-service agency can do much more. WordPress is the world’s most popular blog engine, and a popular content management system as well. PSDgator can convert your PSD files to WordPress, or customize a WordPress plugin for you should the need arise.
If you are using a WordPress theme, you’re only scratching the surface with respect to what the WP open source software system can do for you. If, however, all you need is a developer, the green gator is a super choice.
With 11 years’ experience and more than 100,000 projects completed, PSD2HTML® is the top coding partner for digital, marketing & design agencies. This team of target-driven pros cover all your web dev needs, from the smoothest JS interaction & HTML/CSS markup to comprehensive solutions for CMS or eCommerce platforms.
PSD2HTML® are breaking new ground in PSD to HTML services. They produce the highest-quality code and work closely with agencies to ensure they get the results they want.
Drop PSD2HTML® a line today and see what they can achieve for you.
The Site Slinger is the place to go if you want to take make a big impact in web-dev. Get ready to see your designs brought to life. These goal-orientated pros will slice your designs into the hottest code that money can buy, fast and smooth.
They’ve been getting even better recently, too. You’ve gotta see their easy navigation and brand-new layout for yourself. So try The Site Slinger for the really good quality PSD to HTML service. All they need from you is your designs.
Multipurpose WordPress Themes
If you are looking for a premium multi-purpose WP theme that features a ton of pre-built websites to work with (210+ at last count), give Be Theme a good, long look.
This popular WP theme has a wealth of website-, blog-, and app-building features. You can build one awesome website after another without ever having to touch a line of code.
X Theme is another super multipurpose WordPress theme. This relatively new design tool uses an innovative, power-packed 100% front-end page builder, the likes of which you haven’t seen before.
The entire theme smacks of innovation and attention to those details most important to professional designers and end users – in keeping with the latest design trends. X Theme is ThemeForest’s fastest selling WP theme.
eCommerce WordPress Themes
There are many multi-purpose themes that boast of eCommerce design capabilities. In many cases, this simply consists the inclusion of, and compatibility with, a WooCoomerce plugin.
Merchandiser on the other hand was created with eCommerce in mind.
Minimalist online shop design is a current trend, and Merchandiser is a minimalist tool. If gives you everything you need – and nothing more. This translates into faster website building, and faster, cleaner eCommerce sites.
XStore is another minimalist theme. Just recently launched, this eCommerce website-design tool will be a delight to work with; not only because of its minimalist properties, but because of some very useful special effects it features.
View the demos, and you’ll discover the merchandising power of demo shops and hover effects, and how these special effects can be put into play to capture customers’ attention, engage them, and drive up sales.
Website Builders and Platforms
Whether you are a freelancer or heading a design team – if you’ve been looking for ways to increase productivity by streamlining your design process, Webydo is the best solution. Its visual design features, built-in CMS and central Dashboard are all designed to help you maximize time (and revenue).
With Webydo, you have complete control in creating, managing and hosting your websites, as well as over your business with advanced features such as client billing and white label branding. Built by designers, for designers, Webydo is the all-in-one solution that takes into account all of your needs.
Drag and drop functionality has become a mainstay for website design, but it is no longer the only way, or is it the best. XPRS introduces a building block approach. This Lego-like approach makes website building fun, but that is not its sole purpose.
XPRS uses modules, called Polydoms. Modular hardware systems tend to be less complicated and more flexible. The same is true with modular website-building systems. If you are a drag and drop web designer, the folks at XPRS invite you to get on board with a free license. They also have a white label, unlimited licenses plan for a $350 annual fee.
wpDataTables is a simply amazing a WordPress plugin. This best seller makes big data analysis, and working with charts and tables a snap. Used by more than 7,000 companies, wpDataTables can take on huge amounts of data, reduce it to charts and tables in time to meet a pressing deadline, and even highlight analytical results of special interest.
Whether you are working with financial, commercial, or scientific data, or whatever, this plugin is an immense time-saver.
bbPress is a WordPress plugin you will definitely appreciate if you are encountering the types of problems that seem to be endemic with user forum and bulletin board software. It’s easy to install from your WordPress dashboard, or from WodrPress.org, and it has received excellent reviews.
Managing your forums, Q&A pages, or community websites just got a whole lot easier.
PhotoSpin is one of the top resources for quality stock images and vector files. It has an inventory of several million items, including images up to 17 inches long. They are all nicely organized and categorized, so you can drill down to find what you need in no time at all.
PhotoSpin has several annual subscription plans. Mention Promo Code BAW20, and you can sign up for 20% off.
Stockfresh is also a top-notch resource for stock images. It features an inventory of millions of hand-picked photos and vectors to browse and choose from. Everything is nicely organized, and you can purchase items separately, or save money by signing up for a subscription plan.
A free signup grants access to the Stockfresh inventory.
Collaboration and Task Management
InVision is the platform of record for digital product design thanks to its deep understanding of the dynamics of collaboration. With InVision, designers and design teams can build unbelievably realistic prototypes in minutes, giving users the power to review, refine, manage and user test before spending a dime on development.
The result – smarter, user-approved products developer faster and more efficiently. Sign up for InVision’s free Enterprise trial today by clicking the banner above.
Azendoo is another quality choice if your project tracking and collaboration activities are subpar, or merely average. With Azendoo, team members and project stakeholders can collaborate in real time and share documentation. They will always be in the loop, since this high-powered tool makes organizing tasks and workflow a simple task.
Whether you are a designer, or a team leader, Azendoo allows you to stop worrying about workflow and focus on what you do best – design.
UX and UI
Loop11 eliminates the need to having to choose between working with big data or analyzing user feedback. This powerful tool lets you do both fast and efficiently. Run hundreds of users through each test, finding where individual users may be having trouble, and analyze success rates.
Loop11 makes UX testing, which is sometimes looked upon with dread, easy; and takes the guesswork out of product design. Signup today, your first test is free.
Google Content Experiments can be your perfect solution for A/B testing. Its highlights include an improved statistical engine, advanced segments, a single control script and a report function that presents test analysis and history in an easily comprehensible format.
This is an ideal application for testing up to 10 landing page versions at one time to see which one could be expected to be the top performer.
Other Useful Tools
If you are a Sketch user, this cool little application will help you supercharge your workflow. Among other things, you can avoid dropdown menu searches, and run commands directly from your keyboard. You can easily navigate huge Sketch files, create and apply styles and symbols, and more.
Sketch Runner is in beta, but you can still download and start working with it, watch the demo, or go to the FAQ page for a quick tutorial on its use.
This is your chance to enjoy the benefits of a powerful, yet simple to use CMS; and at the same time become a project stakeholder.
It should not be difficult to find something here that will make your design activities a little, or a whole lot, easier. The tools, resources, and development services listed here are top quality. That goes for the freebies also, including the open source software offerings.
Introduce yourself to the world of minimalist website and minimalist tools, front-end page builders, or large selections of modern, professionally-designer pre-built websites. The learning section provides you with material for learning new skills, improve on existing ones, or show you how you can improve your business.
This collection of resources and tools will help you keep abreast of and apply the latest design trends, and have fun doing so.
header image courtesy of Charlie Waite