Design on a Dime – Creative tools for a baller on a budget

Dec 18 2017 9:00 AM

Your website is the cover to your book, your handshake, your first impression, and you want to make it look good.  But, you just can’t allocate the funds to hire a team of creative developers to do it.  Not to worry.  I’ve got you covered!  Here are a few cheap (or FREE) and easy creative tools to get your juices flowing.

Color –

You LOVE the logo color of your favorite restaurant and would love to add this to your new (Governor ß YES!) website, but you have no idea what shade of red it is.  While there are thousands of reds in the world, THAT one is perfect!  Using any of the following tools will help you find that perfect pigment.

Image Color Picker - With Image Color Picker, you can easily upload a picture of your intended tone and find the HEX and RGB code.  This code is the key to your color.  Use this on any of the color editors, like the ones below!

Adobe Color Wheel - Find your unique color then discover your palette.  With the Adobe Color Wheel, you can quickly and easily see what colors work well with your favorite shade, and, more importantly, what doesn’t.  You can even select different Color Rules to spice things up a bit.

Paletton - Paletton is similar to Adobe Color Wheel.  You are able to add in your HEX code, or find new and exciting colors by sliding the navigation around the wheel and adjusting the light or shadow, with the center navigation.

Font and Icon –

The font you choose is extremely important.  It must be easily read, but also defining of you and what you offer.  Recently, I drove past a billboard with elegant script showcasing large capitalized letters and I could not make them out at 70 miles per hour.  Truthfully, I’m not sure if I could make them out on a smaller scale, either.  Fancy script is lovely and can add drama to any print or digital media, but use this sparingly.

Here are a few sites to help you find your next font:

Google Fonts - If you are looking for a web-friendly font, Google will always have your back.  What’s “web-friendly”?  When your website is built, several fonts are added to the code, the main font, and a few alternatives.  Some browsers do not have all of the fonts available, so it will use the alternatives, as needed and if available.  If the font you select is obscure and not available on, say, Google fonts, the browser will show the font is the next, useable font, OR default to a basic font, if needed.  Google Fonts will provide plenty of options to choose from, all user, and browser, friendly.

1001 Fonts - Though not necessarily web-friendly, 1001 Fonts offers some pretty cool choices.  I would suggest comparing these fonts to the Google Font site, if using on a website.  If you are selecting a font for print, you can be a little more creative.  However, be warned that anything you use on print can and will be held against you on the world wide web.  Mark is beautiful.  Make is unique.  Make it readable.

Icomoon - Need a sweet icon to showcase your style?  Icomoon offers you the moon when it comes to icons.  Though not all free, you can get a pretty great deal on icons that you can use just about anywhere. 

Images –

A picture is worth a thousand… hits on social media.  Selecting the right image can be tricky, but acquiring the image can be just as hard!  Here are a few options:

  • You can take the picture yourself if you have a keen eye and sweet PhotoShop skills. 
  • You could pay for someone to take the picture and edit ($). 
  • You could also check out the local High School or College/University.  They often have photography classes where you can either commission a photographer or buy an image from a hungry Co-Ed for the price of a pizza and a six pack of soda. 

Keep in mind: It can be tricky getting the proper size for the image.  Always check in with your website or print provide on the dpi and/or pixel requirements then give this to your photographer when ordering prints.

Another option is to use a stock image website.  With any of these, below, you can select a great picture, in the right dimensions, often for FREE. (Don’t you just love that word?) 

Keep in mind, if your area or niche is smaller, you might not find a local image.  Keep an open mind.  If you are looking for a local shot of your small town in Jamestown Colorado, you may not find it in the stock options.  Instead, try searching for “Mountain living”, “Mountain town”, or “Small town home(s)” and see if anything comes close.  You may be surprised how much Sweden looks like Vermont!

Here are a few great options:

Pexels -

Unsplash -

iStock -

Now, go out there and add some pizzazz to your digital world!

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