This is a curated list of the most useful and beneficial resources I’ve found through my design journey thus far. I hope these websites, blogs, podcasts, tools, tutorials, and newsletters can help you as much as they helped me!
FREE DESIGN RESOURCES
This is definitely my favorite stock photography site. Unsplash has a massive curated selection of free photos that are all extremely high quality. I’d recommend bookmarking this one!
Thousands of free icons. All of which are downloadable in either PNG, PSD, AI, or SVG.
Subtle Patterns has a bunch of awesome free textures/patterns that are all seamless (repeatable), and high-quality.
Stocksnap is a nice alternative to Unsplash. It’s also carefully curated and features super high-quality photos.
Another massive collection of icons for all of your design needs. There’s a paid version which gives you access to the entire collection and a free version which requires attribution upon use.
If you’re looking for a unique style of font that you can’t find on Google Fonts, look no further than Font Squirrel. They have a massive collection of professional-grade free fonts
This site boasts an enormous collection of free stock photography. The only downside is that it isn’t as carefully curated, meaning there will be plenty of low-quality imagery. Use Pixabay if you’re looking for a more specific type of photo you can’t find on Unsplash or Stocksnap!
Hands-down the best resource for free fonts on the web. They also make it incredibly easy to preview fonts on their site.
AWESOME BLOGS AND COMMUNITIES
The InVision blog pumps out several new articles every week pertaining to all things design. Although not all of their posts are completely relevant to rookie designers, there’s definitely some great content that’s worth reading!
I highly recommend signing up for Sidebar’s newsletter! You’ll get an email every morning with a list of relevant and well-curated design articles from around the web.
Creative Bloq is a highly active design blog based out of the UK. They have a huge archive of informative blogs pertaining to every area in the design industry.
DN has a very helpful community that’s quite friendly towards rookie designers. It’s essentially a designer forum where you can join in on design related discussions or ask questions/get advice!
Although their blog is mostly about web design, there’s still a lot of good content for any type of designer here!
This is a great resource for asking technical questions regarding design and design software. Bookmark this, and the next time you can’t figure something out in Photoshop or Illustrator, refer to GDSE for some help!
INSPIRATION AND PORTFOLIO SITES
Pinterest is hands-down my favorite site for gathering design inspiration. No matter what type of design you’re looking for, Pinterest will have loads of top-notch examples. Organize your inspiration here and reflect back on it often!
One of the better resources for web design inspiration. They add to their curated collection daily, so there’s always fresh, new, beautiful websites to check out to get your creative juices flowing!
Behance is another great place to go for design inspiration. It’s also one of the easiest ways to start your design portfolio! If you don’t already have a Behance account, I strongly recommend creating one and uploading all of the work you’re most proud of.
LAPA is my go-to website for landing page design inspiration. It’s a clean, simple site with great search options featuring a curated collection of the most gorgeous, well-designed landing pages on the web!
Dribbble is a giant show & tell website for designers. It’s filled with incredible design inspiration from some of the best designers in the field. This is a bit more of a closed community for designers since you have to get a special invite to join, so until you get an invite, Behance is the best option for a starter portfolio site!
This site is excellent for gathering web design inspiration for any type of page—from checkout pages to pricing pages and everything in between. Just search the type of page you’re looking for and gather the inspiration you need.
DESIGN LEARNING AND TUTORIALS
You NEED to sign up for the Hack Design email course. These free lessons are easily worth hundreds of dollars. Curated by top designers, you’ll receive a new lesson every week. Visit the sites they link, study the videos they share and do the activities. Your future designer self will thank you, I promise.
Another useful educational site. The videos are created by veterans of the industry. Skillshare is a subscription-based platform, but make no mistake—it’s very affordable for how much you can get out of it.
This is probably the largest and most revered website as far as online courses go. Even if you’re already enrolled in school, I’d recommend taking some extra online courses to get that upper edge. Sign up for a free trial to see if it’s for you.
The Tuts+ family of sites are chalked full of relevant and easy-to-follow tutorials. You’ll find examples for just about anything you could imagine here.
When you’re learning design, it’s easy to get caught up in tutorials, so it’s important to practice real-world design examples. Find a fake project on Briefbox that looks exciting and go for it! These types of projects typically make for great portfolio pieces down the line.
The Bezier Game makes for a fun & unique approach to mastering the pen tool, one of the most indispensable tools you’ll need to learn as a designer.
An easily-digestible resource for learning quick statistics about design and marketing. After reading through these quips, you’ll be making more informed design decisions in no time.
Udemy is a top-notch educational website. Their videos are very well crafted and you’re able to take them at your own pace. They have an abundance of free and paid courses.
This site is super informative and will definitely help up your game in the web/UI design department. It’s loaded with tips for creating the best possible user interface. A lot of the tips are very simple but can make a huge impact on your designs.
Another enjoyable game that will help develop your design eye, aiming to teach designers how to properly kern type. This is something that may not seem as important at a glance, but it can really make an impact on your designs! Try to beat my high score of 93 =)
An incredibly useful tool for generating color palettes for projects. You can search the most popular color schemes for inspiration and edit them to tailor it to your design project or start a color palette from scratch.
My favorite of many prototyping tools out there. InVision makes it incredibly easy to upload images of static pages and create hotspots to link from one page to another. Great for testing the look & feel of websites or apps before they’re sent to development!
Another really great tool for generating color palettes. Just press your spacebar and their app generates beautiful color schemes. When you find a color you really like, you “lock” it and press your spacebar again and it’ll generate a new color scheme around that color.
Marvel is another impressive prototyping tool that’s very similar to InVision. Each one has their own pros/cons, but Marvel definitely has a better free version.
This is a godsend for those who aren’t inherently great writers (like me). Simply copy/paste the text you want to edit, or start a document from scratch, then read through the recommendations to craft the perfect copy. Keep in mind that good copy is useful for job hunting and client acquisition!
Paul knows a thing or two about freelancing, and yes, that’s an understatement. I highly recommend checking out his articles and signing up for his newsletter if you’re looking to dive into freelancing.
Never do work without a contract! Bonsai has a free “bullet-proof” contract template you can utilize if you don’t know much about legal matters. It also lets you invoice clients at the same time. That’s what I call a win-win.
Brennan is another indispensable resource for freelancers. He’s a very active blogger and has a massive archive of relevant articles related to making more money as a freelancer.
A free tool for time-tracking. Toggl works across devices and reminds you to track your time. I’ve tried several similar tools and Toggl is my favorite.
Another fantastic tool for time-tracking. Time Doctor doesn’t just track time but also tracks mouse/keyboard activity and sites you visited in order to provide even more in-depth time management analytics. They have both free and paid plans.
Jarrod went out of his way to help guide me in the right direction when I first began freelancing. The guy knows a lot about the craft and is constantly delivering great articles related to design.
The nuSchool has an outstanding blog full of articles related to freelancing. They cover everything from pricing techniques to survival strategies and all points in between.
This article is a giant compilation of resources to help design students, written by a very well-known designer. Although it was published in 2010, everything is still very relevant.
An excellent article by professional designer Brett Bergeron. He gets right to the point and covers some crucial topics directed towards design students.
An assortment of applicable and invaluable tips from professional designers. Spend some time on this site gathering insight and you’ll likely walk away with a whole new mindset of what you need to succeed in the design field.
If you’re looking to learn more about icon design, give Icon Utopia a follow. He’ll send you a free eBook if you sign up for his mailing list, which I highly recommend.
A quick and digestible guide to font pairing for a wide range of situations. Bookmark this, use their font pairing recommendations, and watch your designs start to look more professional.
A giant compilation covering all of the design terms you’ll pretty much ever need to know.
A very in-depth article on color theory. Be sure to check out the other articles they link to—regarding color theory!