While “Content is King” still rings true on many levels, it no longer tells the entire story of digital marketing. Content might prove the foundation for your kingdom, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Web design, SEO, user navigation and social media strategy are just a few of the other key players required for long-term success.
Chuck Longanecker of Digital-Telepathy, a user-experience design firm, knows the importance of good web design in internet marketing. In a post at Mashable, he wrote, “the ‘beautification of the web’ is upon us.”
But don’t confuse the idea of web beautification with fancy graphics and expensive landing pages. Just look at Pinterest and Tumblr to see how simple, clean design can attract an enormous following. Fortunately, enhancing your web design doesn’t have to cost a small fortune or take a lot of time. Here are ten design freebies that can help enhance your web presence today:
Find handcrafted micro icons, textures, brushes, iPhone chat bubbles, textures and more at Premium Pixels. Unlike many free web design collections, these can be used for both personal and commercial use.
BittBox offers design tutorials, along with vectors, high-resolution Photoshop brushes and textures. Look for posts in the series Freebie Fridays and Free Texture Tuesdays for fun giveaways, featuring everything from weathered wood designs to grunge splatter brushes.
These freebies are yours to use as tools during the design process – even if you’re planning to sell your creations. Just be aware that users can’t redistribute or post them for download in their original state.
Open Source Web Design
Download and share your own free web design templates at Open Source Web Design.
If you’re not sure where to start, look through the OSWD’s collection of Favorite Designers or share an idea through their Suggestion tab. There’s plenty of great stuff to be found!
Dubbed, “The world’s greatest source of free and commercial design resources,” Design Moo features free PSDs, vectors, textures, patterns and fonts, among other design goodies.
Become a Design Moo member for quick access to a robust collection of design elements. Or, upgrade to a paid membership with access to exclusive design resources, perks and the ability to sell your own creations.
Best PSD Freebies
Best PSD Freebies offers icons, sliders, buttons, banners, ribbons, web themes, Photoshop files and more. The site has earned its bragging rights with over 200,000 downloads to date and no signs of slowing down.
Flickr Creative Commons
Don’t forget the photos and other images when it comes to web design. Flickr offers photographers and artists the option to offer their work through the Creative Commons license at Flickr.com/CreativeCommons.
Flickr uses ridiculously easy license icons to show how each image can be used. Some allow you to use the image in any way you see fit, but only if credit is given. Other artists choose the option, “No Derivative Works” – meaning that others can copy, distribute and display verbatim copies of the work.
Hunting down just the right icon can be a taxing and time-consuming chore. Save yourself some time and head to Icon Finder and do a quick search for anything from “mobile icon” to “social media icon” and find a comprehensive list.
Not all icons are free, but clicking on the “Free” tab will help narrow down your results significantly.
Download free design templates, tab bar icons, iPhone mock-ups, PSD frames texts effect and other web sources at Pixeden.
The site was designed as a one-stop shop for developers and designers in need of free elements to get their projects in gear. A premium membership grants you access to support services and the ability to make further modifications to their design elements in your projects.
Though Smashing Magazine is an online publication for design pros – not a design element repository – it also offers a freebie category. Past freebies included “Typeplate: A Starter Kit for Beautiful Web Type,” free WordPress themes, icon sets and templates for mobile projects.
Best of all, Smashing Magazine’s target audience of designers, meaning that all the freebies that are up for grabs have been looked with a discerning eye.
Where would your content be without a good font? Da Font hosts an archive of free downloadable fonts organized by style, author, popularity or alphabetically.
There’s not much you won’t find here. The site’s font collection is vast, ranging from groovy to “foreign look” and plenty of scripts.
With so many freebies readily available for use, there’s really no excuse to neglect your web design. But there’s also no shame in asking for help and tapping a professional to usher in the next stage of your design strategy. That step might mean a complete design overhaul or a simple logo update to better align with your brand and overall messaging.
Remember there’s no magic formula to web design. Start by integrating a few key elements, from icons to a new web template, to refine your site’s style and usability. Keep making adjustments until you find the right combination for your growing online presence.