13 Cool Design Tools You’ve Probably Never Seen Before

Who says you need to use Photoshop to design beautiful logos, websites, packaging and more?

Thanks to the hard work of companies like ProtoSketch, Gravit, Niice and many others, today’s designers have access to a huge range of tools for everything from wireframes and mockups to finished products.

Whether you’re a non-designer interested in sketching out the basics of a new website or a pro designer looking to expand your toolkit and improve your abilities, having the right tools on hand makes the process of designing anything easier.

Below, we’ve assembled a list of 13 cool design tools that you’ve probably never seen before. If you’re interested in improving your choice of colors, simplifying UI testing or editing photos while on the go, try adding these (mostly) free tools to your design toolkit.

Adobe Color CC

What does it do?

Create and save colour schemes for use with other design tools and Adobe applications, such as Photoshop or Illustrator.

How much does it cost?

Free.

Adobe Color CC is a free online color scheme creation tool that lets you put together analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound and shades-based colour schemes for design projects.

Color schemes can be saved to “My Themes” or exported for use in Adobe software and other design applications. Since it’s a web-based tool, Adobe Color CC easy to use on any platform.

Atomic

What does it do?

Design and share beautiful interfaces from scratch or using existing resources, all from your browser.

How much does it cost?

Free to try. Starter priced from $15 per month.

Atomic is a web-based design and prototyping tool that lets you create beautiful interfaces with detailed animations, all without leaving your web browser. Built for application UI design, Atomic makes it easy to add interactions to your mobile or web app’s user interface.

With a selection of automatic transitions and an advanced motion timeline, Atomic is crafted with sleek, modern app design in mind. Simple collaboration makes it easy to bring the entire design team onboard, while device-based prototyping lets you see your UI in action on any device.

Designer Mill

What does it do?

Collections of free design resources, from UI kits to free fonts.

How much does it cost?

Free.

Designer Mill is an online collection of freebies for designers, ranging from fonts and icon packs to code resources and UI kits. Everything on Designer Mill is free of charge, making it one of the best online resources for designers in need of fonts, icons and other useful assets.

Gravit

What does it do?

Design business cards, logos, social media images, websites and more using a straightforward but powerful web-based tool.

How much does it cost?

Free.

Gravit is an open-source design tool that lets you create business cards, brochures, websites, social media images and more without leaving your web browser. Built for non-designers, it’s a surprisingly powerful tool that could easily find its way into a full-time designer’s toolkit.

Premade templates mean that designing logos, business cards and other small items is a quick and simple process. Although it’s far from ideal for complex projects, Gravit is a useful free tool that’s perfect for creating blog post and social media images in very little time.

Modernizr

What does it do?

Detects the availability of next-generation HTML, CSS and JavaScript technologies in your audience’s browsers.

How much does it cost?

Free.

Modernizr is a collection of tests that run silently when a user visits your website to find out what next-gen web technologies their browser supports. You get detailed data on all the technologies your users can support, helping you created tiered experiences using the newest technology.

Using Modernizr, you can customize your website’s design to only display new technology to the users that can see it, preventing compatibility issues from negatively affecting user experience.

MyCrowd

What does it do?

Crowdsourced UI and quality assurance testing to help you discover and fix bugs in the design of your website or mobile app.

How much does it cost?

Free test access. Paid plans from $49 per month.

MyCrowd is an online crowdtesting platform that lets you access thousands of QA testers on demand. In just a few hours, you can have an online army of testers combing your website to find any UX problems or code issues that could prevent real users from achieving their goals.

Designed for web-based and mobile apps, MyCrowd’s network of testers has access to a huge variety of devices, making it easy to find hardware and software-specific bugs and UX issues.

Niice

What does it do?

Create moodboards of inspiring designs from Behance, Dribbble and Designspiration.

How much does it cost?

Free. Pro plans from $9 per month.

Niice is a design search engine and moodboard tool that lets you find and collect design ideas and inspiration from Behance, Dribbble, Designspiration and hundreds of other hugely popular web design resources.

Once you’ve built a collection of pieces, you can share and collaborate with friends, colleagues and other designers or turn your moodboard into a presentation.

Picktorial

What does it do?

Powerful, professional-quality photo editing without the Photoshop price tag.

How much does it cost?

Free to try. Paid version from $19.99 via the Mac App Store.

Picktorial is an ambitious project: a powerful photo editing application for Mac designed to offer the core features of Photoshop and Lightroom without the price tag.

With native raw file editing, a helpful workflow that lets you adjust old edits without any effect on later ones, simple quick enhancement tools and instant retouching, Picktorial is a powerful photo editing app that’s ideal for photographers and designers that prefer to avoid Photoshop.

ProtoSketch

What does it do?

Graphic design application for iPad with desktop-class features.

How much does it cost?

$8.99 via the App Store.

ProtoSketch is a graphic design app for iPad that packs desktop-class features into a simple but powerful UI. Designed for ease of use, ProtoSketch comes with a huge selection of UI elements, fonts, icons and shapes for you to use in your designs.

Although it’s not quite as comprehensive as desktop design software, Protosketch is more than powerful enough for logo, website and mobile app design. An updated version with support for Mac OS X and real-time collaboration is also on the way, with release scheduled for late 2016.

Typeform

What does it do?

Makes it easy to create beautiful forms for your website.

How much does it cost?

Free to try. Pro version from $35 per month.

Typeform is an online form creation tool that lets you design and build engaging forms that users actually want to fill in. Typeforms can be customized to make use of user data instantly, such as displaying a user’s name in a question moment after they entered it.

Designed to improve engagement and conversion rates for web forms, Typefrom can be used to create everything from simple two-field signup forms to order forms, registration forms, payment forms and more.

UX Gofer

What does it do?

Easily interview your website’s users and run detailed usability tests.

How much does it cost?

Free for 30 days. Paid version from $39 per month.

UX Gofer is a web and mobile app that lets you carry out usability tests and interviews to quickly learn more about how people interact with your website.

Designed to make getting data as easy as possible, UX Gofer includes Mod Guide templates to help you quickly roll out new UX tests, simple data capture to help you record usability tests and detailed charts that let you put your testing data into perspective to make actionable changes.

UXPin

What does it do?

Design great user interfaces and prototypes for web and mobile apps.

How much does it cost?

Free for 30 days. Basic version from $19 per month.

UXPin is a UX design and wireframing tool that lets you build an interactive, animated prototype of your web or mobile app in just a few minutes. Advanced design and animation tools give you the power to work from scratch or use pre-existing assets to speed up the design process.

Thanks to Photoshop and Sketch integration, you can import your existing designs directly into UXPin for quick prototyping. Full iOS and Android UI libraries are included to make the process of designing your app as quick, simple and stress-free as possible.

Vectr

What does it do?

Online and desktop graphics editing for websites, logos, posters and more.

How much does it cost?

Free.

Vectr is an online and desktop graphics editor for Mac, Windows and Linux. Currently in beta, it offers powerful vector editing for logos and other graphics, all from a simple web and desktop UI that’s suitable for non-designers.

Files are stored online and can be edited from Vectr’s web or desktop apps on any platform with live syncing. Vectr also offers real-time sharing and editing, letting you easily share project files with clients for feedback and revisions.

Which cool design tools did we miss? Let us know via Twitter 🙂

Published: 07 April, 2017

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