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Web Design

Web Design: 5 Awesome Indie Tools to Help with your Designs

As a team of seasoned web designers, we’re constantly looking for helpful tools that can assist us in doing the work we do faster and more efficiently. Bonus points if the tools are created by independent makers! Being a remote studio, we appreciate the effort that goes into building a product, while traveling the world. That’s why we love to support those tools and their creators.

Below is a list of 5 tools our team recently tried and loved.

Inspireframe

Created by the same person, who’s also behind Landingfolio, Inspireframe is a cool, interactive way to get inspiration for your next web project. Both products focus on providing inspiration, however, Landingfolio is more like a database of good landing page examples and Inspireframe is an actual tool you can use to browse through specific elements of a web page you like and just drag & drop them to create a prototype of the website you’d like to build.

It’s perfect for communicating your vision to others, without the need to describe what you want – just show it through already existing elements. It’s great for generating ideas fast, just be careful not to copy too much. People will notice if you make your own web design too identical to others.

Jamm

This one is not exactly design-specific, but we like it nonetheless. With the recent major shift to remote work across industries, we’ve noticed quite a few new video collaboration tools. Jamm falls into this category, but what we particularly enjoy about it is the casual asynchronous audio/video messages you can send your teammates. Another huge plus is the screen share + live collaboration combo. It’s something we’ve definitely been missing during our planning sessions on Hangouts. It also personally reminds me in a way of the good old ICQ days.

Markup

Speaking of collaboration, MarkUp allows you to comment in real-time directly on a website or an image. The idea is that instead of using PM tools, notes apps, and chat clients, you can collaborate directly on any given URL, write comments, go through notes and overall implement feedback much faster.

It can either be a live website or a prototype, so whatever designs you need to share, you can do it all in one place!

Octopus.do

Every web design project starts with a low-fidelity wireframe. Octopus.do is a neat little online tool to create visual sitemaps, collaborate with teammates, and share your progress with clients. It’s super fast and easy to use, being stripped down to just the essentials – something we don’t see very often these days. Just open it up and start creating your web structure right away.

HeyDesigner

OK, this is one not exactly an “online tool” in the traditional sense, but it’s nevertheless very useful if you’re a designer or frontend developer and want to keep track of the latest trends in the industry. It’s both a curated online repository for bits of knowledge and also a daily or weekly newsletter.

Conclusion

We absolutely love that there are so many people who are actively working to create awesome new tools not only for designers and developers but all kinds of digital creators. It’s important to be good at what you do and your professional skills are definitely your greatest asset, but having a good arsenal of tools can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes you to produce quality and both your teammates and your clients will appreciate that.

Still, be careful not to fall into a tool-trap or product-anxiety, where you feel like you need to use a lot of different tools to complete the same task. Trust your gut and find what works best for you!

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