7 things that should be in every designer’s toolkit

7 things that should be in every designer’s toolkit

Sometimes when a new project comes up, the thought of having to start from scratch can be a bit daunting. This can change, however, by building up your own designer toolkit full of ideas and inspiration that can jump start the beginning of your next project. With a little bit of prep and planning, you will have a strong foundation for any new job.

There are a variety of different options for storing the pieces you collect. One suggestion is to create a master folder on your desktop, and then create individual folders by topic inside that main folder. Another option is to use an online storage option, such as Google Drive, with folders and subfolders organized by category. A perk with going the online storage route is that it can always travel with you easily!

Ready to create your own designer toolkit? Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

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Fonts

Bland, boring fonts just aren’t going to cut it if you want your design to stand out. It’s best to collect fonts in a variety of categories, such as script, fixed width, cartoon, and eroded styles. That way, no matter what genre your project is, you will have some font varieties already loaded onto your computer that you know will look great.

Be sure to collect fonts that are either public domain or fonts you have purchased to be sure that you do not steal others’ work or run into copyright violations. Additionally, sites such as Creative Market offer free goods each week, so you can find unique, free fonts on a consistent basis.

Stock photos

No matter how great your design skills are, a piece that ties everything together and turns your work from just-acceptable to eye-catching is the use of alluring images. Clear, crisp digital photographs with attractive colors and a relevant subject matter will really spiff up your work. You should collect some photographs that you love, since they will most likely be operating as placeholders and other examples while you put in many hours on your work – you will be looking at the same photos over and over for a long time!

For suggestions on where to find high quality, free stock photos, be sure to check out our top five stock photo sites!

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Icons

In addition to photographs, some of your projects may need icons for design elements such as menu buttons. A great resource for font icons is Font Awesome. There, you will find hundreds of icons to use in your CSS code that will add tiny bits of flair. If you’re interested in using it, here’s how to add it to your WordPress site.

WordPress themes

If you are a web designer who uses WordPress, it’s a good idea to have a few themes on hand that you are familiar with and that offer a variety of different customization options. You will want to look for some generic themes that are responsive, load quickly, have flexible customization, and offer many content options for a wide variety of uses. Any theme you decide to add to your toolkit should be a theme you find aesthetically pleasing, as well as something you can imagine displaying various types of content and data.

Plugins

While working on websites for multiple clients, you may often find that a plugin needed for one project will also be needed for another. Find your favorite WordPress plugins that work well and meet your clients’ needs. You don’t want to waste time searching for solutions that don’t work or don’t do what you need them to do. Having a reliable collection of plugins will make your work proceed seamlessly and save you lots of time.

Color palettes

Color immediately can set the mood of your work. Whether you want something to be calming, joyful, or serious can immediately be determined through the use of color. Collecting a variety of color palettes that show how different hues work together can really aid you in your design process. You don’t want to get stuck using clashing colors, and seeing a visual can instantly guide you in choosing the perfect complements. You might want to set up a board on Pinterest devoted to color palettes, and pin various color palette images. When it comes time to choose the best colors to tell your story, you will already have many options at the ready.

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Miscellaneous tools

There are some other miscellaneous tools to keep in mind when you’re building up your toolkit. One example is the Lorem Ipsum Generator, which will create text for you to use as a placeholder. When working on a design whose textual content is not yet created, seeing all that blank space where information will go makes the work look unfinished. Filling in those spaces with filler text shows how your design will look when all associated writing is completed and placed in your design.

Additionally, you should investigate whether or not an integrated development environment (IDE) is something you’d like to use for your work. A great free option is NetBeans, which allows you to use various modules to edit your code. Some features of an IDE include automatic code generation, integrated debugging, and keeping all files and source code on the same screen. Some designers like using an IDE while others do not. But, before you have a deadline and need to get a project completed, play around and see if it is a tool that can assist you with your work.

Let’s face it – there are some songs that relax you while others motivate you to work. Find your jams that entice you to get the job done!Music often makes mundane tasks much more enjoyable. So, whatever you choose, find something that makes you want to work hard!

And last, after you have completed your project, it is pretty obvious that you will want to get paid for your hard work. Check out free billing software such as Wave. For a small fee, you can create cloud-based professional invoices that will help keep your income flow organized.

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Being organized ahead of time and gathering some often-used design elements in your toolkit can help ensure your work proceeds smoothly. Continually add to your toolkit and utilize it as you work for your clients. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t thinking of web and graphic design when he said “A place for everything, everything in its place,” but it certainly applies to getting organized and knowing where to find the tools needed when the time comes.

What else is in your toolkit? Help us build the list by commenting below!

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