by Dmitry Molchanov on Sep 04 2015
Visual elements of a web page play key role in capturing attention of readers. Image perception happens instantly and effortlessly, our brain process visual information much faster than text. Sometimes visuals are simply the most effective and creative way to present information, data, or concepts that are difficult to understand.
You don't have to be a graphic designer to create professional and engaging visual elements for your website, you just need to use the right tools.
Search for Free Stock Images
The list of best searchable websites with copyright-free, cost-free images published under Creative Commons. You can copy, modify, distribute and use the images, even for commercial purposes.
- Picjumbo - variety of free photos for any kind of use.
- StockSnap.io - very handy search of beautiful free stock photos and high resolution images.
- Unsplash - offers a limited collection of free hi-resolution pictures for your website, particularly splash pages.
- Free Images - a large gallery of more than 350,000 stock photos, searchable and categorized.
- Foter - is a Flickr-focused search tool that helps quickly find photos and filter only free licenses.
- Morguefile - a short registration is required.
- Pixabay - over 440,000 free photos, vectors and art illustrations
- Rgbstock - registration (required) is one-click and the pool of photos is pretty deep.
- Splitshire - a collection of delicious free stock photos by web designer Daniel Nanescu.
- IM Free - a curated collection of free web design resources, all for commercial use.
- Good Free Photos - over 6000 photos of state parks, national parks, national landmarks, and historical sites. Also business, tech, animal, plant, and food photos as well. All photos are free to use for any purpose.
Make better screenshots instead of default screen capture
- Lightshot (Windows, Mac, Chrome) Free app with simple interface and useful features. Allows to capture screenshots of selected areas, edit, print or share them online, on various social networks.
- Awesome Screenshot (for Firefox, Chrome or Safari) Capture your screen or whatever lies beyond. Once you've snapped away, you can also edit, crop, add text, boxes, etc. to your screen shot. You can annotate focal points and blur out the stuff you don’t want to be seen.
- FastStone Capture (Windows only) A reliable and user-friendly software solution that helps you take customizable snapshots, then rotate, resize, watermark or add them effects. You can set FastStone Capture to copy the output image to the editor, clipboard, file, printer, email, Word, PowerPoint or FTP, as well as enable auto caption, auto edge or watermark and to include the mouse pointer. In the Editor you can rotate, flip or resize the image, expand the canvas or set its size, draw lines or text, enter a caption, adjust colors (e.g. brightness, contrast, gamma), use a color picker, apply filters.
- Screengrab (Firefox) Screengrab saves webpages as images. It can capture a selected region, the visible portion of the website as seen through your browser's window or, what is more interesting, the whole webpage from top to bottom, even the areas that fall beyond the browser's limits. This is probably the fastest and most convenient way to capture a complete website without having to copy different areas and then paste and manually arrange them on an image editor.
- Greenshot (Windows only) Another screenshot tool optimized for productivity. It is free and open source. Supports over 40 different image, text, file hosting services such as Imgur, FTP, Dropbox, Pastebin etc. Also supports many URL shortening and URL sharing services.
- ShareX (Windows only) Free and open source! Take a screenshot or a screencast, have it uploaded and get the URL copied to your clipboard with a single hotkey.
Enrich your web content with animated GIFs
The list of best online GIF generators that allows you to instantly create your own animated GIFs by combining separated image files as frames.
Alternatively you can create animated GIF in Photoshop.
Easily create animated explainer video.
- PowToons. Available for free, minus some features and with PowToons’ watermark. Create free, animated, interesting videos and presentations. PowToon is ideal for product demos, business presentations and teaser trailers about your company. Friendly and easy to use especially if you are familiar with PowerPoint.
- GoAnimate. Very robust and pretty easy to use. You can do a lot with a free account, but with a subscription you can unlock themes and upload your own content. The free version includes the ability to record voice overs as well as text-to-speak synthetic voices in several languages. They also have voice talent available to make your video sound super professional (for a price, of course).
- MoovlyA wonderful animation tool for creating videos, presentations and other multimedia content
- Wideo A web based app, an online video creation platform that allows you to create, edit, and share videos online for free. If you have a hard time with PowToon, you will find Wideo a blessing. Free account allows to make videos up to 45 sec.
- Sparkol VideoScribe(lowcostvids) puts together a video using a hand drawing simulation. So a hand is on the screen drawing out all the elements you add to your animation. It’s a desktop based app so you have to download it to your mac or your pc.
Add realistic flipping book.
If you have PDF, Word or other office documents on your website, you can make them look stunning and more interactive.
- Flip Builder. Convert PDF, Word, PowerPoint, CHM etc. documents in the flip book. Apps for Windows and Mac OS. It is a mature, full fledged software, not free, but you can get a discount up to 100% on their website, if you write a review, place backlink or banner on your website, or promote in social networks, etc.
- Fliphtml5. Free Digital Publishing solution allows to turn your PDF into a beautiful flipping book in minutes. Just upload your PDF and get your book published as flipping book.
Canva is an online graphic design platform that is very easy to use. If you want to produce visual content that’s beautiful (and branded), then Canva is your tool. They have templates for Facebook covers, social media posts, flyers, posters, blog graphics, and more. It's free and gives you thousands of free images to use, or you can upload your own.
The strong point of Piktochart is the wide variety of infographic templates and themes. Instead of starting from scratch, you’re starting with 75 or 80% of a final product. Piktochart offer a Pro account with more themes available for you to play around with, though the templates on the free account are also quite good and the icons, fonts and colors are varied enough. The free version do include watermarks below. But you can also just crop that out. (Don't tell anybody.)
Need to edit photos but don’t use Photoshop? Pic Monkey is an online editing tool that has many of the basic features of Photoshop: Cropping, resizing, adding text, etc. It’s also very easy to use. And it’s mostly free.
Thw free platform that features thousands of free infographic templates and original design objects to create visual content. Like Piktochart, the site has drag and drop design elements, based on existing templates, or start from scratch with your own images.
Skitch is an Evernote app for Macs, PCs and mobile devices. But you don't need to be an Evernote user to reap the benefits. Skitch allows you to get your point across with fewer words using annotation, shapes and sketches, draw attention to important things and share ideas. It’s great for quickly marking up images and screenshots and PDFs.
Have you ever wonder what colors would look best with your image? Upload your photo to Pictacoulous (from MailChimp) and get your answer (as shown below), or email your photo to “firstname.lastname@example.org” and wait for a reply. It gives you a set of colors extracted from the image along with a hexadecimal code of each color. Pictaculous supports only PNG, GIF and JPG formats. You can download the generated colors as an Adobe Swatch file (.aco).
Placeit is an excellent product placement tool. It gives you over 600 free product mockups. Choose your placeholder background, such as an iPhone, laptop or iPad, upload an image and there it is! The free resource has limited functionality. If you'd like a higher resolution image, you can pay per image or buy a subscription.
Slidely is a quick and fun way of creating slideshows, galleries, collages or even videos. Slidely is as simple as it gets: You choose a few of your own photos (or video), add a filter and choose the background music. Voila! You have a video or animated gallery.
Did you know that high quality infographics are 30x more likely to be read than text articles? Let's have a look on a few more infographic tools.
Infogr.am makes creating great infographics into a process that's dead-simple. Choose from 30 chart types and edit your data with a built-in spreadsheet. It turns your data into a nice looking chart or full-blown infographic in minutes. You can save it as a PNG or PDF that you can publish online or share on your social network. There's also a password feature to protect sensitive data.
Venngage – This tool allows you to create infographics and other visual content as well through their templates and icons, much like Piktochart. However, what’s cool about this tool is the addition of social analytics, so that you can track who is viewing your images. The template options are quite simple compared to other options out there, so it’s perfect if you want your infographic to take on a more minimalistic style.
Visme is a free cloud-based tool that creates presentations, banner ads and my favorite, infographics. Infographics are great because they visualize numbers in a memorable way. Visme allows to easily create visualized stats that hold attention without a lot of effort. Basic content is free to use. For more options a subscription is available.
ThingLink makes your images and videos interactive. ThingLink allows you to upload images, add icons that appear when you hover over the image or video, and link those icons to various parts of your website or blog – Pretty cool and fun to use. You can increase engagement with annotated notes, maps, polls, and rich media links.
Pixlr Photoshop is expensive and kind of hard to use if you don't know what you're doing. Pixlr gives you very similar but easier to use capabilities without having to download or buy a software. This is actually three online tools PIXLR EDITOR, PIXLR O-MATIC and PIXLR TOUCH UP. Pixlr Editor is like a lighter, easier to use version of Photoshop. Pixlr O-Matic is geared more towards Instagram users with different filters and other effects to help give your images a touch of creativity. Pixlr Express is more social media friendly, where you can add doodles, stickers and text to your images.
BeFunky your new go-anywhere free photo editor, it's rather a platform than an app. FeFunky cross-platform web-based apps available for iOS and Android offering a great range of tools to edit your images while on the move. Start work with your image in seconds even without registration. Supports editing in fullscreen mode. Unique collage layouts are available, such as holiday cards, Facebook covers, baby shower cards, and more
Haikudeck Want to make a simple slideshow or presentation without having to use PowerPoint? Check out Haikudeck. It won't allow you to create an ugly presentation. It’s free and great for implementing small amounts of text, quotes, data, etc. into simple but visually pleasing and sharable decks. They have free backgrounds available, or you can upload your own. Share your deck on social, embed it on your site, or download the deck as a .PDF or .PPT file.
At 99Designs, dozens of talented designers compete to deliver the best design for you. 99Designs helps you host a design contest. You choose a price, launch your contest, receive designs, give feedback and after 7 days pick the winner. Meet designers you love and continue working together directly. It's a great service, simple to use, super fast and reliable. I highly recommend them.
Prezi helps you create unique presentations that really highlight the individual elements of a big picture for deeper understanding through zoom and movement. You can use the cloud-based presentation editor or download Prezi Desktop and work off-line. You can use Prezi for free, but all your content will be publicly visible. A subscription service is available for private presentations. Presentations can be viewed as a video with or without voice over and in a slide show. You can also import and edit your current PowerPoint presentations. Below is an example.
Recite is a free cloud-based website that places text onto a graphic template. Turning a quote into a graphic has never been easier. You don't even have to create an account. Just click, type and download your image for a presentation. It's dead simple.
Notegraphy is like an Instagram for words. The idea is to write beautiful posts and share them on your social networks, but the simplicity and ease makes it great for creating parts of your presentation. Just type in the words you wish to highlight and click "Style it". You can share it or make private. Then just copy the image and paste it into your presentation. Easy. The example above took 55 seconds - including the time to sign up for an account.
Flat Icon. Icons are fantastic ways of representing links or ideas visually and directing attention. Flat Icon is a big database of simple, flat icons that are flexible and best of all, free. Whether you browse for inspiration or download a few yourself, Flat Icon is a good resource to have under your belt.
Gyazo. GIFs are increasingly appearing just about everywhere, and while the average Adobe-savvy designer can whip one up in no time, Gyazo provides a more entry-level way to capture and create a GIF from scratch. Completely free and straightforward to use, Gyazo is a great introduction to the world of moving images.
Animoto. Cloud-based and perfect for creating short, attention-grabbing videos, Animoto takes all of the hard work about video editing and gives you a stellar product in minutes, not days. What’s even better– you can peruse their extensive music library to add high quality and royalty free music to spice up your video.
Withoomph instantly designs logos for your website. Just enter your company or website name, enter keywords and click single button. You get several logo designs. Play with different keywords to get more results. To download your logo in high res you need to pay at least $30.
DesignRails more advanced (still beta) instant logo creation tool. Applying art and science to create custom-made, meaningful logos. Asks more questions to hook out your priorities and brand understanding. Since it's beta, you can get your logos for free.
Desinion. Hailed as the social media for indecisive designers, Desinion is another feedback-oriented network that allows for you to post the two versions of your design that you’re tossing up between to allow for other designers to vote on which one is most effective. Seeing others’ opinions in plain numbers can be a huge timesaver for the indecisive amongst us.
Videvo the home of completely free HD stock footage and motion graphics for any project! Royalty free library currently contains over 3600 HD clips and new stock video clips added every week.
Pixelmator (Mac only) is a photo editing tool that operates pretty much like Photoshop. The tool is available for MAC OS devices. It is available on itunes for a fee, but it is considerably cheaper than buying Photoshop. The tool allows painting, retouching, navigation, and color correction as well as layers and other manipulations. If you’re familiar with Photoshop this will be an easy tool to adapt to.
Need to update your CSS Menu. Use the Swimbi app to quickly build stylish CSS menus for your website without all trial and error we have all done in the past and the best part you do not need any coding knowledge to use this software.
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