9 Designer Tools Everyone Should Know About

Kubist

Function: Web tool to create polygon art from photos

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free

This tool is a quick way to jump on the polygon trend without having to use any design tools. The settings allow you create something stylized, but recognizable, or completely abstract, depending on your needs. Use Kubist for your next blog post header, a cool Facebook cover photo, or really anything in your life that could use a little more low-poly.

Raw

Function: Create flexible data visualizations

Difficulty Level: Beginner-Advanced

Price: Free

My absolute favorite tool on the list is Raw. This tool is great for non-designers (and designers) who love working with data. Raw offers many hard to find data visualizations such as bump charts, hexagonal binning, and clustered forced layout. Customize colors, size and labels before downloading a PNG, grabbing the embed code or exporting it as an SVG (for the designers who want to go the extra mile on customization).

Gerstneizer

Function: Quickly create cool patterns

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free

Gerstneizer, like Kubist, is a pet project webtool with a cool (but very specific) function. This one allows you to quickly create abstract, geometric patterns using a triangle, square or hexagon as your base. Add color, adjust the size, and save as an SVG for editing. Simple alternative to more complicated pattern making tools, like Adobe Illustrator.

WhatFont

Function: Identify fonts on any website

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free

WhatFont is wonderful for anyone who loves fonts (whether they work with them professionally or not). The simple Chrome App sits in your toolbar and allows you to quickly find the font name, size, and color on any webpage. Once you start looking around the web you’ll find there are a small pool of fonts that are used on most websites.

The Noun Project

Function: Free icon database

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free with paid options

The Noun Project is basically the Wikipedia of icon design. Anyone can upload a design for any noun (although, I’ve seen adverbs and adjectives running around) and set the terms for it’s use.  They are free to use with attribution and great for quickly illustrating an idea or simply helping you visualize an abstract concept.

Squarespace Logo

Function: Create a simple logo for your project, blog or start-up

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free for low-res, $10 for high-res

Squarespace’s Logo may not be popular with a certain subset of designers, but it’s a great tool for people who need a quick and (nearly free) way to get a project off the ground. You’re not getting the quality of design you would hiring a logo designer, but the simple good fonts + nice Noun Project icon formula works pretty well for a basic logo. I’d recommend it for your next side project, blog, or start-up idea. You can shell out for Michael Bierut after your Series A funding comes in.

FF Chartwell

Function: Create beautiful and simple graphs using a font

Difficulty Level: Intermediate, requires Adobe Creative Suite programs

Price: $25 per chart type or $129 for all seven

FF Chartwell is a font that creates gorgeous little graphs in a magical way. Basically, you type in the values of your graph, change the color of each number, and then switch to stylistic alternatives for the font. Presto! Beautiful graphs! This tool is best suited for people with a basic understanding of Adobe Illustrator or InDesign that want to quickly create and edit graphs.

TinyPNG

Function: Reduce the size of your web images without Photoshop

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Price: Free web app

None of the wonderful things you create will be wonderful on the web if you forget to compress them! Use this helpful (and adorable) tool to reduce your image sizes so people will be able to load your images even when they’re stealing Wi-Fi from a Starbucks two blocks away.

Racontr

Function: Interactive, multimedia storytelling and presentation tool

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Price: Free for limited storage, paid plans start at €9.99

Remember how impressed you were with Prezi in 2010? Relive the magic by checking out Racontr. Instead of Prezi’s vertigo-inducing pans and zooms, Racontr embraces a subtler, scrolling based movement. The beauty of Racontr is the ability to combine video, photos, social feeds and sound into a seamless web experience without a line of code. Finished projects can then be embedded or downloaded in HTML.

Did I miss any of your favorite tools? Let me know @artgeeky