written by
Carsten Pleiser

12 Awesome Design Tools For Startups Who Can't Afford Designers

Design Tools 6 min read

In the beginning, it was just you and your grande vision. As entrepreneurs, we strive to bring our products & services to live with a bang. We want to convey the masses that our product will make the world a better place. We're euphoric and will do anything to make this story a success.

And here's you with your laptop and a coffee sitting at a hot desk in a shared office. Without a design team at hand, you're designing everything yourself: your social media graphics, your blog headers, your landing pages, your Facebook ads. You want it to look awesome, neat & professional.

But in reality...your designs look like crap!

Sure, you could hire a freelance designer from some of the many market places like Upwork & Co, but let's face it - it's like a shot in the dark and a gamble for quality. You don't want to risk it. And it's a real time-suck & hiring an in-house designer will break your bootstrapped budgets.

Luckily, there are awesome design tools for startups & entrepreneurs who can't afford designers. And hey, no one would even know you cheated just a little.

Ready? Let's check 'em out.

Next Up: Best Design Tools For Startups

1. Smart Stock Image Search: Everypixel

Design Tools For Startups - Everypixel
EveryPixel makes stock photo search smart

Unfortunately, there are lots and lots of unforgivingly bad stock photos. Let's get rid of them once and for all.

Want to know how?

Everypixel uses neural networks for ranking stock images and has algorithms to judge the aesthetic value of a stock image in the same way as a human would do.

By using Everypixel, you can search millions of millions of stock photo sites in one go without having to weed out those bad ones. (I'm talking about the two males shaking hands type of stock images. You know which ones I mean, don't you?)

It gets better!

2. Landing Page Images: LandingStock

Design Tools For Startups - LandingStock
LandingStock helps you find the perfect photo for your landing page

In the beginning, you'll spend a hell of a lot of time creating landing pages for your new projects and business ideas. But finding quality, free images for your landing pages can be tough. You can either spend a fortune on subscriptions for pages like Shutterstock & Co. or you can simply use LandingStock.

Craig Barber, the London-based product designer spent hours browsing free image sites like Freepik and Unsplash in search of the best free landing page images, so you don't have to.

What about illustrations?

3. Free Surrealist Illustrations: Absurd.Design

Design Tools For Startups - Absurd.Design
Absurd.design gives you, well, absurd designs

Are you tired of stock photography or seeing those blobby characters with purple hair? (Apologies, we use them on our Design Buffs landing page)

Absurd.design's goal is to offer your site visitors a chance to think about the message instead of just the features of your product. It allows you to find illustrations that go deeper into the artistic mood of your project or service.

Even if you're not a fan of surrealist design, it's worthwhile checking it out.

Let's talk about colors, shall we?

4. Find a color palette you'll love: Coolers

Design Tools For Startups - Coolors
Coolors gives you awesome color palettes

Coolors takes the thought process out of creating interesting themes. Just like font-pairing, finding the right color palette for your startup can be very complex. Coolors turns this into a fun activity, almost like a slot machine for harmony.

You can search by most popular color palettes or get inspired randomly.

Need some gradients, look no further 👇

5. Find Awesome Gradients: CoolHue

Design Tools For Startups - CoolHue
CoolHue has beautiful hand-selected gradient collection

Gradients look simply awesome. CoolHue is a handpicked collection of 60 Gradients for your next project which can be either copied as CSS Codes or exported as images.

What about fonts?

6. Identify Fonts Used In Images: WhatTheFont

Design Tools For Startups - WhatTheFont
WhatTheFont identifies

As a design newbie without the skills, you can cheat by snatching up the fonts used on pages you come by online. WhatTheFont is a free-to-use tool that lets you pop an image into the uploaded and it'll spit out the font used within. Simple, but effective.

If you like Google fonts, we have a suggestion for you as well.

7. Pair The Best Google Fonts: Fonts Joy

Design Tools For Startups - FontsJoy

Font pairing in design is pretty subjective, but Fontjoy is a great way to get inspired by good looking fonts that work nicely together.

Next up...

8. Resize Social Media Images: Promo Resizer

Design Tools For Startups - Promo Resizer
Free Image Resizer

Did you ever calculate the countless hours resizing images for your various social media channels?

It's a pretty common use-case and it goes like this: You create a photo or image you want to share across multiple social media platforms and you're going back and forth making the asset look good on various channels.

With Promo's free Image Resizer, you can upload your images and automatically resize them to all standard web and social media dimensions in just 1 click.

It's hassle-free and gives you back many more hours so you can focus on growing your business instead.

Need some inspiration for your user interface?

Suggested reading: 5 Easy Ways to Repurpose Blog Posts Into Engaging Visuals

9. Get UI Inspiration: Webframe.xyz

Design Tools For Startups - Webframe.xyz
Webframe.xyz gives you inspiration for your user interface

If you have a new idea for a project or website, you're probably looking around the web for inspiration, right? (Let's face it, there's no point reinventing the wheel)

Where do you even start? Even if you can't afford a full-time designer, you want to make sure you give your freelancer a rough idea of what you're looking for. How would you like the signup process to look like? How should the profile page look like? What about the payment page?

But here's the challenge.

Getting screenshots of the internals of web apps often mean you have to signup, hand over credit card details and accept being spammed forevermore. Not great.

Webframe.xyz curated more than 800 screenshots of the best-designed web apps in retina quality, so you can view them without handing over your e-mail.

Let's take a step back: How do you actually create designs?

9. Simple Graphic Design: Canva

Design Tools For Startups - Canva
Canva makes graphic design easy

If you're not designing every day, software like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Sketch can be a little intimidating. After all, you don't want to waste hours, days or even weeks learning the myriad features on Udemy or YouTube when instead, you could be working on your business plan.

Canva describes itself as "Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software" and lets you create both print and web designs easily via a drag-and-drop interface. And the best, it's totally free.

9. Need a Simple Logo Quick: Looka

Design Tools For Startups - Looka
Looka makes logos quick

Looka makes it a breeze for non-designers to create simple, but good looking logos without spending a fortune. This could be for your business, blog or side project.

Looka prides itself by empowering everyone to design their own logo with the help of machine learning, algorithms & a few other fancy technologies.

12. When Everything Else Fails: Design Buffs

Sometimes, you really need the help of a professional designer. But if you can't quite afford an in-house designer and you don't want to waste your time looking for freelancers on Upwork & Co., Design Buffs can help.

design tools for startups

Design Buffs is a month-by-month design service for B2B marketing & sales teams. If you're looking to partner up with a team of creatives that know you by name and your brand by heart, get in touch today to see if we're a good fit for you: Get your designer today.

Design Tools
Design inspiration & ideas to help you grow your business. Delivered to your inbox once a month.
Sign up for our newsletter