Essential Tools, Resources, and Services for Designers
With so many WordPress themes, page builders, and other design aids and services on the market, it can be difficult for a web designer to know where to turn when in need of a new tool, an additional resource, or a different design approach. Some of the products and services listed here are ideal for general use. Others are excellent choices for designing websites or apps intended to serve a unique or dedicated purpose.
If you find a product or service here that suits your design needs, you can be assured it is top quality, or it would not be on this list. Browse through this list and find out what are the most essential tools, resources and services to have in your toolbox.
X Theme is exciting. It always has been, but with the release of Version 4 a new level of excitement has been attained. Users of this recently released version are raving about it, with the centre of attention being a new, unique, and innovative page builder – Cornerstone. Cornerstone is highlighted again in this listing, but what it will do for X, the fastest selling of the Themeforest themes, is make it more popular than ever. Cornerstone may have temporarily placed a number of the other X features in the shadows, but they remain as impressive as ever, and everything about using this premier WordPress theme’s features is backed up by a rock-solid, 24/7 user support team, a dynamic community site, and forums offering information, advice, and details of other user’s experiences. With a purchase of X, you are given free access to all Themeco plugins, and you will also receive free updates as they are released.
Visit Enfold’s website, and the first thing you are asked to do is to Choose a Demo. If you do so, your search for a premium website theme will quite possibly come to a halt. This top-rated, multipurpose Themeforest theme’s primary characteristic may well be its extremely user-friendly operation. It may in fact be the easiest to work with website building theme on the market. Start with a blank page and an idea, and you can build any layout you want at warp speed. Enfold is always kept up to date, and you will always receive updates as they are released. You can also expect to receive nothing less than the very finest user support.
Be Theme is every bit as big as it claims to be. Its more than 40 core features give you every website design capability you are ever likely to need, and this responsive WordPress theme is easy to use from the time you select one of its 100+ pre-made layouts and begin your editing and page building process until your design is complete. The largest number of topical layouts you will find anywhere makes Be one of the most versatile themes on the market, and the layouts are in the eyes of many this premier theme’s number one attraction, and the reason for its immense popularity. User support is exceptional as well.
Website Builders and Platforms
If you liked playing Lego as a kid you are sure to love XPRS. Unlike drag&drop website builders, this one uses pre-made and easy to customize content blocks that you can connect into 1 beautiful website. There are tons of content blocks to choose from with different layouts and style (e.g features, call to action, teams, galleries, pricing and more). You can also add a store and it’s totally free with every package.
This method of building websites makes it very simple to create your own website while still allowing professional designers a full control over the details.
XPRS if totally free for artists and students and also offers a great ‘White Label’ package that includes unlimited websites for just $250 a year.
Webydo is a cloud-based design platform for professional designers with a code-free, full-service business solution that empowers design professionals to lead the responsive website creation market. No other platform in the market provides a comprehensive, A to Z, solution. Webydo is a community-led platform, with professional designers determining which features that platform should or should not have. Webydo is all about reshaping how we create for the web and in order to foster putting the designer in the driver’s seat. What is more, with Webydo’s Full White Label’ option designers can present Webydo’s technology as an integral part of their own design brand by customizing the system colors, adding logos and presenting a fully branded CMS and Dashboard to their clients.
WordPress Page Builders
Cornerstone is a brand new page builder. It is ridiculously easy to use, and it has received a ton of attention. Users are raving about it. The 100% front end editor and preview functions are displayed side by side. When you make an edit, you can instantly see what your web page will look like. There is no need to check later to see what needs fixing.
Themify Flow is a powerful framework that enables you to design your own responsive themes within WordPress (it allows developers to do so as well). It features a drag and drop builder with a sidebar display in which you can style elements as they appear in the live preview of the layout you are building. Each template you design can have its own header, sidebar, and footer versions. Themify Flow is open source, and free to use!
Project Management and Collaboration Tools
Nutcache saves important things until you need them. This project management tool has to be one of the better collaborative solutions you are likely to come across. You can use it to organize a project, or use it to present a collection of diverse ideas in an organized manner. Project status can be displayed in easy to comprehend graphics, and Nutcache gives you an easy and seamless way of tracking time, submitting invoices, and getting paid!
Azendoo offers a more relaxing, less stressful way for you to go about your work; efficiently, and without compromising quality. This intuitive project planner and task manager helps you avoid getting caught up in the rat race, and still focus on your priorities. This collaborative teamwork tool was designed with marketing and design teams in mind. It provides a nice alternative to the necessity of setting up a cumbersome organization.
Converting Designs to Code
PSDGator is a small, highly dedicated team that has become well known for producing impressive results. They make PSD to code conversions quickly, and they specialize in taking Photoshop designs and converting them into responsive, hand-coded, SEO optimized HTML/CSS. The finished product is clean code that has been optimized for speed. One of their more thoughtful services is their policy of first reviewing your design to uncover any potential problems before they undertake a conversion process.
One good reason for looking into 40 Dollar Markup for PSD to code conversions is their ability to provide clean, hand-coded, pixel-perfect code that is optimized for speed. Automated coding tools, with the inefficiencies they can introduce, are never used. Their deliverables are fully supported, and if you have an entire website you would like to have converted to responsive code, they will take it and make the necessary conversion for you.
Slicing is what Direct Basing does best, and they do it well. In addition to standard HTML5 slicings, their other featured services include PSD to Email and Resposive HTML5 slicings. Direct Basing also has a team dedicated to converting your PSD to a WordPress template. Their customer base ranges from freelancers and small businesses, to Fortune 500 companies. If you select this slicing company, you are in good company.
This service provider has servers located in 16 worldwide datacenters which says a great deal about its size and customer base. Glow Host’s hosting plans include Unlimited Single Domain and Unlimited Multi-Domain hosting, Personal hosting, and a Professional Hosting plan. All four plans have a number of attractive features, making this hosting service well worth looking into. Setup and activation are instantaneous when you sign up.
Rackspace places great emphasis on what they call ‘fanantical support’. Cloud hosting is their specialty, but they are more than just a hosting resource. Rackspace offers best-fit web content management solutions to ensure your website has the speed, performance, and security you need. Rackspace also offers customized Ecommerce hosting solutions, and they will optimize websites for page loads, security and PCI compliance; services few hosting companies offer.
Stock Photo Agencies
Bigstock has a truly amazing selection of quality, royalty-free images. There are in fact more than 26 million photos, vectors, and illustrations to choose from. Fortunately, their selections are well organized, and searching rarely becomes an issue. Once you have licensed an image, you can always re-download it for free. Your first 35 images are free as well. Sign up now for your week of free images from Bigstock.
You can prepay for images or save considerably by signing up for subscription downloads. Either way, Stockfresh has neatly categorized photos, vectors, and illustrations in abundance, and ordering one or more is a snap. Their website is responsive, so you can browse and place orders from your mobile device. You can rely on prompt customer service should you run into any problems selecting and ordering images.
Sendloop is an excellent choice for anyone who has been looking for an easy to use e-mail marketing solution. Their package includes a drag-n-drop email builder, an online image editor, and a nice selection of mobile-device-ready email templates. Coding is not necessary, but a professional HTML email editor is included for those with HTML coding skills. Sendloop has more than 20,000 current customers, and has been offering email marketing solutions for more than 15 years.
Typeform is on a mission to make forms simple, beautiful, and human. You can create surveys, contact pages, user feedback, quizzes, contests, and even take payments. How’s that for versatility? Leave the stone age of forms behind. Facebook, Nike, and Jetblue can’t be wrong. Core features are free, but if you’re a power user, try their Pro plan.
If you were expecting a rather compact kit having a few templates to work with, you are in for a surprise. Baikal features more than 130 drag and drop web components, together with a collection of over 1000 design elements. The web components have been placed in 10 well-organized categories. The eCommerce category alone is worth a look, but the content in every category is quite impressive.
Zed is an ideal wireframe kit to have on hand for prototyping websites. You can, for example, choose one of the 25 PSD templates that come with the kit, open it, add a client’s image or logo, and show your client how a final website might appear. The 1500 pixel wide templates can be opened in Photoshop CS5, and they have been neatly placed in 10 commonly used categories. An impressive array of design elements are also included.
Icons and Fonts
Icons Responsive is an excellent resource to have on hand with its library of 1000+ icons, and counting. These easily scalable, pixel-perfect, responsive icons come in 4 sizes, ranging from 16×16 to 128×128 pixels, as well as in line, flat, and filled glyph styles. Since they are presented in vector format, they are easy to edit. This is a truly outstanding and comprehensive selection of useful icons.
Troia is comprised of a classic handcrafted Serif font family. It features 6 different fonts in light, regular, and bold weights. Italics, and Italic bold are also featured should you have a need for them. These multilingual serif fonts cover all Latin 1 glyphs, and they can be used in the Scandinavian languages, German, French, Spanish, Afrikaans, and others. This resource is available for both commercial and personal purposes.
To sum up
Everything in this listing of premium themes, website, app, and page building tools, design element resources, and website design services is top quality in all respects. You can’t really make a bad choice. If you have a problem, it would be in trying to choose between products or services of roughly equal merit. In any event, we hope you have found something to your liking.
Whether you found what you have been looking for, or you feel an important product or service should have been on the list, but wasn’t, we would like to hear from you. Please feel free to send along your thoughts and comments.