50 Free Tools Every Designer Will Love

Good designers know that using the right tools not only increases their efficiency but also improves the quality of their work. Good tools can help reduce repetition and allow you to focus on what matters – the design.

Today we’re going to see 50 of the best tools for web designers – these have all received high acclaim in the design community, and for good reason.

Typography

Every designer knows that typography is one of the most essential ingredients for an awesome design. These typographic tools will help you get inspiration, find the font you’re looking for, easily compare different typefaces, create your own fonts, and more. Take a look:

Type Set
A super visual typography tool that enables you to enter text, adjust it, and then save the css.

Typechart
Another typography tool for easily browse and compare web typography. When you’re done, you can easily grab the css on this one, too!

CSSType
A great visual css editor for typography, allowing you to format lots of attributes and then export the css.

CSS Text
Still looking for another visual typographic CSS editor? CSS text is one more popular solution.

Typetester
The best part about Typetester is that it can test 3 different typographic sets at the same time. It’s another excellent tool you shouldn’t be without.

FontTester
A very similar alternative to Typetester, FontTester allows you to compare different fonts and has a lot of superb advanced options.

STC Font Browser
Allows you to easily browse the active fonts on your computer.

CSS Text Wrap
Check this out: a tool that allows you to use wrap text into circles, triangles, or whatever you want using css.

What the Font?
This free service allows you to upload an image of a font and it tells you what the fontface is. Pretty cool.

Linotype FontIdentifier
This unique tool helps you identify font faces by asking you specific questions about the characters and then working by a process of elimination.

TypeNavigator
Most designers are visually oriented, so a tool that allows you to search a font library visually like TypeNavigator does is a very good idea.

FontBurner
This makes custom fonts so easy – you pick the font (1000+ choices), they give you a chunk of code, and bam, you’re done. Could it be easier?

Wordle
A fun tool for generating fancy typographic text clouds.

FontStruct
This rocks: an online font-editing and sharing tool, allowing you to create your own beautiful typefaces.

BitfontMaker
Another font drawing tool, excellent for beginners.

Baseline Rhythm Calculator
As any good designer knows, rhythm is an essential part of typography. This tool makes it easy to calculate baseline rhythms for different font sizes.

Flipping Typical
A fun and inspirational destination on the web, Flipping Typical detects which fonts you have installed on your computer and allows you to browse through them.

PXtoEM
Translating pixels to ems is great for usability, and thankfully this tool makes it easy.

Em Calculator
Another handy tool for converting pixel measurements to ems.

HTML-Ipsum
If you’re looking for an easy way to get filler text with code, this the place to go. They’ve got many choices – short and long paragraphs, tables, lots of different lists, and more.

Blind Text Generator
On the other hand, if you just want filler text without any markup, try this one. It’s also more flexible.

Further Reading

Color Tools

Color tools are the most fun to play around with, and the community hasn’t been stingy in giving us some really great free products. You could spend hours enjoying these:

Color Scheme Designer
An awesome free web-based color scheme generator by Petr Stanicek.

Color Explorer
A complete online application for creating, browsing, editing, analyzing and saving color palettes. I can’t believe this free.

Palette Grabber
This incredible Firefox add-on enables you to quickly grab palettes off of any web page and export them to Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, Flash, or Fireworks. I don’t know how you could live without this!

Kuler
How could I leave out Kuler? It has long been considered a staple of the designer’s toolbox. You already know it, but it would be unthinkable not to include it on a list like this!

ColorMunki
I’d put this one up there with Kuler in terms of functionality and usefulness. Definitely a must-use tool.

PaletteMan
Feel like browsing palettes by mood? Palette Man is the way to do it!

4096 Color Wheel
Another great free palette tool. This one doesn’t try to coordinate the colors, it’s up to your good eye.

ColorBlender
An awesome tool for blending colors, with easy exports to Photoshop or Illustrator.

ColorJack
ColorJack is actually four tools in one, giving you several different impressive color planning interfaces.

ColorMixer
An alternative to ColorBlender, it is very much the same: creating schemes based on levels you set and allowing exports to .act and .ai files.

ColorHunter
This versatile tool produces palettes by hex code, tag or img url.

Multicolr Search Lab
A super flickr app that searches flickr by color scheme of the photo.

ColorCombos
Get inspiration from lots of community submitted palettes, or submit your own. You can even download the whole palette library in a pdf.

ColourLovers
Every designer should know ColourLovers. It is a treasure trove of constantly improving patterns, palettes and designer camaraderie.

ColorSchemer
Looking for even more palette inspiration? This another stop to find or create striking color combos!

GenoPal
This pallet-from-image tool is perfect for generating a pleasing color scheme from a photo.

Colr
Yet another tool designed to let you create a palette based on an image. This one even has a cool feature where you can get a palette from a random Flickr image – great inspiration if you’re kind of stuck.

Color Palette Generator
This tool takes an image and, you guessed it, produces a palette based on colors in the image.

Pictaculous
Pictaculous only accepts uploaded images, not url’s, but it’s still a useful tool.

Further Reading:

Graphics Generators & Editors

Pixlr
An advanced photoshop-inspired online image editor. Photoshop will always be better, but this could certainly come in handy.

PSDtoCSS Online
This tool automatically converts an uploaded psd file to css – for free! I haven’t used it, so I’m not sure about the quality, but it sounds great.

Phoenix
A sweet desktop-quality online image editor. It’s producer, Aviary, has a whole collection of other amazing design tools. You should definitely check them out, too.

BGPattern
BG Patterns is a tileable background generator – and it’s a lot of fun. You can browse others users’ patterns and create your own.

Dabbleboard
A collaborative tool for designers, allowing easy freehand drawing, interface design and more.

Stripe Generator
A tool for easily generating striped backgrounds.

Tartan Maker
Plaid patterns can be tricky to make, but this tool makes them easy!

Dotted Background Creator
Easily create dynamic dotted backgrounds with this tool. A big time-saver if you’re going for this look.

Further Reading:

Wrapping Up

With a good set of tools at your side, it’s much easier to let your design skills really shine. I encourage you to take advantage of all these great free contributions – and maybe think about donating to one or two of them.

Anyways, enjoy the collection and make sure you leave a comment if I’ve left something out!