I’m not a major fan of free or cheap visuals when it comes to web design, but there are occasions when it’s nice to get your hands on some super-quick graphics for design projects. It’s just not time-efficient to create custom graphics for every mockup, presentation, or eBook, for example. And, if you offer web content as part of your services, those blog posts, case studies, and other resources can get a major facelift from some easy-to-access visuals.
At the very least, even if you only use these sources for your own website and content production, there’s time and money to be saved. So, with this in mind, I thought I’d run through some of the places I get my hands on super-quick graphics (and other visuals) for smaller design projects and content.
Creative Market is the place I’ll normally start if I need to get my hands on cheap graphics. For me, this often means stylized icons to use in infographics, blog post images, case studies, or eBooks. Something along the lines of this:
Search engine optimization icon set by howcolour
You can also get your hands on images, illustrations, web elements, themes, fonts, and all kinds of other stuff from Creative Market. Essentially, it’s the place to start if you want a step above freebies without paying through the roof.
Animoto is a cracking tool for creating cheap, easy videos, without the production hassles or expense. Basically, you can cheat like mad and even create videos without any filming a single shot. You can create videos with nothing more images and the Animoto suite to place text, captions, animations, and music over your image reel.
You can film as much footage as you like and insert it into your Animoto videos, but it’s handy to have the no-video option for clients who can’t produce decent footage. I was surprised by how good Animoto is at working with images, text overlays and transitions. Some of the sample videos you’ll see are a tad cheesy, but it’s not difficult to produce considerably better results.
I should point out Animoto isn’t free, though. You’ll have to pay between $8-$33 USD a month (paid annually) for an account, but I think that’s a pretty good deal considering how quickly you can knock up videos on this thing.
The modern web is a data-driven one and that means we’re constantly having to visualize numbers. I don’t know about you, but I get pretty sick of creating graphs, charts, and other data visuals myself for infographics, presentations, and whatnot. I’m not lazy, of course; just efficient, like yourself. So, I was glad when a number of platforms turned up to make the whole data visualization process faster.
My personal pick is ChartBlocks because it’s incredibly quick and the graphs just look that little bit better than many of the other options.
It’s perfect for quickly putting together visuals for infographics, case studies and presentations. It’s also incredibly handy having them saved for quick edits later, so you can publish updates and follow-ups.
Wideo is another video creation tool which takes a more animated approach to things. The main advantage over Animoto is the sheer speed with which you can create your videos. The downsides are, first, that you can’t include your own videos, and second, some of the animation effects look a bit tacky.
That said, you can put some decent clips together for landing and product pages, as long as you go easy on the effects. Less is definitely more with Wideo (like most things).
Again you’re looking at similar pricing to Animoto as well: $19-$39 USD per month, billed annually.
The Noun Project is a top resource for application and interface icons. Not the kind of stylized stuff I mentioned with Creative Market, but for mockups and genuine design projects. You pay $9.99 USD per month for unlimited access to royalty-free icons, without the need to credit, and there’s a Mac app that lets you drag and drop right into your designs.
I mentioned that you can get images from Creative Market, but the truth is—I never bother. If I decide to source images from elsewhere, I tend to use Pixabay. The images are just as good (or better) and they’re all free and in the public domain, which means you can use them as you see fit, in any project you like.
I always leave a donation for any image I use and I would recommend doing the same. After all, there aren’t enough places like this where you can get public domain images and I’m more than happy to put a few dollars in the piggy bank each time.
I probably don’t even need to mention Canva, but I don’t want to get accused of leaving it out. It’s not quite the ultimate design suite people make it out to be, but it is handy for knocking up elements for digital marketing infographics and those blog visuals I keep banging on about. The free access icons, alone, make it a decent tool, and I quite like the font choices they have too. I only wish you could export as .png files and get rid of those pesky meddling backgrounds.
So, that’s my pick of places to get super-quick graphics for design projects and content creation. Each of your clients needs a steady stream of content supplied after you hand over their new websites and it may as well be you that keeps the content coming. These tools aren’t exactly premium options, but you’ll find many big brands have used Animoto, The Noun Project, and many others in this list. As always, let me know if I’ve missed any resources out—I’m always happy to add a few more to my personal list too!