Website design can be daunting, especially for beginners. HTML and CSS are finicky, even for the most seasoned designers and developers. Luckily for us, you don’t need to be a pro at coding to have an eye-catching, visually cohesive website.
Whether you are developing your website from scratch or using a template builder (ours at Givecloud is incredibly beginner-friendly), it is the design elements that make your website shine.
Making your design elements—from video headers to event promotional graphics—do not have to be expensive or time-consuming. A decade ago, the cost of site design resources would have been too astronomical for most smaller non-profits. Now, we have a vast sea of graphic design resources available for free or very nearly free.
Here are our favorite graphic and site design resources.
Graphic Design Tools
Canva makes graphic design easy, accessible, and most of all, free. Canva has thousands of templates you can use to get started, from social media posts to brochures to event graphics you can use for your next campaign. Canva Pro is also free for eligible non-profit organizations, giving you access to more royalty-free stock photos, premium fonts, and site design resources.
Adobe Creative Spark Express
Adobe Creative Spark Express is made by the same folks behind Adobe Photoshop. You get the same level of excellence as Adobe Photoshop, but in a format that makes it easy to use, even by folks with little to no design experience. Adobe Creative Spark Express has a free option that offers an extensive library of templates for just about any design project. You also get access to a limited collection of Adobe Stock photos and other royalty-free assets you can use for promotional graphics, site design elements, and even a new logo for your or your organization.
Vectornator is a free design software available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users. With Vectornator, you can create vector drawings, event logos, and even art you can use for the next hoodie or shirt in your online store. Your options are limitless, especially when paired with the Apple Pencil.
Stock Photo Resources
Unsplash has millions of beautiful stock photos. And the best part? All of their stock photos can be downloaded for free and used for commercial purposes. They have a fantastic collection of beautiful landscape photos that serve well as header images or as a base for just about any kind of graphic.
Along with a vast cache of stock photos, Pixabay also offers videos and music, all royalty-free and available for commercial use. Instead of a featured image for your home page header, why not use one of their videos instead? Just look at how dynamic a video header looks at India Partners’ website.
Stocksnap adds new photos daily to their already massive collection of royalty-free stock photos. They also have a very generous licensing policy that allows commercial and personal use of their images.
Google Fonts is an unparalleled source of industry-tested, quality fonts vetted by design professionals worldwide. They have a fantastic previewer, where you can enter any text and see it rendered in as many fonts as you want. Not sure what fonts to use or where to get started? Here is a site design resource for font pairing ideas using Google Fonts.
Pixeden Free Area
While Pixeden primarily offers paid, premium resources, they also have a free section full of design resources. Their free mockups, especially, are great for creating striking photos of the products you have for sale in your online store.
The Hungry JPEG
The site design resources offered by The Hungry JPEG is not free, but they regularly offer exceptional $1 deals for premium fonts and assets licensed for commercial use.
Building a cohesive, complementary color design palette is often a challenging design aspect. Enter Coolors. Coolors make it a breeze to create color palettes with their color palette generator. Still stuck? Their Explore Palettes page has thousands of color palettes created by other users for inspiration.
If you want to strengthen your branding and present a cohesive visual message, you have to try Moodboard. Moodboard allows you to upload images of your website, logo, graphics—anything to do with your brand—and display them in a way that will enable you to see your branding as a whole. You can also use Moodboard to keep track of design elements you like for future use, as well as other photos or details that inspire you.
Bringing them all together
We’ve given you several site design resources, but now what? How do you put them all together and get started?
Using an event promotional graphic for a hockey tournament, for example, here’s a paired down version of our design process:
- Make a Moodboard of design elements we like and that match the brand or the visual look we’re aiming for overall. This might mean picking a color palette from Coolors or uploading event brochures or banners we liked in the past.
- Pick the fonts. Google Fonts is excellent for this. Alternatively, if you’re using Canva, have a look at the font options they have, as they offer several premium fonts even at their free membership. Stick to no more than two fonts and only one from each family. In this example, We’ll use Oswald (a sans-serif font) for headline items and Merriweather (a serif font) for the rest of the text.
- Choose our stock photos. Our go-to is usually Unsplash for landscapes, but for this graphic, we’ll be using an image from Canva.
- Pick your design tool. In this case, let’s use Canva. We have Canva Pro, but their free version offers the same functionality, just with more limited asset options.
- With Canva, you can start from a template or start with a blank canvas. We’ll be using one of their Promotional Flyer templates. Once you have your elements uploaded or picked on Canva, it’s time to start putting them all together.
- You can delete any elements on the template you don’t want, change the colors, pick a different font—the sky’s the limit. Canva offers tons of customization options to really make your design your own. It doesn’t take long to go from the original template on Canva to a custom flyer for your event:
Original base Canva template
A sample event flyer using the base Canva template on the left
You don’t need to hire a professional to create your site design elements. With a little planning and the site design resources we’ve listed above, you have all of the tools at your disposal to create a memorable, cohesive brand.
Use your creative banner image, event ticket graphic, tee shirt design, and more to enhance your digital fundraising with Givecloud.