Yup, I already told you. But let's talk a bit more. There are few things more intimidating than a blank canvas. That is true whether your canvas is a screen, a page, a paper, or... a canvas. The tools above have been incredibly helpful to me in the past. They are all free to "use", though GraphicRiver.net and ThemeForest.net sell tons of stuff with prices as low as $5 and usually not higher than $89 (I think).

Here's the Breakdown:

Use Dribbble When You're Looking for Inspiration

If you're not familiar with Dribbble yet, it's time. Dribbble is a social media site dedicated entirely to graphic arts. It's where the graphic arts cool kids show their stuff. I learned about Dribbble from rock star graphic artist Bill Kenney at FocusLabLLC.com. FocusLabs credits Dribbble with a lot of their early success in attracting the kinds of clients they wanted to work with. So, it's a great business tool as well.

Whether you're looking for fonts, designs, branding, web design or anything else that gets designed, the chances are that someone has put something really cool and inspiring on that subject on Dribbble.com

Use Coloors.co When You're Looking for a Quick Start on Branding or Design Projects

Shout out to the design guys at WhatWorksStudio.com for showing me this site. Coloors.co is a way to quickly put some colors on a screen and see what makes a good palette. I was really inspired by the insight and advice the WWS guys gave me, and it really started with looking at swatches on this site.

Use ColourLovers.com When You Want to Explore Colors and Palettes

ColourLovers.com is amazing. It's a social media sharing site for colors and palettes. It's a really fun place to just put concepts into the search engine (royal purple, electric blue, etc.) and see what comes up. It's also a great place to input some hex or RGB codes and play around to see what palettes other people have come up with.

I also really enjoy using and saving color palettes here. This is a ton of utility for free.

GraphicRiver.net is for when you want to take a shortcut

GraphicRiver.net is so easy to use and has such great resources for so little money, it's really like cheating. Whether you need a logo, a font, web elements, business card designs, etc. etc. etc. it's all here and it's super cheap. For $5 you can get a really high quality AI, PSD or InD file of a business card, logo, or anything else. It's also free to just explore and see what inspires you and what elements you can borrow. I use GraphicRiver.net, AudioJungle.net, and really all of the Envato sites a ton. There is just a lot of goodness for very little money. Although it does sometimes feel like cheating.

ThemeForest.net is When You Want to Help a Client Choose a Website Layout or Another Shortcut Opportunity

I've found Themeforest.net to be a really easy way to help clients decide what they want their websites to look like. I remind them the site will not be exactly like this, but the templates on Themeforest are like tool boxes: they offer capabilities that can be used to create the designs like this layout, but what we create will really depend on the materials (e.g. images and text) we use. Themes start at like $5 and go up to @ $89 (I think).

I've used the WordPress themes a lot. It's worth pointing out, that not all themes are created equal. I've had themes from this site break after a couple of years when the author stops supporting it. As a rule I only buy themes with more than 1,000 purchases, 4.5 or more stars by reviewers and signs that the author has recently replied to questions by purchasers.

Enfold and Avada are two super-themes on ThemeForest that have been sold like a gazillion times and have great reviews. They are also super-versatile and seem to have very dedicated support.

Last word of warning about ThemeForest.net. I've probably used +25 themes from ThemeForest, and I don't think any of them has really been "easy" to work with. It's tempting to think that a WordPress theme from ThemeForest can make web design really easy and intuitive. It does make things a heck of a lot easier, but if you don't read the documentation, you're probably going to walk away really frustrated. It's also worth noting that not all themes have good documentation, and documentation can be written by people whose first language is not english. This makes it even harder to figure out. That said, $45 or even $89 for a well produced theme like Enfold or Avada is a massive bargain when you consider how much easier it makes the design and development process.

Happy Designing!

About The Author

Adam Singer began programming for the World Wide Web in 1998 while working as an Informational Specialist for the Bureau of National Affairs, a Fortune 500 publishing company based in Washington, DC. In 2001 Adam became the Marketing and Communications Director for Jetro Platforms, a server-based computing software manufacturer. In 2011 Adam founded AJ Singer Studios, an Internet Marketing company based in Savannah, GA. In 2015 Adam formed AbilitySEO as a full service marketing agency specializing in using SEO, social media, and e-mail marketing to get more visitors, leads and customers