There’s a steep learning curve from getting inspiration from Behance to being able to replicate it. Perhaps, there isn’t much point in spending $99 on Sketch if you can’t make the most of it.
Instead, consider using these beginner tools. Some of them cost absolutely nothing, some are available on a free-to-try basis. However, they all have one thing in common: they can offer you the exact functionality you need.
We won’t mention Adobe Dreamweaver because it’s not free and requires a lot of skills to use. However, it’s probably the one web design tool you’d need once you’re past the beginner stage.
Here are our top picks when it comes to beginner tools.
Image source: Canva
The basic version is free. Canva Pro costs $9.95 per month.
If you’re a complete newbie and don’t even know how to use Photoshop properly, a basic browser-based software may be a good place to start.
Canva is precisely that. It’s not exactly feature-heavy but it offers you just enough functions to make you feel comfortable with it.
This website is mostly used for editing photos and creating infographics. With it, you can patch together some decent Instagram imagery without having to actually design much. Just pick a template you like, and you’re good to go.
Keep in mind that it has one important feature you won’t be able to find that easily. For some obscure reason, the wireframe tool is not on display in the design section of the website.
Other than that, it’s a great tool that has everything you need to create a wireframe. Change a layout, add some text, choose from a set of background images or upload your own. You can also make use of the website’s custom icon collection.
Image source: Wix
The basic version is free but comes with ads. Ad-free websites start at $11 a month.
Wix is a step down in skill from Canva. It’s still a browser-based web editing tool, but it has fewer functions than Canva. It may have a lot of professionally made templates but Wix is good only for one thing, which is creating websites.
If that’s the only function you need, then it may be a good choice. Alli in all, Wix is a great tool for people without any designer skills.
Do you need to set up your business site without any designer or coding hassle? Then Wix is a great choice.
Image source: Gimp screengrab
Free open source software.
If you don’t want to buy Photoshop your best bet is Gimp. It features most things Photoshop prides itself on and is absolutely free.
It’s a great tool for UI web design which lets you experiment with all the default features along with more advanced ones.
Gimp is a good choice for basic design tasks. You can create or edit imagery and icons for your website, design banners, and do a lot of other useful things. When you feel like the program is not good enough for your skills, you can upgrade to a paid program or see what the open source community has to offer.
Image source: Inkscape
Free open source software.
Creating mockups in Gimp can be a bit awkward. If you need a wireframing tool, go for Inkscape instead. It’s also free, so you can do some basic design tasks and hone your skills without any financial investment.
Inkscape is a tool for vector graphics. You can create and edit SVG files for your design project. It’s simple, intuitive, and rather feature-rich considering it’s free.
Even though it’s not designed to be a primarily wireframing tool, you can easily use it as one. Create your own mockups or download a set of basic shapes from the web, and you’re good to go.
Image source: Wireframe.cc
The basic version is free, the Pro one starts at 16$ a month.
If you only need wireframing, this browser-based app is a great choice. You can create one-page public wireframes for free. They’re not limited to any number either.
The tools Wireframe.cc has are enough to make great mockups of web pages. They’re minimalistic enough to be used by a beginner and do the job just fine.
If you want access to more features and be able to create multiple interconnected mockups, you should consider getting the paid version.
Image source: Flare
Free software, $14 per month if you want to create private projects.
Do you need a design solution that lets you work with raster and vector animations? Then go for 2Dimensions’s Flare.
It’s the ultimate UI designer tool for both beginners and pros. You can create and edit raster and vector imagery or even use Flare as a mockup tool if you want.
But it’s the animation where Flare truly shines. If you want to create interactive web design elements, there probably isn’t any other free software that lets you start off as smoothly as Flare does.
You can mix and layer animation, create skeletal animations and animated icons, all in one environment.
When used for free, Flare keeps your projects public. If you need some of them for your own private use, you should consider supporting the team by paying $14 per month.
Image source: Marvel
One project is free, pricing starts from $16 a month.
If you’re focused on designing websites, Marvel may be the best choice for a beginner.
This website is all about great web design. First, you get access to a feature-rich wireframing tool with dozens of templates and interconnected layouts. But that’s not the only thing Marvel can offer.
Arguably the best tool in its arsenal is prototyping. You can run an interactive version of your website on the platform and see how it performs. Design interactions, animation and user actions on multiple devices.
You can make a wireframe, fill it with content, and go straight to the checkout cart.
What’s the catch? You can only work on one project for free. If you want to create more projects, you have to pay $16 a month or $12 if billed yearly.
It’s not the cheapest of tools, but quality comes at a price. You may be able to buy essay cheap but using great tools and learning from them isn’t free.
The Bottom Line
Some of these tools are only complimentary in terms of features. You can use them together to complete bigger design projects. Hone your skills and upgrade to better ones as you progress.