I'll let you in on a little secret: beautiful websites aren't made, they're found. Smart designers know where to find that perfect photo, subtle pattern or that unique icon.
Here's where the best designers go to find photos, graphics, icons and more.
Stunning PhotographyPhotography is what separates a good website from a great website. There may be no better example of great photography than Apple's website. Apple loves to showcase products with huge, eye popping photography. It's a great example of how to use photos.
Here's where the best designers find photos:
- New Old Stock Photos - Awesome vintage photos from public archives. Completely free of known copyright restrictions.
- Super Famous - Lots of geological, biological and aerial photography from from Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter. Sound boring? It's not. These photos are one of a kind.
- Unsplash - A free email newsletter stuffed with hi-resolution photos. Sent every ten days.
- Little Visuals - Another free email newsletter. Sends weekly batches of 7 gorgeous photos.
- Comp Fight - The fastest way to find Creative Commons images to use on your blog or website.
- Pic Jumbo - Big, searchable database of totally free to use photos.
Sharp IconsThe next time you're browsing Facebook, Google or Twitter, take note of how many icons you'll see. They're everywhere. That's because icons are an essential part of web design.
Here's where smart graphic designers go to find icons:
- The Noun Project - The grand daddy. Enormous database of over 25,000 icons and growing daily. Each icon has a similar format so they always look professional and consistent.
- Icon Monstr - Free, simple icons discoverable through a search interface. Over 2,000 icons.
- Icon Sweets - Love iOS7? This downloadable library has over 1,000 icons in the style of iOS7 (iOS7 is known for having outlined icons). Available for only $10.
Graphics & Logos
- Creative Market - Amazing, handcrafted graphics from designers around the world. I always find top-rate stuff here.
- 99 Designs - Crowdsource your logo: hold a contest and have 20 – 30 designers submit logo entries. Choose the one you like.
- Scoop Shoot - Need photos from around town? ScoopShoot lets you hire people around town to take photos with their phones.
- Subtle Patterns - Over 369, subtle (duh) patterns. They all work by being repeated, so they're perfect for websites.
- Colour Lovers - Have difficulty choosing which colours to use? Colour Lovers has literally millions of colour palettes created by users that are ready for you to use.
Two tools that will make you a design rockstar
- Pixlr - Pixlr is like a free, online version of Photoshop.
- Placeit - An incredible website. Just drag and drop screenshots and it will generate shots of your screenshot in realistic environments.
Bonus: Reader submitted resourcesSavvy readers have mentioned additional tools that I hadn’t included. Here’s some that have stuck out to me:
- Gimp – A bit of a learning curve, but a free tool for image editing (Thanks to Jesus Bejarano and Rekasays in the comments section).
- Creative Commons images on Flickr – Thanks to 3stripe on Hacker News.