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10:00

Can Free Design Resources Be Exemplary?

As designers we’re always after some good resources for inspiration and even for design elements to help us when we have a mental block. But the thing is that there’s not very many GREAT resources out there that give FREE stuff away. You have inspiration sites like Dribbble and DeviantArt (deviant does give some things away) but there’s a new community emerging where the resources are not only free, but also outstanding. Let’s take a deeper look into this new community called DesignMoo.

First off, what I’d like to achieve with this article is to get your feedback not only these resources, but also your opinion on how you think these types of sites help or hurt our design community. So keep that in mind as you read through this and browse the site. Also feel free to offer other sites you’ve found that provide outstanding resources such as this one.

DesignMoo, according to their about page, is…

“a community of designers who think it’s best to share our design resources. That means we love to share fonts, brushes, textures, icons, illustrations, and more with anyone that might find them useful.”

And it’s true. It’s all free resources (but they just released a paid account with extras), contributed by some of the best designers around the world. It’s co-owned and operated by Chris Wallace and Rich Hemsley. Chris is owner of LiftUX, runs Chris-Wallace.com, tweets as @chriswallace and shoots on Dribbble of course. Rich Hemsley is the awesome community manager, tweets as @richhemsley and Dribbbles as well. The community is currently invite-only but growing very quickly and making a real wake in our design world. Check out some of the resources by a few of these amazing designers.

iPhone 4 Retina GUI
Rich HemsleyiPhone 4 Retina GUI

vCard Design Resource
Chris WallacevCard PSD

Abstract Tileable Design Patterns
Allison Grayce NoldAbstract Tileable Patterns

Logo Identity Guideline Template
Graham SmithLogo Identity Guideline Template

Clumsy Font Free
Kyle SteedClumsy

Invite Stamp Collection
Hillary HopperInvite Stamp Collection

It’s About Quality

So as you can see, we’re not talking about lame resources here. This isn’t clip art in a glorified form or anything. No, this is real stuff you can actually use and many times it will actually be better than what we ourselves can design. I’ve personally used several of these resources in my client’s work and it not only saves time, but looks awesome. The important thing to remember if you ever get into this community is to keep it awesome. Keep the elements you submit to a spectacular level. Give feedback, utilize what others offer, and contribute when you can.

What DesignMoo Offers

I recognize that there’s a million free resource sites out there. But like I mentioned, there’s none that I know of that provide the quality elements DesignMoo does. Here’s a breakdown of some elements for you to chew on and make a better, more informed opinion about this community.

Iconified

Sexy icons are always a must for sites these days. It adds personality and enhances the look of the site immensely, if used properly of course. Not everyone can be an icon designer, that’s why I’m very thankful for those people sharing their mad skills with those of us less fortunate in this area of design.

awesome-free-calendar-icon
Julien MartinLe Calendrier 2011

awesome-free-iphone-icons
Pontus JohanssoniPhone Icons

free-bookshelf-icon
Peter BurdetteBookshelf Icon

small-free-glyph-icons
Umar Irshad32px Glyphs

social-media-buttons-icons
Alfred PereiraSocial Buttons Vol2

UI Elements

And who could turn down some really sweet UI elements? These things are few and far between to look this good and take several hours to create. So I’m game for grabbing some to use that were made by some down right awesome people. Take a look.

free-user-interface-kit
Morgan Allan KnutsonChutzpah User Interface Kit

transparent-dropdown-menu-free
Rich HemsleyTransparent Menu

dark-user-interface-kit
Josh HemsleyDark Sexy UI Elements

Yummy Textures and Patterns

Ah yes, finally some great textures. I know you can find them lots of places but these are seriously some of the highest quality ones I’ve seen…and they’re more web-related than some other sites out there. Here’s a few pretty sweet ones to chew on.

free-argyle-texture-pattern
Hillary HopperArgyle Textures

free-grunge-brushes
Liam McKayFunction Subtle Grunge Brushes

free-bokeh-background
David LopezBokeh

Oh Glorious Fonts

We designers love some fonts. Whether we’re great typographers or not, we still like to have a plethora of them to choose from. And with the way CSS3 is breaking into the market and things like CuFon and such, we can utilize more of these fonts on our sites without the old “make an image” method. Here’s some fonts you may never have seen. Pretty nice, eh?

free-font-download
Brian CarrollFolly by Litchytype

free-font-download
Jed Bridges - Cerus Caps

free-font-download
A Visual IdiotNovak

So Does Free Raise Any Issues?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s also a no in there. Free can cause problems. Problems like overuse, looking cheap, and being misused in general. But DesignMoo is doing things a little bit differently. They are adhering to a level of quality that’s unmatched in the marketplace and making sure to keep that level of quality by allowing it to be invite only. It works similar to Dribbble‘s invite system, if you’re familiar with that, in that members get limited invites each month or so and the people they invite appear under them so everyone knows if you’re keeping the quality level up or just inviting your best buds. There’s nothing wrong with inviting friends, but make sure they know what they’re doing and can contribute great stuff.

In saying that, I don’t see problems for DesignMoo at this point, maybe in the future, but that bridge will be crossed when they come to it. Chris and Rich are infatuated with great design so I highly doubt it will ever turn into anything short of extraordinary.

Something to Recognize

If you’ve thoroughly read this far, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned there are other sites that provide similar services to what DesignMoo does. And I said none compare…and I still believe that. In fact, during my writing of this article, DesignMoo announced they have acquired 365psd.com. We’re not sure of the future of the two and how they will combine their resources (or if they will), but this just proves how great and powerful of a resource this site can and will be. You can read the full article on the “merger” over at Jon Notie’s blog.

My Take on This and That

I’m a design lover as well and I get irritated when there’s a site that could be great but has poor design features or usability. I realize that your design program is not everything for a website, but design itself entails a lot. It has a dash of user experience and a hint of personality among many other elements. Design is all around us and there’s nothing wrong with a site that provides resources and elements that can enhance the user experience of a site, especially when they are at no cost to use. Quality elements are great. An outstanding collection of them for us to choose from is even better. So with that, I want to encourage you to comment below and tell me what you think of design resource sites. What do you find helpful about them? Or hurtful about them? Do you have any ones other than DesignMoo? Let’s get conversing.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl