Designer’s Guide to Hunting for New Freebies

by Jake Rocheleau
on July 26, 2012

There are hundreds of different websites where graphic designers are happy to share their content. In the modern era it’s never been easier to pick up software like Photoshop or Fireworks and start learning by example. Not only are there great tutorials available, but you can also communicate with designers through different social networks on the web.

Freebies download mini sign

In this guide I’ve put together just a few tips for hunting new web design freebies. Dedicated designers both novice and professional can respect the commitment of releasing such freebies. PSDs, AI vectors, and PNG icons are among the most sought after resources. They can advance your design process and speed up project development time by hours or even days!

Digging through Resources

The natural place to start looking for freebies is through Google. If you know how to search and use Google’s built-in keywords then it’s very simple tracking down what you need.

Download PSD Freebie Gallery

You can start off by searching for generic keywords such as “search bar PSD freebie”. This will return some good results, but you’ll have to sift through plenty of blogs to determine what you like. A better method is to build up a small collection of notable freebie websites and search in that domain only. You can select the appropriate gaming website
templates
as well as check out the small collection I added below:

With these sites in mind we can start limiting our search queries using the inurl: and site: keywords. For example let’s say we need to find a new website navigation PSD file. I’ll limit to searching only 365PSD posts by using “website navigation site:365psd.com“. Try this yourself using a couple of the different URLs I posted.

Building Search Queries

After a couple of days using these searches you should feel more comfortable scanning through Google. Tutorials can be great for smaller freebies, but not all tutorials offer the resources for download. Websites such as Download PSD and 365PSD have built a reputation on constantly supplying high-quality content.

As such you want to keep these websites saved somewhere. You could organize them by creating a new list in an e-mail or Word document. Alternatively I use the online notes app Sync.in which lets you edit and save text lists online. You can also share the link between different computers so you can update in real-time with new websites.

Tracking Down Fresh Media

The list I added above is only an example of some of my personal favorite brands. There are literally dozens of different freebies sites out there which target a lot more than icons and PSD files.

locating iPhone maps iOS app

Heavy Photoshop users will be looking for more customized content such as textures, backgrounds, fonts, and brush effects. These can be used in conjunction with UI elements to create your own layout mockup from scratch. And once again you can quickly scan Google to find plenty of graphics resources in this area.

If you are struggling to locate a particular freebie try posting a comment around different blogs on the web. You can offer suggestions for webmasters and designers to create content-specific freebies which are in high demand. Or if you can communicate with designers directly this is even better. You could request specific freebies to further your projects such as full web templates and UI elements.

Social Networks

I still feel that design networks are an underground phase which haven’t really hit onto the mainstream yet. Designers from all around the world are frequently sharing their own works with the public – yet these aren’t posted on popular blogs and so they don’t get much attention.

I’d recommend Dribbble and Design Moo as two amazing networks and resource dispensaries. You can meet new designers and collaborate on project ideas including web, gaming, and mobile. Additionally you’ll find hundreds of unique freebies which designers post to their profile showcasing their talents.

DesignMoo web design layout

You should read though each of the posts to make sure such freebies really are “free” to use in your own works. Most of the free content you find in Dribbble and Design Moo are published under a creative commons license. This means you can use them in your own project works as long as you don’t claim ownership for creating the designs.

These networks are also not as straightforward as other freebie-style websites. You’ll have to do a bit of searching around to find which posts contain freebies that you would want. Google searches will work, along with using the native search bar on each website. I check out popular tags on Dribbble almost weekly to sift through the new publications. Start with “free” and “freebies” to see if you can find any useful content.

Conclusion

This intro guide should get you familiar in scanning the web for design freebies. Both graphics & web designers are more than happy to build unique content to showcase their talents and attract some attention to their name. If you know how to properly search through websites it’s almost too easy to find exactly the resources you need.

About Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a freelance writer, designer, and illustrator. He currently writes articles on user experience design and web development techniques. You can check out his work on Dribbble and follow his tweets @jakerocheleau.

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