When you spend as much time creating high quality content as I do, you quickly build up a library of useful online resources to help with design and content creation. From finding suitable fonts to sourcing textures and patterns or from finding colour schemes to utilising image libraries, there is a huge variety of online resources available to aid information designers (and every other kind of designer for that matter).

So with that in mind, here are 10 of my personal favourite online resources – hopefully there’s at least one or two in here that will help you with your own content development:

Adobe Color CC

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This is a resource I use a lot, particularly since it became available as a plugin for Photoshop and Illustrator. Adobe’s Color CC is an online resource that allows you to view user-created colour schemes, as well those produced by the Adobe team. It’s incredibly useful in finding colours that compliment each other, and it gives you hexadecimal, RGB and CMYK codes for each colour so you can input them accurately into whatever design software you might be using.

Not only does the tool allow you to explore colour schemes created by other users, but it gives you the opportunity to create your own colour sets using their beautifully designed and intuitive UI (user interface). You can select a base colour, and then manually move around the colour wheel to find other colours, or get suggested other colours using parameters such as Analogous, Monochromatic, Triad, Complementary, Compound or Shades.

Fonts in Use

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If you’re anything like me you’ll have an obscene number of fonts installed on any given computer, but it’s not always easy to know which font to choose for a project, or which font will work best for different types of design. Fonts In Use is designed for this very situation, and it helps add a bit of variety to your designs (as you’ll be less likely to use the same small collection of fonts for each project). The site works by showing you a wide range of new and interesting fonts, giving you examples of each one being used in real-life designs. Personally I’ve found (and used) scores of fonts I might not otherwise have considered by using this site, and seeing them in-use really helps you to see the kind of designs that work well with each font.

DaFont

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Seeing as we’re talking about fonts, I may as well mention my most commonly-used resource for free font downloads, DaFont. Personally, I will often have an available font budget, or have the required fonts already installed on my computer, but this isn’t always the case – and probably isn’t the case for most freelance designers. So in these instances, DaFont is incredibly useful, allowing you to search through nearly 30,000 fonts, all of which are free to download and use and can be previewed live on the site.

What Font

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WhatFont is a plugin for the Chrome browser (although it may well be available on other browsers), and it’s extremely useful for finding out what a font is when you see one you like online. Simply install and turn on the plugin, hover over the font and it will tell you what the font is you’re looking at – it’s not right every time, but the accuracy level is actually very impressive. I use this plugin a huge amount on a day to day basis, particularly when I’m trying to match a brand’s look for an infographic and they don’t have brand guidelines available. It’s worth noting that the font needs to be selectable (i.e. it won’t work if the font is part of an image), but it’s very useful and a plugin I make sure is installed on every computer and laptop I use.

Firebug

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This one is usually aimed at web designers, but it’s also extremely useful for information designers who produce interactive content like I often do. Firebug is a web development tool that allows you to inspect HTML and CSS elements and modify them in real time – this means you can alter the code to any interactive piece or web page you like and immediately see how those changes affect what you’re looking at. Not only is this fantastic for seeing how things are built, but it allows you to fix bugs or change elements in your own interactive infographics, without having to change the original code. This is great timesaver and something our developers over at Designbysoap use on a regular basis.

Brands of the World

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Often, infographics (and many other types of design) will require lots of logos, and sourcing and formatting these logos is a real nightmare for a designer (particularly when you can only find them as low-resolution jpegs). If this is something you’ve had to do in the past, then you’ll absolutely love Brands Of The World – a fully searchable database of logos that can be downloaded in vector format (EPS, AI or Coral Draw). It does occasionally draw a blank when I search for certain logos, but on the whole it’s incredibly useful and a massive time saver.

Jing

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Jing is a screen capture program developed by TechSmith that allows you to quickly and easily capture images from your screen. It’s very useful for blog posts (the screenshots used in this post were taken using this software), getting client feedback on projects (as you can annotate your image captures) or for getting colour or design references to use in your designs. Jing can also take capture videos, making it create for doing tutorials or demonstrating specific ideas to clients. It’s extremely versatile and, best of all, it’s completely free to well worth downloading.

Noun Project

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The Noun Project is an online community focused on building a ‘global visual language’, that is they’re aiming to produce a simple icon for every noun in existence (although it has since expanded into numerous other types of word). It’s a very clever idea that not only allows users to communicate their message visually – overcoming language barriers – but it allows you to download the icons in vector format for use in your own project. Generally they’re beautifully designed and very clear, and extremely useful for information design, as well as other kinds of design projects. This is particularly pertinent if you don’t have the time or budget available to produce custom illustrations, or if you’re simply not an illustrator.

Shutterstock

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Shutterstock is one of the best online resources for commercially cleared images, vector icons and illustrations, music and videos, with over 20 million pieces of downloadable content to choose from. The major downside is that it’s expensive, costing £150 a month for up to 25 downloads per day. You can pay on a ‘per download’ basis, but it’s not particularly cheap. Despite this however it’s a superb resource for any designer or content development specialist, particularly if you’ve got the budget available.

Subtle Patterns

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A great resource for finding infographic backgrounds, Subtle Patterns is a free-to-use site that allows you to browse and download user-submitted patterns for design use. You can use them for any kind of design (they’re really good for web designers), but I often use this site to find modern, subtle background patterns for infographics, both static and interactive. Recently they also made the site available as a Photoshop plugin, which is incredibly useful and compatible with Creative Cloud.