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We designers love free resources, so it is thankful that we love sharing tools we love almost as much as we like using them. There are entire blogs dedicated to covering new and interesting tools, as well as those whose only function is giving visitors free textures and code snippets to use.

Hongkiat.com offers much more than that, but they also do a monthly roundup of the latest and greatest resources out there to help you speed up your work without sacrificing customization. This month’s newest tools cover almost every aspect of development and design from estimating pricing rates for clients to responsive design and wireframing or prototyping.

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The tool that helps estimate service pricing rates is of particular interest to myself, because it is an area that rarely gets much attention from the free tools we pass around. Usually designers leave the business aspects out of the free resource arena.

This tool, however, helps the freelance developers who normally have trouble making cost estimates easily create a PDF with all of the items of your service, their price rate, and the overall estimate. It’s only drawback is it only uses limited forms of currency, so developers with an international client base may have issues with it.

On the actual creation side of things, we often end up investing hours just creating dummy images so that we can design prototypes to present to clients. Lorem Pixel provides a wide range of image categories for you to use as informed placeholders. This isn’t a creative commons photo website, but a way to generate images that illustrate how your site will look when it is finished.

There are also tools that help with predicting the output of systems like Sass, which isn’t always intuitive in its output. SassMe helps visualize Sass color functions immediately, as well as letting you to tweak the colors, while providing the new function for you to easily add to your Sass/SCSS stylesheet.

There will always be a wealth of new tools or brilliant updates to old resources that will keep making our jobs, at the very least, faster. They don’t always make your work necessarily easier however.

Web design relies on the resources of others. Without them, we could still make good looking pages, but it would take exponentially more time. Of course there are textures, fonts, images, and any other visual aspect you want to incorporate for free or cheap use, but we also use time savers behind the scenes.

This isn’t to say we rip off people. It is always best to notify the owner of any resource when you use it, and it is better to use as much original content as possible. Using boring standardized icons won’t ever have the same effect as specialized icons that fit the page they are made for.

Frameworks are what we use behind the scenes, and they are packages made of a structure of files and folders of standardized code used to build websites. They help get you started without making you spend hours typing in code that is normally extremely similar to others such as gridding systems. All websites have a similar structure, and these frameworks allow you to use a “standard” version of that structure and modify it as you need to.

Awwwards has an article explaining the different types of frameworks you might use on a new site, and a collection of great packages to get started.

Web designers find themselves continuously facing the largest issue for anyone in an artistic career. It is often difficult to start a career making work you love while earning enough money to live comfortably. Every artist is used to cutting costs when they have to, like eating Ramen noodles for a week or two to afford a program or drawing tablet.

Of course, there are less drastic ways to save money so that you can be a successful designer. One of the biggest costs for designers is software. $400 Adobe products that get updated every year can take a huge chunk out of your budget, but there are plenty of small software developers creating cheap or free alternatives. For $50-$100 you can find software that can accomplish nearly everything that $1000 dollar Creative Suite can do.

Speaking of free resources, the design community also serves as one of the greatest methods to get free textures, photography, icons, WordPress themes, and any sort of plug-in you could imagine. Searching for blogs and sites that offer these types of free resources also gives you an opportunity to interact with others in your community which can lead to strong professional relationships down the road. Just a simple, friendly “thanks” for the free stuff leaves a nice impression.

The active design community offers another type of resource that can save you tons of money on books and classes as well. There are all sorts of free tutorials and workshops online you can participate in that will keep you up to date on the latest design standards while putting you in direct interaction with others in the community.

Brian Spero from Web Designer Depot has plenty of other ways designers  can keep their costs down. If you are a recent graduate or a newer freelancer, these ideas are definitely better than living off of Ramen.