Not having the same funds or resources of a web design agency can certainly be one of the downsides to working as a freelance developer or designer. Established web design agencies have the finance to be able to have expensive full blown usability tests on a project, they will have accountants to mange invoicing, managers to project manage and have multiple developers and designers to covering several different aspects of any given design.
As a freelancer you have to do it all!
In this post I have 10 fresh web apps which will help you (and I mean only help, they are not a solution) in various different areas of design and development, I have also added one extra (flavour.me) which may not help you, but is certainly cool. Not all are free, but should save you money, while maintaining professionalism.
Project Bubble – Project Management and Invoicing Tool
The link for Project Bubble arrived in my inbox just a couple of days, and after visiting the site, it took me all of 30 seconds to realise that I would love it. If a web app can grab, my typically, short attention span as quick as it did, then it must be good.
It is a free, easy-to-use and fun project management and invoicing tool that has been specifically developed for freelancers. It is its simplicity that won me over, two minutes to signup and another two minutes to send your first invoice, what more could you need?
Project Bubble Video
So, you have just finished a new web site or app, and you its marvellous. The question you should now ask is: How good is it really? For honest and constructive feedback you would normally ask your fellow professional web designers, and this were this app, Concept Feedback, comes in.
Upload your latest design, it is not only restricted to web design, you can also upload ads, Flash, logos and even videos and await professional feedback from qualified community members.
Build It With Me is a tool that connects design & development entrepreneurs. It exists to make creating apps easier by connecting you with like-minded designers and developers with the same goal: create cool & useful apps.
Getting funding for your app idea is hard and often unrealistic. Most of the time you may just need to connect with a partner who has a skill set you lack to finish off your app. This is where Build It With Me comes in, connecting you to those people.
Chartle is a very easy to use and completely free online chart generator that allows you to embed and share your plots, maps, charts, diagrams and business reports online.
Chartlet is non-binding towards its users, there is no forced registration and all generated charts are your own, The only thing they ask is that you link back to them.
Click here to try the app: Create a Chartle Chart »
With its drag and drop and easy to use interface, wireframing couldn't be easier with Mockingbird. It is an online tool that makes it easy for you to create, link together, preview, and share your mockups of your website or application with colleagues and clients.
Click here to try the app: Create a Mockup »
themeleon is an easy to use generator to customize your Twitter profile page. You have the choice of the more than 683,853 background patterns and 1,041,687 color palettes available on COLOURlovers, or you can customize any of the colors or patterns to get just the right design for you.
Click here to try the app: Create a Twitter layout »
For most designers and developers, having the time or the funds for a full blown professional usabilty test is not practical. This is were the fivesecondtest comes in. It is an app that allows random users to conduct simple 5 second usability tests that help you to measure the effectiveness of your web page designs.
Simply put, you upload a design and choose the type of test you want to run. You will be given a unique link that you can share with friends and colleagues and have them do your test, and of course, you can always just let our random users do your test for really fast feedback.
Click here to test a layout: Conduct a fivesecondtest »
With its easy to use online editor you can create highly customized charts in minutes, and then export them (upload the sources to your server) or get the embedding code (hosted version).
Click here for some examples: View examples of JS Charts »
Every major browser now supports the ability to link to a font. That means you can write a bit of CSS, include a URL to a font file, and have your page display with the typography you expect.
Typekit is the easiest way to use real fonts on the web, it is a service for linking to high-quality Open Type fonts from some of the worlds best type foundries.
Bidsketch – Design Proposal Software
Bidsketch is a web app that allows you to create, track, customize, and design beautiful proposals. There are a multitude of options and features to choose from, as well as professional templates to help you get started. Your proposal can even have embedded images and Flash for online viewing , or PDF exporting. Clients can leave comments directly on each proposal portal, giving you instant feedback.
You are limited to only three proposals with the free version (sadly), the next step up is the basic plan, which is a fairly cheap $9 a month and finally, at $19, the premium plan.
Flavors.me is a service that allows you to create your own personal homepage in the style of Tim Van Dammes single page vcard web site (I still have no idea of what to call that style, it really need a name!). The service will create an elegant, single-page website using your personal content from around the web, and automatically organizes all of your information – photos, videos, blog posts, status updates, music listening habits, travel plans and resume details.
It is currently in beta, so, the layouts are still a little basic, professional though. Overall, the idea is awesome and should appeal to most people.
Click here: View Flavors.me user layouts »