When you are a designer/developer you are always on the lookout for fresh, free or paid, resources to use in your projects or simply to be inspired by. Definitely, there is no shortage of such resources and the choice is overwhelming. There are free resources in many categories, such as images, brushes, free PSDs, free scripts, etc.
As you probably guess, a great many of these free resources are images (photos in particular) and some of the sites with these are listed in the 25 Sites to Get Free Images article. Therefore, if you are looking for free images mainly, check this article first because the list here contains mainly other types of free stuff.
One more word of warning before we go on with the list. When you use free resources, always check the license. Many authors release their stuff free for both personal and commercial purposes but don’t take this for granted.
DeviantART is probably one of the best known places a designer visits. This site is not only a great source of inspiration because artists from all over the world showcase their masterpieces but it also offers numerous resources of almost any kind. On DeviantART you can find free photos, patterns, textures, brushes, vectors and many more. However, always check the license because many of the resources are not free for commercial use. Sometimes you won’t find license information directly and in these cases you need to contact the author personally to clarify what he or she allows to do with their stuff.
2. All Free Download
Another great site and a personal favorite of mine is All Free Download. It offers a really huge collection of free vectors, photos, website templates, PSD files, footage, brushes, patterns, fonts, etc. Some of these are in the public domain, so you can use them freely for any purpose you want but there is also lots of free stuff you can use for educational and other non-commercial purposes only, so be really careful what you pick and how you use it.
Brusheezy is one more huge repository of free resources you can check. As it name implies, you can find brushes there, but in addition to them you can find other useful resources, such as patterns or UI kits that are not available on many other sites. You can also find gradients, templates, styles, shapes, actions, PSDs and some other types of goodies.
4. Font Squirrel
A designer might have a huge collection of fonts but as my experience shows, even in this case cute new fonts are always welcome. While there are many sites with paid and free fonts, one of the sites I like most is Font Squirrel. This site contains the best fonts that are free for commercial use but there are also some fonts that are almost free. Therefore, even though the site contains mostly fonts that are free for commercial use, it won’t hurt if you double check the license for a particular font before you use it.
5. Google Fonts
The purpose of Google Fonts is similar to the purpose of Font Squirrel – to offer free fonts for commercial use – but the way they do it is different. With Font Squirrel you can download the font and install it locally, while with Google Fonts you pick the font you like, add it to your collection and then use a code to display the font on your site. Aside from this difference in use, Google Fonts isn’t different from any other font repository on Earth. Google Fonts doesn’t arrange the available fonts in as many categories as Font Squirrel, so if you are looking for a grunge font, for example, you won’t find a separate category but still the categories are neat and the fonts aren’t that hard to find.
6. Free CSS
If you are looking for free CSS templates, layouts, and menus, Free CSS is one of the best places to check. There are more than 2,000 free CSS templates alone, not to mention the hundreds of layouts and the dozens of menus, so more or less, with some patience, it’s almost certain you will find the template, layout, or menu you can use (either as is, or with minor modifications) in your projects. The only problem with this site is that most of the stuff is kind of old, so you might have to update the code to the latest versions of HTML5 and CSS3 but aside from this, the choice is really rich.
There are many sites where you can find free and paid themes for various CMS but one of the best is themesBase. This site is a huge collection of free themes for many CMS – Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, e107, osCommerce, phpBB, to name a few. The number of themes varies depending on the category. As you guess, the more popular a CMS is, the more themes for it are available but even for not so popular CMS the choice of free themes is pretty rich.
8. Webdesigner Depot
The freebies section of Webdesigner Depot is hardly the richest freebies resource on the Net. In fact, recently they haven’t been too active in adding new resources to it but thanks to the fact that it has been up for years, there are many resources for you to choose from. The section contains resources in almost any category – from free images, to free patterns and textures, to free icons, mockups, brushes, vectors, PSDs and what not.
If the free PSDs you can find on other sites are not enough, you can come to 365psd, where the collection is really impressive. The site adds a free PSD daily and when you have in mind that the site has been up for a couple of years, you can figure out that there are thousands of PSDs for you to choose from. In addition to free files, there are also premium files. These premium files are annual .zip archives – i.e. all the 365 PSDs for a year can be downloaded at once for $29.95.
10. Texture Mate
Texture Mate is my favorite place when I am looking for new textures for my designs. It has a huge collection of free textures, neatly arranged by category. The categories are numerous but some of the most interesting are grunge, metal, glass, clouds, rock, plants, seamless. Even if you don’t desperately need new textures right now but you have the time, you can have a look at this huge collection of all imaginable textures.
SoftPedia is a well known downloads site for free and paid software but what not many people know is that there you can also find scripts in many programming languages and categories. For instance, the Web Scripts category contains scripts in dozens of subcategories, such as ad managements, affiliate programs, AJAX, click tracking, graphs and charts, mailing lists, PHP classes, programming tools, UI components, social media tools, etc. However, be careful because not all scripts are free – many of them are shareware, while others are free to try only, so make sure you carefully read the license before you download and use a particular script.
12. Hot Scripts
All these sites in various areas of Web design/development are great and the resources they offer are really useful. The sites on the list are the larger ones. In addition to them there are many smaller sites with resources as great as these. If you don’t find the resources you need on the sites on the list, don’t give up, try some other free sites. If this doesn’t help, there is always the option to browse paid sites, though as my experience shows, paid sites aren’t always more useful than free ones.