There’s nothing we like more here at Argon than online gadgets, particularly productive ones that help us create and visualise our projects. We are often asked ‘what programs do we use for this’ or ‘which design tools would you suggest for that’? Below is a short summary on some of the online tools we use every day; right through from graphic design to web development to organising our daily schedules.
Fonts are one of the biggest talking points here in the Argon office. Licensed fonts can get expensive, very expensive! You’ll find our designers trawling through popular font sites endeavouring to locate ‘commercial free fonts’ and wishing there was those extra few dollars in the budget for that ‘one-off’ font family. One of the best sites we’ve found that contains superior quality commercial free fonts is Font Squirrel; who rightfully advertise themselves as a ‘Free Font Utopia’.
Google Fonts (previously called Google Web Fonts)
A site that is fast catching Font Squirrel is Google Fonts, which stores Open Source fonts (meaning they are available commercially and non-commercially). The majority of the websites designed by Argon now contain fonts found from this website, as they are easily embedded into the back end of websites.
Many of out clients have previously heard of Da Font and come to us with some idea on what they are looking for in a font. This website has a massive, almost overwhelming, collection of fonts stored ready to be viewed via an lengthy list of categories. Here you will be able to find many commercial free fonts however you will have to forage through the endless lists to find one that ticks all the boxes. Of course, if there is a font that works for you, a commercial licence can be purchased.
Generally when we need to purchase high resolution stock imagery for our design work we do so from our account with Shutterstock. However as a client you may not have the need (or budget) for such a high-end stock library resource. Free Images is a quick easy resource for free commercially available images you can download for your Social Media and Blog posts. You will need to sign up for an account, but it’s free!
Similarly to Free Images, Textures is another free resource for texture backgrounds that you may find useful for your online activities. Again, an account is necessary but it won’t cost you anything.
Online Photo Editor
Once you’ve downloaded your image or texture there may be a need to crop or resize the artwork to fit neatly in Social Media or Blog posts. In the office we tend to use the Adobe Suite for our artwork trimming, however there is a free Online Photo Editor that allows users to edit artwork to specific sizes, getting the best result for your online presence. More information on the tool can be found here.
Organisation & Tracking
While Argon has a paid business account setup for our team there are still some terrific advantages to setting up your own free Google Account to help organise your business (although business accounts start from only $5 a month). Some of the tools that we use on a regular basis include ‘Gmail’ (this also includes ‘Hangouts’ for communication when someone is out of the office), ‘Calendar’ for personal and team scheduling and ‘Drive’ for file storage.
On top of their excellent account setup, Google’s Analytics system helps us keep an eye on all the websites we create to see how they are tracking; from audience demographics to unique visitors. Here is a beginners guide to how Google Analytics works.
Have you ever needed a way to get a message out to all your clients or contacts, but basic email is just too clunky and printed mail-outs are too expensive. MailChimp is a great online email marketing service, at time of writing this article, it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers in your database, and up to 12,000 newsletter sends per month. You can read more about MailChimp and why you should use it here.