5 Tools for Freelance Designers

Published on May 4th, 2021

Harsh Vijay
Co-founder, ruttl

Follow ruttl on LinkedIn

One cannot undersell the importance of a well-designed product in today’s rapidly evolving world. UI UX designers, in particular, have to make sure the websites and apps they design can make a good first impression within 0.05 seconds. There is considerable effort and time invested in making easy-to-use and visually attractive products.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, India emerged as the second-fastest growing freelance market in the world, with a 46% increase in new freelancers in Q1 and Q2. Freelance designers, in general, are in high demand due to the increased focus on digital products as in-person shopping and recreation have reduced due to the pandemic.

Today, we’re sharing some valuable apps and design tools that are a must-have for any freelance designer.

1. Toggl

When you’re a freelancer, it can get challenging to manage your time well. Being self-employed means that you have to enforce your deadlines to ensure your work is complete by the time the client needs it. If you’re looking for a tool that helps you track how much time you spend on different aspects of a project, Toggl is a great tool. It is easy to use and generates useful reports that you can send to your clients.

Toggl track is the time-tracking version that helps you manage your time better. You can choose between summaries or detailed weekly reports and get them sent directly to your email. It also rounds up or down according to your choice. Toggl Plan is a team planning and project management app that includes project timelines, group overviews, and task management features. These can be useful for freelancer designers who have sub-contractors or work on multiple long-term projects at a time.

2. Bonsai

Bonsai is a useful contract generator, time-tracker, and project management tool for freelancers. Marketed as a comprehensive freelance product suite, Bonsai has several valuable features that include proposals, contracts, time-tracking for individual client projects, expense tracking, invoices and payments.

Freelance designers who don’t have time to shop around for or work with different tools to track their time, generate invoices, or manage projects can use Bonsai as a one-stop-shop for their needs.

3. ruttl

A staple in every freelance web designer’s arsenal, ruttl is a visual feedback and collaboration tool that helps you review websites quickly. A live website review tool, ruttl allows designers to make edits to live websites without coding knowledge. They can even invite clients and stakeholders to review the project and gather precise feedback to share with the developer, resulting in pixel-perfect websites.

Freelance designers who work with agencies or subcontractors can create projects and add team members. Commenting by tagging team members on live websites during the review process ensures clear and actionable feedback, reducing revision time. At the same time, the developers can pick up the codes and values directly from ruttl. What’s more, it even saves every version so designers can compare to make sure they design buttery-smooth websites for every client.

4. Huesnap

Choosing the right colours is critical for any design project. Designers working on projects will often get ”inspo” images from clients as guidelines for the design. Huesnap is the perfect way to use these inspiration images to create colour palettes that retain the client’s brand and tone.

For those seeking inspiration, use Huesnap to click photos and create palettes on the go. Similarly, you can also recreate new colour palettes using competitor colour palettes as your base to design within industry standards and expectations.

5. Brutask

Most freelancers work on a multitude of projects for several clients. This can make it challenging to keep track of each client’s requirements and allocate the right time to completing them. Brutask is a simple to-do list app that helps freelancers manage their tasks efficiently.

Users can create their to-do list by adding tasks, prioritizing important ones, and timeboxing them for better time management. When working with others, designers can also mark specific tasks as private while overseeing others’ tasks with admin or manager access. Brutasks’s simplicity makes it easy to use, and it works best for those who use post-it notes, daily to-do lists or want to inculcate this habit. It helps freelancers stay motivated by increasing productivity and creating a feeling of achievement every time you mark a task as done.

Pro tip: Pair Brutask with Toggl to see if you’re able to stick to the time you allocate for specific tasks or if you need to rework timelines. This will help reduce overwork and help you manage your time better in the long run.

Other important must-haves

If you’re entering the freelance world, ensure that you have the following to help you land the best clients and exciting projects.

1. Google Apps

It goes without saying that a professional email is necessary to set the right impression with your clients. Leveraging Gmail, Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets can help you share early design sketches, wireframes, and more. Storing your work on Google Drive (or Dropbox, depending on your preference) can help you work on the go. Cloud storage is also a great way to make sure you can access pieces on your portfolio if something happens to your storage devices.

2. Slack

Communication is vital for any project’s success. Whether it’s for revisions or feedback, freelance designers need to have communication tools in place to ensure they can gather all the required information from their clients. Slack is a valuable communication tool that boasts of several integrations, including Google apps. Create individual channels to track progress and separate different stages of the project to ensure clarity and transparency.

3. Portfolio

While this isn’t a tool, it’s an absolute must-have for any freelance designer. A robust UI UX portfolio is the best way to land clients. Whether you create your website or use an external platform like Dribble, your portfolio should be a collection of your strongest, most versatile work that highlights your skills.

We know being a freelance designer isn’t easy. In fact, before we started Brucira, we did a fair bit of freelancing ourselves. That’s we hope this list of helpful design tools and tips will help improve your freelance journey.

Try out ruttl, the future of design review here: ruttl.com

Create your first to-do list on Brutask here: brutask.com

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