In our 3 years as an emerging business, we have designed community websites, Facebook apps, social intranets and pretty much everything in-between. To be honest, not every element we design is created from scratch each time.
Ideally, they don’t need to be either.
Our designers invest a significant amount of time researching what works best for our clients, and once epiphany strikes, well… then there’s no holding them back. Usually, that time is directly invested in designing what we call as the ‘Most Unique Proposition’ (or, MUP for short) of the project. In other words, what is it that differentiates our work for one client from what we may have done for another client, or for that matter, different from what the client’s competitors may have executed already. And believe it or not, the process of identifying the MUP for each project is a very time-consuming affair. So, our boutique team of visual designers & project managers pride themselves in having an eye for that kind of an effort.
Every visual design project that we take on is a mix of identifying the MUP along with customising a set ‘constant elements’ to suit the requirements of the project. Now, constant elements are nothing but UI blocks that you would find commonly across most projects in the same genre on the internet.
For example, if you were re-designing a corporate website, you are bound to see similar looking buttons, icons, fonts, background textures, navigation menus, and even vector illustrations across other corporate websites on the web. By using constant elements across projects, designers are not copying/stealing/re-using anything. They are just saving precious time by not re-inventing the wheel again. In effect, constant elements are customised to the project in question and not designed from the ground up, saving heaps of time.
It’s a practice that is religiously followed by experienced and efficient designers all over the world. If your designers aren’t doing it – maybe they should be.
The ratio of the MUP against constant elements, depending on project specifications, can be as high as 50-50 sometimes. Although, visually speaking, the project output looks fresh and unique each time. Given their many years of experience, our designers know where and how to strike a good balance, and demonstrate fine craftsmanship.
There are many sites out there offering constant elements in the form of free PSD’s, vector graphics and UI kits to give time crunched designers a helping hand. Here’s a curated list of the top 3 ones that get our vote.
1. PSDDD – Beautiful Dribbble Freebies For The Creative Professional.
Psddd is a hot stove, somewhere between heaven and Dribbble. For those who are not familiar with Dribbble, they are by far the most exclusive think tank for the crème de la crème of creative talent across the world. This think tank is full of people who, from time to time, are benevolent enough to post their high-quality design elements as ‘freebies’ for the community to use. Elements are selected manually and fetched via the powerful Dribbble API.
2. PREMIUM PIXELS – Free Stuff For Creative Folk.
Premium Pixels is a destination well-known among passionate designers for its collection of design elements that are created and curated by eclectic web designer Orman Clark. All elements are offered free of charge with very little restriction. Premium Pixels is renowned for its stringent quality standards and only those UI elements that are a ‘cut-above-the-rest’ make it to its sought after list.
3. CREATIVE MARKET – Handcrafted Fonts, Graphics, Themes and More.
Creative Market is a marketplace for handcrafted, mousemade design content from around the world, and popular among those who are passionate about making beautiful design simple and accessible to everyone. The site carries almost every conceivable UI element including Photoshop brushes and WordPress themes. Creative Market is also the only paid online resource among the three sites in this post, where digital design goods are sold by independent creative professionals to use in personal as well as commercial projects.
Are there other online resources you frequently visit and trust? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo credits: © Eldkvast