Design tools for a poor start-up.

I recently started working on a start-up app idea with friends. Our profits so far? $0. Here are some of the design tools we’re using that let us be productive while keeping money in our pockets.

Totally Free

Pexels & Unsplash. Great selection of stock photography.

The Noun Project. A variety of icons.

Google Forms. Good for user surveys and feedback forms.

Lipsum Generator.

Kind of free

Zeplin. Goodbye redlines! Zeplin let’s you upload artboards directly from Sketch with all of the specs automatically generated. You can even download assets directly from Zeplin in various formats. The free version is limited to one project.


MockFlow. Mockflow is an online flash-based wire-framing tool that has a bunch of templates to help you get started. The basic account is pretty limited, but its free and easy to share across teammates. They do offer a premium account for $5/month.

InVision. Easy way to quickly test concepts with users. The free version only allows for one active prototype at a time.

Trello. Trello makes it easy to upload designs to individual user stories, and the image preview on the cards themselves is pretty handy for designers.


After Effects. We decided to save development effort we would create our app animations using After Effects + Airbnb’s animation library Lottie. AE is $20/month through Creative Cloud, but you get 30 days free.

Not free (but totally worth it)

Sketch. As a designer, Sketch is my right hand. $100 will get you two licenses and will quickly pay for itself .

Confluence by Atlassian. Confluence is more of an enterprise wiki / content library for the entire software development team. There aren’t really any specific design features, but it’s good for hosting tons of design content and sharing with the team.

Interaction designer @Google | Previously and @UnitedAirlines

Interaction designer @Google | Previously and @UnitedAirlines