Update as of 28/8/18 -
Here at MAD, we're always thinking of you. In fact, some of the following updates have been a few months (of list-building) in the making. As soon as we experiene a new, really cool resource we LOVE it, and we love it even more if it's free!
Here are some of the latest resources we've found that we thought would be super helpful to you.
- Google Keep - This is a really great FREE resource that allows you store lists, photos & audio to 'keep'. Think of it as your new personal assistant.
Calenders & Diaries - The following are free alternatives to Microsoft Outlook's calender feature.
- Efficient Calender
- Compressor.io - A really useful online tool to compress and optimze your images for online use.
- Color Wheel
- Lettercount - We love this tool! It's an easy way to write online content whilst keeping an eye on character count. We use this for writing all our metadata!
It’s unbelievable how much free software there is out there and, potentially, you could use these to meet many of your business (and personal) needs.
It would take forever to give explicit instructions on using each piece of software listed below, but so long as you are reasonably competent using a computer and the web, we’re sure you’ll be fine. If not, grab a more IT savvy friend or member of the family to give you a hand.
Finding good and trustworthy tools is always difficult when compiling a list of this nature. Over the years, we at MA Design have filtered through a lot of rubbish and found a few amazing pieces of (free!) software and some great online resources. Where appropriate we have added comments about the links.
There are many, many more tools out there. In fact, you’re pretty spoilt for choice (a great example of the ‘choice paradox’), so the following is what we believe to be ‘best in class’. We’re always on the lookout for new products and applications though and aim to grow this list as we come across things that are worth shouting about. So, if you know of any that are worth adding, please let us (and your fellow readers!) know in the comments section below.
Free Business Software
With many of the applications below, installation and configuration is straight forward, but when you first download them make sure you do so from the official software company’s website. Pay particular attention to the version you are downloading, too. It’s quite easy to download a ‘free trial’ of the paid for version of the software as opposed to the ‘free version’ itself.
Another thing to be aware of is that many of these free pieces of software come bundled with other products and applications, which is in part how they make their money. Sometimes these can be useful (such as the Google Chrome web browser) but often they’re added pieces of software that will just slow down your machine and are full of adverts. During the installation process, simply ensure you uncheck the boxes for the additional bits of software that you don’t want to install. It’s quite straight forward so long as you take your time and don’t just click ‘accept’ to everything.
Getting in to the nitty gritty of improving your computers speed and performance is probably best left to someone with IT experience in the main. However, here are some useful tools for more advanced users:
When it comes to backing up your computer, it is essential that you do so on a regular basis. You can never have too many back-ups.
Free Business Name Generators
Help with finding inspiration for your business. Usually tied in with checking domain name availability too:
Free Logo Creator
Great for basic logos, or to move on from a completely blank canvas to the start of logo concepts. Some are fully automated, but they are well worth a visit if only to get your juices flowing:
Free Images & Graphics
A wide selection of images, icons and artwork:
Free Graphic Design & Image Editing
Software packages such as Adobe Photoshop are the industry standard, but they are not cheap. There are however plenty of other tools out there that are and they do most of the things the average user needs:
Tools for making file sizes as small and web-friendly as possible:
Free E-mailing & Customer Surveys
Market leaders without doubt:
Free Online Storage
There are an increasing amount of companies offering free storage and some (such as Flickr) offer unlimited storage for images:
Disclaimer – Please Read
Our aim is to provide you with the best advice possible, but our guidance, tips and advice may not be absolutely perfect all of the time. Any links provided may change as the providers change their websites so we cannot be held responsible for any broken links or missing pages. If this does happen, simply search online for the resource that you are looking for.
Some of the resources above have quite specific guideline on what their ‘free’ versions can be used for. Please check their terms and conditions to ensure that you do not violate any of them.
This publication is intended to give information that could be useful in both setting up and running a business. No decisions should be made to set up or run a business whether based solely on the content of this publication or the resources referred to in it. Legal and professional advice should be sought where appropriate and this publication is not intended to replace such advice. However, the reader takes and uses the information from this publication and the resources linked to is done so entirely at their own risk. The reader will not hold the author responsible for any consequences resulting from their actions from reading and using / misusing this publication. Any links to external resources and any quotes are provided for reference and the content is not the explicit opinions of the author of this publication.