Everyone loves a freebie. The problem with many free resource sites is that you are often inundated with so much unusable garbage that it’s hard not to feel like you are wasting your time. Below is a collection of free eLearning design resources that I have personally found useful as an e-Learning, web, and graphic designer.
Free Stock Photography Photo Sites
When I say “stock photography” you’re probably picturing a multiethnic group of models dressed in business casual in a radiant glass-walled office gathering around a laptop laughing at some ambiguous pie chart. If that’s your flavor, then Shutterstock, iStock, Depositphotos will be wonderful for you. Personally, I get a bit bored with the perfection. I look for photos that don’t scream “STOCK.”
With enough digging, you can find some unique and "un-stocky" photography on Shutterstock, but it’s not easy and it’s definitely not free. Here are a few sites that may not be your first choice when looking for a specific subject, but you might find something dynamic that will add real visual appeal to your e-Learning design.
This has been my favorite free photography resource find of 2014. I have used images from Unsplash on a wide variety of design projects. Unsplash features high resolution photography with lots of unique cityscapes and nature scenes with a touch of vintage.
Pixabay.com is a curated repository for pictures in the public domain—free from any copyright restrictions. There are a lot of average images on here and a strangely robust selection of insect close-ups. I'd recommend starting with the Editor's Choice page. I also like that I can click on a photographer that has a unique style so I can view and download more of their work.
This site is the work of one photographer. It has a lot of odd, but interesting images (cows wearing shoes, clowns etc.). The photographer has a real distinct high-saturation style that I find very appealing.
If you really like the vintage look, why not go all the way? New Old Stock is a curated collection of old photographs in the public domain, featuring a mix of black and white and color photographs—all from 1960 or before. There probably isn't much here for e-Learning purposes, but hey, maybe you'll find something that fits. I've discovered a few interesting images on the site to use in my work.
High resolution, high quality images emailed to your inbox once a week. I signed up for DeathToStockPhotos.com to give it a try. Essentially, I get one picture a week that I love and 8 others that I'll never use.
A man after my own public-domain-loving heart. He set up the site to help designers find quality free images. You'll see images from the previously mentioned sites, among some of his own photography.
FreeImages.com (formerly www.sxc.hu)
If you're not looking for images that are "unique," "vintage," or any of that hipster nonsense, then you can always count on freeimages.com. On a scale of Hideous to Transcendent freeimages.com often comes out with a solid "Functional."
The quantity of unique and high quality photos on Flickr Commons is ridiculous. I just wish there was a way to filter my search more efficiently. I spend most of my time getting excited, then disappointed that I can't find what I'm looking for. Or I find exactly what I'm looking for, only to find out it is free, but only for "personal use."
Personally, I haven't found an efficient way to navigate through the Flickr commons, but I have a feeling that this will be a significant resource in the future. I have started to see Flickr groups that are curated folders of images that can be filtered by licensing restrictions (or lack thereof).
Here are two Free Use Flickr groups:
A few favorites: Wisdom Script, Franchise, Deming EP
*Many Lost Type fonts are free for personal use, but have a small fee attached to commercial use.
100% free for commercial use.
High Quality Freebie Resource Sites:
This might be the only subscription email that I actually open on a regular basis. The website itself is a design resource shop, but they give away six free resources once a week. It's always a wide variety of resources (textures, photoshop actions, fonts, etc.) so I often find at least one thing that piques my interest. There is an underlying hipster vintage aesthetic that they gravitate towards. If you like that flavor, then I recommend signing up.
You have to do a bit of searching, but I have found a few valuable freebies here. Creative Market is definitely higher quality, but it is nice that Design Instruct leaves their free resources on the site after the original post.
God's gift to web designers.
Awesome website. Many of these icons are free with attribution, but if they aren't free, at most, they cost $3. This is my first stop when I need an icon or silhouette-type graphic.
Sets of icons for download--some available for free, some for purchase.
There are a TON of web design inspiration sites, but this happens to be the one that I find the most helpful.
Though this blog is baked into their community forum website and isn't well packaged, I've actually found a lot of legitimate (and more e-Learning specific) inspiration on this site--particularly while clicking through user submitted responses to their e-Learning Challenge posts.
Hopefully this has not been an inundation and you have found a few new sites that you'll actually find useful.
What are some sites and resources that you use to help make your e-Learning designs original and unique?
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