A challenge that many web designers face is the ability to be creative - whether brainstorming, collaborating, or prototyping. Unless you have an empty journal at hand, you’re often limited to opening a new doc, sheet, or Illustrator file.
Sometimes - all we want is a blank slate to express our ideas. Fortunately, several fantastic tools have been developed over the last few years to fill this creative gap. Here are six you need to know.
Excalidraw - Open Source Whiteboarding for Everyone
With Excalidraw, you can replicate the style and feel of a whiteboard. It even looks hand-drawn too! It’s an infinite canvas - so you’ll never run out of room. There are a ton of very useful features available, from layers to shapes, image embedding, and text tools. There’s a premium version available with cloud storage - but you can easily download your sketches locally - and upload them when you want to continue working.
Want to show your work to others? You can also share your Excalidraw as a live link! Excalidraw works on desktop, mobile, and on tablets too. Check it outFundamentals of Creating a Great UI/UX by Creative Tim
Kinopio.club - Mind Mapping Made Easy
Taking notes has never been so fun! Kinopio is a whimsical tool for creating mind maps, notes, or moodboards on an infinite canvas. You can color-code each card or connection to emphasize different ideas - or just use a traditional tagging system.
Express your creativity by embedding gifs, stickers, photos, or audio into your space. Invite friends to your space for live collaboration - or share your link as a static space. Best experienced on desktop - Kinopio is also compatible with tablets and smartphones. When it comes to mind mapping on the internet - there are a few tools that can compete. Check it out.
Mmm.page - Create the Web Page you Really Want
Remember Geocities? Mmm.page brings the chaotic vibe of the early 2000s to the present. With this web builder, you're only limited by your imagination. Begin with a blank canvas - and drag and drop images, text, gifs, and more until you find exactly what inspires you.
It’s a neat playground for experimenting with creative ideas and layouts, without the pressures of needing to mess with HTML, CSS, or complicated side menus. Whether you want to build a fun personal portfolio or an out of this world website for a client, it’s a great place to get those creative ideas flowing! Check it out.
Sprout.place - Video Calls You Can Look Forward To
Why use Zoom or Google Hangouts for the thousandth time, when you choose an option that’s way more fun and interactive? In Sprout, you can use a really unique feature called “facedocks” to move around your video screen to different places on your canvas - and you can decorate them too. From drawing to Youtube embeds, there are many tools available to spice up your next team collaboration.
Once you’ve finished building out that project space with your team, you can save it as a webpage - or export it as Json to save for later. Sprout.place is still in beta with a few bugs here and there, but it’s a great choice for breaking up the tedium of all those meetings, or just hanging out with a friend. Check it out.
Figjam - The Professional Whiteboard tool
Figjam is the king of whiteboard tools. Built by the pros over at Figma, this full featured tool is perfect for your next brainstorming session with your team. Audio chats are built directly into the platform - so you don’t need to open up Zoom. Want to express an idea quickly to a team member? Use Cursor chat to catch their attention without breaking your flow.
Access your Figma library to add designs directly to your whiteboard, or add mockups from other platforms via the upload function. Diagrams, Sticky notes, and Moodboards are all just one Figjam session away. Check it out.
Clover App - The Creative Notion Alternative
Despite the vast amount of customization that Notion offers, it can be quite challenging to build out and manage, especially when you’re trying to be creative. When you want to hit the ground running, dragging and dropping different folders and menus can really slow you down. Start with a blank canvas instead.
In Clover, you can create docs, folders, notes, and utilize other typical productivity features, but it’s much easier to use. Every page is like a blank canvas that you can write on or embed whatever you’d like. You can even create a whiteboard where you can sketch and diagram to your heart’s content. It’s available across platforms, including the iPad. When you want to balance creativity and productivity, Clover is a great choice. Check it out.
Never Forget Inspiration - No Matter the Platform
The next time you sit down to brainstorm or collaborate, consider using one of these tools for your creative session. It may just unlock the inspiration you need to finish that project. See if any of them may fit into your daily workflow - so you can unlock that creative side whenever you need it.
Finding inspiration every week is essential to keeping ideas fresh. Every week, Creative Brew sends out a weekly newsletter packed with resources to keep you inspired, just like a fresh hot brew. Subscribe for tools, resources, and more every week.