Free or inexpensive design apps & tools.
When you are starting a business on a budget it doesn't hurt to know about a few, easy to use and ideally either cheap or free design tools.
I've designed or been involved with the construction of websites for a number of years, the first must have been around 1999 and I can't say I enjoyed it much, it is quite difficult creating through another person - i.e. the costs mount and if the other person doesn't get your vision it can be a disappointing end result.
Since then, website design tools and the related software, things such as photo croppers, flyer designers etc have become so easy to use that with some basic common sense you can deliver really pro-looking results.
I want to give a shout out here to a few products that are now stored on my browser. I really like www.picmonkey.com which provides a great range of image manipulation tools, re-sizing, cropping, image enhancement the likes of which are available within Instagram, only better.
www.canva.com is an extremely generous website that makes the design of all the rather frustrating header and profile box graphics - think youtube, twitter etc far, far easier to construct, they provide lots of templates ready set up for each of these applications, it takes away the headache of all the baffling mathematics and logic that only a graduate designer could easily understand out of the way. In addition, you can also easily build nice flyers, like the one featured above.
Not so free, but extremely impressive is the www.wix.com service which would be for building the website itself. Building a website with their interface is actually fun, the program is a dream to use and they seem to have thought of everything that frustrates someone with little design knowledge, it is easily the most intuitive package like this I have ever used. The only thing I do not like so much is that it isn't the cheapest and it will cost you further down the line, that said website construction and hosting today is ridiculously inexpensive compared to just a few years ago, it is difficult to bear any real grudge here.
Another great value, if not exactly free service is www.vistaprint.com who seem also to have seized on this new wave of easy and fun design tools, once you have your finished image it is simple to upload your designs and they will give you some rather clever perspectives of how it might look in reality, for example - how it would look on a t-shirt or a mug or a pen. You just have to be careful you don't end up buy many more promo items than you originally intended, they make it extremely easy for you to spend more cash.
It is also worth mentioning www.thinkstock.com which has some fantastic and sexy stock images, we bought our Studio button image from these people and it has been central to the rest of our design for this website. Here you can buy 5 professional images for under £30.00.
That's just a short list, I like these very much.