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Face it; you’re not a Web designer. You may try your digital best, but hey, you’ve never been trained in the art of virtual aesthetics. But that’s okay, because we can’t all be Web Van Gogh’s. 

However, for those of us that run websites and don’t have a dedicated design team to allocate work to, it’s still necessary to participate in the design process, from wireframing to reviewing, and all those little tweaks along the way.

Luckily, there are plenty of great creative design tools available on the Web that are easy enough that any non-designer can use them. Check out the list below to see if there’s something that can help you look like you play a designer on the Web.

deviantART muro

muro, by deviantART, is a browser-based HTML5 drawing application for the site’s members that allows them to create images from scratch, featuring over 20 brushes, multiple filters and the ability to add layers to an image.

Fluid UI

This is a mobile app prototyping tool that lets users quickly and easily create interactive mockups and wireframes of mobile applications for Android, iOS and Windows 8.


Ever had a great image to share that just needs a little explanation to make sense? Have you been looking for a better way to engage your audience with photos? Well, Label59 is for you, as this Web app provides an intuitive toolset that lets users label photos and even create an interactive presentation in minutes.


Sumopaint offers a fast and simple graphics editor application for Web browsers, PCs or iPads that works in 22 different languages, and includes a basic version that is always free for everyone.

Actual Reports Designer

While Actual Reports Designer is really a multi-faceted tool for creating simple designs, it is particularly useful for non-designers that want to generate QR codes to market their services, products or content. The tool includes a library of over 500 industry standard signs and symbols to choose from, as well as a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface.


One of the more popular online video editors available, WeVideo includes three distinct editing modes (Storyboard, Timeline and Advanced) to allow users to edit videos however they’d like. In addition, it integrates with YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Box and many other websites.

Balsamiq Mockups

This is another wireframing tool that basically lets users feel like they’re “drawing” an early version of their websites, while allowing for various tweaks and rearrangements at any time. Plus, it is collaboration friendly, so teams can create a design and modify it in real time during a meeting.


MindMeister is a mind mapping software with a particular focus on collaboration that has been used by everyone from EA to CNN to Oracle to help users visualize their thinking.


In the wake of Picnik, a number of free image editing services emerged, but none of them are as efficient and user-friendly as Pixlr, which is why it is now the Web’s most popular online photo editor.


Turn everyday videos into memorable movies with Magisto, the automated online video editor the selects the best parts of a user’s video, adds the music, themes and effects they select, and the puts it all together to create ‘beautiful” films that can be easily shared with others.


This simple online application makes it easy (and kind of fun) to test what people remember on a website. Simply enter the URL into the empty bar to create a test, and then see what users report to be the most impactful elements of the page.


Like Clue, this app was created by the folks at ZURB and makes it easy to share ideas on a website. Again, just enter a URL, and then users can highlight specific areas on a page and leave feedback for the website owner.


It always helps to have a roadmap, so that’s why services like Moqups are so nice. This Web-based HTML5 application lets users create wireframes, mockups and prototypes of their websites with an incredibly intuitive interface.


IcoMoon was the Web’s first custom icon font builder, meaning it allows users to choose specific icons that they need and turn them into a unique font to improve compatibility we various screen readers.


Users can publish, embed and share interactive 3D models with Sketchfab. The tool supports 27 different native 3D formats with no plugin required and unlimited uploads.

HTML Banner Maker

Create banners that work across all devices using HTML5 with this Web app that requires no prior coding knowledge.


NodeFire is an HTML5-based interactive animation create that lets users quickly and easily design banners, advertisements, text effects, drop-down menus, scrolling items, marquees, buttons, mini games and much more.


With TweenUI, it takes no time at all to create sleek looking HTML5 banner ads that look great across mobile devices and tablets.


And if you’re looking to create rich media HTML5 ads just for mobile devices, you can turn to Mugeda, the cloud-based solution that can be easily integrated into a publisher’s existing ad platform.

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Nov 22, 2010

For years, we’ve been hearing that the future of productivity is in the cloud. But while visions of real-time collaboration leave technophiles like me starry-eyed, it’s a prospect that means one thing to millions of people: leaving the familiar turf of Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007 so that they can learn their way around yet another application, not to mention some pricey upgrades. But Google wants to let you have it both ways.

Today, Google is launching a new plugin for Microsoft Office called Cloud Connect, which will tie Google Docs directly into the ubiquitous productivity suite, free of charge. Editing a document in Word? It’ll automatically sync to your Google Docs account each time you hit ‘Save’. Want to share a preview of your document without worrying about what file format your coworkers can open? Just send them a link to the Google Docs file. The plugin supports Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and it’s a big deal for Google’s strategy with Docs. The new product is going live for Apps for Business customers today as part of a preview program; everyone else will get it soon. Update: Google says that the demand was so high that it can’t accept any more volunteers, but you can sign up to receive a notification when it’s available.

Now, Microsoft is integrating online collaboration with its newest version of Office, but Google is doing them one better: this will work on Office 2003, 2007, and 2010, and there’s no fiddling with SharePoint required, either. Google also points out that Microsoft’s version doesn’t offer Excel support yet.

The new plugin is a result of Google’s acquisition of DocVerse back in March (note that it only took Google around eight months to get this out the door — obviously a lot of people want it). Installing the plugin should be fairly painless; the download takes around thirty seconds, and the installation process doesn’t take much longer.

Once you’ve installed it, you’ll notice a new ribbon toward the top of the Office UI, which gives you a Google Docs link for the document you’re currently working on, as well as a notification to let you know when it’s been synced with Google’s servers. Documents being edited locally save to your Google Docs account whenever you hit the ‘Save’ button, but unlike the normal Google Docs web editor, changes aren’t saved as you type them. Google Docs product manager Jonathan Rochelle says this is done because of user expectations — Office has always required that you hit the Save button to save (safety recovery versions notwithstanding) so it makes sense to leave it this way.

Multiple people can edit the same document and have their changes synced with each save (hooray for the cloud). But because these changes aren’t reflected in real-time, there’s the potential for conflicts — I could edit a PowerPoint slide to say one thing, and my coworker could put something else on the same slide. Google deals with these conflicts by presenting users with an alert prompting them to choose which version they’d like to save; if they want to go back and switch again later, they can using the document’s version history.

In practice it looks like this should work well, though there will be a bit of a learning curve as people navigate through syncing and version conflict resolution the first few times. And then there’s actually getting them to use the features that Google Docs and the cloud affords. Baby steps.

And that’s really the theme here: baby steps. Google says that it often speaks with businesses who are eager to switch to Google Docs, but who have a significant number of users who still want to stay with Office for whatever reason. This plugin will help clear that hurdle by allowing for organizations with a ‘hybrid’ setup. And in the longer term, Google is hoping that as users get more familiar with Docs, they’ll be more comfortable abandoning the Office client altogether.

There is one significant caveat to the integration with Office, but it’s a bit complicated to describe so bear with me. If you save a document from Powerpoint to Google Docs, and then edit that file using the Google Docs web editor, you will not be able to sync those changes back with the native version of the file. You’ll be able to generate a new PowerPoint file that reflects the changes, but they won’t sync automatically.

This is because Google is still working through fidelity issues, and the conversion from native Office document to Docs web document may introduce some formatting changes that the user didn’t intend to make. Obviously Google hopes to offer this in the future, but we’ll probably be waiting a while for it to overcome document fidelity issues entirely.

You may also recall a company called OffiSync, which we’ve been tracking over the last couple years. OffiSync has offered much of the same functionality that Google is launching for some time — but now that there’s an official solution, it seems like it could hamper OffiSync’s business. Not so, says Rochelle, who explains that OffiSync actually has some additional features compared to Google’s product. He also believes that there’s room for more than one solution to this problem.

Note that this isn’t available for Mac. Google explains that Microsoft doesn’t offer the same public APIs for the Mac version of Office, so there’s nothing it can do.

by Jason Kincaid


"I Write Like" logo (old typewriter)

An online app that checks which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.

Any text in English will do: your latest blog post, journal entry, comment, chapter of your unfinished book, etc. For reliable results paste at least a few paragraphs (not tweets).

An excerpt from an interview with the creator by  (interview link is below)  …

“You enter some text—“your latest blog post, journal entry, comment, chapter of your unfinished book”—and a split-second later, it spits out the html code for a blog-ready badge: “I Write Like H.P. Lovecraft,” or any of the 49 other authors in its database.”

How “I Write Like” works

(repost from Tumblr)

“Actually, the algorithm is not a rocket science, and you can find it on every computer today. It’s a Bayesian classifier, which is widely used to fight spam on the Internet. Take for example the “Mark as spam” button in Gmail or Outlook. When you receive a message that you think is spam, you click this button, and the internal database gets trained to recognize future messages similar to this one as spam. This is basically how “I Write Like” works on my side: I feed it with “Frankenstein” and tell it, “This is Mary Shelley. Recognize works similar to this as Mary Shelley.” Of course, the algorithm is slightly different from the one used to detect spam, because it takes into account more stylistic features of the text, such as the number of words in sentences, the number of commas, semicolons, and whether the sentence is a direct speech or a quotation.”

full interview with creator…

Where is “I Write Like”?

The link to the online site is here …

Font Xplorer 1.2.2 is now freeware.

Font Xplorer does not support Adobe Type 1 fonts and OpenType fonts with PostScript outlines. It works with TrueType and OpenType fonts that have TrueType outlines.

Do you need to find that perfect font for best friend’s birthday card? Want to get a detailed overview of all the fonts installed on your system? Or, so you find that font installation in Windows is too difficult for you? Want to print professionally designed sample sheets listing all your fonts? Font Xplorer comes to the rescue! Designed for both beginners and professionals, this font tool should find a place in every computer.

Some features:

  • Browse both installed and not installed TrueType* fonts from disk.
  • See what each font looks like, so it’s very easy to compare fonts
  • Special “user text compare” mode allows you to find the perfect font in seconds
  • Load, install, unload, uninstall, manage fonts
  • Print pre-designed, professional sample sheets and font listings
  • Save bitmap images of fonts
  • Search for duplicate fonts using CRC check
  • Rename font files to use a font’s full name with undo support (i.e. arialbi.ttf to Arial Bold Italic.ttf)
  • Comprehensive font info is available (full name, copyright, embedding info, available character sets etc.)
  • Advanced, resizable character map that shows all a font’s scripts and allows you to zoom in on any character. You can even copy a symbol to the clipboard as a vector image or rich text
  • View extended font metrics information
  • View the installation status of fonts to instantly determine if that font is already installed
  • Filter fonts by character set so you only see symbol fonts, for example
  • Mark fonts and optionally view only marked fonts
  • Integrated Repair Wizard solves most common problems with fonts
  • Extensive support for calling external programs. Plus support for different variables in callable command lines
  • Fully customizable toolbars and menus with Office 2000 look & feel. Mix menus and toolbar buttons, create new toolbars, reposition them etc.
  • And much more for you to discover…

Changes in 1.2.2

  • Hide System Fonts option (on by default) does not display system font Marlett in font listings. Don’t delete or uninstall this font, otherwise your Windows interface is not displayed currectly any more. It is highly recommended to keep this setting enabled.

Jarte is a great choice if all you need to do is process text (PC only). It loads much faster than Open Office or Word, but it has all of the essential features for creating formatted text.

PLUS, there is a portable install version available AND it installs to USB Drive. Saves as RTF, TXT or DOC format. Uses a TABBED document format for multiple documents.

General Features

  • Fully compatible with Windows Vista
  • Tabbed interface to provide easy access to open documents
  • Opens files with file extension RTF, file extension DOC, and file extension DOCX (new default format in Word 2007)
  • Fast start up
  • Compact screen size
  • Hot Connect lets you use Jarte with other programs
  • Optional “Clickless Operation” feature greatly reduces clicking
  • Can be run directly from a pluggable USB flash drive
  • High quality spell checker with custom user dictionary
  • Included spelling dictionaries: English (American, British, & Canadian), Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Dutch
  • Link to, or import, your existing custom Word spelling dictionaries
  • Support for templates
  • Export to HTML or PDF
  • Single click bookmarking and bookmark navigation
  • Send documents via e-mail
  • Full drag and drop file support
  • Instant access to recently opened documents and folders
  • Instant access to documents and folders designated as favorites
  • Adjustable document zoom
  • Detailed Help documentation

Editing Functions

  • Insert pictures, hyperlinks, tables, page breaks, equations and other embeddable objects
  • Quick Clips option provides easy copy, cut and paste capability using the mouse scroll wheel button
  • Standard clipboard functions plus a Paste Plain function which strips HTML and RTF formatting from clipboard text before pasting
  • Multi-level undo and redo functions
  • Sorting

Font Formatting

  • Bold, italic, underline, strikeout, subscript, and superscript font styles
  • Choice of text colors
  • Text highlight tool with choice of colors
  • Font typeface selection box which displays each font choice in its own typeface
  • Choose your own default font
  • Quick access to your personally chosen favorite fonts and to recently used fonts
  • Format brush tool quickly applies font styling to text

Paragraph Formatting

  • Left, right, centered, and justified text alignment
  • Paragraph indentation including first line and hanging indent styles
  • Bulleted and numbered list styles
  • Single, one and a half, and double line spacing
  • Optional paragraph spacing before and after paragraphs
  • User settable tab stops
  • Format brush tool quickly applies formatting to paragraphs


  • Print preview
  • User definable page margins
  • Reverse page order option and odd or even pages only options (useful for double sided printing) in addition to the standard print options
  • Visual designer allows complete control of both headers and footers:
    • Define any combination of left side, right side, and center headers and footers
    • Headers and footers may contain any combination of page numbering, file date, current date (in choice of date formats), file name, and user definable text
    • User control of the font typeface, font size, font style, and font color used for headers and footers
    • User control of the positioning of the header and footer lines
    • Optional suppression of the header and/or footer on the first page


  • Clip List allows you display and reuse the 25 most recent clipboard clips
  • Screen capture tool for copying images from the screen
  • Special Characters Keyboard allows single click insertion of any character including the extended characters not shown on your keyboard
  • Reference Bar provides instant word lookup to online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia
  • The Reference Bar also automatically integrates with the WordWeb dictionary and thesaurus if it is installed
  • Document word count tool
  • Search for files on your computer with direct access to the system file search tool

mascFuse Logo

MacFuse vs ExpanDrive

A blog post talking about MacFuse (Free) versus ExpanDrive (pay for)

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