Last week we introduced several online productivity tools and web apps for web designers in the categories of: file storage/sharing, billing/invoicing, project management and collaboration, time tracking, and wireframe/proof approval tools.  Remember that we only covered those tools and apps that offer a forever free account in some way.  This week will cover five more categories.  The BEST PART is that the majority of tools we cover this week are TOTALLY FREE!  We have also added a few Chrome extensions to the list.

Please comment and let us know if you use these tools or different ones and your experiences.  We, too, are always looking for the best tools to improve productivity and workflow for our web design projects.

Fonts & Font Selection

DaFont

Dafont.com is our go-to source to find free fonts.  The site is organized beautifully, placing fonts in 9 categories for easy browsing: Fancy, Foreign Look, Techno, Bitmap, Gothic, Basic, Script, Dingbat, and Holiday.  Once browsing a particular category, you can type in a word or phrase to view it in all the various fonts on a single page.  It evens allows you to sort fonts by popularity, download, or date added.  We’ve never purchased a font, a we owe it to DaFont.

WhatTheFont

MyFont’s WhatTheFont tool allows users to upload an image of a font and then scours their database to identify it for you.  If you can’t find a match, you can submit your font query to their forum and have a font guru identify it for you!  Not to mention, this tool has an iPhone app for on-the-go font identification!

Color Management & Inspiration

COLOURlovers

COLOURlovers is one of our all-time favorite tools!  You can view thousands upon thousands of color schemes, individual colors, patterns, and shapes submitted by members.  By becoming a member you can create palettes, colors, etc yourself and archive them in  single place for sharing or future downloading.  We can we say, WE LOVE COLOURLOVERS!

Check us out on ColourLovers

Honorable Color Management Mentions (Chrome Extensions)

ColorZilla (Chrome & FireFox extensions)

Eye Dropper (Chrome Extension)

 

Browser Testing

Adobe BrowserLab

Adobe® BrowserLab is an online tool that allows you to preview web pages across multiple browsers and operating systems, navigate links, and use diagnostic tools to optimize websites efficiently.  Originally, this service was a temporarily complimentary tool provided by Adobe slated to become a paid service in April 2012.  However, as of this writing, it is still free.

BrowserShots

BrowserShots is a permanently free browser testing tool.  It isn’t robust.  It simply allows you to enter your URL and select from dozens of browsers that you want to preview your site with.  It takes a few minutes to render the page in the various browsers and then posts a screenshot for each on a single page.  It doesn’t allow to you navigate within the browser or do any further testing, but for free, what can you really ask for?

 

Contract Management

Adobe EchoSign

Adobe EchoSign is our electronic signature and contract management tool (in conjunction with a couple of other apps).  Simply upload your document, attach a note, and send it off to your signers. There is nothing to install or download, everything is totally web-based.  Your signers can verify their identity by Facebook or other social media networks (optional) and even fax their signed docs back instead of emailing.  Users can also sign the documents biometrically or using their mobile device.  When everyone has signed, everyone automatically gets a copy!  You can even archive your signed documents (only 5 archivals are included with the Free plan).

The Free Plan offers: 5 transactions per month and all of the features that we mentioned. There are about one dozen other features included with paid plans.

 

General Productivity

Google Apps for Business

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Google’s own online productivity tools – Google Apps.  The suite includes Business-grade Gmail, Google Sites, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.  We could spend hours writing about all of the features this suite offers, so we recommend you check it out if you haven’t already.

The Free Google Apps plan comes with services for up to 10 users.

JotForm

JotForm is an online form creator with tons of features.  A few of the features are payment processing capability, Thank You autoresponders, conditionals and email alerts for responses. There are a ton of competitors in this field and JotForm offers the best Free plan.

The Free Plan includes: unlimited forms, unlimited fields, unlimited reports, 100mb of storage, 100 submissions per month and 10 payment processing form submissions per month.

eFax Free

eFax does a wonderful job hiding their forever free fax service.  Of course, there is a hitch – no sending faxes – you can only receive.  The other downside is that you can only download faxes in their proprietary .EFX format.  However, if you are a Mac user, there is a workaround to save as a PDF.  The best part of the free plan is that you get a dedicated number that you can advertise.

Adobe Formscentral

Adobe Formscentral is another part of the Adobe Services suite.  It is an online forms builder (as you could have guessed), but it has robust analysis, reporting and collaboration features that you can’t find free anywhere else.

The Free Plan includes: 1 form with up to 50 responses and unlimited storage.