What’s new for designers, January 2017

Carrie Cousins.
January 09, 2017
What’s new for designers, January 2017.
New design tools are like new toys. You are probably always looking for elements to make your life easier. Here we have them. From new releases to updated documentation to open source code from Kickstarter to a few funky typefaces, this roundup is packed with design goodies. Almost everything on the list this month is free, with a few high-value paid apps and tools. They’re sure to be useful to designers and developers, from beginners to experts. If we’ve missed something that you think should have been on the list, let us know in the comments. And if you know of a new app or resource that should be featured next month, tweet it to @carriecousins to be considered!


bulma Bulma is a modern CSS framework based around Flexbox. It allows you all the speed of a framework, while still making use of the most up-to-date layout tool available in CSS. Responsive, modular, and free, it’s powerful and lightweight.

Flawless Typography Checklist

typewolf Typewolf’s Flawless Typography Checklist is a comprehensive set of rules for web typography. 100 items on the premium list all include a detailed explanation and a helpful visual guide so you know exactly how to design great typography.


figma Figma claims to be the first UI design tool with real-time collaboration. Your whole team can work on the same project file at once. It might sound confusing but it’s a great time-saver, it imports from Sketch, and works on Mac and Windows.

Kickstarter App Code

kickstarter Want to build an iOS or Android app like Kickstarter? It’s possible now as the code for the well-used platform is open source. You can find screenshots, playgrounds and plenty of other goodies on GitHub. There’s a ton of code to help you get started with an app or think about development. Use it as a basis to get started or learning example to help better understand how this type of app comes together.


rellax Rellax is a lightweight, vanilla JavaScript library for parallax scrolling. Implement parallax scrolling with a single line, and tweak speed with a single attribute. The self-effacing description of this “quirky” JS code belies how useful it actually is.


musicforprogramming Need some help to work through the greyness of January? musicForProgramming’s got your back. It’s a collection of mixes to aid productivity and help you concentrate on coding. Plus it’s got a pleasingly brutalist website.


material-design Google has created a whole new website with all the resources you need for a Material Design project. The new home for all things Material Design includes the system at a glance, style rules, branding, interaction and motion principles. There’s also a gallery of examples and a staging environment that will open soon.


patterninja Patterninja is a tool that combines images to create patterns. Use your image or the included library to create a variety of pattern types that can be used for web projects or downloaded as high resolution versions for offline work. The tool is super easy to use, and fun to play with.

Atomic Design

atomic Brad Frost’s book Atomic Design is now available as a printed book and online. It details’s Frost’s theories on designing interface systems and provides everything you need to know in order to be an effective UI designer in 2017.


protopie Protopie is a new tool for designing mobile interactions without any code. Multiple gestures are supported, as well as smartphone accelerometers and microphones. A timeline is included for fine-tuning interactions, and scenes can be applied to organise your designs.


smash Smash is a tool that allows you to view photos and images, videos and documents, from any device without having to download anything. The best thing about the service is that it doesn’t come with the same file-size restrictions of email or other delivery services.

Type Nugget


Type Nugget is a great project that allows you to visually design a typography scheme and then export it for CSS. It generates tidy, usable CSS from a live browser preview, but be aware it’s still in beta, so some features, such as breakpoints and user-created galleries, are still to be added.


prospero Prospero is a simple tool to help designers create project proposals. The tool, which is still in beta, was made to help you keep track of proposals with ease. They are also banking on you winning bids; you only have to pay for the service if a proposal is accepted and returned.


anime_js anime.js is a lightweight JavaScript library for modern web animation. It works with CSS, transforms, SVG objects, and DOM attributes. Simple to learn and easy to use, it’s a way better option than CSS or JavaScript defaults.


yoga Yoga is a cross-platform layout engine that enables collaboration among team members. The tool is used internally at Facebook, which has released the CSS layout to the general public. The layout library is designed to work as a standalone engine. The best part? If you already have an understanding of Flexbox, Yoga will be a breeze. You write code in Java, C#, Objective-C and C.


coggle Coggle allows designers or teams can share notes in a visual way quickly and easily. The “mindmap” tool lives in the cloud so you can visualize real-time ideas in-browser from any location.


colocschemez Colorschemer is a delightful twitter bot that sends out seemingly random color palette combinations, such as unconcerted deep lilac, haziest ultramarine blue and pyrheliometric periwinkle. The feed has been around for a little while, but with all the focus on bots right now, this one is a great example of best practices. Plus, you might find an amazingly unexpected color grouping.

Drawing Challenge

drawing-challenge Take on a drawing challenge. Smashing magazine has a great tutorial for the new year to help you get started with sketching. The challenge will help you better think about problems and solutions from a design standpoint. Further, the exercise is designed to help you better your skills in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects. Refreshing or updating your skills in this software is always a good thing.

Evil Icons

evil_icons Evil Icons are a free set of SVG icons in a simple line style. Code support for Rails, Sprockets, Node.js, Gulp, Grunt, and CDN is included. Released under the MIT license, we’re not sure what’s so evil about them.

Barking Cat

barking-cat Barking Cat is a fun novelty typeface that the designer calls “3D crunchy.” The lowercase letters have five different versions that cycle as you type so the design looks more hand-drawn.

Nunito Sans

nunito Nunito Sans is a highly-readable, balanced sans serif that’s available through Google Fonts. The characters have thin, uniform stroke widths that can work for body or display copy.


merthy Merthy is an elaborate script typeface with plenty of flourishes. The typeface has a rather feminine feel but can take on additional meaning based on the rest of your design. The demo set of characters is free, with an available download with more options.

Abhaya Libre

abhaya Abhaya Libre is a simple set of serif characters that’s Unicode compliant. It’s available through Google Fonts. You might recognize the character set; it is derived from FM Abhaya, which was designed way back in 1996.


painter Painter replicates the old-school baseball jersey style typeface with swashy letterforms and plenty of alternates. The thick lettering can make a nice display type style that can work in a number of project types.


culrs Culrs is a curated set of colors for use on projects that are curated into specific categories. You can choose hopeful colors, minimalist colors, Japanese colors, and more. Sign up for an account and you can save the sets you like best.

Carrie Cousins

Carrie Cousins is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience in the communications industry, including writing for print and online publications, and design and editing. You can connect with Carrie on Twitter @carriecousins.

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