So You’re Not a Design Expert: Free Resources for the Rest of Us

Communication is the activity of conveying ideas, thoughts and visions from one entity or person to another. Communication isn’t limited to just words and often is better understood when words aren’t involved or aren’t the focus, like in pictures, art and videos. Technology has allowed beautiful imagery to become a part of even the most basic interactions (think Facebook or email) and now we often encounter graphics more than plain text almost no matter where we look. In fact, think about the last website you spent any time on that only had text – no pictures or graphics of any kind. Think of one? I couldn’t. Everywhere I go I see this visually enticing communication style. Communication: the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else Now, let’s say that you need to send out a communication to a group of people. You want to motivate them to attend an event, participate in a survey or give to your organization. Your communication will be competing with a lot of distracting messages we all filter through each day. Best bet? Hire a graphic designer. While a graphic designer will deliver the best quality, often the expense doesn’t fit into our already tight budgets. The upside is that the internet is full of amazing advice and resources and while you probably won’t be able to compete with a professional designer or design firm, you can improve your communications with some of the easy and free (yes, FREE) resources.

Free High-Res Images

  • Stock Xchange ( Searchable collection of free stock photos but be careful, the ones at the top and bottom are not-free iStockPhoto images. The ones in middle are all yours.
  • Unsplash ( 10 free high-resolution images every 10 days. That’s it. No mess, no fuss. Like this beauty. barn_web

Free Design Advice

Church Marketing Sucks ( is a great source for all things nonprofit/church and techie. They have a helpful series, Design Basics, which helps address some of the fundamentals of design work and offers some advice that spans design and marketing.

Here are a few of the articles:

  • 10 Common Mistakes Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are still some common mistakes you should avoid to create better design. Here.
  • Put Yourself in the Pew & Feel What They Feel To be better designers, we need to focus on what the audience feels and experience it for ourselves. Here.

Free Slides, Photos and Videos

Creation Swap ( has an amazing collection of free and low cost slides, photos and videos, most of which are geared for a church service. A couple of my favorites.

This one is ready to go!

Or grab one that you can build on.

Free Fonts

  • Font Squirrel ( has new and modern fonts that are free and also a few that are “almost free”. Check out Bebas and Open Sans. font_web
  • Lost Type ( which is a donation based site where you can name your price (which can be $0!).

End Result?

Quick, easy and fun designs to fit any budget and skill level. Happy designing!