12-color-tools-to-boost-productivity-for-designers

Whether you’re creating a logo, designing a website, or defining a brand identity, color plays a vital role in any design project.

We designers take color seriously, because it is serious. The colors you choose will not only impact how your site makes people feel, but also what users with various types of color blindness can see. So choose wisely.

There are a variety of tools out there to help us with the important task of color selection. We reached out to dozens of designers (including those in our Webflow office) to find out what color tools and apps they use. Take a look!

Color pickers

Color pickers are among the most common tools used by designers because they let us quickly grab and reuse colors we see on our screens.

1. ColorPick Eyedropper Chrome extension

Great for any designer, the ColorPick Eyedropper is a chrome extension that easily allows you to identify the Hex color code of any UI element you hover your mouse over. It’s great for quick access to colors you gain inspiration from when browsing around online.

colorpick eyedropper

ColorPick allows you to find the Hex color code of any element

2. ColorSnapper 2

ColorSnapper 2 in action

Use ColorSnapper 2’s magnifier to get exactly the shade you want and save it for later.

Out of the many options out there, ColorSnapper proves the most popular color picker among our designers, and for good reason. This popular Mac app lets you quickly use a magnifying color picker on anything you see — online or off.

Once you’ve picked a color, ColorSnapper stores it in the color panel for you to use later. Need to copy the color right now? Just click on the stored color and ColorSnapper will automatically copy it your clipboard.

3. Webflow Chrome Extension

Webflow's Chrome extension enables an in-app color picker


Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our very own Webflow Chrome Extension, which activates an in-Webflow color picker to enable web designers to easily grab colors from within their own project. That makes it super simple to pull the right color from a logo, hero photo, or illustration, without having to leave the app. And once you’ve grabbed the color, you can easily make it a global swatch to quickly and easily reuse across your site.

Handy, right?

Color scheme and palette generators

Palette generators give you a great way to see your entire color palette together. This helps you decide what your primary and secondary colors might be, as well as how they fit together.

Actually selecting the colors can be tough — luckily, there are tools that help us do it!

4. Happy Hues

Created entirely in Webflow by none other than Mackenzie Child, Happy Hues gives you various color palettes for inspiration and shows you real examples of how those colors could be used in professional designs.

mackenzie child happy hues

Happy Hues is both a great resource to help you find the best colors for your designs and for educating yourself on color theory to create great user interfaces and experiences.

5. Color

Color palette generator


Color‘s swatch generator is nearly as intuitive as its name, which we are still trying to understand the origin of. You can use this generator right in your browser — so go ahead, give it a try!

6. Coolors

Using Coolors to create a palette

Coolors makes it easy to pick and refine your palette.

Coolors is another popular palette generator. Coolors is another popular palette generator. Though (slightly) less intuitive than Color (hence that extra o), Coolors lets you export, store, and reuse your palette in tools like Adobe. Coolors also has a mobile app, so you can review and modify your colors from anywhere.

7. LOLColors

lolcolors

LOLColors is a simple collection of curated color palettes. The site makes it very easy to ‘favorite’ a specific palette, and view the most popular based on others’ votes as well. Although it doesn’t offer as much volume as others on this list, I found the palettes themselves to be beautifully put together.

8. Brandmark’s Color Wheel

Brandmark’s Color Wheel uses AI to automatically colorize logos, illustrations, wireframes and other graphical art. Simply upload your design to quickly generate color palettes. We love this tool as a source of inspiration as well. When you upload a flat design, you’ll be given thousands of unique color variations to choose from.

Color inspiration

Thanks to advancements in CSS, designers can now take full advantage of colorful gradients on the web without worrying about creating heavy images or writing complex code. The only problem now is trying to narrow down your selection!

The following four tools are our top picks for guiding your color palette selection.

9. Gradients.io

Gradients.io curates cool gradients for you to use in your websites.

Luke Davies’ Gradients.io suggests some beautiful gradients for your designs.

Luke Davies put together a great solution with Gradients.io, a simple site (made in Webflow) that showcases some beautiful gradient color combinations. He kindly included the hex values so you can recreate them in your own designs as well.

10. Adobe Capture CC

Color palettes created by Adobe Color users

User-generated color palettes in Adobe Color.

What better way to get color inspiration than from the world around us? Adobe’s Color ecosystem has a number of resources (including a swatch generator), but the one I find myself using the most is their iOS app, Adobe Capture CC.

Simply take a photo with the app, and it automatically generates a palette from the colors in the photo. You can then save these colors to use in a Photoshop project or anywhere else.

11. Colormind

Colormind is a color palette generator that uses deep learning to make color suggestions from scratch or based on your input. Colormind can learn color styles from photographs, movies, or other sources of media that you may use as inspiration, making it one of the smartest color palette generators out there — color me impressed.

12. Colorable

Developed by Jxnblk, Colorable make it easy for web and print designers to test out different color combinations using their hex codes. The site is extremely easy to use: simply add the hex value for two colors and the system will rate the combination based on WCAG accessibility guidelines. This rating ensures that users who are color blind or visually impaired can still read the design with those two colors.

This site is one of our current favorites — it places accessibility at the forefront of its recommendations.

These are just some of color tools we use every day — let us know which tools you use on Twitter or Facebook.

11. HBR IdeaCast

hbr ideacast

There’s the economics of business. Then there’s the human side that goes beyond numbers and data. The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast covers the human side of business, getting into topics like the struggles of being a working mom and gender equality, but also discusses tech issues like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The HBR IdeaCast covers a wide range of topics, which will expose you to ideas and subjects outside of your comfort zone. With weekly podcast episodes hitting iTunes and other podcast outlets, there’s no shortage of HBR IdeaCast episodes for you to listen to and learn from.

12. Equity

techcrunch equity podcast

Falling under the umbrella of the well respected podcast network TechCrunch, Equity approaches its subject matter through the lense of venture capital, taking on what’s happening right now. From discussing the inflated valuations of companies like Uber and Robinhood, to discussing the gender pay gap, Equity makes for a compelling listen.

13. The Brainy Business

the brainy business

The science of behavior economics studies how peoples’ emotions affect how they spend and in turn impact the greater economy. Brainy Business delves into what affects our brains to buy what we do. This makes for episodes covering such subjects as mental biases, brand identity, and how tactile stimuli like the touch and smell of a product can influence the bottom line.

The psychology of consumerism makes for a fascinating listen, and Brainy Business explores it in a way that’s easy to understand. Whether you want to learn more about how behavior economics effects online business or traditional retail, Brainy Business is full of solid takeaways that will broaden your understanding.

14. ADLANDIA

ADLANDIA podcast

Laura Correnti and Alexa Christon of Adlandia aren’t afraid to challenge long held beliefs in the real-life world of marketing. They’re friendly agitators, challenging the long held norms that are fading away. This fiery idealism may make you question your own understanding of marketing and business for the better. If you want a business podcast that isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, Adlandia is the best business podcast.

15. Being Freelance

being freelance

Anyone who has tried their hand at freelancing knows that there are challenges. Some of these can be hard lessons, with trial and error being a bumpy road. There are quite a few resources out there to make this process easier, with the Being Freelance podcast being a necessary listen for any freelancer who wants to know how to do things better in real-life.

Host Steve Folland fills his roster of guests with freelancers from a variety of fields. Anyone from illustrators to sound designers all share their experiences navigating their careers as freelancers, along with insights about their own creative work.

16. The Marketing Companion

marketing companion podcast

Whether they’re talking about social media, entrepreneurship, or some other aspect of business, Mark Schaefer and Brook Sellas of the Marketing Companion pack plenty of wisdom into each episode. But this isn’t a dry business podcast. There’s a fun back and forth between the hosts, with plenty of humor mixed in. With the tagline of “The World’s Most Entertaining Business Podcast”, they certainly don’t disappoint.

17. Business Wars

business wars podcast

Fender versus Gibson. Coke versus Pepsi. McDonald’s versus Burger King. These are the brand wars, fought with weaponized advertising, vying for us as consumers to pick a side. Business Wars explores these long-standing rivalries and strategies companies have come up with to outdo their competition. Are there any winners in the ongoing corporate skirmishes? The business wars podcast aims to answer that question and more.

18. The Pitch

the pitch podcast

We watch television shows like Shark Tank, like Romans watching the gladiators. We are transfixed by the high stakes, and the possibility of beautiful victory or crushing defeat.

The Pitch podcast captures this drama, with real company owners pitching in front of real investors. This theater, where those seeking the thumbs up that will give them the money they need to walk out victorious, makes for fun and intriguing listen.

19. Design Matters

design matters podcast

How could we not include in the list Design Matters? They are the first ever design podcast, and have been putting out consistently great shows since they launched. Debbie Millman, a designer herself, has many different guests on from a wide range of disciplines. People like cartoonist Lynda Barry, David Lee Roth, and Adobe executive Scott Belsky have all made appearances.

Debbie brings her design smarts into these conversations, but leaves plenty of breathing room for her guests to talk about what they do. If you haven’t checked out Design Matters yet, you should dive right in.

20. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

entrepreneurial thought leaders

The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series features business leaders, business owners, and others who have who’ve pushed the bounds of innovation and led companies to success. With the esteemed academic institution of Stanford being behind it, there are no lackluster figures here — with every episode featuring someone whose intelligence and vision has helped transform their given industry. 

Whether they’re talking to Ryan Peterson of Flexport, whose mission is to bring tech to the shipping industry, or Lisa Anderson, the CEO of the biomedical company Genome Medical, each of these stands as a masterclass. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders will expose you to ideas you may be unfamiliar with and inspire you to take leaps in your work and career.

What are you listening to?

There’s no way to cover the multitude of amazing podcasts out there like Mixergy, or Entrepreneurs on Fire in this given space. Please hit up the comments with what podcasts you’re listening to. We all have time that could be better spent opening our eyes to new ideas, and inspire us in our own work, lives, and careers.

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