Six Open Source Alternatives for Web Designers

Starting a business in a tough economy can be challenging.  Grants are few and far between, if not non-existent, banks are very careful about who they lend money to, and people are very careful about who they spend their money with.  One of the main hurdles faced by most web designers today is the high costs that are associated with professional design software.   Keeping initial start up costs can prove to be difficult when the cost of Adobe Photoshop CS5 alone can cost in the region of £600.


Thankfully, there are a number of open source alternatives out there that can be downloaded and used for free – a great alternative for designers on a budget.


  • 1. GIMP (Graphics Software)

    http://www.gimp.org/ (Windows)
    http://gimp.lisanet.de/ (Mac)

    GIMP is a free graphics program that can be used to create and edit almost any type of graphic.  It has a reputation for being the free “Photoshop Alternative”, and comes with everything you’d expect to see, from typography editing to image manipulation tools and filters.

  • 2. FileZilla (FTP Software)


    FileZilla is one of the best free FTP programs available online, and can be downloaded as a client or server version.

  • 3. Notepad++ (Code Editor)


    Notepad++ is a free source code editor for Windows, supporting several languages including HTML, XML, CSS and JavaScript.  It comes with lots of neat little plugins, including one for FTP.

  • 4. OpenOffice (Content Writing)


    OpenOffice is a world renowned office suite, offering content writing, spreadsheet and presentation creation tools for free as an open source alternative to Microsoft Office.  It is perfect for creating client proposals or billing spreadsheets.

  • 5. KompoZer (Web Authoring)


    KompoZer is a fully-featured web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing.

  • 6. Apollo (Online Image Proofing)


    Apollo provides a great way to provide proofs of web pages for your client to comment on and approve.  There is nothing to download and it’s free to register.


Honourable Mention

Sometimes, however, free is not always best!  There are open source alternatives out there for things such as billing, project management, and client management.  It can end up being a false economy, though, when the time involved in setting them up is extensive and the user interface is too confusing to use.  Money spent on software like this can be money well spent.

At ZuZu Web Solutions, we use Pancake App – it handles invoices, estimates, project management, proposals, file delivery and CRM.  It is an absolute steal at only $49 (around £32), especially as we fully expected to have to spend at least £100 for such software.  This is a one-off payment – no recurring fees – for the self-install, self-hosted version.  They also give you options to have it installed for you (Pancake Instant) or hosted for you (Pancake Supreme) – they have a special offer on these options, so don’t delay!!

After looking around and trying out comparable free versions of software, this is the best and cheapest we have seen that covers all the bases.  Visit their website to get your copy today!  (Please note, this is an affiliate link.)


What is your experience of free/open source vs. paid software?  What are your favourites?

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