Guest Post: 5 Free Tools for .Edu Domains

Written by Mike on January 12, 2014

3D Internet Domain on white background

A recent Marketing Sherpa survey found that 60 percent of organizations plan to update their website within the next 12 months. Such upgrades are rarely cheap, yet free tools for web design and development utilities can help stretch limited budgets and ensure that the university you work for has a website that encompasses its mission and fits its budget.

1. Free responsive design template from Kickstrap
Responsive design resizes websites so they display well on any type of screen size. Users with desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones can all see the website how it is meant to be experienced. Yet, tweaking your page’s CSS and HTML is time consuming. Enter responsive design utilities. If you’re in need of a responsive webpage, look no further than the free Kickstrap utility, which utilizes Bootstrap and Angular.js to bring your design in line for any device. Kickstrap comes with a variety of free themes you can roll out on the fly, and integrates with an app store so you can mod the site to your heart’s content.

2. Free UI/UX tools from Optimal Workshop
Unless you work at a university with a usability lab, you probably have to shell out to get your website’s UX tested and ensure that your site design is serving the needs of your users. If users cannot find information, they’re missing out on services. Take advantage of Optimal’s free card sorting, information architecture and usability testing tools. For free, you can do a 30-card, 10-person card sort, 3-task, 10-person IA test and a 10-person, 3-task usability test. That should give you an indicate of the site’s user experience and can ensure your new site’s launch goes better than Obamacare’s.

3. Free audio editing with Audacity
Posting university lectures and video content can enrich the web environment. However, from mumbles and whispers caught on tape to difficult-to-decipher questions, from un-miked audience members and ambient environmental noise, you’ll need to spend a lot of time editing the raw mp3 or wav file for uploading. Luckily, Audacity is free, open source and cross platform. Download it and test out its editing abilities the next time your department head hands you audio content.

4. Free logo maker utility with Logo Garden
From university conferences and clubs to alumni organizations and fundraising campaigns, designers frequently find themselves in need of a logo. One tool to consider is the Logo Garden free logo utility, which can help you customize a logo in a few minutes, with just three simple clicks. You can even use it to test out a potential new logo before you get the graphic designer on the hook for this project.

5. Free image editor from Aviary
Photoshop’s great — but expensive, and you may not have access to it from every work computer. Aviary offers apps as well as SDK, an HTML-powered image editor that rivals Adobe and costs $0. Upload an image to Aviary then sharpen, crop, resize or impose filters. For faster editing, embed the image editor in your own site or use the apps. While basic tools are free, you can upgrade to a high-res version for $120 a month if that’s a concern.

About the author, Rick Welch

Rick is the Digital Content Director and Public Relations Coordinator for a children’s charity foundation.