Design Software

Best Design Software for Creating Print or Web Projects

With the right design software, you can create almost any print or web project imaginable. For print projects, you generally need word processing, page layout and graphics applications. For the web, some of those same programs work, but there's also specialized web design software as well. Creative and personal printing programs feature clip art and templates for a variety of home, school and office projects. Discover what specific design software works best for each use.

Graphic design software and desktop publishing software are closely related. These programs are geared toward producing documents for commercial printing and high-end web publishing. 

Most professionals give the nod to Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress page layout software in this category. These high end—and high price—programs are essential for professional level work. PagePlus and Microsoft Publisher more reasonably priced programs with similar capabilities to the two powerhouses. 

Additionally, graphics professionals require image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PaintShop Pro, and vector drawing software, such as Serif DrawPlus or Adobe Illustrator.

Identity Design Software

Adobe CS4 Screenshot by J. Bear
Adobe Illustrator CS4 with sample business card template open. Adobe CS4 Screenshot by J. Bear

Identity systems encompass logos, letterhead and business cards. They spill over into other areas such as business forms, brochures and signage as well. There are specialized programs available for all these documents—most geared toward small businesses. Most of these materials can be easily created in almost any design software. For logo design, look specifically at illustration software that produces scaleable vector graphics, such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw

Personal Print Design Software for Mac

Print Explosion Deluxe 3 Mac Image courtesy of PriceGrabber
Print Explosion Deluxe 3 Mac. Image courtesy of PriceGrabber

Almost any program, including high-end design software, can handle calendars, greeting cards, posters, newsletters and other creative printing. However, with specialized creative print design software, you get increased ease-of-use, lots of templates for crafty projects, and fun clip art and fonts to go along with it all—without the steep learning curve or price tag necessary to run high-end software. Check out these collections of inexpensive Mac software programs for personal printing needs.

Personal Design Software for Windows

PrintMaster Platinum 18
PrintMaster Platinum 18. PrintMaster Platinum; Broderbund

Although you can create scrapbooks, calendars, iron-on transfers and other creative printing projects with almost any desktop publishing or graphics software, specialized creative print design software makes the process easier and faster, and usually costs less. These programs typically include templates and artwork specifically tailored to each type of project.

Check out these collections of inexpensive software programs that can handle simple creative printing projects:

Web Design Software

Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
Adobe Dreamweaver CS5. Image courtesy of PriceGrabber

Many of today's professional page layout programs for print have web publishing features as well, but are they the best tools for the job or do you need a program specifically for web design such as Adobe's Dreamweaver and Muse or something like CoffeeCup and KompoZer? Dreamweaver and Muse are available as part of an Adobe CC subscription package. CoffeeCup and KompoZer are affordable downloads at their respective websites.

Browse this comprehensive listing of HTML text editors and WYSIWYG editors for Mac, Windows, and Unix/Linux to find the best software for your needs.

Scribus. Scribus Screenshot from

There are many reasons to consider using free design software beyond just the cost-savings. Programs such as Scribus, OpenOffice and the free version of PagePlus are powerful programs, often comparable in features to some of the most expensive applications from Adobe or Microsoft. Check out these collections to find the best free design or desktop publishing software for you.

Font Design Software

Typography is the creation, use, and admiration of type in all its forms. Fonts; J. Bear

From the standard of Fontographer to up-and-coming contenders and specialty font editors for beginners and pros, font design software lets you make your own fonts. Some programs are aimed at professional type designers, while others let anyone turn their handwriting into a font, apply special effects to a basic font, convert fonts or add special characters to an existing font.

Buying and Using Design Software

Using PageMaker for Desktop Publishing
A document being prepared in desktop publishing software. Use design software for desktop publishing; J. Bear

In order to do your job effectively, you want to choose the best print design software, but design software is often expensive. There are several ways to save money on design software. The creative printing titles generally cost a lot less than the professional graphic design software. The free software is quite powerful too. You may qualify for academic pricing. Using older versions can save money and often do exactly what you need.

Whatever approach you take to choosing your design software, to really get your money's worth you need to learn how to use it. There are training avenues suitable to all learning styles.