Get All Access for $5/mo

Five Essential Tools For Non-Designers To Bookmark We aim to educate and empower individuals to learn the fundamentals in design, sparking confidence and creativity along the way.

By Carla Saliba

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


A few weeks ago, I hosted an interactive session as part of Apple's collaboration with the Big Draw Festival 2018. This was my second appearance staging a public event in store, highlighting the importance of visual literacy for all ages and its application to all walks of life. I'm very passionate about the fact that everyone, no matter what their skill set, can learn the foundation of good and practical design.

Part of the ethos is really centred around this, as we aim to educate and empower individuals to learn the fundamentals in design, sparking confidence and creativity along the way. It's one of the main reasons I love the training element of what I do as well; there's nothing more rewarding than imparting that knowledge and seeing someone really grasp what's in front of them.

Our brains seem to be hardwired to assume we can't do something before we even try, so much so that we are overwhelmed before we begin. This is especially true when it comes to professional design, often resulting in people overcompensating with an over the top piece of work, throwing every kind of stock visual, shadowgraph and mismatched icon they can download onto the screen.

I'm not knocking the free tools that have become more widely available, far from it- I'm all for self-tuition and continually being curious. Where I think there is a disconnect is in knowing how to use these tools to ultimately get the message across in a more simplistic and better way.

If you think how someone like Apple builds its products and apps, it consistently has the end user in mind, developing its tools to be intuitive and useful, merging both creativity and practicality together. That's why they are so successful- they made things simple.

It's the same with learning.

We get intimidated when we have to learn something new, because the gap in our knowledge makes us cautious. What you need to remember is that no one is expecting you to become an expert overnight, it's more about the journey to this new-found knowledge and how you can apply that in an increasingly borderless working world.

When I first decided to work in information design, I needed to start almost from scratch. I taught myself Illustrator, watched every YouTube video I could find, and pestered all my graphic designer friends for any tips to start mastering my craft. The key is to be curious and determined enough to want to learn. It's great to outsource the really detailed and complex material to the professionals, but the elation at being able to create basic design work in-house should be motivation enough to get you going.

Carla Saliba, founder of, delivering a workshop at the Big Draw Festival 2018.
Source: Apple

So, with this in mind, here are five tools I would recommend you bookmark…

  1. Adobe Illustrator: This is one of the easiest softwares to master on the Adobe suite. It's intuitive and easy to navigate, helping you get to grips with the basics in no time.
  2. Noun Project: This website is a collaborative resource for designers to upload their icon work for others to sample, as well as celebrating the World's visual language.
  3. Unsplash: Sourcing high quality and relevant imagery is key for any designer. While Pinterest is great for inspiration, the resolution isn't good enough for most formats. This resource offers you beautiful photography options that don't scream "stock image'.
  4. Adobe Color: If you're not 100% on which colors to choose for your design, then bookmark this site for some serious palette inspiration.
  5. Wordmark: Another great tool, this website helps you choose the font that will best complement your design with a helpful preview. Mastering the art of typography will make all the difference to how your design looks overall, so make sure you stay clear of the dreaded Comic Sans!

Once you've bookmarked the basics, check out our post on the do's and don'ts of good design to start building up your skills. You'll be a pro in no time.

Related: Design Your Way To Better Productivity: Seven Tools And Resources To Help Boost Your Efficiency At Work

Carla Saliba

Founder and CEO,

Carla Saliba is the founder of, a data-design and visualization agency based in Dubai, supporting companies communicate data to its stakeholders clearly and effectively. 

Since launching in 2013, Carla’s unique ability to make sense of complex information has piqued the interest of global brands. Her list of clients includes MasterCard, TED, Reebok, and Mercedes-Benz, among others. Carla’s work has also been featured in international publications, such as Wired Magazine, and Entrepreneur, in which she regularly contributes on the subjects of business, design, start-up culture and leadership. Although a trained architect for over nine years, and a 17 year career in design-related disciplines, it was upon completing her Master in Business Design at Domus Academy in Milan that she discovered her passion for infographics and entrepreneurial ambition to launch her own agency.

Carla’s expertise has afforded her invitations to speak at international conferences, as well as train government and educational institutions across the GCC to build design capabilities in-house. Her work with translating information through design has gained the attention of Apple for which she delivered an inspiring and educating sessions for business professionals to delve into creativity as part of the ‘Today at Apple’ series. Carla also devotes her time to local initiatives she is passionate about. She sits on the board of Omneyat, and is a Responsible Leader Alumni for the BMW Foundation.



Growth Strategies

Connecting Strategy With Purpose: A Shared Vision For Dubai's Quality Of Life

The unveiling of the Dubai Quality of Life Strategy 2033 marks a new era in the Emirate that is focused on prioritizing resident well-being and happiness.

News and Trends

UAE-Based Shorooq Partners Makes First Investment In Türkiye By Leading A US$5 Million Seed Round In Traveltech Startup Roamless

Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner of Shorooq Partners, said in a statement that Roamless is "a company poised to disrupt the traveltech industry."


Cairo-Headquartered Beltone Holding Achieves Net Profit Of EGP514 Million In Q1 Of 2024

The company's consolidated financial and operational results for the period ending March 31, 2024 revealed remarkable growth.

News and Trends

"We Got Funded!" UAE-Based Mysafe Raises A US$4 Million Series A Round To Fuel Its Expansion

The Series A round was led by Evanox, a venture capital firm known for its strategic investments in high-growth technology companies.


Nurturing Connections: UBQT Co-Founders Jonathan L. Hasson And Lara Varjabedian

Jonathan L. Hasson and Lara Varjabedian, co-founders of UAE-born social networking app UBQT, are on a mission to help people reconnect in-person with those who (really) matter.


Shaping The Future Of Finance: Dubai Fintech Summit 2024

The second edition of Dubai Fintech Summit reaffirms the Emirate's aspirations to become a global fintech hub.