Creative Design Software on a Budget

By Mash Bonigala

Do you have specialized graphic design needs, but can’t afford to buy expensive big-name graphic design software or hire costly contractors? Fear not! There are plenty of effective and affordable solutions out there that either you or your in-house graphic designer will be able to use to your advantage.

Xara Web Designer MX Premium 8.1.3

While all businesses need a website, not all require fancy, tailor-made sites using services and software that cost thousands of dollars. Certain businesses can get by perfectly fine with templatized, out-of-the-box web pages, and that’s exactly what Xara Web Designer can get for you.

This template-based design tool offers 40 professionally produced web designs, each with several color schemes and the ability to replace the default text and images with your own. It features widgets such as photo slideshows, Paypal buttons, and contact forms so that you can build a completely functional business website with the click of a few buttons. It even comes with free hosting and domain name registration for taking your new site live.

And the cost? Eighty dollars, which is a steal considering the effort you’ve saved and how valuable your website is to your business.


Inkscape is a free vector-graphics editor. Despite the price (or lack of), it is a very powerful program with a wide array of tools, features, and supported file types that can please even the most demanding graphic designer.

Inkscape is under constant development, with more features and new versions being released on a regular basis. As of this writing, they are on Version 0.48. Inkscape is Mac-based, although you can get it to run on Windows machines with some tweaking.


If you find yourself in need of animated 3D models, then Blender is the program for you. Blender is free open-source software for 3D modeling and animation. It is a very powerful program that is loaded with features and tools. Improvements and customizations can be made via Python open-source scripts, if you or someone you know can handle it. If you have the time and the need, there are extensive Blender tutorials online and via a strong user community.

Catalog Creator

Catalogs are an essential part of any product-based business, and with Catalog Creator, you’ll be able to create templatized catalogs that are a snap to update and maintain. This menu-based program offers users to craft multi-page print and web catalogs from a list of pre-defined traits such as SKU, cost, price, part number, and so on. Photos are easy to import, and there are multiple view settings for you to be able to navigate the document.

The Free Evaluation version comes with 30 free uses. The “Universal Edition” costs $160, though it is only limited to print catalogs. The “Professional Edition” unlocks all features, but costs $240. This is a little steep considering the program only creates catalogs, so it’s really up to you for how badly you need the e-commerce and cd-rom catalogs.

DesignPro Limited Edition

DesignPro Limited Edition is a nifty little freeware program that lets you design and print labels, business cards, t-shirt transfers, and more. As an Avery product (you know, the ones that make the sticker labels for envelopes), it’s built to accommodate all sizes of Avery mailing labels and sticker products. The program also allows you to mail merge, date and bar code all of your prints.