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Interview: Jake Wetton - Freestack

Sam Dickie
2 Mins

In this months interview series we are joined by Jake Wetton, founder of FreeStack, a free online directory for design tools and resources.

I got chatting to Jake when I noticed FreeStack on Product Hunt as it was a similar concept to NoCode but specialised specifically in design resources. it did incredibly well and got over 1300 upvotes (which is a lot, trust me).

I personally use FreeStack when i'm feeling a little more adventurous and want to find some more niche design tools.

Along with the typical design tools and resources, FreeStack also provides more on aspects designers might be find useful like Help with Public Speaking, CV and Interview Tips, God-Like Designers to follow and ways to invoice and get paid, along with many more personal aspects that Freelance Designers will find helpful.

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Jake Wetton - Founder


Can you tell us a little bit about how FreeStack came about?

Work full time at a design agency in Warwickshire and we take on quite a few work experience and placement creatives who are always wanting to know tips, hints and ways to better their craft. I’m known as website wetton ( Names Jake Wetton) as i find a website for everything. If one of the students asks us what that awesome font is on a particular website i would show them FontNinja and bam, the knowledge was passed on. It became apparent that there was a need for a base site that beginners or even advanced designers and creatives could go to in order to either save money, increase productivity or save time therefore FreeStack ( I wanted Designhunt but this was taken!)

What problem is FreeStack trying to solve?

I think the problem would be saving time. If i had all the sites and products i have now 5 years ago, i think i would have progressed a lot quicker in my profession. Time is invaluable and very underrated especially in my line of work when the biggest question is “ How much should i charge for my TIME” FreeStack makes better use of your time by cutting corners, offering alternatives and always being a help in hand without promoting bad or rushed design.

Bill Gates once said “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” I’m damn proud to have a Lazy gene in me.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced launching FreeStack?

DDOS Attacks, at one point i had the whole of Japan spamming the network and planting god knows what in my junk. I’m a designer, i make things look pretty and stick within the lines when colouring ( sometimes) Hiring a developer to bring the site back alive was more of a wake up call than anything to how vulnerable sites can be. Developing is another world to me and i’m happy to dip my toe in now and then but i’m also happy to leave it to the pro’s

What’s next for FreeStack? ​

I’ve taken a break for the while as i think it’s happy sitting there doing what it’s doing, we have natural organic searches and a good amount of traffic to keep it running. I think there’s always a better way to display media and information which is massive in UX terms so perhaps a rebrand and look at another way to make it easier to get to exactly what you need. ​

What are your most successful ways of driving traffic to your site (paid/unpaid)?

Never tried paid, not sure if i trust the whole system just yet with google pushing their own content and what not! Unpaid i would definitely say barter. Find influential individuals in your area that can push the content for you in return for something they need. Convince them they need what you have and the rest will follow. ​

Any advice for new startups and entrepreneurs?

Embrace the fail, it’s going to happen and you’ve got to love it to fully understand what to do next. Don’t be scared or unwilling to take chances. Oh and automate the shiz out of everything

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Are you working on anything else exiting at the moment?  ​

Of course! I’ve always got something on the go, at the moment i’m sticking to my strengths and working on a Marketplace for designers by designers for selling their unwanted or discarded Logos/Pixels at http://unusedpixels.com/Yeh yeh, there’s CreativeMarket or Themeforrest, GraphicRiver etc. These are great and we’re not interested in their market. I think unused Pixels should be all about designers getting their worth, selling at the price they set, taking the most commision and selling only great pieces of work. It’s something i’ve always thought of doing and hopefully it helps others in the same situation as myself with around 100 unusable, not picked logos throughout the years that are just sitting in a dust dropbox folder.

Now that the barriers to entrepreneurship are getting lower, have you noticed the rise in the non-technical users looking to dip their toes in having an online presence?

Absolutely, i think it’s great, there’s now no excuse not to pursue an idea at least to the generation stages with the amount of resources and information online to help make a dream or creative idea a reality. ​

What free design tools would you recommend for non-designers?

Ahhh i’ve got tons on Freestack that i keep updated but for non designers i would say canva is a great tool. I sometimes use it myself for easy great design to quickly get a social media page setup. Font Ninja to find the font on any website, this helps massively when you randomly come across the perfect one for your project but have no idea what it is! ​

Any particular tools or resources you would recommend to be featured on NoCode? ​

NoCode has such an array of great content i’m pretty sure you already have these but some of the newest ones will have to be halfdollar, webgradients and cakeresume.

Is FreeStack a side project? If so, how do you juggle building this amongst other things?

Yes, Freestack was a random week project when i decided to take all my tabs i’ve saved over the years into one website. I currently work full time and freelance in my evenings so it was quite difficult to find time to put my plans into action, especially when i started getting hacked with DDOS attacks flying from all over, i was not prepared but luckily a little money thrown in the right direction sorts that out. Freestack is pretty easy to manage, although i gain a little from advertisement, this only covers the hosting and security so i have no need to advertise on social media. I would much rather it be an organic nice place to find resources and cater to the fresh students who might need a little bump to get their career started!

FreeStack Mockup

Why do you think good design is important, and what does good design mean for you

Design is so much more than a pretty logo nowadays, everything starts and progresses with a genuine story behind it. Think of your ideal target audience as a theatre full of people and how you might take them on a journey for as long as you’re luckily enough to keep them entertained for. The whole idea of creating a story or journey introduces the fantasy into your audience's lives and makes them want to be apart of it. Good design is pretty and pleasing but great design needs to pull on your emotions. Think of everything you have in your fridge, cupboard, laptop bag, house, car and pocket. How many of those things do you feel something about? Have you ever noticed you’ve been chosen to take part in their second act? You’re on the journey with them whilst they have your attention. That’s why design is important.