Alternative Search Engines For Designers And Developers

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New intriguing search engines frequently pop up as a replacement to the juggernaut that is Google. But it’s tough to find alternative search engines that actually work and provide real value to your workflow.

I’d like to cover a handful of alternatives that work well for designers and developers. These aren’t all web crawler search engines because I did throw in a few obscure choices for design resources too. But the sites in this list may be better replacements for Google no matter what you’re searching for.

Alternative Search Engines

1. DuckDuckGo

duck duck go

The undisputed king of private search engines has to be DuckDuckGo (DDG). It offers a useable interface, incredible rankings, and a serious privacy policy unlike any other.

You can even bookmark the site with a shortened domain URL. From there you can change custom settings and even take advantage of the many easter eggs hidden in DDG’s search. You can find cheatsheets for everything from Vim to ES6 and dozens of other popular languages.

Check out this small list of easter eggs if you’re curious to learn more. Many of them follow the “instant answers” technique also adopted by Google.

2. StartPage

startpage search

Although no other search engine has rivaled DDG’s commitment to privacy, StartPage is a close up-and-comer. It works by pulling results from various search engines together with privacy still at the forefront.

DuckDuckGo has its own unique ranking algorithm and this is a big difference between DDG and StartPage.

Both are viable options and both take privacy much more seriously than Google. The differences in Google ranking is also easy to see.

instant search logo vectors

Instant Logo Search is a great tool for finding quality SVG vector logos for any company you could imagine. This search engine doesn’t crawl existing sites, but rather offers controlled logos handled internally by the site’s database.

SVG logos can be very important on websites with sponsors, affiliate programs, or to showcase the logos of past clients/associates for big companies.

Why leave your logo search up to Google Images? Yes it does work fine, but Instant Logo Search is a guaranteed bet on quality with a massive library of logos.

4. Vecteezy


Similar to Instant Logo Search is the Vecteezy search engine for vector products. It searches through everything from icons to illustrations and custom patterns. You can use these vectors based on their afforded licenses, but most are completely free and work well in print or digital projects.

Vecteezy does take submissions from other artists if you want to include your freebies on the site.

But ultimately it is the best place to go for locating free vectors for your design work. The library is constantly updated and I find that the search feature works even better than expected.

5. Iconfinder

iconfinder search engine

For free icons you can’t get much better than Iconfinder. This site does crawl individual 3rd party iconsets to curate a huge gallery of free(and premium) icons.

You just enter some search terms and go to town. The library is huge with almost 1 million total searchable items. Iconfinder offers a pro version that grants access to their premium collection, but this may not be the right choice for everyone.

Either way the free search is beyond incredible and this should be your go-to destination for icon search.

6. DryIcons

dryicons icon search engine

DryIcons is a very simple graphics search engine for custom vectors and icon sets. It’s relatively new with a growing library of 6,700+ custom graphics that you can download for free. You’ll find dozens of styles from hand-drawn to textured and flat designs organized by tags. Punch in whatever you’re looking for and go to town.

Most content on the site is completely free with some graphics being offered with different license agreements(free with optional premium licenses). If you’re designing a site that needs high-quality icons or vector graphics then DryIcons should be your first stop.

7. Internet Archive

wayback machine search engine

There’s no denying the WayBack Machine adds a tremendous amount of value to the Internet. It’s basically a search engine that peers into the depths of time and pulls out forgotten websites and previous designs of existing websites.

Internet Archive is a free service with a library of tools for Internet users. But it also contains great searchable archives for any previously-existing domain. This is a fun way to research competitors and to check out previous designs for inspiration on a new project.

8. Wolfram Alpha

wolfram alpha search engine

Most people know about Wolfram Alpha but very few put it to good use. It’s a free search engine geared towards computing topics, engineering, and conceptual ideas pertinent to web developers.

You can find detailed queries for just about anything from computational science to nutrition.

Wolfram Alpha is a beautiful alternative to Google if you learn to use it. The learning curve is steep and unless you have a real need for detailed equations in your line of work, it may never replace Google’s simple operators.

9. Ecosia

ecosia search engine

I just recently found Ecosia and must admit it’s an ambitious venture into the world of charity and web search. The homepage is very ambiguous but the about page has a lot more info.

The site donates ad revenue earnings to plant trees all around the world. For all the startups and tech companies claiming to make the world a better place, Ecosia is putting their money where their mouth is. And it seems to be working because so far the company has planted over 4 million trees worldwide.

So if you’re really looking to go green you might check out Ecosia. It’s a search engine for the modern age with altruistic values to enforce its value to the world.

10. Qwant

qwant news search engine results

One other search engine worth mentioning is Qwant. It’s yet another choice in the bag of full privacy, no tracking, and some extra features like bookmarking your favorite sites.

You can find more info on the FAQ page but Qwant is like a typical search engine with extra features for advanced web users. It has individual search features much like Google that target news, social channels, shopping, and more.

Final Thoughts

All 10 of these search engines are viable choices to add into your workflow, or even replace existing sites you already use. Designers are always looking for new tools and I think these sites fit the bill.

Many great sites also fly under the radar with new projects popping up all the time. Be sure to save your favorites and if you know any other worthwhile search sites feel free to share below.

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