The 5 web design tools I use everyday

David KauffmanWeb Tools

When it comes to building a website.  Having the right web design tools are a necessity.  There are countless ways you can do it.  You could use a free online web builder or build it in a text document like notepad.  But I’m going to give you the 5 tools that I use almost every single day and why.  I will also include a few alternatives that could save you some money.

Dreamweaver

This is one of the most popular web development programs out there.  There are plenty of others, and some are free.  But for me this has been the easiest to work with.  Most of it is pretty simple and I don’t use the graphical interface nearly as much as when I started, but it’s nice to have time to time.  But having a convenient FTP and testing program together make this a very productive tool.  Now if you don’t know html or php, this can be a bit daunting.  But most professionals use this tool.  I highly recommend getting this if you plan on building more than 1 or 2 sites.  If you are on a tight budget a very nice alternative is CoffeeCup HTML.  Right now I believe this is only $69.  Not bad for a very complete editor.

Cheaper Alternative

  1. CoffeeCup HTML (they do have a free version too)

Some Free Alternatives

  1. KompoZer
  2. Amaya

Photoshop

Again from the Adobe CC suite.  This is the most complete photo editor on the market.  You can do almost anything with this.  I would say 99% of people only scratch the surface of what it is capable of.  You can see some crazy examples of what is possible with this amazing tool on YouTube.  Check out some examples here.  Photoshop Tutorials.  This is just the free ones.

A lot of website designers use this to create the look of their website.  I mostly use it to tweak elements or photographs of people and objects to add to the web.  With adding “smart” filters and using non destructive editing means, it’s very useful to edit something.  Knowing that if you made a slight mistake, you can easily go back and fix that.  It’s also very useful in creating web friendly images (images that won’t use up all your data and time to download).

Free Alternatives

  1. GIMP
  2. Pixlr (Online Editing Tool)

WordPress

wordpressI know you might not think of this as a tool.  But for me it is exactly that.  It’s a great CMS for most businesses.  With the right combination of plugins, you can almost set up any kind of site without needing to program from scratch.  There are plenty of other Great CMS platforms out there.  But this one has had the lowest learning curve for most of my clients.  For me it has enough flexibility and power with enough ease of use that if fits into a lot of situations.  I highly recommend using this for your site.  I think the best part of it is the power of growth.  This will grow with you.

Google Chrome

Google ChromeThe main tool from Google Chrome that I use on a daily basis is the “Developer Tool”.  This helps break down each element of the site and see what is applying to it.  I can also make code tweaks that show me the live result without actually changing the code.  I can even run a test on what the site would look like on other devices.  I can also test the site speed and so much more.  I’ve used a similar tool from Firefox, but I find this one so much easier and quicker.

I know IE (Internet Explorer) still rules the internet browser war.  I do think that will continue to shift towards better platforms.  I do believe IE is starting to get better, but it’s still behind the times in my opinion.  With chrome my devices are linked and share internet information.  This has come in handy more times than I can count.  One example is looking up an address that I’m about to drive to, then forgetting the route by the time I get into the car.

Well guess what it’s already on my phone.  It remembered it from my computer.  Of course you need to be logged into Google to get these convenient links.  There is also the issue of privacy that makes a few people uncomfortable.  But for my I’m not that private of a person, or have any secrets that interesting.  So if they want to know my email, I’m ok with that.  Plus with Google Chrome comes a mass of “apps” that make it even more useful.  You can read about one of some of my favorites here (Top 5 google Chrome Apps).

I have one really big suggestion for anyone using any web browser for any reason.  Make sure it’s up to date.  If you don’t do this, trust me you are missing out.  Web standards change, websites and code changes.  If you’re using something that hasn’t been updated in the last year, you are behind.  Check out http://whatbrowser.org/ to see if your browser is up to date and what other options might suit you.

Lynda.com

OK.  So I don’t use this one on a daily basis, but at one time I did.  And I guarantee I use the knowledge I gained from this site on a daily basis.  Besides what good is a great tool if you don’t know how to use it properly.

This is one of my favorite learning tools.  You can learn almost anything from Design, Marketing, SEO, to basic time management.  This one is worth every penny plus a few extra.  I recommend getting the annual subscription.  This can help with basic site layout information to complex programming.  You can even learn how to make a phone app.  These are all video courses with Project files to help you follow the information step by step.  They recently added support for phone apps, so now I can watch any of the videos on my phone or tablet.

Runners up

There are a lot of other very valuable tools I use.  Most of them depend on what I’m doing that day.  Some of the major ones that I haven’t listed above are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • My Wacom tablet
  • Coffee, lot’s of coffee

This is a very basic overview of some of the tools I use.  I plan on going into detail of how best to use some of these in the future.  If you have a preference or something your interested in, please leave a comment below.  You can also request an article with the form to the right.  I’m looking forward to this being a great resource for you and for myself.