Top 6 tools / utilities to make a designer’s (My) life easier

As a web and graphics designer there are lots of tools and software available to help one do their work. In fact, I would bet that without some of these tools that we completely take for granted, most of us web designers would be fairly miserable.

Here’s a list of the 6 tools that I think every designer should have:

1) Photoshop / Dreamweaver : I wasn’t planning on listing anything that wasn’t free in this list, but no list related to web design would be complete without Adobe’s Photoshop.

Dreamweaver is a program that you can live without, especially since there are lots of free or open source text editors ( Notepad++ )out there that will help you code just as well as Dreamweaver, but I’ll throw it in for good measure.

Again, while I wasn’t planning to list any downsides to anything my post, I have to mention that Photoshop is very very expensive and there are free (GIMP) or cheaper alternatives out there. However, this is by far the best piece of image editing, digital manipulation software I’ve ever used.

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2) Firefox’s Web Developer Extension : I absolutely love this extension and use it to write most of my CSS before parsing it through a free online CSS code sorter to make my code look pretty. The really cool thing about this extension is that you can live-edit your site and see the changes immediately.
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3) Firebug: This is similar to the Web Developer extension, except it’s a lot more powerful. One can see the entire back-end of the website using Firebug and you can edit even the HTML and Javascript in addition to the CSS.
I use this along with Web Developer to do most of my debugging. Though technically you don’t need Web Developer if you have Firebug, I use it more because I started using Web Developer way before Firebug and am just used to the layout.

4) Kuler : This is by far the best place on the internet to get colour inspiration for your design work. It’s a really cool application that allows you to create a colour swatch online. It also has this monumentally large library of preset colour swatches submitted to Kuler by the community. And for those who use Adobe products, you can download colour swatches that you can use directly with Photoshop.

There hasn’t been a single project of mine that hasn’t at some stage involved me spending a couple of hours on Kuler going through various swatches and trying to mix and match to find the best colour combination for my work.

5) FileZilla: I know there are other FTP clients out there, but FileZilla has served me well for a while now. I absolutely love this piece of software. It has all the features you’ll ever need as a Web Designer and makes managing your websites a breeze! 😉

And last, but most certainly not the least,

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6) FireShot: This is another Firefox extension that allows you to take screen shots and edit them. Makes life a lot easier than having to take a screen-shot open up an image editor and then edit it.
It’s very simple and is FREE. (Yes, we have a deep love for Free things.)

What are some of the tools, utilities or software that you can’t live without?

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