As a web designer I can’t remember the last time I used Dreamweaver. I don’t know of any hardcore web designer who does. I have been designing and coding websites for over eight years now. In this time the web landscape has changed immensely and the tools to make websites have improved dramatically. If you’re still using Dreamweaver and ImageReady it’s time to update. I ask that you give new software a chance. Here I present a list of professional applications that I can’t work without. They’re indispensable tools of the trade that make my job a thousand times easier. My work would be slowed down or brought to a screeching halt if I used anything else. I use these programs daily because they all contribute in some form to usability, efficiency, and simplicity. They have helped me become a better web designer and I hope they help you in your workflow.
This is the mother lode of all design software in the market. This comes as no surprise and I won’t go into detail about it because it’s common knowledge. I chose to include it in the list just because it’s mandatory. Without Photoshop or Illustrator life would be depressing for designers everywhere. Fireworks and Flash deserve a special mention also. But the complete suite of products is incredible and Adobe is beyond a doubt the industry leader for making great software for designers.
I have used this FTP client since day one and will never look elsewhere. The latest version comes with an Amazon S3 connection module. What can I say? It’s just plain simple to connect with multiple servers, manipulate files, drag and drop objects, change file names and permissions, etc.
TextMate is a coding powerhouse. It’s an efficiently simple markup editor. Code anything you want with it in ten seconds or less, HTML, PHP, ActionScript, you name it. It has quick libraries that can help you build site frameworks in seconds. It also has keyboard shortcuts, snippets, and macros to make coding lightning fast. I cannot recommend this piece of software enough.
This is the main event when it comes to server side coding. I love using this because it gives me live server access to change and update code on the fly. This has completely replaced Dreamweaver and its interface is phenomenally clean and uncluttered. Besides text editing it has terminal access and subversion control. What else could you ask for? Brought to us by Panic, the same guys who made Transmit.
This handy app has helped me gather web inspiration like nothing else. I use it to grab screen shots of sites that inspire me which I later archive and use. It serves as my digital scrapbook with tags, annotations and a well organized interface. And it’s super easy to publish the content to Flickr or upload to a server via FTP.
Typography is essential to design and I manage my font library with Font Case. I only recently started using this software but as far as I’m concerned it rocks! Imagine an iTunes like interface that handles all your fonts. Need I say more?
I’m a get-things-done kind of guy. This is not as much a design tool as an organizational and productivity tool. I gather my task list for certain areas and I simply check things off as I complete them. It’s a reliable task management tool that helps you get it done.
Here’s another speed app. By using it you’ll be able to access and launch all programs and files on your computer with a few keystrokes. Makes switching from one program to another fun and seamless. This alone is a rare and crazy productivity and time saving tool that has saved me hours in accumulated time.
Although this piece of brilliant software is not related to design, it deserves a special mention because it is essential for all of us who manipulate and share digital files. This is more critical if you’re working with a remote team. And we all know how important backups are. Well, DropBox does it all.
If you haven’t given these programs and apps a try I suggest you do. They’ll take your design and production skills to a whole new level. And if you know of any other software that has helped you make a quantum leap in your design work flow I invite you to share below.