Designer’s Tool Belt; Must Have Apps & Devices [April Edition]

Design ConstructionWhen I first got started in web design, I think I only had my hands on a few pieces of software. A few resources for fonts and no books rhyme or reason. For me it was a nail in the coffin from years of doing mobile computer repair and door to door sales. With more and more prospective asking me if I knew how to design and build websites, I finally decided to try my hand. Along the way I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks. I’d like to share with you some of the most recent apps and devices in heavy use from the tool belts of our designers at our firm Design Theory.

Starting with Design, I highly recommend some books to get your creative juices flowing as well as some inspiration to show you that sky may not even be the true limit. If you’re more of a designer than a developer, you may find it easy to imagine a UI that zooms in performance and throws fireworks whenever a user finds exactly what they were looking for, and page transitions rained gold coins that provoked people to give you their contact information willingly without thought. Then you wake up and see a blank white screen with a blinking cursor. Yea, been there.


  • The Web Designer’s Idea Book [Amazon]
  • Dreamweaver
  • Photoshop
  • Fireworks
  • TextWrangler
  • Notepad++
  • FileZilla FTP
  • Firebug (Browser Extension)
  • Adobe Kuler
  • Dropbox

Your gadgets are important too. Don’t waste time or money on the cheap stuff if you can avoid it. They’ll only bring you to limits a lot faster than you’re learning new techniques and operating at faster speeds. Save yourself the “computer wait” frustrations and go out for bold early if you can.

Devices & Gear:

  • Macbook Pro
  • iPad (1st Gen, 2nd Gen, or the New iPad) Either will do depending on your level of production
  • iPhone, HTC  (for email, document, and other management on the go)
  • A comfortable desk and chair. (Because you’ll be here for hours and hours)
  • Double Backup Hard Drives (Yes a backup and a backup for the backup)
  • A long desk for plenty of space
  • A widescreen monitor. You can do a 19″ but I’d suggest as big as you can afford

Video Conferencing: This is steadily growing as a necessity for us. Our clients and partners are all over the country and across the pond in Europe. So keeping in touch isn’t limited to phone calls and face to face meetings. In fact, a lot of collaboration gets done virtually in video calls. Some of which we record and share on YouTube.


  • Skype
  • ECamm Call Recorder
  • Google+ for Hangouts
  • YouTube

This should get you going for now. If you don’t have many of these items don’t fret, just keep working hard and save to get there. I’m sure there are other apps out there I may not know so if you have any you’re using these days, feel free to share in the comments below.