Let’s face the fact: better web design means better business. Believe it or not, a consumer’s buying decision can be affected by the quality of the website they visit. Most individuals want a website with a simple and easy-to-use interface that allows them to quickly access the information that they need. A business owner has thousands of competitors selling the same products at different rates online, which is why the slightest edge in terms of search engine rankings and popularity would make a business very successful. An exceptionally-designed website has a higher chance of getting more clicks and getting a positive response from potential customers, which will help businesses boost sales, expand client base, and get a higher return-on-investment.
Your Role as Web Designer
As a web designer, your role is to make the website as appealing to consumers as possible using a combination of texts, graphics, videos, and more. He or she has to have excellent design aesthetics but also has to have the creativity needed to be able to incorporate the client’s business objectives into the overall design scheme. You need to be inspired in order to create well-crafted designs that your clients will love.
More importantly, a good web designer has to have the right technical knowledge and experience to give websites that competitive edge over other competitors’ websites. Relevant content and accurate use of keywords coupled with a good web design is one of the best and fastest for a business ways to make it to the top of search engine results and reach out to consumers.
Web Design Tools
With this in mind, every web designer should have a collection of the best software tools that will help him or her get the job done. Here’s a list of the most reliable software programs, both free and paid, that will certainly help you create and design high quality websites with less hassle.
The list is categorized so you can choose from any of the programs in that category that you feel is the most compatible with your work style and preferences.
- Adobe Kuler – Named after the Mauritian Creole word for color, Adobe Kuler is considered as one of the coolest apps for web design. It is a free software that allows members to design color schemes of their own, where each set consists of five colors. You can also upload existing color schemes and edit them using this tool.
- Kuler can be accessed using browser-hosted variants that run on Adobe Flash, as well as desktops using Adobe AIR. Another great thing about this tool is that when you download Switchboard from Adobe Labs, the desktop version of Kuler can export your created color scheme directly into Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
- Pictaculous – If you want an image but want a different color scheme for it, Pictaculous is a great tool. It’s also free, which makes it so cool. Just upload an image and it will generate custom color palettes based on your original image colors.
- Colorzilla – Also free and available as an extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Colorzilla helps web designers and developers with color-related tasks from basic to the most comples. Notable features include an Eye Dropper, Color Picker, Gradient Generator, and Palette Viewer.
- Dribble – Popular with web designers, dribble.com offers inspiring designs and is considered a social network for web designers, a place where they can showcase their skills.
- Hues – For Mac OS users, Hues is a reliable color scheming tool. Although it’s a paid app ($2.99), this software is a simple, lightweight app that allows users to grab a color on any pixel that is displayed on your screen.
- Google Webfonts – Google has an extensive collection of fonts that any designer on a budget can use as it is available for free.
- Font Squirrel – A great source of free, high quality fonts are designer-friendly and easy to download.
- Lost Type – Help other fellow designers by using fonts from Lost Type, where it features and sells fonts created by designers from all over the world. Choose and pay only for whatever you want, which means you can type in $0 and get a free download. Just don’t abuse the privilege, though. Designers of the fonts get 100% profit from their sales.
- Typecast – The reason why you have to invest a few dollars is because it is is a very valuable tool to have. You can quickly check and edit the style, readability, and rendering while you work, making your work much more efficient.
- WordPress – The most widely used and popular among content management systems, WordPress is a publishing software that is known for its easy-to-use interface, speed of access, and excellent user experience. It currently powers millions of websites.
- Joomla – It is one of the best content management systems and has millions of users from all over the world. An award-winning open source CMS, Joomlais great for building powerful websites. Its layout is also simple to use and is mobile device-compatible.
- Radiant CMS – If you want a no-nonsense CMS that is designed to work efficiently, this software is best for you. Content management is simplified to a tee and is designed for small teams. It’s also a free software, so you don’t have to take a single cent out of your pocket.
- Drupal – What does Harvard, MIT, and The Economist have in common? Their websites are all powered by Drupal, a free software package that offers a plethora of customization options.
- Expression Engine – If your client is willing to shell out a couple hundreds for a more advanced CMS, then get Expression Engine for around $299 and you get access to all levels of platform customization. This is why larger corporations such as Apple, Ford, and Nike choose Expression Engine to power their websites so they can easily incorporate their own preferences.
Other Useful Apps and Tools
- GuideGuide – A cool photoshop extension that allows users to create grids as guides for image, text, or video placement. You can create more accurate rows, columns, baselines, and midpoints without having to pay for anything.
- FileZilla – This is a free FTP solution. It’s an open source software that allows you to manage files on your web hosting account.
- Aptana Studio – This a free app that is also the industry’s leading web application IDE. Available in both MAC and PC, this software allows you to code potentially any kind of application you can think of.