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My essential website design software

My essential website design software list

​Over the years I've gathered a small list of software that sees daily use for my web design business.

Whether for coding, image manipulation or accessing the website files via ftp, here are my daily essentials:

1) FileZillahttps://filezilla-project.org/ (free)

FileZilla is a fantastic piece of software that covers any FTP requirement I've come across in many many years.  It does way more than I've ever needed, but at a basic level, it lets you connect to normal and secure FTP servers and has many useful features that let you export settings to use on other computers (useful if you have lots of clients and FTP servers to connect to) or as a backup.  Allowing for mirrored browsing that changes the local and remote directories as you click around, it makes access to your hosted files a breeze.

2) Paint.net https://www.getpaint.net/ (free)

Paint.net has been around for years - it was initially a Microsoft created product, that has since branched off on its own.  Whilst it is no Photoshop clone, if you want to do basic image manipulations like resizing, altering quality, cropping sections out and managing basic layers, this software is both fast and quick to use.  Supporting many image file formats, it is my go-to software for altering photos and images without the expense or complications of commercial software and is probably used more than any other software I have aside from Microsoft Outlook!

3) ​Microsoft To-Dohttps://todo.microsoft.com/en-us (free)

Any busy business should have some way of keeping on top of tasks and jobs that need done.  Being available on almost every platform, including Windows, Android and iOS, syncing your lists across all devices, this one continues to be a great tool for me.  Outlook links exist for tasks and flagging emails as well, so it keeps everything nicely in one place.

4) Notepad++https://notepad-plus-plus.org/ (free)

Editing CSS, php and html files can be difficult unless the software you use intelligently highlights code sections and tags etc.  Notepad++ is another long standing piece of software that just makes the life of a website designer easier.  Allowing for multiple files open at the same time, in a tab-navigation system, it hands-down beats the basic Notepad included with Windows (and others that exist on Mac etc.).

5) Serif DrawPlus - No longer available

This one is paid commercial software, but for an easy and flexible vector editor, DrawPlus is a great bit of software that I still use regularly for small-scale logo work and similar.  It has been replaced with Affinity Designer, which I personally find less intuitive than DrawPlus, though Affinity has more features that you may find useful if you need something closer to Photoshop or Illustrator.

6) FastStone Photo Resizerhttp://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm (free)

This one is great - along with renaming, it covers so much more, from batch resizing, batch conversion of file types, adding borders, shadow etc.  Regularly I may be sent a large group of images to use on a website, and this software allows me to quickly make them all the same size and file type without having to manually alter each one.  With the pattern-match rename feature, it is also easy to add a more SEO-useful naming convention to groups of photos too :)

7) Microsoft Outlookhttps://products.office.com/en-gb/business/explore-office-365-for-business (paid unless you use the free online version)

This one is last but is certainly not least!  I've been a massive Outlook fan for years, and whilst the free online version is great, linking my domain name with my Office365 Business subscription means I get the full version of Outlook 2016 to use across all of my devices, both Windows and Android (and also my smart watch!).  With 50Gbytes of storage, and excellent deliverability of emails via Microsoft's servers, as well as being able to access my email from anywhere, I am also confident that almost 100% of my work-based emails are delivered rather than ending up marked as Junk or Spam.  Communication is key to my business, and Outlook alongside Office 365 keeps things running smoothly.

So there you have it - even today, around writing this blog post, I've used all of the software above except for FastStone Photo Resizer.  I suspect that for anyone working in the website design industry, you'll have at least a couple of these programs on your computer, so why not comment below and let me know what you use - maybe there's even some I don't know about yet that you can recommend?
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Wednesday, 02 December 2020

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