What Tools Does A Freelance Website Designer Use?

Posted on: December 25th, 2009 by afox

I’m asked by many of my clients as well as by other designers how I do what I do. For those of you who do not know I am a Freelance Website Designer who specializes in HTML, CSS, Graphic Design, PHP, MySQL and everything in between. I love what I do and would be lost without my toolbox of websites, graphic programs, and my favorite IDE (what I write my code in).

I’m speaking only for myself here, all designers, developers, hobbyists etc all have their own ways of doing things. This is what works for me… how I get down if you will.

OS (Operating System)

I rock Linux. I have for years. There are many reasons why but I think the most important to me is that it’s free, stable, and I NEVER have problems with it. There are many many distros of Linux… my favorite is Ubuntu. Linux is great stuff but this isn’t what we’re talking about.

I also use Windows XP in a virtual machine within linux… I use this for Illustrator and Photoshop by Adobe. Yes, that’s Windows only use to me.

Graphic Programs

Primarily I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. There’s not much to say about them except they get the job done very very well in my opinion. Intuitive, easy to use and fun. I do all of my graphics for myself and my clients with the use of these two applications. Many have asked why I don’t use something like Gimp since I run Linux… it’s simple, I can’t get the hang of Gimp. It’s great, you can do a lot with it, but I’m horrible with it. I’ve tried making the jump and my production slows by 1/2 at least. There is a learning curve that I’m never able to endure due to time constraints. Maybe some day I can ditch Windows completely.

IDE (What I Write My Code In)

I have tried a million and one different design applications to build the websites after I’ve made my designs. I’ve drawn two conclusions… 1.) A lot of them aren’t for me… the code is too sloppy and since I don’t use design view I don’t need the bulk of most of them. 2.) Why spend money on applications when there are free alternatives?

I use Aptana. It’s free, works in Linux and allows me to work directly on my servers via ftp. That along speeds up my production more than I can say. It’s easy to use, I can customize it how I need, It uses code highlighting which is handy when you’ve been staring at two thousand lines of PHP for 8 days and it’s free. Yeah I know I said that, but it’s true. It’s free. They have a paid version, but I don’t need it.

Note Taking And The Like

I use Google Docs. Also free. It’s great, does everything I need it to. I can search through my notes to locate things instead of flipping through 400 sheets of paper looking for a color code or ftp username. I can take them with me wherever I go. While I have a home office, it’s nice to get out of the house every so often, hit up a coffee shop, visit other designers I know for a day, etc. I love that I can access my notes from my laptop regardless of where I am.

My Favorite Websites (For Design)

PHP.net (All the PHP help a guy could need, I love this site)

I also have a list of web comics I like to frequent. It’s important to take a break every now and then.

Well, that’s about it. I’d be happy to answer any questions about what I do or how I do it.

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