The 12 Best Productivity Tools for Web Designers
These 12 tools will help make you a more efficient and productive web designer… and person too.
Being a web designer can be a daunting career when you're facing clients and navigating deadlines; getting stuffdone is crucial, therefore it's important to be as productive and efficient as possible. These twelve apps and services are tools I use every day to stay focused and productive.
№ 1: Clear
I've tried out every list manager on iOS and OSX (i.e. Any.do, Todoist, Wunderlist, Apple Reminders, Things, etc.), but Clear is the only real to-do app that really clicked with me. While my favourite note-taking / reminder tool is a good ol' fashioned Post-it® note, Clear is great for quickly getting in items and then prioritizing them. You've got lists, and then list items. That's it. If required, you can set time and date, but it's real use comes from just adding content, prioritizing, and then moving on. It's a beautiful app that works perfectly.
Price: $4.99 iOS / $9.99 OS X
Download: Clear for iOS and OS X
№ 2: Evernote
It took me a long time to figure out how to make Evernote useful: I've been using Evernote heavily for about two years, but I've been an on-again-off-again user since, gosh, I guess like 2009. But when I finally did figure it out, it changed the way I worked -- for the better. In 2013, I wrote "Why I Love Evernote (And How I Use It)" -- go read that post, then come back and finish this list. My main takeaway for Evernote is to use like a brain-dump: just put everything in there, then sort it later. It works for me because I like staying on task. If I find an article on Twitter I want to read, throw it in Evernote. On the phone? Take notes and come back to them.
Price: Free / $4.99 Premium
Get: Evernote web and apps
№ 3: Brackets
Written on the official website is, "Brackets is a lightweight, yet powerful, modern text editor. We blend visual tools into the editor so you get the right amount of help when you want it." There are so many code editors for OS X out there -- and a lot of them are excellent, like Coda, Atom, and Espresso. But there's something really neat about Brackets, and it has become my favourite coding tool.
Get: Adobe Brackets for OS X
№ 4: Noiz.io
I live and work in downtown Vancouver with my windows open every day, meaning the hustle and bustle of the busy city echos through my office. Noiz.io is tiny tool that sits in your Mac's menubar; turning it on plays a mix of ambient sounds that will help you get in the zone. You can choose from sounds like Campfire, Thunderstorm, and River Stream. It helps me focus… maybe it will you, too?
Get: Noiz.io for OS X
№ 5: F.lux
For those of us who work late nights, f.lux is about to become your new best friend. This tool (well, it's more of an extension) lies in your menubar and is triggered according to time, changing your screen's colour and brightness to match natural light. From the website, f.lux "makes the colour of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night, and like sunlight during the day." It works wonders for your eyes.
Get: f.lux for OS X
№ 6: Hemingway
Hemingway exists to make you a better writer. It highlights your errors, shows your complex sentences, and aims to uncomplicate your language. Every time I write now, I filter my work through Hemingway. Sure, yeah, it works immediately to show you what is and isn't working in your text, but more importantly it teaches you how to better structure sentences, which helps in the long-term.
Price: Free Online / $6.99 OS X,
Get: Hemingway: online and desktop app
№ 7: Alfred
I almost forgot to include Alfred in this list, because I use it so often it has become one with the operating system. It wasn't until OS X Yosemite for a similar type of functionality to be included. Alfred is your little assistant: opening apps, finding files, performing searches… it's as if Siri existed on your desktop, performing tasks as you wish. Get it. Don't ask questions, just get it; it will drastically improve the way you work.
Price: Free / £16.99 Powerpack
Get: Alfred app for iOS and OS X
№ 8: Frank DeLoupe
What's that colour? No, like exactly? Frank DeLoupe is another menubar tool that is brought up with a keystroke, and it allows you to pick the HEX or RGBA value of a pixel on your screen. Even cooler, though, is that it integrates with Photoshop to place the selected colour in your foreground. It's tiny, but I can't imagine working on a computer without it.
Get: Frank DeLoupe for OS X
№ 9: Google Drive
Cloud-sharing or file-syncing services are always found on these productivity lists, and there is a reason for it. They drastically improve workflows, help if you need to switch locations for work and make sharing with others easy-peasy. Google Drive is my cloud of choice because it extends into other services I use (e.g. Basecamp, Slack), and its collaboration aspects are unmatched. Buying extra storage is pretty cheap, too.
Price: Free / Payed tiers
Get: Google Drive web and apps
№ 10: Adobe Creative Cloud
When Typekit announced Desktop Syncing, my heart lept a beat. Now, we could have access to the expansive library of typefaces in all apps on your local computer. Rejoice! Creative Cloud syncs fonts, and that's primarily what I use it for, but I also sync my icons and base graphics so I can access them whether I am working from my iMac at home or my MacBook Pro at a coffee shop.
Get: Adobe Creative Cloud desktop
№ 11: Fantastical 2
It's the best -- and I mean the best -- calendar app. Period. Fantastical 2 sits in your menubar and lets you navigate and add events using natural language, such as "I'm having lunch with Tiarra on Tuesday at 1 at the Vancouver Art Gallery." It's pricey, but if you rely on your calendar as much and as often as I do, it's worth the price.
Price: $5.99 or $11.99 iOS / $45.99 OS
Get: Fantastical 2 for iOS and OS X
№ 12: ImageOptim
In 2014, the average size of a webpage was just under 2Mb. That's crazy, especially if you're trying to load up a page on a spotty internet connection. The bulk of web page sizes comes from images, so we have to do everything we can to squeeze image sizes down. In comes ImageOptim: throw in your photos before uploading them, and the tool will compress them down in file size without reducing the visual quality. It's a must-have for anyone working on websites.
Get: ImageOptim for OSX
What about you? What is your favourite tool that helps you be more productive? Let me know in a comment below.