My Favourite Web Design Tools

Here are my favourite, can’t live without tools and web resources, that I use for doing web development. I’ll add to this list over time when I can think of more resources.

1. WeBuilder
WeBuilder is a great all-in-one editor for all web document editing. You can create and edit HTML, CSS, JavaScript, VBScript, PHP, ASP, SSI and Perl code. I use it to hand code my sites using XHTML and PHP.

2. Navicat
This is a complete life-saver. The authors call it the world’s best GUI for MySQL, and I think they are probably right. I use MySQL in every site I write and I don’t like messing around with the database management system or SQL in a little command line window. Navicat is the answer. You can visually see all your databases, alter them using the excellent Navicat interface. Copy tables, export them, import them, copy them between you local server and your web server, back up databases. It is brilliant. Another can’t live without program.

3. Skype
Given that I am in the UK and most of the software and services I use are in the US, I save a fortune on support calls by using Skype to make international calls. It is easy, and convenient. All you have to do is visit the Skype site, download some free software, buy a set of head phones or a Skype phone (they even have Skype mobiles now), buy yourself some credits, and off you go.

I have spoken of hours to ordinary telephones in countries like Jamaica, the US, France, Spain and Japan. And I normally only spend about £50 per year on Skype calls to ordinary landlines.

4. KeePass
Keepass is a piece of open source software that provides a place for you to keep all those scores of usernames, passwords, login urls, special notes, associated phone numbers – whatever you need to get back into an account online. All information is encrypted using a special keyphrase that you specify.

5. Color Schemer
This is a neat little program that I use to generate colour schemes for web sites. I did the scheme for this property investment site using it. What’s more, when you have devised a colour scheme, the Color Schemer web site allows you to log in and post the scheme for others to use.

6. Monoslideshow
This the neatest slideshow widget I have found. It uses a simple XML file to specify the photos on your slide show, and the way you want to display them. Once set up you can have mulitple photo albums on one page and you can add to it by editing a text (XML) file. See Monoslideshow’s web site.

7. jZip
A free alternative to Winzip, it unpacks and packs files ready for a number of compression formats.

8. Smartdraw
Useful for drawing all sorts of diagrams. There is a free alternative called Freemind, but I just don’t like it as much as Smartdraw. Smartdraw allows you to create all sorts of diagrams, not just mind maps, but flow charts, maps, site plans, garden layouts, organisational charts and a lot more. Smartdraw are offering a free trial and at the moment (don’t know how long for) they are offering $100 off the price for a single user license. Well worth it in my opinion as with this tool you can make your presentations and proposals look very professional.

9. Sitepal
A totally affordable way to animate a character on your web site. Add a piece of flash code to your web site to have a cartoon character speak your words or even say words that you have typed.

10. PDF Conversion Online
If you’ve written a Word document and you need to send it to a client, it is much more professional to send a PDF. This is easy to do for free, with PDFOnline. Simpy upload your Word document to the PDF| Online website and your free PDF is emailed to you a couple of minutes later.


  1. Depends why you want to learn all this stuff. Is it because you want to be a web designer or you want to start a business online? If you are starting a business online, you can do well just using WordPress. WordPress doesn’t have to look like a blog, it can look like a standard site but with all the advantages of a blog.

    Otherwise you can look at my hub if you haven’t seen it already that talks about the things you need to know to be a web designer. You can use Dreamweaver but it is just an expensive editor. There is no need. You can even become a web designer that specialised in WordPress and some of the premium themes like Thesis or Frugal for example.

  2. http://faye says

    Hello! Don’t know if you can help me I am a total beginner and have become completely confused looking at so many websites. Do you need to have something like Dreamweaver? Or some sort of wysiwyg programme? I have been reading about lots of things and trying to learn a bit of html but keep going of on a tangent! Might help if I knew what software I needed first of all! I understand the html but wouldn’t be able to just sit there and write it in plain text without seeing what is happening, thus back to which software again. Also, wondered if you could recommend anything to help learn PHP with FTP functions. Would this just be better with a wysisyg programme for someone like me?! Thanks so much!