Sep 14 2011

6 Essentials for Web Designers

Category: businessTom Shivers


If you’re looking to break into the field of web design, there are a few essentials that will vastly increase your productivity and earning potential.


Web designers frequently have to complete multiple tasks at once; rewrite some page code, re-size an image, edit a script, etc. Having multiple monitors is a godsend, as it lets you keep the page in view on one monitor, while you make changes on the other. When I added a second monitor to my setup, I nearly doubled my output. I recommend the Dell UltraSharp brand; great performance for the price.


While not as critical as large amounts of monitor space, having a pokey computer will slow you down (and raise your frustration levels). Remember, you’re going to be multitasking frequently, so you need, at a minimum, a Core 2 Duo processor and 4 gigabytes of RAM (for developing on a Windows machine). You can find savings with Lenovo coupons to help with the cost.

Input devices

You’ll be doing a LOT of typing, so make sure you have a comfortable keyboard and work area. If you plan to add your own art, you’ll likely want an input device more precise then a mouse, such as a trackball or tablet.


When designing web pages, you need two essential pieces of software: one for editing text and code, and one for designing graphics. For code, Adobe Dreamweaver is still the gold standard. Sure, you can use any basic free text editor for simple pages, but Dreamweaver’s ability to seamlessly make changes across multiple pages is worth every penny.

For graphics, I like both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Fireworks. Photoshop is, bar none, the best tool for precise image manipulation. On the other hand, Fireworks is designed from the ground up with the web developer in mind, and trades a few features for vastly increased usability. If I could only have one, I’d definitely choose Fireworks.


After the design is done, you have to test the created webpages. It’s essential to test your design in multiple browsers to be sure it renders correctly for every customer. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari are all must-tests. One tool that can also help with fixing stubborn problems is the Firefox extension Firebug. This debugging tool will allow you to step through your HTML, CSS, or Javascript line-by-line, to see exactly where unexpected behavior happens. It also has a great DOM (document-object model) which lets you quickly see how page elements fit together.


Saving the most important for last– Have a ready supply of coffee, or your stimulant of choice (Mountain Dew, Red Bull, etc.) Customers will pay good money for last-minute work, but you’ve got to be able to stay awake to complete it. Go to sleep rich!

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3 Responses to “6 Essentials for Web Designers”

  1. Patricia@Direct Response Marketing says:

    Oh, don’t even get me started on donkey computers slowing you down. I have realized that both 4Gb ram and good processor as well as a fast internet connections is ABSOLUTELY necessary. (Sorry, had a slow day – again!) ;D
    Patricia recently posted..The Website Layout To Use To Generate LeadsMy Profile

  2. emory @ clickfire says:

    Okay, I’ve got all the essentials except talent. I dig the last one!
    emory recently posted..Klout: Nearly the Same Size as TwitterMy Profile

  3. Tom Shivers says:

    Another talent plug as an essential: I call it red, my wife says it’s coral. Um, I’m not an artist.
    Tom Shivers recently posted..8 Things To Consider If You’ve Not Done SEO RecentlyMy Profile