in Design / Development

20 Essential Tools For Graphic And Web Designers

Graphics and business-related software are key for graphic or web  design because they will help you stay creative and organized. Below you can see 20 important tools that any designer should know about.

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe products are the industry standard for graphics creation, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and Acrobat. Each serves its own key purpose, such as photo editing, layout work and illustration. Practically every job in the design field will require knowledge of at least several, if not all, of these products.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has long been considered essential software for graphic design. It is sold on its own, or as part of Adobe’s Creative Suite, which also includes Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro and several other tools. Photoshop’s primary functions include photo editing, website design, and the creation of elements for any type of project. It is also commonly used to create layouts for design, such as posters and business cards, although Illustrator or InDesign are often better for those tasks.


Basecamp is an excellent online software package that makes project management and collaboration easy. Created by 37signals, the entire Basecamp system is accessed and managed online, so none of the software or data is actually stored on your computer. You can share the project management with your fellow freelancers or an entire company.

Font Doctor

When working as a graphic designer, you are bound to have hundreds of fonts on your computer. When dealing with so many fonts, it is common to run into problems such as corrupted files, multiple fonts with the same name, and messy organization. These and other problems can affect the performance of your computer and get in the way of finishing a design project that requires a specific typeface.


Browsershots makes screenshots of your web design in different operating systems and browsers. It is a free open-source online web application providing developers a convenient way to test their website’s browser compatibility in one place. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser.


Pixie is a utility made especially for webmasters and designers. It is a color picker with few extra goodies. Run it, simply point to a color and it will tell you the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values of that color. You can then use these values to reproduce the selected color in your favorite programs. Pixie will also show the current coordinates of your mouse pointer.

Adobe Kuler

Kuler is an online application that’s also accessible through CS5 software. Use Kuler to generate color schemes for print and digital projects.

FavIcon Generator

Use this online tool to easily create a favicon (favorites icon) for your site. A favicon is a small, 16×16 image that is shown inside the browser’s location bar and bookmark menu when your site is called up. It is a good way to brand your site and increase it’s prominence in your visitor’s bookmark menu.


Skitch enables users to more quickly capture screen shots and drag them into email for sharing. The software automatically saves and names files to speed up the process. You can even annotate images with text and sketches and share them with colleagues. Use Skitch to show an image to a colleague or client and get their quick feedback on it.

Lorem Ipsum Generator

It’s an industry-wide practice to flow dummy Latin text into a mock-up layout. The Latin helps designer’s see what the piece would look like with content. Instead of digging through old files to copy and paste dummy-text, use the Google Chrome Lorem Ipsum Generator add-on to create fresh text for each project.

Shrink O’Matic

Shrink O’Matic is an Adobe AIR application to easily (batch) resize (shrink) images. It handles JPGs, GIFs and PNGs. Simply drag and drop images and they’ll be resized as you wish! Options allow you to choose the output sizes, names and formats.

Suitcase Fusion

Suitcase Fusion allows you to easily organize your fonts into different libraries and sets. It also allows you to set the status of fonts to ‘active’ or ‘ temporarily active’ which is great when you are just using a font for a particular project.


Iconfinder provides high quality icons for web designers and developers in an easy and efficient way.

BG Patterns

BgPatterns is a tiny web app for making background patterns in a few clicks.


Dropbox is a cloud-based data storage service that allows you to easily backup and sync your files. Additionally, you can grant permission to your files to other users. This is extremely handy for sharing files with clients and when collaborating with other designers on projects (when files are too large to email).

W3c Markup Validation Service

This validator checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc. If you wish to validate specific content such as RSS/Atom feeds or CSS stylesheets, MobileOK content, or to find broken links, there are other validators and tools available.

What the Font

What the Font allow you to upload a logo or an image containing a font, and it will tell you which font is it.

Five Second Test

Fivesecondtest helps you fine tune your landing pages and calls to action by analyzing the most prominent elements of your design.


Type Chart  lets you flip through, preview and compare web typography while retrieving the CSS.


SlickPlan is a web-based sitemap/flowchart generator that allows for the creation of free sitemap and flowchart design.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.