Our 7 favorite tools for web design

Web design is a unique beast in the field of graphic design, meaning you'll need some unique tools.
3 minute read
Adam Smith @HomebrandAdam
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for Our 7 favorite tools for web design

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These 7 web design tools will help you build sites that grab users' attention.

Web design is a unique field, calling for both artistic flair and technical nous. That means web designers need tools equal to the task; tools that let them flex their creative muscles while filling in the logistical gaps to bring their sites from concept to reality.

There are an incredible range of tools available for web designers, and while it would be near-impossible to present an exhaustive list, these are 7 that stand out to us.

1. Sketch

Sketch is quickly becoming the industry standard toolbar web design. The venerable vector tool has been around since 2010, but continues to evolve via a rich library of plugins. Sketch is built specifically for web and app design.

Sketch accomplishes what designers used to do by toggling back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator.

There’s a lot to talk about with Sketch, but some of our favorite features include text styles that mean you can change a font one time and see it change across the entire project, anti-aliasing that means all your fonts will be rendered accurately and the ease of CSS code export.

2. Adobe Dreamweaver

There’s a reason Dreamweaver is still considered one the heavyweights in web design software. It’s a one-stop program for design and development that lets you build responsive sites in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and a variety of other languages.

If you have no coding knowledge at all, Dreamweaver may put you out of your depth. It’s not the most intuitive or user-friendly interface. But paired with Adobe XD, it can help you go from prototype to live site remarkably quickly.

3. Fontface Ninja

Ever been scrolling through a website and admired the typography enough that you wanted to steal it for yourself? Fontface Ninja can help plan your heist.

This free Chrome plugin allows you to inspect any font on any webpage. It’ll show you the font, size, kerning and leading. You can even open a pane on your toolbar to try out the font, with handy sliders to adjust kerning and size.

And if you like the font, Fontface Ninja provides a price and a link to buy (or download, in the case of free fonts) for more than 30,000 different fonts.

4. Avocode

One of the biggest downsides to Sketch is that it’s only available for Mac. But that’s no drama. After all, you’re a creative. You wouldn’t dream of working on any other OS. Now it’s time to hand your beautiful designs off to your front end dev … who uses Linux.

 

web design nerds

 

Fortunately, there’s Avocode. It allows you to upload, share and open any Sketch, Photoshop, Adobe XD, Illustrator or Figma file, and it runs of Mac, Windows or Linux. It also features commenting and team collaboration features that make working between design and development much more seamless.

5. Iconfinder

Web designers like to be bold, daring and innovative, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel. If you’re looking for icons to help users navigate your site, odds are someone has already designed a good one.

Iconfinder is a library of more than 3 million SVG icons for every occasion, from holidays to navigation to — gulp! — NSFW.

You can either pay for icons as you need them, or sign up for a subscription-based model that will give you a set number of downloads per month.

6. Webflow

If you want to get your site live without knowing a line of code, Webflow is an amazing tool. It’s both a CMS and visual designer that lets you build beautiful websites with full customization and even user interactions and animations without once writing CSS or JavaScript.

Once you’ve built your Webflow site, you can host it on Webflow or export the code to host it somewhere else.

7. Figma

Figma is a browser-based vector tool giving Sketch a run for its money. Its best feature is the ability to collaborate and comment live within a design. And the fact that it’s browser-based means you don’t have to worry about the Mac/PC divide. It also makes handoff to development a breeze, displaying code snippets for any selected design element.

If your design team uses Slack, Figma is a great prototyping tool. It integrates with Slack to send messages any time a comment or design edit takes place.

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