Whether you’re a developer or a designer, chances are – you’ve got a lot on your plate. (You can knock up a new webpage in an hour, right??)

We see you. You’re already great at what you do, and there’s always a good bit of camaraderie between devs and designers. Maybe it’s shared flashbacks of Internet Explorer, or maybe it’s just a deep love of Helvetica, but you know you’ve got each other’s backs. So, here we are. Doing our bit, and sharing some tools that’ll help you on your way, and maybe even make your soul feel a little less, well – #000000.

Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, XD)

Adobe truly are the leaders in the industry. Their software is continually top-notch, and you can guarantee that not only does it do pretty much everything you need; pretty much everyone uses it, too. It can feel a little overwhelming as a beginner, but once you learn the shortcuts it allows for an efficient, effective method of work across a number of apps and services, and with seemingly endless capability. 

Cost: Around £50/mo for the full suite, around £20 for students. 

Squarespace and Shopify

The ones for simple websites and ecommerce. Squarespace is slick, quick and easy – so is a good go-to for simple brochure or service websites. Templates are modern and mobile-ready, and with designs that don’t make you want to claw your eyes out. The interface itself is minimalist –  just how you like it, and there’s live chat support if you get stuck. 

When it comes to Shopify, it’s an easy ecommerce dream – simple to use, templates galore, and secure and reliable – you’ll be bringing in the cash in no time.

Cost: from £12/mo (includes domain and hosting)

WordPress

The next level up from Squarespace, WordPress powers around 33% of all websites. It’s powerful, has flexible pricing, and it allows you complete control over your website, with plenty of options to expand and adapt. WordPress is best if you know a bit about HTML and CSS, as there’s no simple ‘drag and drop’ design, and don’t forget – you’ll still have to get your own domain and hosting. 

Cost: Anything from free to £36 a month

Google Analytics

A must if you want any idea of who views your website, and how. Google Analytics keeps track of visits, providing the information you need to evolve and adapt your website, ensuring it best suits customer needs. The data is simple, easy to understand, and shareable – so you can satisfy number-hungry clients, and all you need to do is install via a header tracking code. Easy.

Cost: Free 

HotJar

HotJar, like Analytics, provides data about your website, but this time with a visual focus. HotJar uses heatmaps to show which areas of your website get the most attention. So, whether it’s clicks, taps or scrolls, HotJar tracks them all, painting them into a pretty (or not so pretty) picture. Hotjar also offers visitor recordings, so you can watch the mouse at work and adapt your site accordingly; and, better yet – it has visual ‘drop off’ charts, so you can see exactly where, and how you can improve that conversion. 

Cost: Free – £90/mo for small sites. 

Behance / Dribbble / Awwwards

Pinterest for professionals. These sites are great for when you hit a creative block, hosting a whole catalogue of inspiration, with countless different designers’ work to browse through. Find the styles you like, think outside the box, and even save them to your personal mood boards – ready to refer back to at a later date. Behance is best for in-depth projects such as branding or photography, Dribbble for logos and single UI frames, and Awwwards is, as the name suggests, an awards-style site for websites (clever name, right?) And, if you’re feeling really rather proud, you can even upload your own. 

Cost: Free

Shutterstock / iStock / Adobe Stock / Unsplash

Our favourite places to get clean, modern and creative stock images that don’t look like you pulled them from a catalogue. Most offer vectors and illustrations too, so you really have the pick of the mix. Prices vary, and can be pretty expensive, so if you’re still starting out – head to Unsplash, it’s completely free and no need to credit the photographer! (Matt’s even got a profile, and we think it’s pretty slick, even if we do say so ourselves!)

Cost: For Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe Stock, it an be around £100+/mo. Unsplash is free. 


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