If you’re a web designer you’ll probably use a wide range of tools across the internet to improve your efficiency and to make better websites. For this post we’ve listed a few tools you can use to improve your workflow, do better research and generally be better at what you already do best!
From well known to less common options, we hope you’ll find at least a few of these tools useful for your upcoming website design projects.
1. Wayback Machine
We don’t know about you, but we frequently work with clients that claim “we had our website redone last year and it’s not as good as the one we had before”. The trouble is almost always they have no record of their prior website and therefore no way for us to understand what went wrong.
This is when Wayback Machine comes in handy. It was launched in 2001 and is basically a digital archive of the internet. Every so often it crawls websites and stores a snapshot of each in a timeline. This means by searching for a domain, most of the time you can view all of the previous designs in a website’s history. Pretty useful for many situations but also if you’re just a little curious!
An essential part of any web design project is optimising your new website so that it loads quickly. Alongside having a good hosting provider there are a number of things that you can do to reduce your website’s load speed.
Pingdom Page Speed test is great for understanding what website elements are slowing your website down. Once you know what’s happening as your web page loads, it’s quite simple to improve it. Whether you need to reduce your image file sizes, set up browser caching or any other technique, Pingdom shows these recommendations as well as a visual timeline of your website loading – perfect for getting to the bottom of those pesky long wait times.
3. Domain Authority Checker
If you’ve ever wondered how authoritative your website is (a primary Google ranking factor), you should run your domain through a domain authority checker like this one. Not only is this tool great for measuring your progress but it can be really useful for understanding and measuring your client’s online presence too.
Finally, if you’re looking to build links to your website, a Domain Authority Checker is useful for working out which websites you should target as a priority – the higher the domain authority the better.
4. Chrome Developer Tools
You may not realise it but there is a really useful tool built into Google Chrome that can be opened by going to View > Developer in your menu. This tool does many things that you can take advantage of in your web design career.
Firstly, you can inspect any element on a website and directly view the CSS that is in effect, helping you to identify the classes and ID’s of things you’d like to customise. Secondly, the Console tab will show you anything that is causing an SSL issue (e.g. loading insecurely using http instead of https). Thirdly, in Sources you can view all active website files as well as cookies, making it a lot easier to comply with GDPR.
The Chrome Develop Tools do far more than the examples we have given, but we find that we use the tools mainly for these purposes.
Not specifically for web designers, Zapier allows you to share data amongst your most used apps. This means you can automate pretty much any process you can think of. We recently wrote a blog post about all the different ways we use Zapier to improve our workflows so we won’t labour the point again. But to give you a flavour, you can create custom workflows to handle any aspect of your business. Namely, you may want to set up a web form that includes all of a new clients details. Connect this to Gmail to send a welcome and onboarding email, use Trello to automatically add a to do item and schedule invoice dates in Google Calendar. The options really are endless and will save you many many hours in future.
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