Every web designer and application developer amasses a set of tools, development environments, libraries, and platforms with which they become comfortable and use on a daily basis. Throughout the years that I have been creating web sites, I have formed my own stack which contains tools for all stages of development.
Pen and Paper
Despite being into all things computers since childhood, I am a big fan of things that I can touch in the the real world. This includes brainstorming sessions recorded on a sketchpad, graphing paper, or a napkin that is folded up in the wallet for safekeeping. I have found that no design app beats the speed of hand-drawing stick figures when trying describing user personas.
If you have serious prototyping requirements, there are paid apps like Sketch (Mac OS only) and cloud apps like Figma.
Visual Studio Code
Microsoft has released a lightweight and free code editor called Visual Studio Code. I had to use Visual Studio during the ASP.NET 3.5 days back in college and found that I actually liked using a highly professional, well-thought-out development environment. Microsoft has brought that mindset into the modern development age with Visual Studio Code. It lacks external plugins, but I personally do not need my editor to have a bunch of plugins for every possible development scenario so I prefer it to other editors like Atom.
Cloud 9 is awesome. When I want to code on the go, I can commit my latest changes from whatever workstation I’m on and pick up somewhere else via Cloud 9. The ability to spin up a WordPress install, even if it’s public under the free plan, has allowed me to build my programming skills without investing time and / or money in setting up a server.
Adobe Photoshop (at work)
Photoshop is the undisputed king of image editing. The barrier to entry has been lowered since Adobe deployed the Creative Cloud and moved to a monthly subscription model.I am not an expert at using Photoshop by any means, but I am able to do navigate the interface easily and do many common tasks without having to reference documentation.
Gimp (at home)
Gimp has long been my favorite image editing program. This is largely due to the cross-platform, open-source nature which has allowed me to use it throughout the years on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. I highly recommend using it if you are more of a backend / app developer than a designer like me or if you don’t want to spend the money for Photoshop.
Almost all websites and mobile applications connect to one more more social networking profiles. Canva is a free site which allows non-graphic designers to easily create images formatted the social network of choice. From Instagram graphics to Facebook covers images, Canva provides the tools I need to quickly create engaging social images.
Like Canva, I use Gravit to create social images. I have not yet formed a preference between the two, so I have included both.
I will update this post periodically to reflect my current stack if my opinion changes or if new tools come along.