I get asked quite often what tools I use in my design process. I’ve been designing for a little over three years now and my process is always changing as I learn, grow and perfect my craft. Currently (and for the past year or so) I use the following:
The Google Drive is a dream. As a designer, I am constantly delivering large design files to clients and a cloud-based drive is the perfect place to house everything. Typically, I create a new Google Drive folder for each client where I can add relevant worksheets, design files, images and project calendars for the client to view or download. I can give the client various levels of access to each item, depending on if I want them to be able to edit and make notes, download the file or just review it.
As a designer, I try to use Pinterest at my discretion. It can be so easy to recreate something you see and it is important to always be producing original work. That being said, I’ve found it to be a great tool for helping client’s express their vision. I have my client’s create several Pinterest boards where they can hone in on the styles and shapes that they’re drawn to. At the start of a project, many clients have no idea how to communicate their vision and Pinterest can help them narrow down and refine their style.
It is my job, from there, not to replicate images the client has pinned, but rather gather a general aesthetic and create something original.
Refurbished iMac 21.5”
The primary computer I use to design is my iMac desktop. I prefer the larger screen and the use of a physical mouse. When I was first getting started, I had hardly any money to invest in a computer and so I purchased one refurbished. I have had the computer for about 3 years now and have had hardly any issues.
MacBook Pro 15” w/ external hard drive
Recently, I’ve been designing on my 15” MacBook Pro which I’ve been loving for its mobility. Creativity and inspiration flow differently depending on the environment I’m working in and I have come to depend on the ability to work in various location. The hard drive on this computer is much smaller and I find it easiest to save everything to an external hard drive that I can use from either computer.
I use Illustrator to create 90% of my designs. It’s perfect for creating vector logos and working with multiple artboards at once.
I primarily use Photoshop to make image edits. The edits can range from anything to color correction to altering image backgrounds. Once I’ve edited a photo, I usually bring it into Illustrator and continue designing with it there.
My preferred platform to build websites on is WordPress.org. With WordPress, there are unlimited possibilities with what you can do functionally. I also like the fact that you have complete ownership of your website and content and that it’s not housed under a third-party platform like Squarespace or Wix.
ProPhoto is the WordPress “theme” I use when building a live website. It is a highly customizable design platform that allows the client and me to easily update and edit the website as changes need to be made. In my opinion, there is no other WordPress theme out there as customizable and easy to use as ProPhoto. And they also get major bonus points for having the best support team on the planet.
For almost all social media and blog images I’m creating, I just use my iPhone. For editing, I use VSCO and occasionally bring a photo into Photoshop.
This is a newer camera purchase and I’m in love. My husband and I chose this camera for its stellar video and photography qualities. For photos, I use a Sigma Art 30mm F1.4 lense.
Death to the Stock Photo is a subscription-based stock photo resource. They upload new, monthly image and video packs that can be downloaded and used by their users royalty free. Their photo library ranges from outdoors shots to office shots and each photo pack has a “theme” to it.
Stocksy is BY FAR the best stock photo library out there. They have a collection of some of the most creative, beautiful, & unique images and this is my go-to place for photos if I’m working on a custom website project.
Unsplash is my favorite free stock photo resource. They have a surprisingly massive database of royalty free image that don’t look like your typical stock photo. I use these photos primarily if I need a quick image for a blog post and don’t have time to create one myself.
Like I said, my resource list is constantly changing and evolving as I try new software and find better ways of doing things. All the above items are things I have loved using and have made my design process what it is today.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite tools! Comment below with resources YOU love.