Like many other web designers, developers and webmasters, over the years we have tried and tested many different tools, apps and resources. Some have been great, some not so good and many have been essential in carrying out our day-to-day work.

As with many other skills and professions, desiging and developing is a constant learning curve. Look back even a few years and you could almost shudder at how you used to do things and what tools you used to do achieve them.

We have compiled a list of top 12 free apps, resources and tools that should be in every web designers tool kit. There are of course many paid software packages that we would consider essential, but because we love free, we will focus on things that don’t cost a penny!

1. Notepad++

Notepad++
Notepad++ is a lightweight yet powerful, feature-packed text editor that pretty much makes Notepad obsolete. It supports 27 programming languages, searches regular expressions, and supports syntax highlighting and folding, synchronized edits and views, and much more.

There are loads of other alternatives, but Notepad++ is by far our favourite due to its ease of use, vast amount of plugins and general functionality.

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Alternatives

Here are a few alternative text editors which we also recommend:

2. WordPress

WordPress
If you have been following our blog, you will probably already know that we absolutely love WordPress. An easy to use, lightweight but powerful CMS, WordPress is a great choice for building business websites, online shops and it’s original use; blogs.

See our other posts on why WordPress is such a good content management system:

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3. WinSCP

WinSCP
WinSCP is an open source free SFTP client, FTP client, WebDAV client and SCP client for Windows. Its main function is file transfer between a local and a remote computer. Beyond this, WinSCP offers scripting and basic file manager functionality.

The most popular choice in this category is usually FileZilla. We have nothing against FileZilla, it’s a great piece of open-source software, but going from FileZilla to WinSCP, you will really notice the difference and find that WinSCP has some great features which you will wonder how you lived without!

Features

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WinSCP vs FileZilla Comparison

4. GIMP

GIMP
This is the official website of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X and Windows operating systems. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.

GIMP is a great app and we have used it on occasions, but this is where we think a paid solution does make your life easier. GIMP does have its uses and is widely used by designers, but in our experience it can’t replace Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

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5. Google Analytics

Google Analytics
Launched in 2005, Google Analytics is the world’s most popular web analytics service. With Google Analytics you can view, track and analyise your website’s performace and see how people find, browse and use your website.

Google Analytics can provide you with valuble data that could help you boost sales, get more visitors and increase conversion rates.

Features

Google also offer a subscription based Google Analytics Premium targeted at enterprise users and Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, an SDK that allows gathering usage data from iOS and Android Apps.

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6. TinyPNG

TinyPNG

These days speed is everything. If your website doesn’t load quickly then you might be losing visitors, especially on mobile devices. Also page loading speed is a ranking signal used in Google’s algorithm, so it’s important you compress your images! Google’s PageSpeed Insights will even tell you if your images need opimising.

“TinyPNG uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size of your PNG files. By selectively decreasing the number of colors in the image, fewer bytes are required to store the data. The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a very large difference in file size!”

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7. Lipsum.com

Lipsum

This one doesn’t need much explaining. Most if not all web designers need to use dummy text from time-to-time when waiting for content to be written/supplied. This handy online tool will generate dummy “Lorem Ipsum” text in a matter of seconds.

What is Lorem Ipsum?
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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8. ColorZilla

ColorZilla

ColorZilla has two tools on offer that we use on a daily basis:

ColorZilla Browser Extension
ColorZilla for Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox is an extension that assists web developers and graphic designers with color related tasks – both basic and advanced.

ColorZilla includes a Color Picker, Eye Dropper, Gradient Generator and many additional advanced color tools.

Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator
A powerful online Photoshop-like CSS gradient editor, image to CSS converter.

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9. Adobe Color CC

Adobe Color CC

The Adobe Color Wheel is such a simple, but extremely helpful tool.

Have you ever been in the position where you just can’t choose a colour or colour scheme? Or you have a base colour to use, but you need to find other colours to complement?

Well that’s where the Adobe Color Wheel comes in. You can create, randomly generate and save colour palettes to use in your web design and graphic design projects. This was a great find and something that we now couldn’t do without!

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10. Amazon S3

Amazon Web Services

This service gives subscribers access to the same systems that Amazon uses to run their own Web sites. Amazon S3 allows uploading, storage and downloading of practically any file or object up to five gigabytes (5 GB) in size. Amazon.com imposes no limit on the number of items that a subscriber can store.

This service can be used as a CDN, or you can even host your whole website. As part of the AWS Free Usage Tier, you can get started with Amazon S3 for free. Upon sign-up, new AWS customers receive 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 20,000 Get Requests, 2,000 Put Requests, and 15GB of data transfer out each month for one year.

The setup can be a little tricky so this service is better suited to tech-savvy people.

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11. Freepik

FreePik

Freepik helps you to find free vector art, illustrations, icons, PSD and photos. They also have another site dedicated to icons, flaticon.com.

There are many free vector, PSD and photo sites out there, but we have found Freepik to be the best. It is worth noting though, there are restrictions on how you can use the free files and you do have to pay if they are for commercial use.

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12. The Web Taylor Free Resources

TheWebTaylor Free Stuff

We are a little biased on this one! In 2015 we launched free resources for designers and developers offering graphics, icons, scripts and tutorials – all for free!

All our graphics are designed by us and all tutorials are written by us. Check it out, you might just find what you were looking for!

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Free Graphics, Icons, Tutorials
Free Graphics Free Fitness Vector Icons Graphics PackFree Camping Vector Graphics PackFree Summer Graphics PackFree File Icon PackFree Fast Food Vector GraphicsFree Music Controls Vector Icon Pack
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The Web Taylor
1000 Lakeside North Harbour Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 3EN
02392 123358