Powerful Workflow Tips, Tools And Tricks For Web Designers

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Designing and developing can be time-consuming, especially when the project involves a new challenge, putting the team or freelancer into unknown territory. Moreover, time is a key factor in productivity. Working efficiently enables us to deliver better value at a competitive price.

However, some steps can be repeated for every project. These are steps we know and should make as quick as possible in order to have more freedom to experiment with new solutions.

This article presents a collection of tools, tips and tricks that will make your standard workflow as fast and practical as possible, so that you have more time for the exciting parts of the project.

Ready? Here we go!

Tips And Tricks

Design Workflow

My Secret for Color Schemes
Erica Schoonmaker shares her trick for matching up colors and creating a nice color scheme. Read more…

colors

Useful Aligning and Spacing
Kris Jolls creates squares for the various spaces he has between elements. This cuts down time and makes sure everything is aligned and spaced properly. Read more…

Creating squares for various spacings between elements

The Ultimate Photoshop Web Design Workspace
Jacob Cass shares his set-up for the ultimate Web design workspace in Photoshop. Read more…

The Ultimate Photoshop Web Design Workspace

Coding Workflow

Perfect Workflow in Sublime Text 2
This is a must for all Sublime users. Ilya Grigorik has put together a two-hour tour de force to make you a Sublime ninja! Read more…

Perfect workflow in Sublime Text 2

Development Workflow for 2013
Learn what a modern development workflow looks like, from editors and plugins to authoring abstractions, testing and DVCS integration. Read more…

Development workflow for 2013

Vertical Editing” (with TextMate)
Learn how to vertically edit in general and with TextMate in particular. It pairs best practices with vendor-specific redundant properties. Read more…

Vertical editing (with textmate)

Prevent background-color Bleed on Touch Screens
Add outline: 1px solid #fff to your code to stop background-color bleeding on touchscreens. Read more…

Prevent background-color bleed on touch screens

Quick Tip: Rounded Corners Done Right
Improperly nested corners are a detail that can ruin a brilliant design. Learn how to do it the right way. Read more…

Quick Tip: Rounded Corners Done Right | Webdesigntuts

The //* /*/ //*/ Comment Toggle Trick
This is a little trick to make development faster. Not suitable for production code. Read more…

The //* /*/ //*/ comment toggle trick

Outdenting Properties for Debugging CSS
Martin Sutherland usually ends up adding a ton of properties to figure out how things fit together. Here is a little trick to remove the properties before a project goes live. Read more…

Outdenting properties for debug CSS

Favicons Next to External Links
A little trick to display an external favicon and next to the corresponding link, using simple lightweight jQuery. Read more…

Favicons Next To External Links

DevTools Tips and Tricks
These slides include tips and tricks for performance. You will be surprised what Chrome DevTools can do. (Use the arrow keys to navigate the slides.) Read more…

DevTools Tips and Tricks

Sublime Text Workflow That Beats Coda and Espresso
Andrey Tarantsov talks about jumping into Sublime Text 2 and and setting up a workflow that beats traditional tools such as Coda and Espresso. Watch the video or read more…

Sublime Text Workflow That Beats Coda and Espresso

Speed Up CSS Prototyping
This is a simple trick to overlay a grid or a mock-up over a page that you’re styling. It also allows you to edit content directly in the browser to see how the layout responds to various lines of text. Read more…

Speed Up CSS Prototyping

Git: Twelve Curated Tips and Workflows From the Trenches
12 simple tips for using Git, including: make “git diff” wrap long lines, set a global proxy, and clone a specific branch. Read more…

Git: Twelve Curated Tips And Workflows From the Trenches

The JavaScript “Ah ha!” Moment
This article collects comments of people having their “Ah ha!” moment with JavaScript — that is, the moment they learned something that made JavaScript click for them. Read more…

The JavaScript Ah-ha! Moment

Here are more articles and thoughts to help you improve your coding workflow:

OS Productivity

Alfred workflow tips and tricks
David Ferguson shares tips and tricks for working with Alfred. Read more…

Alfred Workflow Tips & Tricks

SSH: More Than Secure Shell
This article covers less common SSH use cases, such as using password-less, key-based login, setting up local per-host configurations, exporting a local service through a firewall, accessing a remote service through a firewall and more. Read more…

SSH: More Than Secure Shell

  • Share Your Hidden OS X Features or Tips and Tricks
    This is a thread with a whole range of OS X tips and tricks. So far, there are 126 comments, and you can add your own. Read more…
  • Alfred Workflows
    You find various workflows, provided by Isometry, including UNIX man page search and filtering text through arbitrary shell one-liners. Read more…
  • Tricks
    This is a collection of tricks for various areas, collected by Carles Fenollosa. Areas include bash, pseudo-aliases for commonly used long commands, VIM, tools and networking. Read more…

Lifehacks

Tools

Collaboration

TimeZoneSlider
Time-syncing around the globe can be tricky. This tool lets you add the names and locations of people involved to find the best meeting time. Send the synced time to others and don’t risk hard feelings about time-conversion mistakes. Read more…

Timezoneslider: time syncing app

World Time Buddy
World Time Buddy is a cross between a time-zone converter, a world clock converter and an online meeting scheduler. It an online productivity tools for those who often finding themselves traveling, in flight, in online meetings or just calling friends and family abroad. Read more…

WorldTimeBuddy: A sync tool for scheduling meetings

Doodle
Doodle can’t be recommended enough. It is a easy and uncomplicated tool for finding and scheduling a date that suits everyone — with only one email. Read more…

Doodle: easy scheduling

How to Solve the ‘Sharing Huge Design Files Amongst Teams’ Problem
This article is about how BitTorrent can be used to sync large files between team members. Key problems to overcome were how to share files between designers and between designers and developers and how to resolve points of failure. Read more…

How to solve the ‘sharing huge design files amongst teams’ problem

Screenhero
Screenhero is another tool for collaborative screen-sharing. The great things is that each user gets their own mouse, and both users are always in control. Read more…

Screenhero

Productivity

SoFresh: Automatically Refreshing Your Browser
SoFresh is a CSS refresh bookmarklet. It allows you to select which files to refresh. The files are refreshed every time you save them, so that you don’t need to refresh your browser. Read more…

SoFresh!: Automatically refreshing your browser

Divvy
Divvy is a new way to manage your workspace. It enables you to quickly and efficiently “divvy up” your screen into precise portions. Read more…

Divvy

Shortcat: Keyboard Productivity App for Mac OS X
It takes an average of three seconds to move your hand from the keyboard to mouse, click once, and then return to the keyboard. Shortcat is a keyboard tool for Mac OS X that allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard, saving time and energy. Read more…

Shortcat: Keyboard productivity app for Mac OS X

The Thinkerbot
Logic is the enemy of creativity. By grabbing a steady stream of pure Internet randomness, this app injects non-linear inspiration into any brainstorming session. Read more…

The Thinkerbot: a brainstorming app

SizeUp
SizeUp allows you to quickly resize and position windows with keyboard shortcuts or a handy menu-bar icon. Read more…

SizeUp

DragonDrop
DragonDrop lets you set down what you’re dragging, leaving you free to find the destination without having to worry about holding down the mouse button. Read more…

DragonDrop

  • Slate
    Slate is a window-management application similar to Divvy and SizeUp (covered below), but free and less limited. It attempts to overcome their limitations by simply being extremely configurable. Read more…

Making Use of the Cloud

SortMyBox
SortMyBox works like email filters, but for your Dropbox files. It magically moves files to folders based on your rules. Read more…

Organize your Dropbox with SortMyBox

Servus: For Mac and Dropbox
Give your files some meaning and a nice layout when your share them with others. Servus for Mac easily turns any file on your computer into a branded download page, hosted on Dropbox. Read more…

Create a branded download page with Dropbox

Send to Dropbox
Ever wish you could email files to your Dropbox? With this tool, you can. All you have to do is log into Dropbox, get your unique email address, and start sending files. Read more…

Send to Dropbox

Versioning Your Graphics Files With Dropbox
This quick tutorial explains how you can version graphic files via Dropbox. Read more…

Versioning Your Graphics Files With Dropbox

DropTunes
Create your own music-streaming service with this little app. DropTunes lets you stream music from Dropbox. Add tracks to your playlist, and browse while song is playing. Read more…

DropTunes: Stream music from the Dropbox

sideCLOUDload
This tool lets you send files from a URL directly to the cloud (currently, Dropbox and email) without the need to download them. This is perfect to save on bandwidth when you discover great stuff with your phone on the go. Read more…

sideCLOUDload: Send files from an url to the cloud

  • Post Via Dropbox
    This WordPress plugin allows you to post and edit on your blog with text files uploaded via Dropbox. Read more…
  • Site44
    Site44 turns Dropbox folders into websites. You can edit the HTML locally; this way, your website will always be up to date. Read more…

Design, Color and Image Tools

Hex Color Tool
Hex is a color tool that automatically displays any hex color in darker and lighter shades. Read more…

Hex Color Tool

GuideGuide
GuideGuide make dealing with grids in Photoshop easy. Pixel-accurate columns, rows, midpoints and baselines can be created based on a document or selection with the click of a button. Guide sets can be saved for repeated use. Read more…

GuideGuide

ColorBlendy
Ever fire up Photoshop just to multiply a couple of colors? ColorBlendy can do this easily in your browser. Read more…

ColorBlendy - Blend colors with different modes like multiply, overlay, dodge.

CMYK to Pantone
Input a CMYK color code, and this tool will work out which Pantone colors are close. Read more…

CMYK to Pantone

ImageMagick
ImageMagick is a command-line program that can do many operations on images quickly and with high quality. It’s especially useful for resizing and sharpening images, generating thumbnails, etc. Read more…

ImageMagick

Development and Testing

Reconciling SVG and Icon Fonts
This is the first in a series of three articles on SVG. Romain over at Hull explains how to set up a powerful design workflow, going from Sketch all the way to icon fonts, all automated. Part two shows how to dissect the fonts and go crazy with their components. Part three shows how to do the same with sprites and Photoshop. Read more…

Reconciling SVG and Icon Fonts

Emmet Documentation
Emmet (previously known as Zen Coding) is a Web developer’s toolkit that could greatly improve your HTML and CSS workflow. Read more…

Emmet Documentation

Alias
Alias enables you to manage all of your aliases online and to browse a list of cool aliases submitted by others. From there, you can run a single command to copy your aliases back into your profile should you require them. Read more…

Alias: Manage your aliases in the cloud

Anvil
Anvil is a menu-bar application for managing local websites. It takes your website and serves it up locally with a .dev URL, without requiring you to change system-level configuration files or hack around in the Terminal. Read more…

Anvil for Mac - Run your sites locally

DOM Monster
DOM Monster is a cross-platform, cross-browser bookmarklet that will analyze the DOM and other features of the page you’re on, and give you its bill of health. Read more…

DOM Monster Bookmarklet

prettyPrint.js
prettyPrint.js is an in-browser JavaScript variable dumper, similar in functionality to ColdFusion’s cfdump tag. Read more…

padolsey/prettyPrint.js · GitHub

Resemble.js
Resemble.js analyzes and compares images with HTML5 canvas and JavaScript. It can be used for any image analysis and comparison need you might have in the browser. Read more…

Resemble.js : Image analysis

Review
Updating large and possibly responsively designed websites can be a hassle. You never know whether a change will break anything. This tool gets screenshots of all of your running websites in different resolutions, so that you can spot any issues. Read more…

Review: Screenshots in different resolutions

BrowserStack
BrowserStack gives you instant access to all desktop and mobile browsers, which is great for testing your designs, especially if you cannot afford to buy many devices. Read more…

BrowserStack: Live, Web-Based Brower Testing

Zippopotamus
Zippopotamus makes working with postal codes and ZIP codes easy. It delivers a free API in JSON response format, supports over 60 countries, is perfect for autocompletion and open for crowdsourcing and contribution. Read more…

Zippopotamus- Zip Code Galore

Here are more development and testing tools you can check out:

Little Helpers

Style Manual
Is English not really your thing, or not your first language? This reference document by Andy Taylor will help you find the right answer to style-related issues. Read more…

stylemanual

13 Bills
This is a great tool for complicated bill-splitting. It’s especially handy when you have to split a bill according to the amount of time people have been around. Read more…

The easy peasy bill splitter

The Universal Packing List
Feed in the details of your next trip (timeframe, climate, gender, accommodation, kids, type of trip, activities, transportation and bag size), and this dynamic tool will work out what you should pack. Read more…

The Universal Packing List

Long Press
This tool simulates the alternate character choice that you have on Android and iOS keyboards. Read more…

Long Press

Sejda
Sejda is a great online tool for manipulating PDF files when your preferred software is not at hand. It has many advanced features, including merging, splitting and combining. Read more…

Sejda: Edit PDF files online (for free)

CreateMyInvoice
If you need a quick and simple invoice, this tool turns your raw data into a presentable invoice. The tool offers five free invoices per month, which is great if you only need to use it every now and then. Read more…

CreateMyInvoice - invoice from your inbox

StatusPage.io
StatusPage.io is tool that becomes active when your service experiences downtime of any kind. Activity incidents are prominently displayed at the top of your page for visitors to see right when they arrive.Read more…

StatusPage.io: Hosted Status Pages for Your Company

Beathound
Something for music lovers. Feed your iTunes library XML file and get a weekly update of new releases from your favorite artists. Read more…

Beathound: iTunes new releases for your library

Syncios
This tools converts your favorite music or ringtones to MP3, M4A, M4R or CAF format, and converts video to MP4, M4V or MOV format for enjoyment on your iPhone, iPod or iPad. It works both ways. It also includes other handy features that are worth checking out. Read more…

Syncios: Free iPod Transfer, Free iPod to PC Transfer, Transfer App Music Video Photo Ebook from iPod/iPhone/iPad to PC

Skrivr
This is for minimalists who don’t want to deal with cluttered admin interface that makes publishing complicated. Skrivr lets you write, save and publish your writing. Read more…

Skrivr: writing and publishing process made simpler

List of All Countries in All Languages and All Data Formats
This is a great resource that lists all countries in all languages and in all data formats. Read more…

List of All Countries in All Languages and All Data Formats

  • TokenPhrase
    TokenPhrase is a simple gem that generates unique phrases to use in your app as tokens. Read more…
  • Linkrr
    Linkrr is a small tool that transforms multiple unclickable links into clickable ones. Once you’ve gathered all of your links, Linkrr can open them with only one click. In some cases, you’ll have to disable your popup blocker. Read more…
  • LinkChecker
    This highly rated and popular Firefox add-on tests the validity of links on any Web page. Read more…

Useful Chrome Extensions

  • Tab Wrangler
    Tab Wrangler automatically closes inactive tabs but makes it easy to get them back, too. It works similar to AutoClose Tabs for Firefox. Read more…
  • Responsive Inspector
    Responsive Inspector is a simple Chrome extension that allows you to view the media queries of websites you visit. It is very useful when developing responsive layouts because it visually shows what resolutions are defined in style sheets. Read more…
  • Shortcut Manager
    With this extension, change the browser’s default shortcut keys, and assign any bookmarklets or JavaScript actions to your hotkeys. It works like Keyconfig on Firefox. Read more…
  • Auto Login
    Your browser already fills in your user name and password, so why not have it click “Submit,” too? This tool automatically logs you into websites that Chrome has saved a password for. Read more…
  • Tincr
    Tincr lets you edit and save files from Chrome Developer tools. It supports live reloading and saves changes to the right file automatically. Works for Mac, Windows and Linux. Read more…
  • OneTab
    OneTab is perfect for anyone who tends to open too many tabs in Chrome. It saves up to 95% of memory and minimizes clutter by reducing all tabs into one. Read more…

Last Click

Browser Pong
Here is an attempt to expand how you think of the browser. Browser Pong lives between multiple open windows. During play, the space between windows is transformed into a playing field — the abstracted tennis court of Pong. Browser Pong really is thinking outside the box. Read more…

Browser Pong

Talks to Help You Become a Better Front-End Engineer in 2013
Addy Osmani has curated talks that he has found helpful this year. The advice shared in them will equip you with the knowledge to become a better front-end engineer. Read more…

Talks To Help You Become A Better Front-End Engineer In 2013 | Smashing Magazine

The Setup
This collection of interviews asks people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done. Read more…

The Setup

Learn Something Every Day
UK-based design studio Young has published a book of 265 facts to help you learn something new every day. Additionally, you can purchase some great fact shirts. There is also a free iPhone app. Read more…

Learn Something Every Day

  • eBooks Compiled From Stack Overflow
    These books contain the top questions from a selection of the top tags on Stack Overflow. The top questions include those with a score of 10 or greater. Read more…
  • Jourrrnal
    Jourrrnal is a blog that publishes interviews about the workflows of some of the most active and talented Dribbble members. Read more…
  • How I Work
    This page collects little tips on how other people work. Rather than reading blog posts on why one way is better than another, read why one person loves a certain way of working, and judge for yourself whether it’s worth adopting. Read more…
  • My Radical Productivity Experiment
    Michael Schechter has experimented with different approaches to find what works for his own productivity. If you haven’t found a decent workflow for yourself, figure one out. Read more…

Further Reading


There you have it! A collection of great tools, tips and tricks that members of our community have found very useful. Hopefully, some of them will speed up your workflow or solve one of your confounding issues. Maybe they will even inspire you to share some of your hidden secrets of productivity.

If your favorite tool, tip or trick is not in this list, make sure you share it with us in the comments section below. Have any of the above changed you life? If so, let us know more!

(al, il, ea)

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Former trainee Melanie, completed her degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Otago University, and is now back working in the Smashing Editorial Team while freelancing as web designer on the side. She's interested in many things like writing, web design, politics, travelling and underwater rugby, and tweets as @mel_in_media.

  1. 1

    SoFresh is simply SoAwesome … not just because one of my very best friends co-wrote it, but because, not being a ultra-great frontend designer, I kinda need such a sidekick to help me out, instead of F5′ing continuously… A great compliment with Firebug, and just a bookmark away !

    (Beware, SoFresh checks the css files headers from the server, if date changed, it reloads the file, not the whole page… therefore: the network tab in FireBug fills up very quickly, just so you know)

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  2. 3

    Wow, lots of great stuff here. Thanks for including one of my links, too.

    FYI, for those further interested in getting weekly updates on tools, plugins, workflow apps, etc., I’ve recently launched a new newsletter:

    http://webtoolsweekly.com/

    </end shameless plug>

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  3. 4

    That’s one long and useful list of stuff. Thanks for making the effort.

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  4. 5

    wooww amazing tools there is also best tool in this blog :

    http://www.ituto.org

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  5. 6

    I read every article in this magazine and every article is brilliant and so relaxing to read. So saturated with good ideas and tips. So well written and profesionally composed. I could go on…

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    • 7

      Iris Lj. (@smash_it_on)

      October 4, 2013 12:35 pm

      Hi Rex,

      Thank you for your kind words! The Smashing team sincerely appreciates your thoughts and feedback :o)

      0
  6. 8

    Awesome tools, I’m already using some of them. A lot of this tools end up being really, really helpful on your daily workflow. It’s worth to mention http://www.retrospectus.com a really cool app. We use this app a lot, it helps us to gather feedback for our projects.

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  7. 9

    The first Sublime video doesn’t work… damn.

    Other than that, awesome! My bookmark list just overflowed.

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  8. 12

    Very useful, thanks! One of the many I liked was the “Speed Up CSS Prototyping” article. However, I was suprised to see that the author used an image for his grid. I use SASS for my css and, inspired the article, created a mixin with a grid overlay that only uses CSS: http://codepen.io/anon/pen/peIjy

    This way I can generate a grid from my SASS-config :)

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  9. 13

    Awesome article.

    Can you fix the link for “Sublime Text: My Workflow and Useful Resources”
    to http://bassam.co//2012/09/21/Sublime-Text-My-workflow-and-useful-resources/

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  10. 16

    Wow, thank you so much. Amazing stuff.

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  11. 17

    Our designers at Global WebForce are using these tools and they are very helpful. They can save time, easy to use and there is no need to spend more time learning the HTML and any programming language to make a website.

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  12. 18

    Sweet. Brilliant list of awesome stuff! Definitely worth bookmarking!

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  13. 19

    So maybe this is why this instagram post is still getting likes. I appreciate you sharing my simple tip. I’m still using it ;) Anyways no big deal but any links help. Maybe a link to my site in my name. http://www.krisjolls.com. If can Thanks.
    I use Fireworks for my web designs if anyone is interested follow me on the social networks on my site. Aloha

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  14. 20

    kizmet Tech Solutions

    November 29, 2013 1:23 pm

    wooww amazing tools

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  15. 21

    It is so useful list. Wondering it got only 20 comments! :)
    I got so many things to explore.

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  16. 22

    Creative Graphics

    December 20, 2013 3:22 pm

    Awesome article, thanks!

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  17. 23

    Awesome post!!

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  18. 24

    Nicholas Carvera

    January 7, 2014 1:57 pm

    Great article Melanie!
    I’ve used some of these tools and tricks, all of those were awesome.

    Every article of your magazine is well written and knowledge booster.
    As a web developer at http://www.seosemanticxhtml.com, I use your tips and tricks to make my development life easier.

    Thanks a lot for your efforts.

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  19. 25

    I like the information shared. Your efforts in researching such a good content is really appreciated. I like everything written in the post. I am a web designer and love reading blogs. Keep sharing latest news about market.

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  20. 26

    Great article Melanie!
    I’ve used some of these tools and tricks, all of those were awesome.
    Every article of your magazine is well written and knowledge booster.
    As a web developer, I use your tips and tricks to make my development life easier.
    Thanks a lot for your efforts.

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  21. 27

    Honestly I never thought I could do some webdesign in Photoshop and, since I’m not an expert in html,css, etc, I was kind of stuck with building the e-commerce template that I need (for a newsletter). I write a post on same topic recently here : http://www.webdeveloperjuice.com/2014/03/31/most-vital-photoshop-tips-for-web-developers/. But after reading the post I have to say that this is very helpful to me.

    Thanks a lot & Keep Sharing!!

    0

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