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50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Being a web designer is not easy. Not only do we need to have a good understanding about visual design, typography, information architecture, psychology and a plethora of other disciplines; in our work, we need to take care of so many details, so that our job becomes more and more time-consuming, requiring dozens of tools, attention span and an effective workflow for beautiful, timely and functional results.

And this is where small time-savers become handy. Be it a handy checklist, batch installer, dummy image generator or converter from Excel spreadsheet to HTML — all these things can save us a couple of minutes every day, making our work easier and more efficient. And this is why we keep collecting them for Smashing Magazine’s readers. Whether you like lists or not: this one will probably help you find those little nuggets out there that will help you avoid headaches and stress. Below we present useful time-savers for web designers.

You may want to subcribe to Smashing Magazine’s E-Mail Newsletter1 (32,600 subscribers) to keep updated about new useful tools, techniques and resources. The newsletter is sent out once every two weeks.

Time-Savers For Web Designers Link

This tool helps you review important items before the big launch. By default, the tool provides 28 items to be checked, but it also allows you to add custom items to the list. Each item can be commented on or crossed out. Once you’re done, you can send the report along with project’s details to multiple recipients via email. Alternatives: Ultimate Website Launch Checklist3 and Paul Boag’s The Ultimate Website Prelaunch Checklist4.


Pencil Project: Sketching and Prototyping with Firefox6
Pencil is an open source GUI prototyping tool. It contains built-in stencils for diagrams and prototyping, on-screen text editing with rich text support as well as standard drawing operations. Works in Firefox 3.5+.

Pencil Project: Sketching and Prototyping with Firefox7

Zootool is a bookmarking website and tool for collecting images, documents, links and videos from anywhere on the Web. A bookmarklet allows you to collect items quickly and easily. You can then tag and organize your saved items in Zootool’s back end. You can also integrate Zootool with Tumblr, Twitter, Delicious and FriendFeed to share what you find. Screenshot via MacStories9.


A fun and easy way to share ideas on a website. The tool allows you to make notes, write feedback in an overlay of every site and then share your notes with friends.


Ninite Batch Installer13
Ninite lets you pick your favorite software from among an extensive list (Web browsers, messaging, media, images, documents, security, runtimes, file sharing, utilities, compression, developer tools and more), creates a batch installer for them and then installs them for you automatically. Alternative: Allmyapps14 allows you to bundle your favourite applications, install them in a single click and reinstall them whenever you need to.


Support Details16
When in doubt, send your customers to this tool. Their data will be automatically read out of the browser (including Flash version, operating system, cookies, JavaScript status, screen resolution, browser size and more) and can be copied, sent directly to you via email or saved.


MugTug’s Darkroom
When you need to modify a picture but don’t have your favorite software on hand, you can use the all-in-one image processor MugTug’s Darkroom which was created for photographers. You are able to adjust levels, white balance, exposure, contrast and saturation and apply a few photographic effects. In addition, Darkroom allows to upload pictures from Picasa and Flickr. Alternatives: Pixlr18 and Sumo Paint19.


Visual Website Optimizer20
Visual Website Optimizer is undoubtedly the best A/B, split and multivariate testing software ever created by mankind.

Visual Website Optimizer21

This site a nice little application for finding shortcuts in Mac OS X, Photoshop and so on. Currently, more than 250 Photoshop shortcuts have been added. Simply type the name of application in the search box, and it spits out a long shortcut list.


gridr buildrrr22
This generators allows you to choose the grid for your layout and preview it online.

gridr buildrrr23

Instant Blueprint – Create a web project framework in seconds.24
Instant Blueprint allows you to quickly create a web project framework with valid HTML/XHTML and CSS in only a matter of seconds, allowing you to get your project up and running faster!

Instant Blueprint - Create a web project framework in seconds.25

Hummingbird lets you see how visitors are interacting with your website in real time. Hummingbird is built on top of Node.js, a new javascript web toolkit that can handle large amounts of traffic and many concurrent users.


Online Editor for the Web, with support of JavaScript, MooTools, jQuery, Prototype, YUI, Glow and Dojo, HTML and CSS. The tool lets you save and run your applications within the web browser.


String: create a multi-language website or app30
Essentially, String is a version control for localization. This tool allows you to manage your language files – from PHP to PO to Rails to iPhone apps. You can invite users to translate your content, and keep track of changes. You can add new sections and languages as you go and then download your updated language files and place them in your app.

String: create a multi-language website or app31

This tool allows you to edit documents simultaneously with other users, highlighting each user’s edits in a different color. Editing is done in true real time. Nice solution for everybody who works collaboratively on text documents, whether in the same office or on the other side of the world.


Pixelnovel Timeline: Version Control for Adobe Photoshop
This tool basically integrates a Subversion client in Adobe Photoshop with an Adobe Photoshop plug-in. You can preview versions right in Photoshop and manage version control directly from Photoshop. Not free.


A simple tool that helps web designers find variations of any color. Simply pick the color that you want to start with and 0to255 gives you a range of colors from black to white using an interval optimized for web design. Then, just click the variation you want to use and the hex code is automatically copied to your clipboard.


Load Impact: Website load/stress test
The tool lets you find out the performance limits of your website before you learn the hard way. It is an online service that simulates users accessing your site and creates test report graphs to find out how many users your site could handle.

Load Impact - Free web site load test36

Ideone: Online IDE & Debugging Tool37
This tool is an online compiler and debugging tool which allows to compile and run code online in more than 40 programming languages, among them C++, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby. Nice alternatives online: PHP Anywhere38 (online PHP editor) and CodeRun (allows you to develop, test and debug ASP.NET, PHP and Ajax applications online).

Online IDE and Debugging Tool39

Online Dummy Image Generator40
This online tool generates dummy images for you site: you can specify size, background and foreground colors, image format and add custom text. You can also use shortcuts for several standard dimensions including ad sizes (mediumrectangle, skyscarper, leaderboard etc.), screen resolution sizes and video standards (ntsc, pal, hd720, hd1080).

Typograph Scale & Rhythm41

HiFi RegExp Tool42
Regular expressions can be a pain. The HiFi RegExp tool is 100% JavaScript using jQuery. This tool was created to help developers learn, practice, and compose regular expressions.

HiFi RegExp Tool43

Clients often provide data in spreadsheet form, and reformatting it into HTML can be a real pain. This tool generates HTML tables out of spreadsheet data. Just copy and paste the cells from your spreadsheet, choose your options (font, font size and header color) and you have a properly formatted HTML table for your data.


FollowUpThen: Easy Email Reminder46
If you don’t mind sending your e-mails to a third-party, try this tool for easy email reminders. On your next email just include and the tool will follow up after the time interval you specify. No account is required.


Divine: Conversion tool from PSD to HTML48
Divine is a plug-in that sits on top of Photoshop. Once you’ve finished designing in Photoshop, launch Divine plug-in in Photoshop, assign WordPress roles to the main elements (e.g. #footer, #header, etc.), and then the plug-in will prepare all the files you need. Once you set FTP access, the tool uploads the theme automatically to your server. Absolutely free.

Convert PSD to WordPress with Divine. Convert Photoshop to WordPress theme49

This tool allows you to create meaningful visuals for code and can be used to plan, organize and navigate code in a more intuitive way.


This application is a powerful online image editor. Its tools are organized in handy, draggable boxes that can be positioned very much as you would see in traditional image-editing applications.


Unicode code converter52
Type or paste text in any of the green or grey shaded boxes and click on the button Convert button above it. Alternative representations will appear in all the other boxes. You can then cut and paste the results into your document.

Unicode code converter53

Grid System Generator
This tool generates grid systems in valid css / xhtml for rapid prototyping, development and production environments. The grid system generators offer the ability to customize the width, no. of columns and margin(s) to allow more flexibility for various designs.

Grid System Generator namecheck54
The tool checks availability of social usernames, domain names and trademarks. namecheck55

Typograph – Scale & Rhythm56
A useful tool for testing typographic scale and rhythm. It lets you set factors such as the typographic scale (traditional, 3:5 Fibonacci, Le Corbusier, etc.), the font size in percentage, line height, the layout, padding and the line height for h1, h2 and h3 headings.

Typograph Scale & Rhythm57

ColorBrewer Intro – Selecting Good Color Schemes for Maps58
ColorBrewer is an online tool designed to help people select good color schemes for maps and other graphics.

ColorBrewer Intro - Selecting Good Color Schemes for Maps59

CSS Inliner Tool
If you’ve ever sent an email campaign, you know that if your CSS is not coded inline, it is likely to get stripped out by email clients, which can make your email design pretty funky looking. Writing CSS inline can be time consuming, and repetitive. MailChimp has a CSS inline conversion tool built right in that will automatically transform all of your local styles into inline styles. Designers have found it so useful, we thought we’d share it with everyone else – even if you don’t have a MailChimp account.

CSS Inliner Tool

HTML Purifier – Filter your HTML the standards-compliant way!60
HTML Purifier is a standards-compliant HTML filter library written in PHP. HTML Purifier removes malicious code (better known as XSS) and make sure your documents are standards compliant.

HTML Purifier - Filter your HTML the standards-compliant way!61

Rendera helps you learn HTML5 and CSS. Type in your HTML code and see it rendered in real-time. Then style it with CSS. You can use any of the HTML 5 or CSS3 tags your browser supports. The tool supports HAML and SASS, too.


An intuitive tool for learning, writing, and testing Regular Expressions.


try ruby! (in your browser)66
This tool allows you to try out Ruby code in the prompt command line online. It supports Ruby’s built-in methods, and contains a step-by-step tutorial for Ruby newbies.

try ruby! (in your browser)67

Google Command Line68
GoogleCL is a command-line utility that provides access to various Google services. It streamlines tasks such as posting to a Blogger blog, adding events to Calendar, or editing documents on Google Docs.

Google Command Line69

Tiny Fluid Grid70
Simple tool that generates code for fluid grid-based layouts.

Tiny Fluid Grid71

This online tool lets you skip the phone menus for hundreds of companies and makes it less frustrating to call large companies. For business owners, Fonolo allows your customers to actually see your phone menu options, before they call you.


Producteev: Creating To-Do Lists with Emails74
Forward your important emails to and the tool will create to-do lists on the fly and send you alerts when needed. It can be integrated in E-mails, IM, Web, iPhone, Gmail, Google Calendar etc.

Online Task Management - Producteev75

AddUse – User research made easy
AddUse is a web based tool that helps you create, manage and present your user research in a simple, easy to use and cost efficient way. It’s a tool to use at any given moment in your development process. It presents the results from your user tests, surveys and questionnaires in a graphical way, efficiently helping engineering, marketing and management groups make the right decisions.

AddUse - User research made easy

Online registration for events, workshops, classes and courses. The free version allows for 150 events with 300 bookings per month.


Further useful tools Link

see[Mike]code: tool for remote coding interview
This simple tool lets you conduct a short coding interview remotely: it creates a disposable page for the job candidate and allows you to discover people who struggle to code on big or small problems.

This tool allows you to write code your browser, fork and modify any code, fix bugs and add features and also ask the community about your problems.

JavaScript Error Tracking
The service tracks JavaScript errors that occur on your site and provides you with a stack trace to help you debug. Similar errors are grouped together.

Old Version79
Old Version has exactly that, the older version of some of your favorite programs. Why? Because newer is not always better. Sometimes the newer versions cause conflicts. This way, you can always go back to the older version that worked for you.

Onbile is a free platform for creating and managing your Mobile Website version for iPhone, Android and Blackberry users

Free Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Tax Services; Self Employment & Freelance Success81
Easily import from online accounts to put your bookkeeping on autopilot and prepare taxes. Get up-to-date reports that give you visibility into your P&L, income, and expenses.

iSendr lets you send files to your friends directly, without uploading to a server.

WordPress documentation search engine.

Speed Tracer is a tool to help you identify and fix performance problems in your web applications. It visualizes metrics that are taken from low level instrumentation points inside of the browser and analyzes them as your application runs. Speed Tracer is available as a Chrome extension and works on all platforms where extensions are currently supported (Windows and Linux).

the Awesome Highlighter
This tool lets you highlight text on web pages and then gives you a small link to the highlighted page.

This page provides detailed information about most file extension and links to free programs that can open and create each type of file.

Last Click Link

Kuku Klok85
Online alarm clock and wake-up call for those of us who often work too much and fall asleep in front of the screen. Open the website, select the desired alarm time and set your favorite wake-up call. Keep the browser tab open. Happily, this online alarm clock works even if your Internet connection goes down. The available sounds are “Classic Clock,” “Electronic,” “Slayer Guitar,” “Military Trumpet” and “Cockerel.”


What the Hex?87
Among the variety of methods of representing color values, some are easier to identify than others. The hexadecimal system, though, often looks incomprehensible. If you feel you know colors pretty well, then this is a simple game for you. All you have to do is match the hexadecimal code (which is actually a group of three hex numbers: #rrggbb) with the corresponding color. Of course, this is easier said than done, but you can adjust the difficulty by displaying between 2 and 48 possible answers.


Would you like to see more similar round-ups on Smashing Magazine? Link

Would you like to see more similar round-ups on SmashingMag?89Market Research90

You may be interested in the following related posts:

Footnotes Link

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    frederick Luna

    June 28, 2010 5:51 am

    AWSOME, sometimes i think that you are from mars .. .great post Vitaly.

  2. 2

    Very useful tools. tnx again gays !

  3. 3

    fantastic article, thanks.

  4. 5


    Absolutely great list!

    Wanted to suggest a tool I use myself.

    AllWebMenus – tool for creating JavaScript menus.


  5. 7

    One of my go to tools when writing regular expressions is . It’s fantastic and does multiline, auto matching. It quickly let’s me see an error or try different methods to find matching results.

  6. 8

    really nice

  7. 9

    Thanks !

  8. 10

    Zaid Pirwani

    June 28, 2010 6:14 am

    You guys…. are AWESOME…. thanks for the post….

  9. 11

    Justin Seidl

    June 28, 2010 6:17 am

    Very helpful and the Launchlist is one of my personal favorites!

  10. 12

    Ingo van Peeren

    June 28, 2010 6:21 am

    Thanks for the nice collection of tools!

    The Eitherpad link in the article seems outdated.

    • 13

      Vitaly Friedman

      June 28, 2010 6:32 am

      Thank you, the article was updated. I am sorry to have missed it.

  11. 14
  12. 16

    nico cornwall

    June 28, 2010 6:26 am

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing it!!

  13. 17

    Steve Robinson

    June 28, 2010 6:26 am

    Wow. Some great tools here I’d never heard of. To throw another regex editor, I like Random passwords help me out all the time, too, and for that I use

    Thank you for putting this together. Excellent List.

  14. 18

    Nice List.
    Well done.

  15. 19

    Amazing! This will save me so much time, thanks!

  16. 20

    Holy jeez! This is almost too much at once. I’ll have to come back to fully digest and decide if I need any of these tools. Great job finding them all, though! Not many in here that I’ve discovered before.

  17. 21

    thanks Friedman

  18. 22

    This is a great collection of resources! I often find that with these round-ups Smashing tends to post a lot of things that I have no use for (which isn’t any of your faults, I know!!), but this one is spot on. Thank you guys!

  19. 23

    Chris Fernandez

    June 28, 2010 7:01 am

    What a great round-up.

    Will doubtlessly be referencing often for a long time to come.

  20. 24

    Russell Heimlich

    June 28, 2010 7:05 am

    Thanks for mentioning I hope others like it as much as I did creating it.


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