Holly Kosec

An inside look at a designer’s toolbox

Can of paint with paintbrushes and toolbox isolated on whiteIn celebration of Tim’s upcoming book, Blog A Week, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to put his book to the test. It can sometimes be tough to find a good topic to write about, and Blog A Week can help you think of some out-of-the-box ideas.

That’s where I got the idea to write about my “toolbox”, or things that I use every day as a designer, and why I love to use them.

Adobe Fireworks CS6

fireworksThe bedrock of my life as a web designer is found in Fireworks. A lot of web designers prefer to use Adobe Photoshop to create their websites, but I’ve really fallen in love with Fireworks. It is very clearly geared toward web-based design. It has a lot of the same vector tools you can find in Adobe Illustrator, which allows you to very easily play with scalable vectors in your design.

My favorite feature in Fireworks is the Batch Process feature. Batch Process allows you to easily resize a whole folder of images, all with the click of a button. Although this feature also exists in Photoshop, I find the batching system much easier to use in Fireworks.

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Adobe Illustrator CS6illustrator

Although Fireworks has some pretty good vector tools, there’s nothing quite like this powerhouse vector program. If I’m needing to make a logo, or create new toys for our robot mascot Pixel, Illustrator is my best friend.

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Adobe Photoshop CS6photoshop

Of course, I do still use Photoshop, even if I’m not creating websites in it. Photoshop is unmatched when it comes to image editing, and its awesome brush library. If I’m using a lot of textures in a website, I often switch graphics in-and-out of Photoshop to achieve the perfect effects.

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Artisteer is a template-building program that I use to create our low-end websites. Although it makes creating a simple website a lot easier, it’s made even more powerful when you can plug in custom graphics to take away the template feeling. I also use one of our in-house plugins to clean up the code, and make the website a little more flexible.

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This is my FTP program of choice. It doesn’t overwhelm you with a million different options, but it gets the job done. Sometimes simple is better!

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I would say that there are two kinds of people in the world: list people, and everyone else. I’m a list person. I love having a list to keep track of everything that is going on, and be able to visibly see my to-do list shrink. Trello is my to-do list service of choice. You can create multiple lists, move tasks between lists, label them with colors and names, add descriptions, and so much more! Plus, there’s even an Apple and Android app, so you will never be without your list.

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Google Calendargoogle-calendar

I’ve long since left behind the world of paper planners. Google Calendar is a perfect solution for me and my schedule. It syncs to all of your devices, and gives you alerts to make sure you never forget an appointment. Plus, it’s another service that allows you to color-code and organize events however you please.

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Google Drivegoogle-drive

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m a bit of a detail person. I love my documents and spreadsheets. Google Drive allows you to always have access to your files, no matter where you’re at or what computer you’re on.

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This one may seem a little bit obvious, but where would I be without my email? Gmail has a wonderful, easy-to-use interface. Plus, when you use as many Google services as I do, it’s great when they can all tie together. Much like the Adobe Creative Suite, Google services work great as a team.

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This is another amazing tool that allows me to access my files anywhere. It also is great for sharing large files with other people, or collaborating with several people. With Dropbox, you can share access to certain folders, work together with others on files, or just have a secure online everyone can work together to make updates on files or share files quickly.

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For inter-office communications, I use the built-in Mac program Messages. Everyone at our office is set up under Messages, so it’s easy to ask quick questions or get feedback. What’s even cooler is that since our email addresses that we use to sign in are set up under Google Apps, the messages all show up on my email interface, as well as on my Google Hangouts app on my phone.

And that is pretty much it! Although I may use some additional programs here and there, these are the main ones that make up my life as a designer. What are some programs that you use that are indispensable?

If you have questions about any of these programs, feel free to leave them in the comments.


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