12 Tools And Sites I Use To Run My Web-Design Business

Running your own business can be quite a challenge sometimes! But fortunately for us there are some cool folks out there who create tools and sites to help get things done better and faster. I’m often asked what tools and sites I use and why, so here it is! Note that many of the tools on this list are for the Mac.

Event Box

I started using Event Box just a couple months ago and have to say it’s great! In fact it’s more than great! You see, I’m online quite a bit for work and I read a ton of RSS feeds, well Event Box helps me keep track of those feeds and also check on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Definitely a great tool that helps me be more productive and up to date with what’s going on in the design community!

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Creative Suite
Well, this one is a no-brainer, I don’t think Adobe needs any introduction. I use mostly FireWorks, Photoshop and Illustrator. Oh and yes I think FireWorks is a bit under-rated, I use it all the time and it does what I need and more. Most of what I do is web-related, and FW and PS will usually do the trick! :)


A lot of the sites I build run on WordPress. Why? Cause I think it’s a very flexible platform and the support you get from the community is awesome! I don’t see WordPress as a ‘blogging only’ platform, it’s so much more than that!

Text Wrangler

Text Wrangler
Simply put, Text Wrangler is my favorite text editor! I use it to write markup, css, etc… as well as a regular text editor (though I’ll sometimes use Text Edit)



Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. – What Is Evernote

Need I say more? Definitely one cool tool I use quite often!


Whether I need an image to insert in a blog post or I need something like an icon or a specific image for a website, I often turn to iStockPhoto! The images are reasonably priced and they sometimes offer extended licenses, which is nice.


Flickr is great not only for finding images for blog posts and articles (kinda like iStockPhoto, except many images are free to use – just make sure you check the Creative Commons license before using them) but also for networking with designers and photographers. I have a pro account and it’s worth every penny!

Launch Bar

Launch Bar is a great alternative to the famous QuickSilver. I know many Mac users swear by QuickSilver, but for some reason I’m sticking to Launch Bar. Maybe it’s cause I like the (very simple) interface better.


When you design websites you need to be able to check your coded designs in different browsers (ah IE6!). Of course you can run BootCamp on OS X and install Windows, but you need to reboot when you want to go on Windows. Nah! I prefer using Parallels and run Windows ‘inside’ OS X. What a time-saver!

Pixel Mator

Pixel Mator
Pixel Mator is a really nice alternative to Photoshop! Of course you can do more with Photoshop than you can with Pixel Mator, but why fire up PS when all you wanna do is resize/crop or tweak an image real quick? And there’s a huge price difference between the two :)


MAMP is one kick-ass piece of software! When I left for a 1 month tour with my band in September 08, I knew internet access would be limited and I needed something to run MySQL, PHP and Apache locally. MAMP Pro is a must-have tool if you need a local developing environment.


FreshBooks Invoicing
Freshbooks is what I use to track my time and send invoices to my clients. They make it real easy to keep track of everything related to invoicing. I’ve been using them for a almost a year and will definitely keep using them for a long time! Also, the iPhone/iPod touch app rocks!

Your Turn To Talk

So there you have it, my list of the tools and sites I use the most! Now I guess it’s your turn! Mind sharing your favorite tools with the rest of us? What do you use for invoicing, development, design, etc…? See ya in the comments! :)


  1. says

    A few other tools I use to run my business and website are:

    1. Coda.app (panic.com/coda)
    2. Mint (haveamint.com)
    3. Things.app
    4. Action Method (actionmethod.com) – I recently started using this tool, and it’s been awesome. I even bought one of the paper products for myself and my partner.

  2. says

    Hey Michael! Thanks for the comment!

    I used Coda a bit, and it’s a great tool! (not exactly sure why I don’t use it anymore though) I also signed up to Action Method, I haven’t had time to have a good look around yet, but from what I’ve seen it looks very promising – probably should be on my list, I just have to go ahead and use it :)

  3. says

    Thanks for a great list.

    A software tool I can’t do without is DEVONthink Pro. It’s a hold-everything, do-everything relational database that I use to catch all those floating ideas, write almost everything, and keep up with my life. Highly recommended.

  4. says

    I haven’t heard of EventBox before, going to look at that one now. :)

    The tool I probably use the most is Todoist.com. It’s my favorite to-do list app and I use it to keep track of just about everything.

  5. Corey Thompson says

    Rad list. Event Box seems like a cool program, but I can never get it to work on my computer. I also remember it use to be free. It now costs some buckaroos.

  6. Ida says

    Thanks for sharing!
    It’s all nice but you should have mentioned in the title that you are a mac-user.

  7. says

    Have you taken a look at “Little Snapper” (http://www.realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/) I use it to take a screenshot of a whole web page (even below the fold).

    Question: While you note that you use Adobe Creative Suite, do you use Dreamweaver? IS Dreamweaver still relevant? Does anybody else out there still use Dreamweaver?

    I am currently teaching myself CS4 Fireworks and it seems that, in conjunction with WordPress.org, Dreamweaver may not be necessary.


  8. says

    What a great list! I hadn’t heard of EventBox either, but it sounds great! I’ll have to check it out…

    I’d also like to add that for those of you using Freshbooks, IAC-EZ is an application that you can use with Freshbooks to help you manage your books easily and affordably. Feel free to check it out at http://www.iacez.com!!

  9. Matt says

    Timothy, I still use Dreamweaver for doing WordPress Templates. I know there are other tools out there, but I’ve just been using Dreamweaver for forever, and I don’t much like change. :-) So, if you are like me, then yes it is relevant. Although, there are plenty of other tools out there, some free, that will probably suffice.

  10. says

    Interesting list…

    I use Zenbe for managing and checking multiple email accounts (currently 6) online from a single interface when I’m out of the office or on holiday.

    I’ve just recently started using CurdBee for sending and managing invoices. You can send and receive payments through PayPal and/or Google Checkout – giving clients the option to choose which method they prefer.

    I also use Aptana Studio for XHTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript coding. I moved away from Dreamweaver because it didn’t work with the way I code anymore. The price difference was also a factor (hundreds of $ verses open source/free).

    Aptana is also available for Win/Linux/Mac, so I can use a combination of it and Dropbox (to keep my files synced) to work and test between my Windows and Linux boxes.

  11. Bird Yoshi says

    Thanks for your list.
    I looked at Evernote… but it’s actually not so evident to me why I think I’d still be using this application in 6 months. Can you tell me in which way this app is improving your web life? Thanks.

  12. Chris M says

    Another invoicing option is Time59 (www.time59.com). It’s targeted at solo professionals and is a great solution if you don’t need (or want to pay for) the multi-user capability of Freshbooks. Bottom line: If you are solo and bill by the hour it is definitely worth a look. The first 30 days are free.

  13. says

    I second DEVONthink Pro – indispensable! We also use Freshbooks which is a great estimate/invoice/time tracking app. Tip: Create project invoices in advance and you don’t have to worry about forgetting one (it happens).

  14. says

    Great list. A few more that I can’t live without are TextMate for coding, Transmit for ftp, DropBox, ActionMethod, and Linotype FontExplorer.

  15. says

    I 100% agree with you on the WordPress front, I am new to the design / build / animation (and in general – computer related scene!) but using wordpress I created my first site, and i couldn;t be happier! There are alot of great sites here for me to check out too! Thanks!

  16. Wladimir says


    http://www.cannybill.com has just launched. Its a web based invoicing and billing solution for businesses but has the added advantage that you can create web based order forms to sell your products and services.

    It also links up to live APIs such as Plesk to sell web hosting or Enom and GeoTrust to sell domain names and SSL.s#

    Kind Regards,


  17. says

    Actually I use quite a fewer of the sites listed here. But one more website/s I’d like to add in here. Facebook.com and Twitter.com as well.

    Cheers to the social networking sites. More people have found more about me.

  18. says

    Great list here. I am curious what you used to create those beautiful screen captures of each of the programs. Do tell.

  19. says

    Great list, thanks!

    By the way, did you do much research before choosing to use Freshbooks? I’m trying to decide which invoicing system to use… I’ve had some people recommend FreshBooks and some recommend Cashboard… I don’t know which is best though!

    Thanks again :)

  20. says

    Great post as always! I like to use a lot of the ones you mentioned, I also have been using DropBox lately to sync my files as well as share files with clients, good tool to use. Also when it comes to invoicing I have been using Zoho Invoice, seems very similar to freshbooks so if you ever need an alternative I would try that, haven’t had any issues so far :-)

  21. says

    currently, im sticking to Coda, because the project manager looks better and easier. :)

    was a dreamweaver freak, but, now Coda owns me! haha. Textmate? the interface is not my choice, and there’s no code suggestions too.

    btw, adobe? its a must-have-tool. hehe.

    p.s: about to try Launchbar.

  22. says

    Nice list, and you introduced me to some new ones. I would add the Cornerstone SVN Client to your list, which is super nice and easy to use.

  23. says

    Adobe Creative Suite is essential, other than that I don’t use any of these tools.

    I use: wamp (since I’m on windoes), Notepad ++, Google Apps, iGoogle with remember the milk in, SlimTimer and Zoho for a CRM.

    For invoicing we use a Norwegian software (Mamut) – it’s very good, allthough a bit expensive…

  24. says

    Awesome list! I use most of these tools as well. I also use Transmit for FTP, TextMate for coding (I use it with Transmit a lot to tweak WordPress stylesheets online – cool feature!), I use the Freshbooks dashboard widget, CSSEdit. I also use Screenflow for video tutorials, InstantShot for web tutorials and client documentation, SharedSecrets (for saving all my passwords and login details for all these online apps), and EasyTask for managing client projects (it’s simple, not perfect for the job but it’s good enough so far – open to suggestions though).

    I’m checking out LaunchBar now. Quicksilver sounds like a great idea, but I’ve just not been able to get into it. I’ll also check out LittleSnapper, it sounds like it might be really useful to me for web tutorials and WordPress theme development.

  25. says

    Nice post. I love the way you captured those screenshots of the programs that you use. However, as I am on windows. I only got few to add to my list. Anyways nice list John.

  26. says

    Seems like you use a lot of the same software as I do- good stuff! I just wanted to note two things. 1) I am trying out Action Method myself, it seems like a pretty solid resource, and 2) I have a list of “best” Mac OS X Software. I have used everything on this list, but I would highly reccomend Things.app (as mentioned in a previous comment) or The Hit List.app.

    Here is my list: blog.jeremybuff.com/best-mac-os-x-leopard-software/

    Maybe you’ll find something interesting :)

  27. says

    Great list!

    I have been using Basecamp for project management and ExpressionEngine for a CMS. Cyberduck and Espresso have been a great combo for ftp and code editing.

  28. says

    I’m new to the Web design, blog business but not new to many of these tools. It’s great to see that I can still use many of the tools I’m used to in this new direction I’m headed. Thanks so much for such an outstanding list.


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  1. […] 12 Tools And Sites I Use To Run My Web-Design Business | SpyreStudios Running your own business can be quite a challenge sometimes! But fortunately for us there are some cool folks out there who create tools and sites to help get things done better and faster. I’m often asked what tools and sites I use and why, so here it is! Note that many of the tools on this list are for the Mac. (tags: webdesign business webdev mac applications webdevelopment resources design software) […]