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The work of a web designer requires a large number of tools, some of which are free, while others require a somewhat expensive subscription fee. That said, a web designer usually needs several of these software options to complete their own toolbox – not just one. That’s why we wanted to outline the best website design software available to help you build a great website.
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We cover everything from simple graphic design tools, to text editors, to more advanced UX software and everything in between. Here are the best of the best, along with some mentions of content management systems!
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Figma is a new type of design tool that acts as a Sketch alternative for Windows or as the ultimate prototyping and collaboration tool for small to larger design teams. Figma software was created to improve your team’s overall workflow, allowing you to design websites, create prototypes for stakeholders, and then collaborate with your team – all in one individual browser.
Figma pricing starts at $0 for two memberships and three projects. Upgrades cost $12 per editor per month for unlimited editors and projects. There’s also an organizational plan for those who work with large teams and need other features like activity logs and concept ownership.
Streamlined prototyping is done using frameworks, overlays, and device interactions. You can also involve your entire team in the design process with team components, styles, and libraries. Overall, all the features – from commenting to multi-layer editing – make it one of the best collaborative website design software.
Adobe Photoshop is known as the leading photo editing software for professionals and amateurs alike. Due to its immense popularity in the field of photography, most people wouldn’t immediately associate it with web design – let alone include it in the category of best website design software. How do web designers work with it? Well, web designers use photos quite a bit, and many designers are skilled in multiple Adobe products. With built-in features like instant photo push, this combination serves multiple purposes for the average designer.
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Whether you’re designing a banner or editing team photos, every website needs a large number of photos to be attractive. Photoshop ensures that your photos are the right size, properly cropped, and have the right filters. When you’re done, you can send the final product of any photo edits directly to Dreamweaver for further editing as part of your website.
So, for example, you can design a nice header image for the new online store you are creating. All photo editing is done in Photoshop and you can actually paste the layered version of the image into other tools.
If you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, there are several options that offer similar features. The most popular free alternative is called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation System). GIMP is an open source software available on Windows, OS X and Linux. The photo editing and processing module is the main area where most designers and developers spend their time. You can complete everything from photo editing to advanced editing. As for website design, GIMP allows for the creation of icons, buttons, banner images and more. You can even create mockups or wireframes from scratch, depending on your needs.
GIMP integrates well with many third-party tools. The great thing is that the developers have decided to create integration with most free and open source applications and software. For example, designers want to ensure that all website colors are bright and accurate. GIMP works with tools like SwatchBooker, Inkscape, and Scribus to manage all those colors.
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Moreover, the entire interface is customizable and adaptable to your other software. I feel like the interface isn’t as modern and sleek as Photoshop, but the functionality is pretty much the same without considering the price. Additionally, Photoshop also has a learning curve, so most people who are new to using either tool will have some learning to do.
Webflow is the closest thing to a service like Wix, while still offering great tools for more advanced web designers. It is a fully hosted platform with support for things like e-commerce and regular websites. This is great starter software for designers with little coding knowledge. I also like it for more advanced designers because it speeds up the whole process without slowing it down.
The prototyping system in Webflow is great for agencies and all web designers. This prototype is all in the Webflow dashboard, so you don’t need any other software for this. Moreover, you can design with HTML and CSS.
From a beautiful design tool to CMS, ecommerce, and landing page options, Webflow software is hard to ignore, especially if you’re learning how to create a website or want to increase the speed of everything.
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Sketch meets a number of design needs for people working on Mac computers. Everything from web to mobile and user interface design is possible on Sketch. Some people may compare Sketch to Photoshop, but it is actually a combination of many tools. For example, it features the vector editing and prototyping of Illustrator, like Figma.
Not only is Sketch capable of building a full prototype of a website, but it also has tools to export code to take elsewhere. Collaboration tools are also great because they give you and your team a way to share and communicate with each other.
You also get access to a variety of plugins that only connect to Sketch. Along with its non-destructive editing capabilities and excellent precision, Mac users should consider Sketch as one of the best software options for website design.
WordPress has consistently proven to be a powerful website building platform. It’s also a content management system that isn’t going away anytime soon. WordPress offers options for all types of designers. Complete beginners can consider WordPress.com or they can even spend a few hours learning how easy WordPress is to use.
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On the other hand, an experienced designer has absolute freedom to incorporate new files, code, themes and plugins. Not only that, but the WordPress community is quite robust and fun to interact with.
There are many things you can benefit from with WordPress, including the ability to control every aspect of your website. I also like that WordPress is open source, incredibly scalable, and cheap to host.
XAMPP is a suitable solution for developing everything from websites to applications in a local environment. This means that designers can make adjustments to their machines without the public seeing anything. XAMPP works on multiple platforms including Windows, Linux, and OS X. Once the product is complete, you can push all your files to the server and publish them for the whole world to see.
All your web applications can be created using MySQL, PHP and Apache databases. You can even use PHPMyAdmin to manage your database more easily. It is free to download and allows you to share work by switching between offline and online modes. Along with tools for creating aliases and accessing your log files, XAMPP is one of the best web design software for local development.
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Most web designers and developers will need a text editor at some point. They work as great options for modifying large collections of files and finding certain elements, as well as for changing multiple versions. Text editors are also useful for getting a full view of the code, as good editors provide syntax and markup throughout the document.
Visual Studio Code has downloads for Windows, Mac, and several other platforms. One of the best parts of Visual Studio Code is the IntelliSense system, which goes above and beyond to provide smart completion depending on what you type. It also supports standard auto-complete and highlight tools that all developers have come to expect from a text editor.
In doing so, Visual Studio Code offers a more modern debugging solution, eliminating print statements and instead giving developers the ability to debug from within the editor. Combine that with built-in commands and Git integration for one of the most impressive text editors on the market for great text editing options.
Adobe Illustrator is another Adobe product that is part of the Creative Suite and integrates with all other Adobe products. This is especially true when it comes to Photoshop. Illustrator is a vector-based design program, making it suitable for designers who want to create logos and other illustrative images.
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After designing a vector, Illustrator has options to push the final product to Photoshop. The vector can still be a layered item and can always be returned to Illustrator for further adjustments.
Overall, Illustrator is the highest quality vector editor on the market, and you can use it to create everything from web illustrations to icons and logos. Typography is also highly customizable for controlling style and adding effects, all of which are important for making typography look good.
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