Developing a website without the right tools can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes you’ll find out that you’re working with software that’s far too advanced for your level. Or, maybe you need to move on to a program that’s geared towards professionals. It all depends on your skill level as a web designer, but the necessary web design programs tend to remain the same – whether you’re a beginner or advanced user.

The only difference is that you may not be using all of the features in a particular tool if you’re a beginner or intermediate user. You need to play around with what the pros use and run through courses and articles to figure out how to make your designs turn out the best that they can.

So, we’ll outline nine of the most necessary web design programs and explain what each is used for in the development process.

WordPress

WordPress

WordPress is a blogging and content management system that is so popular and so flexible that around 30% of all websites use it today.

WordPress is self-hosted (so you have full control over your site) but it also has a slight learning curve compared to platforms like Weebly and Shopify.

The WordPress software is free, but you will have to pay for things like domains, hosting and themes. In short, this excellent site building platform is meant to run in the background and allow you to easily create pages, blog posts, menus and more.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is known for photo editing, but any type of design project is possible through the powerhouse editor. Some people use Photoshop for making logos, while others use it for website mockups. It’s also not a bad program for constructing an entire website’s layout, with its comprehensive layer and exporting system.

Sketch

Sketch

Sketch is often considered an easier version of Photoshop. The reason for this is that it focuses more on web design, whereas Photoshop can be used for any type of design project. Its main advantage is how well it works with vector graphics, which are great for scaling up or down without losing any data in the process. In addition, you can test on mobile devices right from the program.

GIMP

GIMP

GIMP has most of the same features you can find in Photoshop. The main difference is that GIMP is completely free. Many people would argue that GIMP is a little complicated to understand, but it’s an awesome free product that provides the features needed for working on web design and photograph editing.

Adobe Dreamweaver

Adobe Dreamweaver

Adobe Dreamweaver is a web design juggernaut, with a code editor on one side and a live website view on the other. This way, you’re able to make code edits and see the results instantly. Photoshop works more by creating website elements or mockups, whereas Dreamweaver is creating a fully functional website. At the end of the process you’re able to export actual website files for placing on your server.

WAMP

WampServer

After you design a website using a program like Dreamweaver or WordPress, it’s time to test it out and make any other changes that might need tending to. The only problem is that you probably don’t want to pay for a server only to have a half-completed site showing to the public.

A better option is to have a local web server like WAMP. In short, you run the server on your computer and create or test out the website in full form. After that, you move the files to the server for launch.

While WAMP is designed to work with Windows systems, Mac users have a similar alternative in MAMP.

Color Wheel

Color Wheel

It’s important to have some sort of color tool when designing your website. Color Wheel is free, and it provides a way to build color schemes that will look good on your website. The reason for this is that you may have an idea of a color you want to use on the site. The problem is that many colors won’t necessarily look that great with the primary color. Therefore, Color Wheel does the work for you, while also helping you identify specific color codes instead of trying to guess with your eyes.

Adobe Spark or Canva

Adobe Spark and Canva

Canva came before Adobe Spark, but both of them work incredibly well for designing all sorts of professional-looking graphics for social media, blogging, business cards and more. It cuts down on the lengthy process of designing from scratch in Photoshop. And, you have various professional templates to choose from inside of the software. In short, a non-designer can create beautiful social or website graphics without having to touch Photoshop.

Written by Brenda Stokes Barron

Brenda Stokes Barron is a professional writer and blogger and The Digital Inkwell is her personal brand. You can often find her typing furiously at her local Starbucks. (Yes, she's that person).