10 essential tools a graphic/web designer can’t live without

10 essential tools a graphic/web designer can’t live without

As the resident graphic/web designer at Brookes & Co, Rob can handle any design project we throw his way. Over the years Rob has collated his very own graphic/web designer ‘toolbox’ full of essential things that help ensure he gets the job done right every time. We asked Rob to make his debut on the blog to let you in on a few of his go-to graphic/web designer tools and applications…

My essential tools for a graphic/web designer fall into three categories—tools, applications and websites. Some items in this list might be pretty obvious, even to the non-web designer, while some are quite personal. I hope it provides you with an insight into my life at Brookes & Co, and maybe you’ll even come away with a few handy tools to try out yourself.


1. Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad

Apple logoApple is my go-to brand for computers, tablets and mobile phones. I know it’s super predictable for someone in my line of work to use Apple products, but don’t blame me, blame uni. They only had iMac/Power Mac G3s (I’m showing my age here), I finished my course with my own G4 and never gave Windows a minute’s thought. With the iCloud syncing all of my devices together, I can’t see any reason to switch. I always use the quickest machine on the market allowing me to work as efficiently as possible. Dual screen is a must!

2. Felt tip pens and pencil crayons

felt tip pens

I have a broad range of colours and use these for scamping out ideas before I ‘Mac them up’. A good pencil sharpener and eraser to hand are essential. This leads me to what I like to draw/write on…

3. Blank and squared notepads

A4 wire bound square notepad

Wire bound and A4 to be exact. Wire bound gives you the best of both worlds, strong yet pages can be ripped out if needed. Tough notepads can withstand lots of trips outside the office and slot nicely into my messenger bag. The squared notepad is great for getting initial logo designs down and a blank page gives freedom to sketch.

4. Apple Magic Trackpad

Apple magic trackpadFor years I used a mouse, then my friend introduced me to the Wacom tablet that I didn’t gel with. However, this got me thinking about an alternative to the trusted mouse. I settled for Apple’s Magic Trackpad and liked it so much I now have two: one for home and the office.

5. Headphones

Apple headphones

I don’t think I could last a day without zoning out to music while working in the office or at home. Music helps me focus my attention on what I’m supposed to be doing. I find reducing the distraction of people’s conversations, ringing telephones and the intercom allows me to work more productively. I can appreciate most people may think music would be a distraction, but not me!


6. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative CloudI rely heavily on InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Acrobat for day to day work. Adobe Premiere may get added to this list as we take onboard more video but for now, these five are crucial for me. In the old days, QuarkXPress was my go-to application for page layout, but because I like to streamline as much as possible I only needed one and InDesign was the logical selection.

7. Dropbox

Dropbox logoCloud storage is brilliant and has completely changed the way I work. In the old days, we had a server in the storeroom which constantly needed rebooting for one reason or another. This limited us to working only in the office, however with Dropbox as our current provider we can now connect to the server anywhere we wish. The Dropbox app is fantastic and really responsive. I also use other providers such as iCloud and Box Sync.

8. 1Password

1Password logoYears ago I began designing more and more for the web, and noticed I was forever logging into different WordPress accounts. Not only that, online shopping was taking off! I soon realised that using the same password for everything wasn’t good practice and neither was writing everything down on a piece of paper. I stumbled across 1Password and never looked back. Since then Apple came up with Keychain which I’m yet to switch to.

9. Tyme

Tyme logoI came across Tyme last year when I decided to look for an application that can time keep on multiple devices and log the time on the cloud. I work at home and in the office and have found that Tyme is the best fit for my needs. The feature I like and dislike the most is the ‘Stop timer after being idle for’… I like it because I know it will produce an accurate timesheet for my clients but dislike the constant popup notifications!

10. Grammarly

Grammarly logoGrammarly is a recent addition to my toolbox. It’s a free writing app to help with grammar and spelling. It’s great to have that extra set of eyes for checking emails and web content.


I use too many websites to mention, however, to give you an idea of some of my favourites I’ve listed some that are always open in my browser tabs:

  • www.coolors.co is a colour scheme generator website that creates perfect colour palettes for any print/web project.
  • www.thenounproject.com is a brilliant icon library website that I use nearly every day to find the perfect icon.
  • www.youtube.com is great for finding a solution to a problem.
  • www.myfonts.com is an excellent website for sourcing fonts.
  • www.wetransfer.com a data transfer website that is really simple to use, I particularly like how it notifies you when the recipient has downloaded the file you sent.

If you’d like to know more about our graphic and web design expertise, contact kate@brookesandco.net or call us on 01889 598600.

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