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Essential Tools According to Design Adaptations

By Char

Essential Tools for online successThis week’s Essential Tools series features Charity Ondriezek of Design Adaptations. Charity is a freelance web designer who just released her first (and very beautiful) WordPress theme called Into the Ocean. A few of her posts that are not to be overlooked are:

Below is Charity’s list of essential tools – tools she uses on a daily basis – in her own words. And while most of these have been mentioned before, it is a yet another reason why you should check them out if you aren’t using them yet.

Web Developer Toolbar: I started using this about two years ago, and it was truly instrumental in helping me learn CSS, work more efficiently, and become a better designer overall. If I could only pick one single browser extension, this would be it.

Google Reader: What can I say, it’s part of my routine every day. I love the features for sorting, sharing, and starring. Depending on how creative you are, there seems to be no limit on the ways you can use it to disseminate information. Their reading trends is neat too, so you can see what you’ve been partial to. Now if they would just add a search feature…

pMetrics: I just wrote up an article about this actually! It has become my favorite stats program just because it’s sooo easy to glean the info you need. I like how unimposing the interface is as well… meaning they don’t hide your data within a bunch of ads, or bury the most important stats under groupings that regular people don’t understand. Everything is presented to you as if you were a 5yr old, which is really quite fine with me when it comes tostats!

WordPress: Without it, I probably never would have become a blogger. It has also given me an edge as a freelancer, because none of my (local) competitors are offering clients the ability to manage/update their own content without a ridiculous price tag attached. When I tell clients that WordPress is simple enough for anyone to handle (without knowing HTML, CSS or PHP), flexible enough that supergeeks could run with it, and powerful enough that an organization like the New York Times would choose it to manage their site.. well that’s a huge selling point.

Dreamweaver: I’m sure I don’t use it to its fullest potential, but it’s been my primary tool for designing/coding/ftp/file management for nearly seven years. It has some terrific features for CSS development, and allows you to customize the workspace according to individual style and need.

    Do you use any of these tools? If so, I’d love to get your take on them. What else is in your toolbox for success?



    Dreamweaver made my life easier last January when I had to change over 100+ web pages that had the footer “Copyright 2006″ to “Copyright 2007″. A simple Find… Replace All.. did the trick. Sounds simple, yes, but every minute saved on menial tasks help!


    Hi Char,

    Nice to get a little insight into Charity’s design tools. Google Reader plays a big part in my social networking, and I arrived here through my reader.

    I probably wouldn’t have started blogging had it not been for WordPress either, and wrongly started out using a blog.


    Hey Char, thanks again for the feature spot this week! It was tough to select only a few when I started really thinking about all the tools I use daily. :)

    @Jimson – I love Find & Replace. It’s useful when working with style sheets as well. Changing colors or font-styles site-wide is a snap. That feature alone has probably saved me more time than any collection of tools I could list.


    Jimson – I have been using Dreamweaver for years and I probably use it every day (along with Fireworks and WordPress). Find and Replace is a great feature.

    David – another Google Reader here, too. I am so glad you found my site because yours has become a daily read of mine!

    Charity – so glad you shared your favorites with us this week.


    tks for recommending 2 new tools that i need to check out. I use dreamweaver all the time to improve on my blog design and to add plugins. I use several stats analysis program concurrently like awstats, statscounter, etc. Think this is one aspect many bloggers fail to account for, the technical know-how to maintaining, upgrading and tracking their blogs.


    Aaah, the CSS naming strategies piece served as a nice reminder to use semantic markup instead of pure layout positional naming.

    To Jimson Lee: Check out using SSI’s. Server Side Includes would allow you to build the footer once, then in 1 line of code insert it into all your pages. Make one change and it changes everywhere. What’s even better? It can automatically generate that copyright date (year) to being the current year! It’ll even allow you to set a ‘page last updated’ field that autoupdates as well. Definitely worth a look.


    There are things that I really like about Dreamweaver that really make it hard to give up – I don’t use it nearly to it’s capabilities either. I don’t really use the design mode though, other than to get an approximation for element layout. For open source/free editors tsWebEditor is nice – but my favorite has to be BlueFish. I’m not sure if there is a Windows port but it’s got most of the features that I like about Dreamweaver without most of the stuff I don’t use.

    Mr. Lauder’s advice about includes is certainly worth looking into. I’ve taken it to the point with osCommerce that the customizations for different customers consists of changing css and then writing the design elements which get pulled into the program via includes. It’s worth learning even a little php to be able to modularize your design backend while maintaining the unique and thoughtful design that goes into the sites that we create. (btw I use a php function to give the ever-accurate copyright date but javascript will do the trick too.)


    I use PSP alot, and Dream weaver is almost always open! I also really like the Web Developer toolbar, it helps soooo much when editing themes!

    I will be checking out the others you posted today!

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