Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


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Essential Tools Featuring Randa Clay

By Char

In 2007 when I featured Web Designer Randa Clay in the Essential Tools series, WordPress was at version 2.1, Twitter was in its infancy and not even on Randa’s essential tools list.  Three years is like an eternity in Internet time and and I am happy to be featuring Randa again.

Over the past few years, Randa has established herself as one of the top Word Press designers and experts in the field. She has been named one of the top female designers, created some of the first “follow me on Twitter icons” leading to the creation and subsequent sale of and has recently launched a new WordPress resource site called

So what tools does Randa consider to be essential now?

Quad Ruled Notebook- perfect for taking notes, jotting down ideas, sketching logo ideas and site layouts. - An awesome, simple task management application. It’s set as my home page when I start my browser and I can easily keep track of various tasks and appointments. (Randa introduced me to TeuxDeux a few months ago and it has definitely become one of MY essential tools.)

iPod Touch – this is the best gadget I’ve ever bought. It’s like carrying a mini-computer with me everywhere. I don’t have one of those cell phone carriers that offers the iPhone, but the iPod Touch is almost as good. I love being able to sit in McDonalds while the kids play and get caught up with email, go through my feed reader and of course, playing Doodle Jump!

PMetrics - This is my stats program of choice. I have Google Analytics on my sites too, but for me PMetrics is easier to take in at a glance. (PMetrics is my favorite, too,  primarily because it offers real time stats that are even more meaningful.)

TweetDeck – Great tool for keeping up with Twitter friends. I love being able to group people, manage multiple accounts and even keep up with Facebook all in one place.

Firebug – Like many designers, I find Firebug to be the most useful tool when coding a site. It makes it easy to track down what elements are styled by which CSS selectors and where exactly that extra div tag is that’s causing your site to go all wonky.

Adobe PhotoShop – I used to rely on Illustrator for much of my design work, but have gradually moved over to mostly Photoshop over the last couple of years as I’ve come along the learning curve.

WP Cufon - I use this plugin for almost every site I do these days. It makes it possible to use more fonts than just the “web safe” ones for headings, etc.

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. Next week will feature Cory Miller, the creator of iThemes – a collection of premium WordPress themes.  If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

Categories : Essential Tools



Yet more useful tips and tools! Love the look of teuxdeux and wp-cufon…


Good list of tools! I use some of them and will check out the other ones!


Photoshop is amazing. You should check out the “Content Aware” feature that CS5 is going to have. I am so excited! It is literally like magic!

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