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Blog: article

Web design tools in the responsive age: are drawing tools such as Photoshop dead?

19 2013

by Nigel Harding

Responsive web design has given the web design community a big shake up, of that there is little doubt. Some of our clients still ask for fixed width websites (often due to budgetary constraints or the perception that their clients won’t be using mobile phones or tablets to view their websites). However the traditional website page boundaries are becoming less relevant and more businesses are seeing the benefits of having a responsive website and more of our work is moving towards that type of solution.

So do we still use Photoshop?

Yes we do, often to provide prototypes of a tablet or smart phone layout. If a website is “straightforward” (and by that I mean has an easy route to being realised in code, not all websites do) then we can sometimes rearrange the desktop website sensibly to good effect without drawing up numerous design mockups. In this case we would typically design and code in the browser. Some web agencies are taking the quite radical step of rapidly prototyping everything in the browser, the argument being that to appreciate a design you have to see it and interact with it across many different screen sizes and form factors.

We take the middle ground, not everything is designed in Photoshop, not every screen width is drawn and visualised in advance but neither do we just code a responsive website (unless the website is very straightforward).

I think it helps to spell out the tools of the trade that we use and hopefully this gives some confidence to our clients and prospects.

Our web design tools include:

  • Illustrator
  • PaintShop
  • Sublime Text 2 (our current code editor of choice).

We sometimes use development frameworks, we have a framework set of our own that we use with some starter bootstrap code and sass for CSS development (depending on the website).

We use various Content Management Systems, WordPress and Joomla being among them but our favourite by far is Perch.

We always keep a development backup, we are trying to get more efficient with our collaborative working by using github.