Let’s face it: the life of the average freelance web designer isn’t always that rose garden you were promised by your drunken 9 to 5 friends down at the pub. You are responsible for everything, from designing to billing, while having to manage your time wisely and efficiently. Here are 10 tools that will help you do just that, allowing you to spend a little bit more time designing, and a little less time figuring out what you were supposed to do next.
Google Docs allows you to create, manage and upload your files from your desktop, and then access them from any computer or smart phone. You actually must have it if you’re working as a part of a team, since each of you will be able to modify documents from anywhere in the world. And for those private freelance souls who live in constant fear of a hard disk crash, it will allow to sleep that much easier.
Why run around from this computer to that laptop to find your bookmarks? Xmarks syncs all of your bookmarks and favorites across browsers (they support Firefox, Cgrome, Explorer and Safari) and computers. There’s also a function of a “Smarter Search”, which promises to highlight the top sites in your search according to how other users have bookmarked and rated them.
Even the invincible Batman had Alfred to remind him of the day’s chores on an especially hung-over morning, so why should you struggle to remember every little thing? Subernova tracks time left for projects, allows you to create tasks to team members, send invoices and estimates, schedule an email to a client (or your mother, if need be) and even includes a time-tracker so you can charge a project by time.
Another good (and free of charge, which makes it even better) time-management tool. Remember the milk allows you to create and manage multiple task lists from any computer and smart phone, as well as offline. You can also add locations to tasks and organize your tasks by tags. As of July 2011, the site boasts of over 2.5 million registered users.
This beautiful tool makes screenshots of your website in every browser. How is this done? You start by submitting your site URL, select the browsers you want to inspect, grab a coffee while you wait for Browser Shots to do its thing, and these get uploaded to your site.
A clever tool for both Print and web designers, since it saves that time you spend pondering on envelope sizes, DVD/CD covers and labels, business card sizes and much more. Web designers will get a kick out of the web safe areas, banner sizes, web browser elements, HTML characters, etc.
Websitegrader and WooRank are both solid and free SEO tools that measure how well your site is doing on the web. Both offer various measurements of traffic and social media popularity. WooRank also provides you with a delightful masochistic feature – checking out your competitors’ performance.
The first search engine for icons provides web designers and developers with hundreds of thousands of icons for download. The designer may choose background color and pixel size, as well as a license filter. Icon Finder also encourages them to create and submit icons for others to download.
A highly functional tool for building wireframes for two main reasons. First, it allows you to design mockups for websites and infographics whether you’re on or offline. Second, it provides many templates and pictures you can use, which certainly helps to solidify any haywire ideas you may have had to begin with. The mockups look like real sites, and you can even import images. For people who work in teams, Mockflow allows to organize the project into folders and share them with other people publicly.
Why scorn Big Brother when you can be Him? SocialMention allows you to track the buzz you’re hopefully generating by scanning social networking sites, comments, images, news, video, events and blogs, while at the same time providing you with the tools to sort out the data. You’ll be able to breakdown all that wonderful content by negative/positive sentiment, sources, top users, etc.