What Killer Apps to Use to Design and Customize Your Website

Apps to Design and Customize Your Website

There is always something new when it comes to web design. With developers releasing new web design tools and apps all the time, and with competition rising, the standard is heightening.

While this is incredible news for web professionals, it does make it a bit more difficult to pick which apps will best suit your preferences and needs.

In this article, we round up what we think are the best web design apps and tools available right now. These tools will help you become more creative, inventive, and efficient in your work. You will find everything from UI tools to creative software and everything in between.  

1. Sketch

Sketch is a Mac digital design app. Web designers can use it for User Interface (UI), web, mobile, and even icon design. If you have been using Photoshop for these things, then you should be aware that Sketch is a very useful alternative.

From essential tools that help you work more efficiently, to innovative features that empower teams globally, Sketch provides a definitive platform for digital design. Some of its features include prototyping, code export, an intuitive vector editor, auto layout, and export presets, to name a few.

2. Avocode

Avocode makes it easier for frontend developers to code apps or websites from Photoshop or Sketch designs. Although there are other apps that allow you to export assets, Avocode is made unique with its Photoshop plugin. You can use this to sync your PSD into Avocode with a single click.

From there, Avocode automatically analyzes your Sketch file or PSD and brings everything into a beautifully-designed UI. You will have full control over how you export assets, including Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) exporting as a standard.

3. Vaunt

Did you know? Research indicates that up to 90% of a person’s assessment of your website is due to your colors alone. Further research shows that color helps with brand recognition by about 80%.

So, if you want to capture your customer’s attention while elevating your brand’s image, having a great website color scheme is important. If you are looking for a tool that will allow you to match your website’s color scheme to a particular image, you may find Vaunt handy. It is a free Mac app that utilizes a clustering algorithm to analyze your images. Then, it lets you know which colors are dominant in a picture which allows you to use that information in your design.

4. Squoosh

Squoosh is a free Google app which can help web designers to compress images without sacrificing quality. You simply have to drag and drop your image into the app and use a slider to adjust the amount of compression. This allows you to find a good balance between file size and picture quality. The app works both offline and online.

5. Adobe XD

Adobe’s wireframing and vector design tool Adobe XD keeps getting better with every update. For instance, it now supports voice prototyping which ensures that the tool can keep up with the latest trends in UX.

Adobe XD includes mobile and desktop previews, drawing tools, non-static interaction tools, and sharing tools. Moreover, it allows you to select a device-specific artboard size for starting a project and you can even import a UI kit, such as Google’s Material Design.

More importantly, Adobe XD integrates with Creative Cloud. This means that you can easily import and work with assets from Illustrator or Photoshop. If you are already using other Adobe apps, the UI will feel familiar and nice and shouldn’t be too confusing to use.

6. Flare

Flare is a browser-based tool that allows you to design and animate vector art. Both web designers and game designers can benefit from this tool from 2Dimensions. It allows you to work directly and in real-time with assets that run in your final product, which eliminates the need to redo that work in code. This feature simplifies the process immensely and saves you a lot of time.

7. Ally.js

One often-neglected aspect of design and development is accessibility. However, ally.js can simplify it for you. ally.js is a JavaScript library that simplifies certain accessibility functions, features, and behaviors.

It provides you with control over focusable and non-focusable elements. For instance, with its API you can prevent elements outside a modal window from receiving focus until you close that modal. You can also find out which elements are focusable and identify focus changes within the shadow DOM.

8. Pattern Lab

Pattern Lab is a pattern-driven design tool which gets its inspiration from the concept of Atomic Design. Atomic Design states that you should break your design down to its smallest parts (atoms) and combine them to form reusable, bigger components (organisms and molecules). From there, you can transform it into usable templates.

At its core, it is a static site generator that combines UI components. However, there is more to Pattern Lab than that. It is also a language- and tool-agnostic. It enables you to best UI patterns inside each other and design using dynamic data. Moreover, it features device-agnostic resizing tools to ensure that your design system is fully responsive. It is also extensible so you can be sure it will expand to meet your needs.

9. Type Nugget

One thing that web developers encounter on almost every frontend project is CSS typography. Type Nugget is an online typesetting tool that gives you control over typestyles. Still, in beta mode, it is a promising app that has a lot of features in the works.

Presently, the tool displays a broad range of text samples on the page which you can live-tweak in a panel on the right. The panel lets you select the font size, style, color, weight, text-decoration, letter spacing, and other individual aspects of the page (i.e. links, global styles, paragraphs, and HTML lists). After specifying your settings, you can hit the “Generate Code” button and Type Nugget will give you a link to a style sheet on its CDN. Note: To save your progress, you need to register and log in first.

10. Hologram

Hologram is a free Mac app for WebVR creation. It doesn’t require previous coding knowledge. Moreover, its native Google Blocks integration allows you to play with various free 3D objects immediately.

Hologram takes full advantage of the simplicity and power of A-Frame, Mozilla’s WebVR framework. This means that you can download the projects that you create with Hologram and use them in your A-Frame workflow. Currently, it is available on Mac with an upcoming Windows version.

The Takeaway

There are many apps and tools available out there that can help you design and customize your website. We understand that choosing which one to use can be a challenge. Also, we understand that there are several factors to consider when choosing which app to use, but hopefully, we were able to help you narrow down your choices.

Do you have experience with any of the apps above? If you recently found an app thanks to this list, did you try it out? How did it work for you? Do you have other web design and customization apps and tools in mind? We would love to have your feedback and recommendations!

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