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Web Designer Hardware and Software

What Equipment I Use—Computer Equipment Used by a Professional Web Designer

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This is the hardware and software I use every day to write and create web pages and do my work as a web designer. It is not my “dream” system, nor is it a heap of junk. I use it every day, and it currently meets my needs.

Last updated: December 20, 2011

1. iMac 2.8GHz Intel Core i7

Apple iMac
Image courtesy PriceGrabber

I switched from Windows to Macintosh in 2008, buying a refurbished MacBook Pro 15-inch. In 2010, it was having some video card issues (that turned out to be a recall problem), so I got an iMac as a “loaner” machine while they fixed my MacBook Pro.

I didn't think that a 27-inch monitor was really going to be that different from my previous dual screen set-up with two 20-inch monitors. But it was really nice. Losing that gap between the monitors and giving me a much bigger main monitor was too good to pass up, so I kept the “loaner” machine and now use the MacBook Pro as my backup and travel machine.

The iMac has a 2.8 GHz Intel core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. I got the i7 processor because I do video editing, and it’s easier on a faster processor. And I maxed out the RAM because I like to run lots of programs at once like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Firefox, Parallels, and so on. I strongly recommend that no matter what system you buy, you always max out the memory to as much as you can afford if you can’t max out the machine. More memory never hurts.

2. MacBook Pro 15-inch

Apple MacBook Pro
Image © Apple Computer
I bought my MacBook Pro as a refurbished model back in 2008, and this same laptop still works great. This laptop has 4GB of RAM and a 300GB hard drive, so it“s a bit smaller than my primary machine. But you can get newer models with more space. This was my primary machine for two years, so if you’re not looking to buy two computers at once, having a MacBook Pro as your primary machine will work fine. I still prefer to do the majority of my work on the much larger iMac screen, but this is great for travel and the occasional coffee house work session.

3. Logitech Wireless Trackball Mouse

Logitech Wireless Trackball
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Many people don’t like this trackball because you use your thumb to move the mouse. While it can take a little while to get used to, I have become almost pitifully dependent upon this mouse. I have been using one almost since Logitech first made them, and I keep buying new ones to replace them as they die. Most of mine have died because of cords being chewed by my pets, so now I look for the wireless model. I have the older TrackMan (compare prices) upstairs on my iMac, but I use the blue one on my laptop because the dongle is tiny! There is barely anything sticking out of the side. This mouse is ideal if you have any type of RSI, as you really don’t move your wrists at all.

4. Apple USB Keyboard

Apple USB Keyboard
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I use a wired Apple USB keyboard for my day-to-day work. While the iMac comes with a wireless keyboard, I found that it was just a little too small to be comfortable. And I miss having the arrow keys and number pad. Apple no longer sells the larger keyboard, but you can find it online and sometimes at other retailers. I do still use the wireless keyboard, but I use it with my iPad.

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5. iPad 2

Apple iPad 2
Image © Apple Computer

I bought an iPad when they first came out and absolutely loved it. So, when the iPad 2 came out, I bought another, and gave the iPad to my husband. I’d like to say that when the iPad 3 comes out I will resist the urge to buy it and donate my iPad 2 to my son, but it’s so shiny!

I find the iPad invaluable for my work as a web designer because so much design is focused on mobile devices. So I can do testing of my sites from there and feel confident about how they will look. But I primarily use it for keeping current in the field. I have all my RSS feeds loaded in my iPad and I browse websites whenever I can. I also use it to keep up with email and I have used it to make changes to websites, post blogs, and other web design related work. It doesn’t replace a full computer for doing work, but for quick fixes it’s great. And so much fun!

6. Samsung CLX-3175FN All-in-One Color Laser Printer and Scanner

Samsung CLX-3175FN
Image courtesy Samsung

We got this multi-function color laser printer and scanner (and fax machine, although I’ve never used that) in 2008. I prefer laser printers as I feel that the printouts they make are more professional looking. Plus, we have only bought ink once in the two years we’ve had it. The color of the prints is good and it scans really nicely. One of my favorite features is that it is a network printer, so I can print from every computer in the house. It is also fairly small for a multi-function printer.

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7. Security—Hardware Firewall

Netgear Firewall
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We have a Netgear hardware firewall set up between our network and the internet. I take security very seriously. I also run antivirus across every file that is loaded onto my computer. Macintosh computers are not as prone to malware as Windows, but I don’t take the risk.
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8. Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver CS5
Image courtesy Adobe

Dreamweaver is my web editor of choice these days. Sometimes I use Komodo Edit for editing text and HTML files, but I do most of my design work in Dreamweaver. I like how it maintains and manages entire sites for me, so that all I have to do is switch to the site I need to work on and start working. It also has great integration with other Adobe products like Photoshop and Fireworks.

9. Parallels

Parallels 7
Image courtesy PriceGrabber
I use Parallels to do testing in a Windows environment without needing to start up my PC. This is very convenient. I have both Windows XP (to test on IE 6) and Windows 7. I got rid of my backup Windows desktop about a year ago and never boot up a Windows system to work. Parallels meets all my needs for testing and design work right on my Mac.
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10. Other Software I Use

I use many other software programs for work on a regular basis, including:

  • Adobe Photoshop—I never edit images in anything else
  • iMovie and Camtasia—most of my work on videos is done in one of these programs
  • iWork—I wrote my latest book (on HTML5) in Pages
  • Various web browsers including Firefox, Chrome, and Safari
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