Our list of the best 15 software apps you can use for website design

Best 15 Tools For Web Design

Are you looking to get started in web design? You’ll already know that one size can never fit all when it comes to software tools — and you’ll want to explore which web design software deserves a place in your personal toolkit!

In 2022, web designers continue to rely on tried and tested web design software, as well as experimenting with some exciting new tools. Some are free, while others are an investment.

Here at Blue Whale Media, we have compiled this list of the best 15 software you can use for website design. These are the tools that web designers should already be familiar with, as well as some of the emerging apps that will make your job easier.

1. Adobe Photoshop

Although more than a few incredibly strong alternatives are on the market, any web designer worth their salt still has to be a pro at using Adobe Photoshop. The reason is simple — this programme remains incredibly widely used, and anyone you work with will expect you to be familiar with it, too. 

Photoshop allows web designers, and particularly those who specialise in visual design, to craft striking layouts, logos, and illustrations. If you’ll be making bespoke stationary that matches the visual design of a business website, Photoshop will come in handy, too.

2. Adobe XD

Adobe XD (that’s short for Experience Design) is one of the newer members of the large and impressive Adobe family. With a sleek and intuitive interface, Adobe XD is wonderfully versatile. Web designers use this tool to test UX on mobile devices, create amazing grid designs, and easily share mockups with clients and colleagues. 

Although Adobe XD has quickly gained a reputation as a software tool primarily geared towards UX designers, it’s a great programme to have access to if you’re playing with wireframes, too. The best thing? Adobe XD is relatively easy to learn to use, and with so many free educational resources on the web, you’ll master it in no time!

3. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is another must-have software tool for just about any web designer. This vector graphics programme offers almost complete freedom, in the right hands, to create logos, detailed graphics, cartoons, icons, infographics, and the list goes on. One of the first professional tools to be designed especially with graphic designers in mind, Illustrator dates back to the 80s. The fact that nearly all web designers continue to rely on it has everything to do with its flexible nature. 

Illustrations created in Adobe Illustrator can be resized and manipulated with ease, without ever sacrificing quality. Of course, Illustrator seamlessly connects with any other product from the Adobe Suite. It’s for this reason that you’ll find so many Adobe products on this list — Adobe offers web designers a set of tools that don’t just work well on their own, but also integrate beautifully with each other.

4. Affinity Designer

Every aspiring web designer or hobbyist is guaranteed to already know that Adobe is the biggest player in the field, of course, so we’ll stop boring you with software tools that, while amazing, are already in your scope (for now, at least). In 2022, web designers who would love to experiment with visual design outside of the Adobe environment have plenty of other and equally impressive options!

Affinity Designer has occasionally been described as a Photoshop killer, and while that’s definitely not quite true, it also offers many of the same possibilities as Illustrator. The team behind this web design tool sees Affinity Designer as a “stripped back, pro-end workhorse that will always get your job done”, and that’s pretty accurate. 

Some of its best features include adjustable layers, real time blend mode previews, and the ability to create the complex gradients that are becoming so trendy in web design right now. The unique, and infinite, artboards Affinity Designer offers make it possible for visual designers to experiment with different design elements with ease, discovering how they can best work together.

Affinity Designer is optimised for the latest versions of Mac and Windows, but if you’re always experimenting on the go, you’ll welcome the fact that Affinity Designer is available for iPad, too!

Oh, we might just have forgotten to mention of of the most appealing aspects of this genuinely helpful tool. If you’re simply not into the idea of paying for your software tools on a subscription basis, and an inexpensive “once and done” app is what you’re after, you’re in the right place. Infinity Designer will set you back £47.99 if you want the desktop version for Mac or Windows, and the iPad version of this app only costs £8.99. After making your purchase, you’ll never have to worry that your subscription will run out!

5. Marvel

Marvel is one of the biggest tools in web design in 2022, perfect for creating wireframes and engaging in multiplatform UX testing. More than that, though, Marvel is a wonderful tool for web design teams, as this software tool makes it easier than ever before to collaborate with different members of the team, from visual designers to developers. Marvel is a subscription-based web design tool with multiple different pricing options.

6. Sketch

Sketch is another impressive and increasingly popular interface design tool for web design teams looking for the perfect way to work collaboratively in a world of remote working. This Mac OS app  has a clean layout that’s a dream to use, and web designers who haven’t experimented with Sketch yet can make ample use of the 30-day free trial. After that, pricing options start at $99 (that’s around £75). 

7. Figma

Figma is one of the new kids on the block, but this interface and prototype design tool for web designers is already making waves! Like Sketch, Figma is designed with teams in mind. Creating beautiful websites together is intuitive and easy with this cloud-based software tool. 

Of course, Figma is, as a SaaS product, a subscription service — but you can definitely try it before you buy it, because Figma offers free plans that allow you to create up to three collaborative projects. Using the free plan, you’ll be able to set up an infinite number of personal files. 

8. Balsamiq

Looking for a quick, easy, and barebones wireframing and concept-creation tool that allows you to translate your creative ideas to the page at lightning speed? Not all web design tools have to be complex, and Balsamiq is a handy tool to add to your toolkit! Balsamiq has been around for years now, and it’s still going strong for one simple reason. This web design app does exactly what it says on the tin, and no more.

Users are able to choose from three different pricing plans that allow them to work on two, 20, or even 200 projects simultaneously. The mid-tier plan will cost you £370 per year, but if you’re a new web designer working solo, the basic tier will almost certainly meet your needs.

9. Adobe Comp

We warned you that Adobe would be back! Wed designers who need to be able to craft layouts and graphics on the go will strongly want to consider adding Adobe Comp, a strong concept design tool for mobile devices, to their personal toolkits. Once you’re done working with Adobe Comp, you can effortlessly export your creative efforts to Photoshop, where you can continue to refine them with ease.

10. Canva

What web designer doesn’t find themselves needing to create dynamic graphics on the fly? Whether you need to design a logo or want to add data visualization to a website, Canva is an impressively flexible web design tool that offers a handy colour palette generator. 

Not only does Canva simply do what you need it to if you’re working on visual design, web designers who aren’t intending to use this app to collaborate with others don’t even have to pay to use it! Canva’s free plan even includes 5 GB of cloud storage and gives you access to a whole range of templates, graphics, and photos to inspire you and get you started. That makes Canva one of the most generous web design tools around!

11. Vectr

Are you looking for a visual design app that’s completely free to use? If you’re just getting into web design, you may not want to invest in pro tools like Adobe Illustrator quite yet. Vectr, which has a lot of similar features, is the answer to your problems! This cloud-based tool makes it easy to collaborate with other team members, or just share your designs, and Vectr’s interface is about as simple as it gets.

12. Adobe Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver deserves, as a comprehensive web design programme that allows web design teams to code, edit, and maintain websites with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, and many other markup languages, a spot on any list of top tools for web designers. It’s an especially useful tool for responsive web design. Are you just starting to learn about web design? Despite Dreamweaver’s fairly steep price, student discounts are offered quite often, and when they come up, it’s always a good idea to experiment with Dreamweaver.

13. Gimp

We’ve looked at a wide range of web design tools already, and featured some of the very best on the market — both in terms of features and ease of use. Gimp stands out from the crowd, and not in a great way, because this Photoshop alternative isn’t necessarily the best or the most user-friendly. It’s also far from your only option if you’re looking for a web design app that’s free to use. 

Gimp has earned itself a spot on the list, though, because it’s one of the only choices you’ll have if you’re a hardcore Linux user in search of a Free and Open Source product. Once you get over Gimp’s steep learning curve, and if you haven’t smashed your computer in frustration yet, you will, however, find that Gimp can basically do everything Photoshop does. 

14. Pattern Lab

UI designers can’t miss Pattern Lab, an atomic design tool that allows designers to craft stunning templates using the organic shapes (including molecules and organisms) that are set to dominate much of the web in 2022. This is another Free and Open Source project!

15. InVision

InVision isn’t a single product, but a whole range of web design tools that makes it possible to stay on a single platform from that first rough brainstorming phase all the way until your website is ready to launch. The InVision toolkit includes:

  • Freehand, an “online whiteboard” that’s essentially a next-level brainstorming app. 
  • A prototype tool that integrates with products like Sketch and Photoshop, and is offered as part of InVision’s Cloud services.
  • InVision Studio, which really does so much it’s impossible to neatly summarise its features — but if we had to, “Sketch on steroids” would be one way to put it. 
  • DSM, a tool that allows developers and designers to work together effortlessly and integrates with all your other favourite web design apps.

InVision is free to use for solo web designers and even small teams. Different pricing plans are offered to larger teams who will be relying on the InVision suite a lot. 

Before We Go…

Web design tools are as unique as individual web designers themselves. No set of tools will meet a every single web designer’s needs. The best tools on the market today make every aspect of the design process intuitive, so that the programmes you use can work as quickly as your brain does. 

More and more tools are designed to cater to people with little to no coding knowledge, as well as those who don’t have any graphic design experience. The pro tools, though, remain a must for professional web designers in Manchester as well as people who are hoping to one day build a career in web design.

You now have more web design tools to choose from than ever before — and that does mean that picking the right web design software is more challenging, as well. How do you decide what tools you need? Choose the tools that allow you to do your most creative work, and take full advantage of free trials before you commit, but keep collaborative options in mind as you decide what software to invest in this year, too.