Working with a freelance web designer can be a great experience if you're using the right tools.
Using the right software tools to manage a web design project is critical. Great tools make it super easy for a freelancer and their client to manage the project, communicate effectively, and produce a great website. They'll improve your working relationship and ultimately speed up the entire process.
The web design tools we are going to cover in this article will improve the workflow between you and your web designer. You will both be able to work together more efficiently –and dare we say have some fun along the way.
Best of all, they all come with a robust free plan and are cross-platform. That means whether you're on Windows or Mac, iPhone or Android –it doesn't matter. They will work.
So, let's get started.
Hate email? Then you're going to love Slack.
Slack is an easy to use yet powerful messaging tool. It gives you the power of email but combines it with an instant messaging platform.
The result is a headache-free way to talk back and forth about your project with your freelance web designer.
Businesses of all types across the US have started using it to communicate internally. It’s especially popular in Silicon Valley. Once you use Slack, it's easy to see why.
You will no longer have to manage multiple email threads that will eventually get lost in your inbox. Communication is key to a successful project, making Slack an essential web design tool for discussing the project with your team and designer.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you can do with slack:
- Message people in your company directly, just like any other instant messaging service you’re used to.
- Create “channels” which are essentially group chats focused on a specific topic. You then choose which members of your team to invite to the channel. For a web development project, we would usually separate these channels by the webpage or deliverables to keep everything organized.
- Chat with your team via video or phone calls, and even share your screen.
- A global search tool that makes it easy to find documents and past conversations fast.
- Connect it with your favorite tools like Google Drive, Asana, Trello, and Salesforce.
- Customizable notification and do not disturb settings. Because no one wants to be getting work notifications at 2 am.
On top of all this, Slack has a great user interface that makes it a joy to use. Communicating with your team has never been easier. If you hate email, you owe it to yourself to give Slack a shot.
Trello is our top web design tool for managing web design projects. It makes it so easy for everyone involved in the project to stay organized and on task.
Here’s how it works: when we start a project, we create a “board” for the project. Inside that board, there are lists which we usually organize by specific project deliverables (ex. homepage).
These lists are then filled up with cards that break down everything needed to produce that are part of the project. They generally contain the images we want to use, and a list of to-dos and comments.
What we love about Trello is that it makes it quick and easy to get a high-level overview of where the web design project stands and what needs to get done. We can then dive into each card to get an in-depth look at each deliverable. It also makes it easy for us and our clients to collaborate on the project together.
Generally, we rely on the client for photography of their business and the content. With Trello, the client can supply us the resources we need by inserting it in the right card. So when we go to design and develop the website, it's all right there. This speeds up our workflow tremendously. There's also room to leave comments and ask questions, making collaboration even more accessible.
There are other project management tools out there, like Asana or Basecamp. However, Trello stands out because it is very intuitive and easy to use. The free plan is more than enough, and it makes collaborating with our clients seamless.
With Trello, our projects stay organized, and everyone is held accountable to one another.
Adobe XD is a web design tool we use to create wireframes during the design phase. We also use a similar tool called Figma depending on the project needs. Both have very similar features, however. Now, a wireframe is a rough layout of the design of the website. It's here where we plan out the user interface, information flow, content, and overall design of the site.
Wireframes allow us to mock up what a website will look like – fast. This is important because it will enable us to experiment with the design and quickly get feedback from the client.
From there, we take into account the feedback and iterate on the design to bring it closer to the client's vision.
Wireframing during the design phase is a necessity. Without them, we would have to make these changes on the website itself during the development phase. Doing it this way would take longer and cost our clients more money.
That's why it's essential to have a great web design tool that can help you create high-quality wireframes.
Now, Adobe XD is our wireframing tool of choice because it's easy to use and has lots of little features that speed up our workflow. However, what really sets it apart is how it lets us collaborate with clients.
We can share the design files easily by slacking or emailing our clients a link to the document. We can also record a video of the design and walk our clients through it. This is great if we're unable to meet in person. The clients can even edit the document directly, which is great if they are the ones writing the copy.
Wireframes are extremely valuable in the web design process. It allows web designers to quickly plan out the format of a website in a barebones way. This makes it easy to test out various ideas for how the website should be structured.
Adobe XD is the web design tool that allows us to do all that, plus share it with our clients to get feedback. Ultimately, it makes both parties more productive and speeds up the project.
We’re not sure what our favorite thing about Google Drive is.
Is it the fact that it makes collaboration and document sharing so easy, or that it saves us from using Microsoft Office? All jokes aside, Google Drive is the go-to for creating text documents and presentations.
With Google Drive, all of your work is saved automatically and backed up to the cloud. You never again have to worry about losing your files or not saving your work.
Google Drive also has powerful collaboration tools. We can edit the document with clients in real-time. We can also quickly share it with them quickly by sending them a link or email to the document.
We mainly use it for planning out the copy of the website. During our onboarding process, we give our clients content worksheets that are saved in Google Docs. The client fills it in with the main ideas and bullet points of the information they want each webpage to have.
We also use it heavily during the research and discovery phase. It allows us to quickly jot down our ideas and research and share them with the client. In our view, Google Drive is superior to Microsoft Office because it has a much more modern feature set and is better for collaboration. The design is also much better and makes it easier to focus on the actual work.
You can also upload MS Office files to it and download your Google Drive files as MS Office files. All in all, Google Drive is the most complete and easy to use office suite on the market today.
Also, did we mention it's free?
Modern Accounting Software
Okay, so you may be wondering how this qualifies as a web design tool. Understandable. But trust us, it does. All professional freelancers use modern online accounting software at this point. Popular options include Wave, FreshBooks, Xero, and Quickbooks.
These accounting platforms all include robust invoicing tools that make our client's lives a lot easier. All of these platforms give clients tremendous flexibility when it comes to making a payment.
You can pay with the most popular: credit and debit cards, PayPal or straight from your business bank account. It's totally up to you, and there's no fee on your end.
These accounting systems also have other features that make client's lives easier. They can also be set up to bill on a recurring cycle so you can confidently account for future business expenses
Choosing Which Web Design Tools To Use with a Freelancer
Ultimately, which web design tools you use to work with a freelancer comes down to your comfort level with them. The right tools will have a great design that makes getting your work done easy, along with core features that the project demands.
If you can’t use them effectively because they are too complicated due to bad design, it doesn’t matter how powerful they are. We recommend trying out various options in each category to determine what works best for you and your team. Most of them have free trials or a free plan, making for easy experimentation.