10 Productivity Tips for Web Designers and Developers

by Tom Kenny (@tkenny)

Productivity is something that all web designers and developers strive for. We all have too much work to do so anything that can help us along the way can make a big difference.

It is difficult to remove yourself from the current ways of doing things but it is necessary to investigate what areas you can improve upon as every little detail can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid of change.

1. Use Software that works for You

Whether you’re designing or developing there is a huge choice of software out there to get the job done. All applications have different features and it is up to you to find what works best.

Take advantage of the free trials of all the software that look good to you, even if you’re comfortable with what you’re using now. Developers are constantly upgrading their applications and releasing new programs so try and keep up-to-date.

2. Create Keyboard shortcuts for repetitive tasks

If a keyboard shortcut doesn’t exist for a task that you do more than a few times on a daily basis, create a keyboard shortcut for it. You’ll be surprised how much time this will save and it will also cut down on frustration on having to constantly dive into a menu or find a setting.

Here’s a good example of how to do this in Photoshop.

3. Build up a Library of commonly used Elements

If you regularly use something that has to be created for every, or most projects then it would be best to lay the foundations and put this to one side so it is easily accessible each time you need it.

For example, build out common layouts in HTML and CSS so that you can get a head-start on coding a new site when you need them.

4. Busy? Close your Email/Twitter client/IM App

Probably the hardest thing to do but can be one of the most effective ways of getting work done in a busy period of the day. While these all can be very useful tools, it is better to set aside time for them to reduce distraction.


Close your Twitter client when you're busy

5. Use an effective Project Management Tool

Time spent with a clunky, out-of-date management tool is time wasted. Find the best one that suits your needs that allows you to spend more time getting you’re work done.

Also, if you’re using more than one system to manage multiple aspects of a project, stop and find one that incorporates everything you need.

6. Keep your Files accessible from any Computer

Use an application such as Dropbox which automatically uploads files in a specified folder on your PC or Mac, to your account space on the internet.

Use Dropbox to backup and access files from anywhere

Use Dropbox to backup and access files from anywhere

You can then access these files from a web browser or by installing the software on another computer which will download every file that has been uploaded.

Great when working on multiple machines with the added bonus of having everything backed up offsite. Highly recommended.

7. Keep your working Environment clean and organised

By keeping things clean and organised you can free your mind of any worry or stress and focus on what you need to do.

Keep your desk tidy and clear of anything that shouldn’t be there. Any unnecessary items will only serve as a distraction.

Have nothing on the desktop of your computer except for an inspirational wallpaper image and hide your dock/taskbar to further clear your working space of clutter.

8. Make sure You know what you’ve got to do

Sounds obvious but can be time consuming, as well as frustrating, redoing something because you didn’t understand what was required. If you stick to the client’s brief then you know that any time wasted because of a misunderstanding is not your fault.

9. Try and do most of your Work before Lunchtime

Wake up early or get to work earlier and get the bulk of your work done before lunch. That way you’ll feel like you’ve earned your lunch break and have a less stressful afternoon.

While you won’t be able to finish everything before lunch, you will feel better for getting most of it out of the way freeing you up to spend more time on other tasks.

Although, do make sure to set a fixed time to go to lunch or you’ll risk burning out for the day and having a less productive afternoon.

10. Take your Time, don’t rush

Rushing things can cause problems and when things go wrong you’ll be spending more time fixing what you’ve done rather than getting on with the next task.

Sure, mistakes are going to happen but taking your time can reduce them significantly.

Do whatever works for You

Above all, whatever solution you choose, make sure it works for you. It’s no good copying someone else who gets a lot of work done when it doesn’t suit you need and just frustrates you.

If you have any productivity tips let us know in the comments.

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by Tom Kenny

I’m a freelance web designer and front-end developer with 9 years of experience designing for the web. Follow me on Twitter here.