Depending upon what type of designer you are can greatly dictate what type of tools, and software’s, and resources that you will need. As for me, as an interactive designer, what I like to use is stuff that is like, able to be used easily on the go. The first tool that I use is a Macbook Air. Something that I can easily take with me and make changes on the go whether it is to a website, to wireframes, or even just to write back a client, although I use my iPad for that too.
One of the best sites that I love, it’s actually at usesthis.com, and it’s a guy that basically interviews tons of different people in what they do, and what they actually use, and what they actually utilize. So I'm actually going to talk about some of the things that I use based off of his questions. So being that I’m an interactive designer, a lot of the hardware I use is a Macbook Air and at home I have a couple of screens that I also plug in to make sure that I’m seeing the colors the right way, because colors can appear differently on different monitors. I have a SSD drive because my files are really, really important, and because I’m moving so much it is better than having a regular drive so that your data does not get corrupted.
I also make sure that I use Dropbox so that I can access my files from anywhere because it’s an online drive. I also use Dropular which takes screen shots and also saves to the cloud. And then I also use Amazon S3 to backup my computer at all times. So the biggest things are always backing up your computer. As far as tools and resources, Adobe has beautiful products such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks which allows you to design for mobile devices as well as websites and anything else that you could possibly need in designs for print. What I use to wireframe is Axure, A-X-U-R-E, .com and it’s actually a really robust program which you can actually make clickable and usable prototypes to show your clients. Envision app is another really beautiful online app that you can also show interactivity with wireframes and everything too. I use Basecamp for collaboration with my team and with clients because it keeps everything together. And then I also make sure that I use a personal to do list. One that I use is called Any.Do, any dot D-O, and I use them to make sure that I have a to do list for today, tomorrow, and then the next day. Nothing too far out in the future because it is easy to get overwhelmed because of all the work that one can do. So I try to make sure that all of those are running and going and up to par.
Of course there is alternatives for all of them. I use my iPad to not only sketch when I have ideas but also I divert back to paper and pen when I have an idea that I can't necessarily get out or I don't want to get out my laptop on the subway. So there’s basically different tools and then especially with resources there is a lot of good books out there that keep you updated on everything that’s out there as well as blogs. There is a lot of blogs that I subscribe to, and you can find out more about that on my website as to what I exactly subscribe to and keep current with. Smashing Magazine is also a really good resource that teaches you what’s new out there, different problems and programs that people are using or people are having. And then last but not least Freelance Switch is a really good one too that gives you different tools and also a community to kind of talk to as you go along your freelance journey.