What’s In Your Design Toolbox? Part 5: Matt Ward

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What's In Your Design Toolbox? Part 5: Matt Ward

This is part 5 of the Design Toolbox Series where I interview top designers about what tools they use to help them create their art. This series was largely inspired by Grace Smith’s Show Me Your Dock Series. It’s my hope that you can gain insight into what other designer’s are using, and hopefully find some new apps/tools to check out.

About Matt Ward

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker Echo Enduring Media. He specializes in design, illustration and writing, and has several articles published here on MyInkBlog. He is also currently employed as the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario.

On a more personal note, Matt is married to his best friend and the love of his life, Kelly. Together, they have one beautiful daughter who is already showing signs of her own creative genius (at least from a parent’s perspective). Matt plays a little guitar, a few video games and is highly involved in his local church.

Matt Ward

Matt Ward – Design Toolbox


I have a 13″ MacBook, running Leopard, which I use to do pretty much everything, from designing to writing, to general web surfing. I also have a Toshiba Satellite laptop and an Acer desktop, both running Vista, which I use for the few Windows-based things I still need to do – like testing sites in IE.


I use FireFox. Despite the fact that both Safari and Chrome are faster, I can’t seem to give up old Foxy. It’s like an old friend that I am the most comfortable with. I do open up Safari every once in a while though, usually when I want to work with a site as a logged in administrator and just a regular visitor.

CodaCode Editor

Coda rocks my world. I used to use Dreamweaver for a while, just because it came packaged with CS4, and before that, when I was working on a PC, I used a program called HTML Kit. Those were both okay, but Coda is just more lightweight, and easier to use. It makes it a breeze to manage multiple websites, and I love the way they integrated Transmit, allowing me to move files to and from the server without having to open a separate FTP app.

Mac MailMail Client

The default Mail app that comes with OS X has been fine for me. It allows me to download my emails, read them and organize them (though I need to get better at the later). I don’t really need anything more than that. Plus, it integrates nicely with the rest of the operating system.

BillingsBilling App

I use Billings 3. Again, another beautiful Mac app that, though its lightweight, is still powerful enough to meet all my needs. I can manage my contacts and projects, create estimates and invoices, add payments and track everything through a wide range of built in reports.

FilezillaFTP Client

I already mentioned the way I use Coda to transfer files when developing websites. However, if I need to upload or download other types of files – like artwork to a commercial printer – I use FileZilla. There’s nothing all that fancy about it, but I it has worked just fine for my needs.

TweetieTwitter App

On my computer, I use Tweetie. I used to use TweetDeck, and while I like some of the features it offered, I found that it was a real drain on my system. Tweetie isn’t quite as robust, but it’s prettier, and much more lightweight.

NetNewsWireRSS Reader

It seems like I’ve gone through a number of different RSS readers over the years, but right now I am using NetNewsWire, and am relatively happy with it.

ThingsTask Organizer

Again tried a few different apps before finally settling on Things, which I absolutely love, especially with the ability to synch it to the app for my iPhone. Now I can take my to do list with me wherever I go, and sometimes even knock a few items of while I’m on the move. So far it’s been the perfect solution for me.

PhotoshopPhoto/Design Editor

Photoshop for sure. I know it can be bloated and buggy and is prone to crashing, but as far as I’m concerned it is still the defacto application when it comes to image editing, photo manipulations and so on. I’m constantly being amazed at the new things I am figuring out how to do. I also love the smooth integration that I have experienced with Illustrator.

IllustratorVector/Illustration Program

Definitely Illustrator these days. I actually started out with vector art in Corel Draw 6, way back in high school and used a copy of Corel Draw 8 for years. When I first made the switch to Illustrator, it took me a while to get used to it, but now I use it on an almost daily basis, for various forms of illustration, icon design and so on.

Any other apps you’d like to share

There are really only two other apps on my Dock that I use a lot. The first is Evernote, which is a slick little application that allows me to throw together. I can write notes, include websites and all kinds of other information. Even better, I can also synch it all to my iPhone through my Evernote account, allowing me to keep all my notes right at my fingertips.

The other application that I use is MAMP, which basically simulates a local apache server running both PHP and mySQL. This has allowed me to install a local version of WordPress, so that I can easily develop themes even without an internet connection.

Connect With Matt

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • http://interactiveblend.com Louis Gubitosi

    hey guys, nice interview. I actually use all of these tools except for Things. Going to check it out now. Thanks.

    • http://blog.echoenduring.com/ Matt Ward

      Hey Louis! Thanks man. Let me know if you end up using Things. I think you’ll love it!

  • http://inspirationoverload.org/ Conor O’Driscoll

    Great article! I would be inclined to agree with pretty much everything, except for business-based software such as Things and Billings, which I don’t use as I have no use for them. That said, I have tried out Things, and it is stunning, from the ease-of-use to the wonderful interface. That’s how apps should be.

    My only difference is that I use Cyberduck rather than FileZilla. I’ve tried both, but for some reason I prefer Cyberduck, if only for its marginally better interface.

  • http://www.stevensst.com/ Freelance Web Designer

    Another great tool is TextExpander, allows you to store and use snippet of codes just about anywhere. Better than the in-build snippet in Coda imo.

  • http://sexidesign.com Melody

    Designers are looking super cool with their personal photos. Anywho, I use microsoft office groove for an array of things to organize my work. It’s not fancy shmancy but it does the job. Would definitely like to check these out when I finally get a mac! =)

  • http://www.bebop-cafe.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant interview! Thanks for the insight and the light specially on coding and task managing, cause I’ve been shopping around, undecided trying to find something that will make my life easier.


  • http://websitearticles.wordpress.com Adam Holt

    I have not seen the task organizer title ‘Things’ before so will certainly check that one out. Nice tool box and a great article.

  • http://www.literaryspring.com Rebecca

    The Design Toolbox Series is a great idea. I also still prefer to use Firefox. I’ve thought about trying Things.

  • http://www.levinsonaxelrod.com/ Levinson

    Excellent list of design applications. Will check out a few that I haven’t seen before. Thanks a lot for sharing your toolbox.

  • http://www.sjlwebdesign.co.uk SJL Website Design

    Awesome list of software, I will definitely check out the ones I don’t use.

  • http://www.designbysoap.co.uk Rob

    Great idea and interview format, really interesting to hear what pro designers use everyday. Surprisingly, i’ve come to pretty much the same conclusions as Matt, apart from the evil Mac mail client, grr.
    Great post

  • http://www.davebrownphotography.com/BlogInstall/index.php Denver Photographer

    I freaking love filezilla, gone are the days of having to pay for an FTP client like cuteFtp.

  • http://www.webdesign-gm.co.uk Bristol Web Design

    It’s interesting to see what other software and apps designers use every day. I’ve never heard of Coda but I will have to check it out and see how it compares to Dreamweaver. Thanks for this.

  • http://www.solushunz.in web designer Kanpur

    This design toolbox more help in websites.Thanks

  • http://yuliantip06.student.ipb.ac.id/ yulianti

    nice picture matt :D

  • http://www.makeprintingeasy.com Project Center

    Haven’t tried EverNote – do they work with PC? I have been using Microsoft Office OneNote (which sounds to be very similar?)

    I also haven’t heard of “Things” will check it out as well. I had tried “Remember the Milk” but wasn’t too keen on it, though the interface was user-friendly and attractive.

    Phoenix Printing Company

  • http://www.herbugstudio.com Herbug

    Great list.
    I can’t work without Firefox lol

  • http://www.neupen.com Satoshi Nakajima

    Hi Andrew,

    I am an iPhone/iPad developer in Seattle, developing a vector authoring application for iPad. We are taking a radically different approach to the curve-editing UI, which is very different from the traditional one on Illustrator. We are looking for an experienced designer who is interested in beta testing our application to get some feedback, and fine-tune the UI before we release the product (target release date is mid-October).

    Best Regards,
    Satoshi Nakajima
    neu.Pen LLC

  • http://www.buynitrorccars.com Ste

    Im with you Matt, although the other browsers are slightly faster I still seem to love firefox.
    Never used coda but im going to look into it right this second!

    Nice interview guys.

  • http://www.small-business-graphic-design.com Rhonda Brown

    Great post! I love using FileZilla too. And for the most part I use Illustrator on most if not all projects. I don’t know what I would do without Illustrator.

  • http://www.viaferrata.be Ingrid

    Nice tools, things is indeed a nice tool, works great on ipad to.

  • http://www.small-business-graphic-design.com Rhonda

    Great post! I would like to know what you use for managing and matching color?

  • http://www.20milesnorth.com Spokane web designer

    I also still run Firefox but mostly for all the continual plugin development that I use a lot. Filezilla is also a favorite of mine just for the ease of setup and use. Is there a windows equivalent to the Billings3 that you recommend?

  • http://www.webdesigndispatch.com/ Web Design News

    Great tools I use a lot of the same ones. I would use Chrome if it had more addons that I use with Firefox. It’s def much faster.

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com Yusuf

    Great idea. nice and fascinating……..

  • http://www.webbgear.co.uk David

    Photoshop is the desigers tool.


  • http://www.springerwebsitedesign.co.uk website design st albans

    Thanks for this list – I wasn’t aware of some of those apps I will give them a go especially the task organiser.
    I agree regarding Firefox -it is definatly my prefered browser.

  • http://www.globalvoices.co.uk Translation Services UK

    I think this list shows the contrast between mac designers and pc designers. If we are talking about full design process including coding then this would be my design toolkit:

    Notepad++ (for coding, although I switch between this and MS Expression/Dreamweaver)
    Zend/Eclipse (For version control and task management)
    Filezilla (FTP)

    I have other programs that I use on a daily basis, but these are the main ones. I never use macs in the design process so cannot comment on the ones above, but it’s interesting to see the difference in what other designers use!

  • http://www.privilegedsoftware.com Privileged Software Limited

    Interesting that you mentioned Coda over Dreamweaver.. I’ll have to give that a go.. I usually use Dreamweaver for everything!

  • http://www.hyperoffice.com Collaboration Cathy

    You might want to look at an integrated collaboration tool – which includes email, task management and document sharing. HyperOffice, Google Apps, Office 365 are some options.

  • http://psdtohtmltuts.com/ Gabi

    You’ve got some good stuff there! I use the majority of them but for code editing I usually use Textmate and Rapid CSS.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.mc505ll.com/ Dennis @ MC505LL

    Coda sounds cool, may have to try that one out. Been practicing a lot with designing (Photoshop and Dreamweaver), knowing that it’s one important aspect when it comes to any online business model.

  • http://www.djmastercourse.com Ben @ DJ Master Course

    Hey Matt, I use Photoshop for designing logos (I do some freelance logo design) and have taught myself (a looooong process). From reading a few articles I’m starting to think I should be using illustrator and not photshop does this sound right? If so is it much different from photoshop am I going to have to start this whole learning process again?

  • http://www.kinocreative.co.uk Newcastle Website Design

    I’ve never used Thingy so I’ll look it up… and I did try using a PC for a while but it just doens’t compare!

  • http://www.jtt-designs.com JTT Designs

    Love the list. I basically use all of it! Awesome!

  • http://www.smartmapuk.co.uk Smart Repair

    Great tools I use a lot of the same ones. I would use Chrome if it had more addons that I use with Firefox – I made the move to firefox because of the addons, not having them would be going backwards. Great post though thanks for taking the time to share your tools.

  • jonkill

    FileZilla, please please don’t use it if you save the password also !
    the file is not crypted and some trojan are looking for this file.

    I recommand WinSCP, free also