1. Adobe Photoshop
In a sentence, it’s an extremely versatile tool that can be used to work on any kind of design project, not just web design. Its primary purpose is to help you work with raster graphics (click here for more info on what that means). For example, every picture taken by your phone camera is then saved as a raster graphic.
With Photoshop, you can adjust any aspect of an image or a graphic (including the colors, saturation, blurs, sharpness, and so on). You can also create completely custom graphics from scratch (for example, website layouts and visualizations).
You can combine multiple images as part of one project, and make sure that they all fit together by using various filters or performing some transformations.
When you first open Photoshop, you get a blank canvas onto which you can start placing various elements (in layers), and adjust them one by one until you have your final effect.
Photoshop itself is a very manual tool, so to speak. It requires you to know exactly what you want to do and what sort of result you want to achieve. For that, it also requires some design skill and knowledge to really be able to take a full advantage of it.
Either way, it’s still a great piece of software to have in your toolbox, just because there’s simply no web design task that can’t be done with Photoshop.
In short, it’s the best free alternative to Photoshop on the market.
While it might not have all the features that Photoshop offers, the most important and the most often used stuff is there. It should be more than enough to handle the majority of your web design projects.
You can get GIMP for Windows, Mac, and a handful of other platforms too.
Launched in 2009, this tool has quickly found its spot among the best web design software out there. It’s somewhat similar to Photoshop, but not quite. I mean, where Photoshop can be used to work on any sort of a design project, Sketch is purely web-design-centered, and it shows!
The great thing about it is that all of the features have been built from the ground up to really address the needs of a web design project. The way the interface itself works and the way all the toolbars and functions are laid out makes working with Sketch very intuitive and much easier to grasp than Photoshop.
More so, Sketch works with vector graphics, which enables you to re-scale the piece you’re working on freely, without losing any of its visual quality (like you do with raster graphics).
Last but not least, you can also take advantage of the mirroring feature, which allows you to preview your work on any mobile device integrated with your main Sketch install. In short – highly optimized tool, great for web design, much easier to use than Photoshop.