This is the first in a series of posts of our favorite tools and resources. When tools become a daily part of our lives, we forget that others might not use or know about them.

These are five tools I use on a daily basis as a web designer at Big Sea – tools that help me with inspiration, the design process, user-interface decisions or my mood.

1. Subtle Patterns

I can’t imagine a world without this site. As designers, we love textures and patterns–some like ’em loud and some like ’em subtle. The patterns run the gamut which also means you’ll spend a little more time than necessary… oops. You can download this precious collection and then upload to your Photoshop pattern library. BOOM!

2. Colorzilla

I use this all day long. This is the ultimate color extension for Firefox and Chrome. Pick a color, find a darker hue, find a relative gradient – even generate the CSS for that gradient.

This is an awesome way to build a palette based on inspiration you find in your browser – whether that’s a photo, a site, anything.

3. Pattern Tap

Need ideas on how to treat a blockquote or button?  Looking for creative ways to build a form?  Sometimes I get stuck on the most simple, common section or element of a site design. Sometimes I just need to look at something other than my own design. You’ll find plenty of inspiration and influence on PatternTap – all usefully organized into user interface type or element.

4. Bacon Ipsum

Content can be hard to come by when you first start a design, so bacon ipsum dolor sit amet capicola ribeye brisket ham hock kielbasa, strip steak short loin chicken sirloin bresaola pancetta. I love bacon and this is my favorite lorem ipsum generator.

There are alternative generators for the vegetarian clients ( But seriously, drumstick pork belly chuck, jerky meatloaf sausage!

5. Songza

Doing anything without music gets weird. Working without music gets real weird.  I’m all about mood music. I’m terrible at making my own playlists. And I generally don’t like listening to whole albums or a bunch of songs by the same artist. Also, I like free and hate streaming ads… Songza is my daily go-to, online music stream – and has playlists to fit just about any occassion.


There are plenty more sites and tools that I use for developing (*cough*CodeKit*cough*), but we’ll save those for another post.  What are your favorite design or inspiration tools?