Browser Tools for Web Design

Most site design happens in an editor of some kind, be it Dreamweaver, Nvu, GoLive, or your text editor like BBEdit, UltraEdit, or Notepad even. However the editing and revisions, the little fixing of syntax only can be done if you double-check your work in the browser itself, and you have to do this constantly! This is where browser tools come in and really make this process easier to do. By default, the easiest of all browsers is of course Firefox and so we will cover some interesting extensions that you simply can not live without if you do any kind of site design, then you need to have these tools at your disposal. If you don’t, then you are just making things harder on yourself.

Web Developer Extension:

Available from is Web Developer. This extension adds a toolbar to Firefox which features all kinds of tools for web design. You can clear the cache of your browser, see the stylesheet for a site, as well as edit it to see the results right away. The only thing that is really missing from WD, is a cool color picker or color lookup tool.

Aardvark Extension:

While Web Developer has some nice outline tools, it might be overkill for when all you want to do is figure out what the class id of a div is on the page, or better yet, you want to kill a graphic or an entire section. This is where Aardvark comes in. Once you install it you just go to Tools and choose to start Aardvark and you can then simply glide your mouse over the different page elements to see what their id and class is.

Mouseover DOM Inspector

Unlike the previous two, Mouseover DOM Inspector is not an extension to Firefox, instead it is javascript. All you have to do to use it is go to and save this bookmark link to your bookmarks. Then any time you want to enable it just go to the page your want to inspect and go to your bookmark. A popupwindow will display now with information of the various elements you mouse over on your page. Some designers might actually prefer this script over Aardvark.

ColorZilla Extension

For figuring out what the color code is of different elements on a page, nothing beats ColorZilla. With the simple activation of the eyedropper on the lower left corner, you can now know what any color code is for any element on the page. This is a must for when trying to work with interesting color palettes.

Web Color Names Extension

I will also mention Web Color Names, because even though it is a simple color chart, it still comes in handy when you want to look up a color really quickly in the standard color palette.

Choosing Your Domain Name

There are many steps to starting a web site, but the most often overlooked one is the first one, namely what domain name to register for your new site. Undoubtedly, almost any single word domain name is taken by now, and two word domains are also hard to come by, so this leaves you with a three word domain. For example when I started WebKeyDesign, I had to choose an inventive three word domain name like, because KeyDesign and were already taken, and even a less business like name, like or .net were taken. There are of course the letter and number combination domain names like or perhaps, but these domain names are not as valued due to their complexity.

So what exactly is a good domain name?

First off know who your target audience is for you site.

If it is a business, you will want to have your company name as your domain name, but seeing how many domain names are already taken, if you absolutely can not get, the second best option is to come up with a name that describes your business or what you sell, like or

For a personal site, like a web log, you have a lot more options. Most business sites want to be a .com site because 9 out 10 times, people will try a .com site first. But for a personal site you can choose a .net or .info level domain name. I would not recommend naming your site FirstNameLastName, unless you really want to promote yourself as a business, instead you should probably choose a domain name to reflect your content, like or are some interesting names for weblog sites. If you are going to be a technology oriented site, you should strive for a .net domain name if you can.

Avoid hard to spell domain names.

Although you can spell words differently, many people will find it hard to find your site if you use a peculiar spelling or use a hard to remember combination like You want to keep the domain name easy to remember and easy to spell to help people remember your site.

Do not choose a domain that resembles another one.

Some people have deliberately chosen domain names that either mimics or highly resemble more famous domain names like or even This just invites lawsuits and other legal issues. It is best to choose a domain name that does not lend itself to such reputations. If you find that your domain name is taken for a .com, but not a .net or .info, think about what your site will have in common with the currently registered site, if there is any similarities, I would consider choosing a different name altogether.

Lastly, to check if a domain name is taken, you can go to Network Solutions or any other registrar and lookup any domain name to see if it is taken already.

If you absolutely can not think of anything on your own, you might consider using a domain name generator. This Site Point article discusses popular domain name generators.

Choosing your domain name is an important step into creating your web site identity, it will define your site immediately and impact it in more ways than you know, and so you should take some time in choosing the right one for your site.

Cyberduck FTP Client

The first Internet program I ever used was Fetch, the classic Macintosh FTP client. But that was back in the days of System 7 and now we have Mac OS X, and though Fetch is still around, I find myself using the often updated Cyberduck for all my FTP needs.

David V. Kocher has put together one of the best FTP clients and since it is released under the GPL license, it is also freely available for personal use. Cyberduck also takes advantage of OS X technologies like Keychain, Rendezvous (now known as Bonjour), and Applescript. Although there are other Mac FTP clients you can buy, Cyberduck is the most updated program I know.



Dreamscape Software’s JPEGCompress is the perfect tool for almost anyone who needs to compress graphic files for web site posting.

I personally use it to convert MSPaint’s .BMP files to smaller size JPEG files, which I then upload or post to various sites. It also scales images down which is something that comes in handy with digital camera files.

Best of all JPEGCompress is free for personal use. If you use Windows, I doubt you could find a better utility than JPEGCompress for free.



Sponsered by Linspire, the company that is trying to make Linux user-friendly for the rest of us, and based on everyone’s favorite browser Firefox, is Nvu. Pronounced as NewView, in case you are wondering, Nvu is a project that if successful could give everyone an open sourced WYSIWYG Web Authoring Suite that can compete with Macromedia’s Dreamweaver.

Even if you are good with writing html from scratch, graphical editors like Nvu and Dreamweaver still become useful when editing and making tables.

Right now Nvu is nothing to brag about. The interface seems slow and even older versions of Dreamweaver 3 still beat Nvu, but the project is nearing its first major 1.0 release and there are even some extensions and themes at The Phoenity theme is the most cartoonish one and should match WindowsXP based desktops the most. Since Nvu is based on Firefox, hopefully more of the Firefox extension developers will release stuff for Nvu too in the future.

If you can’t afford Adobe or Macromedia software, you should check out Nvu, cause free software may not be perfect but it is very affordable.