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.

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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?

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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.


Filed under: Software