Helpful Design Apps I Use Every Day

Andy McErlean
3 min readApr 2, 2020


One thing I am adamant about is providing to my readers value. Most listicles you see on Medium and elsewhere are dog shit. That is my unapologetic opinion. There are far too many pieces of vapid, sterile content people spew out to try to be viewed as “thought leaders” or gain clicks. If you use that term for yourself, you probably think that Trapt is a good band and wear backwards ball caps with sunglasses.

With that said, here are some actually helpful tools I use every day of the week. Perhaps you’ve heard of them or use them already. If so, nice! You’re supercharging your workflow with free shit.‍

Coolors is most likely the most well known of the tools I’m sharing. It’s a great way to generate colors palettes for UI and illustrations. You have the ability to generate your own palettes as well as sift through thousands of ones created by other users. Only downside is that It’s limited to five colors at a time. It makes up for that with the ability to switch between monochromatic and full color combinations so that you can find the best colors.

Tint & Shade Color Generator

To supplement Coolors, I use the Tint & Shade Color Generator to quickly create tints from a specific hex value. Simply copy/paste your hex value into the text field and generate your tints. Ideally, both Coolors and this app would wine up and have a sultry night of quarantine fever to deliver a Covid love child combining the best aspects of both apps. Additionally, if it could spit out a SVG file with one’s tints, it would be easier to select colors within one’s design tool.


Lastly, Optimizilla is a great solution for compressing image sizes so that your app runs beautifully. Of course, there are options within design tools that allow you to do this. In Sketch, there’s the ImageOptim plug-in. In Photoshop, there’s the Save For Web function. Why I prefer Optimizilla is that it’s outside of any one app. Sometimes I need to optimize an image from Lightroom, or a graphic from Illustrator, or icons from Sketch. Of course, Optimizilla isn’t perfect. You can only optimize 20ish images at a time. This isn’t ideal if you need to shave a few kb’s from hundreds of icons or images, but it’s a nice solution when you only need to optimize a handful.

I hope at least one of these tools can boost your workflow or even just help out in one task. If they didn’t, well…I guess throw the ‘ole white Oakleys and Lakers cap on, queue up Head Strong, and head over to Medium’s popular articles.





Andy McErlean

Slingin’ pixels outta Austin, Texas. Product Designer @ Praxent. Playing music in Pala. BJJ practitioner. Say hi: