Web developer computer set-up

There are a couple of things I like to do to help my productivity on my work machine. Some of these things save little time in your day, but over an entire year can amount to hours, days or weeks being salvaged.

Use CCleaner

I don’t normally recommend this kind of software, but I think its a great tool. Firstly it’s free, and secondly it runs in the background when windows starts. It’s job is to find and delete all the un-needed stuff on your machine that you have no idea exists. It won’t delete important stuff, only redundant files.

Don’t use old software

That’s right, if you are running Windows XP, time to embrace change and start using Windows 7. It is faster, more efficient, the list goes on and on…

Don’t use Photoshop CS2 or below. Seriously. They stall, they crash, and they are lacking features that can seriously improve your productivity.

Get yourself Windows 7 64bit, and get your hands on 64bit software where possible.Adobe cs6 is said to have converted all it’s software to be take advantage of it.

Get a performance machine

As a web developer, you need lots of things open. Here is what i normally have open as an example

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Photoshop
  • Dreamweaver
  • Paymo
  • Firefox
  • KeePass
  • Outlook
  • iTunes

As you can see, that is a lot. Every machine can cope with that, but not every machine is comfortable with it, or remains responsive to fast paced demands.

I often outpaced my old machine, and got so sick of waiting for it that I became concerned about how much time (aka money) I was wasting every day. It wasn’t some dinosaur of a machine, it was a Quadcore with reasonable specs, but it wasn’t cutting it.

Now I have an i7 with … drumroll … a SSD (Solid state drive). These are now cheap enough to be in anyone’s budget, and offer a performance boost that you need to see to believe.

What’s so good about a SSD? Let’s put it this way, windows loads in 10 seconds or less, no application takes longer than 5 seconds to load (even and Adobe software), and searches take split seconds.

I recommend every web developer get one! If you are spending 40 hours a week in front of the screen, you should make sure that you aren’t being constantly frustrated with sluggish performance. It’s bad for your workflow, thus it’s affecting your productivity.

Others…

All these little things combined will save you time:

  • Arrange your desktop icons into columns: Drives, Browsers, Tools, Software, Audio, Video etc… so you don’t have to scan everywhere to find the thing you want.
  • Use 2 x widescreen monitors. They are cheap these days! Before you do, make sure your graphic’s card has 2 outputs and can handle the resolution you desire
  • I don’t like to use background images, instead use dark grey. I find images are too distracting. In fact, if your machine is running slow, change your theme to “Windows 7 Basic”, and see the performance difference straight away. Although it will be more ugly, it’ll also be “snappy” and more responsive.
  • Position your most used applications in the task bar
  • Take advantage of “Favourites”. For example I have short cuts to invoices, fonts, and the more current projects
  • Take advantage of pinning items to the taskbar.
  • Bookmark the sites you use often, or sometimes. Even if you don’t put them in a folder. Because your browser will remember and save you time typing it in.
  • Use the faster browser… Google Chrome
  • Have an existing folder structure with default files for new projects, so you can copy paste straight away.

Hope that all helps, some of those are perhaps personal and of no benefit to anyone else. If anyone has more to add, or an improvement on this list, let me know below.