John here. =)
Hmm…it’s hard to narrow it down to 3, but I’ll do my best! =)
There are some tools you just need to have in order to be a well-rounded web designer. For me, these 3 are:
Technically, Photoshop is a print design tool. However, web designers have been using this tool for years to manipulate & optimize graphics for the web.
Photoshop is extremely powerful & versatile. I definitely would have a very hard time designing sites without it. I do everything from mockup design to image optimization in Photoshop. After using it for more than 10 years, I know it very well and I’m very fast with it. Learning a new app would take some time and would hurt my productivity.
Some newcomers like Sketch are starting to gain popularity; but for the time being, Photoshop is king.
I built the entire Technical Side of the Break Into Course on Divi. Kelly & I use it on ALL of our client sites. It makes building marketing websites a breeze. The drag-and-drop builder is incredible. We’ve doubled-down on this the Divi theme and absolutely LOVE it.
3. Code Editor
This may be where Kelly & I would differ. She may say some kind of sales/marketing tool for #3. My background is more the technical background of web design so a code editor, like Coda, is #3 for me.
If you really want your sites to stand out, eventually you’ll want to learn HTML & CSS. Our advanced courses are perfect for this!
BONUS! Widescreen Monitor
I designed sites for years on a 15″ laptop. After working with a large 2nd monitor for 1 week, my world changed. Now, I don’t even have my laptop open … it’s closed but plugged into my 27″ Apple Thunderbolt monitor.
The ability to have your web preview on one side of the screen and your code on the other side is invaluable to me now. I honestly think if I had to develop a website on a 13″ or 15″ laptop, it’d take me at least 1/3 more time.