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Web design is a fun career. You spend a good portion of your day in a creative space and work to create a brand that lives on the internet. However, that being said, I have found a few things that free up my creative vision and grant me that “flow” of ideas that keeps everything moving smoothly. When it comes down to it, the things you need to power your web design career are pretty small and you might even be able to start your web design career with little to no upfront cost. 

First, let’s determine what kind of workflow works best for you.

If you are unfamiliar, there are a lot of different ways to work. Some people love working from home, others like working in an office. Depending on what user you are might influence what kind of setup you use for web design.

So if most of your work is done on a browser, chances are you can make a laptop you already have work for you (if not, scroll down to my recommended laptop or desktop recommendations).

Web Design Tech For At-Home Builders

I work in a hybrid WFH/in-office setup. I spend at least one day working from home during the week but usually, more than 50% of my work time is spent at the office.

My desk was messy at the time of writing. This image is from early 2021

However, most people who just want to be able to do work from home won’t need a computer that powerful. In fact, there are a lot of good options for people who want to look for a decent work computer in the $300-$500 range.

See the truth is that a lot of design work at this point in technology is done through a browser. That being the case, a lot of my design work doesn’t need a beefy system to run well. However, I am only talking about web design. The moment you start doing any graphic design work, you are going to hate the integrated graphics option and will want something a bit more powerful. Just saying.

But if you are like me and not super interested in paying Adobe a massive license fee every month to just play around occasionally in photoshop, then you can get away with using design CMSs like WordPress, Shopify, Typedream, or any other CMS that has some customizability options. These are browser-based tools that run the processing elsewhere so you don’t have to own the means of processing on your home machine.

At that point, it just comes down to what you feel you need. I believe RAM, Storage, and screen quality are going to be huge in impacting your workflow. RAM gives you extra space to work with your browser and if you want a future-proof device, I would go for a 16 GB RAM model. Chrome by itself has taken up more than 8 gigs on my laptop at times.

For Mac OS users on a budget, I think this $500 desktop from years ago is actually still going to be a viable option for a few more years:

However, it is kinda a rip-off if you consider the value in both processing power, RAM, and storage in the new M1 mac desktops. But if you only have $500 to spend and don’t want to finance a new M1 Mac, this would be a great option for a new designer.

If I were a windows user, I would look into the Dell Optiplex series. These are famously good value desktops and their budgeting is pretty decent for what you get.

Web Design Technology for Traveling Careers

I fit into this category. I am always moving even when I am at the office. I take my laptop to meetings, I bring it to school with me, I use it on the table, the desk, and in between working from home and working at the office.

For that, I have always appreciated the dexterity, power, and efficiency of my XPS 15 9570. I got this laptop as a gift when I first started school and it has been the best laptop for everything I need it to do.

It has a dedicated graphics card for when I need some extra graphics oomph, the 6 core 12 thread CPU does run a bit hot sometimes but otherwise crushes my daily workload. It’s pretty dang portable, runs windows 11 well, and has a terabyte of fast NVMe storage.

But to be honest, it’s a bit more than any designer would ever really need. It has two more CPU cores and an entire GPU that my daily workload never really takes advantage of.

One thing it has that is unbelievably useful and I’m going to hold onto this laptop forever because of it… ports. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to get to work, plug in my HDMI cord directly into my laptop, and immediately have a second screen to work with. And screw USB C. I get that it is supposed to be the future but nobody has told the display makers. They haven’t updated to USB C so I don’t see why we should be switching from HDMI yet.

If you are wanting the same type of experience from my XPS 15 but don’t need any of the extra graphics or don’t care much about ports, you could definitely get away with an XPS 13.

This XPS 13 has a great CPU, plenty of ram and storage, and runs at half the price.



Look, a lot of these are great options, but I would wager you have a laptop in your home that will work great as a design laptop. If it has a quad-core CPU, you are ahead of me and my MacBook air. If it has 256 GB storage, you should be set. I would argue that you will benefit from cloud storage but there are dozens of cheap options there. If it has a great graphics card, that’s a great bonus.

What you will really like are maybe a second display for resizing and managing your desktop space, and maybe a dedicated desk for making your work separate from the rest of your life.

If you are shopping right now for a device, shoot me your use case scenario at and I will give you some hints about what would be nice to have versus a must.

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