Web designers spent a lot of time at desks in front of computers. That's no secret. That's where the magic happens, and that's also why the right setup of your workstation is extremely important.
We've invited 20 leading web designers from the UK and the US to give us an exclusive look into their offices, show us their desks and explain the setup. The resulting showcase provides a fascinating insight into people's personal work style and the kit they use. As you will see, for example, one screen is rarely enough these days.
Who knows? The pictures that follow may just inspire you to give your own workspace a makeover. If so, don't miss our office storage solutions or office organisation ideas.
01. Naomi Atkinson
Job: Owner of Naomi Atkinson Design
My 15" MacBook Pro (high-res display), plugged into an old cinema display with external keyboard, mouse and speakers. Only my iPad has Twitter open as I'm awful at procrastinating. Magic Trackpad which never gets used. Always many a notebook open and at hand. A spare desk, cinema display at the ready. Visual loveliness – I'm addicted to surrounding myself with inspiring things. And of course a cup of milky tea.
02. Dan Cederholm
Job: Designer, author and speaker, co-founder of Dribbble
I use a 15" MBP as my primary machine. I've been plugging into a larger display less and less these days, preferring to put my feet up and use my lap more. But the larger display is there if I need it. I back up to the two G drives. On top of the drives is a Domo-kun wind-up toy I brought back from Tokyo, and a wooden nut from speaking at the Build Conference in Ireland. Also on the drives is a handmade leather baseball. I like to use a mouse pad to dampen the noise of sliding the mouse around, and the one here is a new Ugmonk leather pad which I'm really digging. Other than that, my keys, a sketchook, a Curtis Jinkins print I've been meaning to frame and a stack of books. Oh, and a decaf coffee on a Dribbble coaster.
03. Andy Clarke
Job: Designer, author and speaker
I do most of my work on a 27" iMac when I'm at home and a 13" Macbook Air when I'm travelling or working onsite. I keep both of these in synch with Dropbox.
For responsive designing I use an iPhone 3G (non-retina) and an iPhone 4S (retina) and an HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7. I have an iPad on a revolving stand, a Kindle Touch and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's the most expensive shaving mirror I've ever bought. I'll be adding a new iPad (retina), a Kindle Fire and a Samsung Galaxy S3 soon. Oh, and the ape? That's General Ursus from Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.
04. Simon Collison
Job: Designer, speaker and writer, member of Fictive Kin, organiser of New Adventures in Web Design
I work away a lot, but this is my office at home and I love it. MacBook Air and Thunderbolt display, plus excellent Creative Gigaworks speakers and the lamp I’ve had for twenty years. The desk is Ikea, with a chunk of an older desk as display riser. Only the books I’ve yet to read get desk space, alongside pots of pencils and Sharpies. I sit on a Herman Miller Aeron. The Itten-inspired print keeps me calm (available from Lane). All that's missing is the cat sitting by the window, a massive cup of tea, and me.
05. Chris Coyier
Job: Web designer and lead hucklebucker at Wufoo
You know what they say: cheap tables and expensive chairs. I took that to heart with my cheap plastic fold-out banquet table and Herman Miller chair. I exclusively use one MacBook Pro, so my exact design and development environment comes with me wherever I go. At home at this desk, I have my Drobo for mega media storage and backup, a 27" Cinema display, and super ergonomic Microsoft keyboard and Kensington trackball. Underneath, in the gross tangle of wires, is an APC power supply which has saved me through countless power outages. Albiet more often back in my Mac Pro days. The speakers are Harmon Kardon Soundsticks which sound and look wonderful. The printer is a WiFi enabled Brother laser printer which is the most recent addition and has convinced me to never go back to slow, expensive, garbage inkjets. The microphone is a rode podcaster set in a mini boom stand.
06. Jeff Croft
Job: Digital product designer and developer at nGen Works, co-founder of Lendle
In my 21st floor downtown Seattle condo, I have this simple setup, based around a 13" MacBook Pro. It sits in the terrific Henge Dock, alongside my 24" Cinema Display. I usually use a 27", but it's on the fritz right now. I have docks for my iPad and iPhone, and I prop my display up a bit with a riser that has a built-in USB hub. For podcasting, I use a Blue Yeti USB microphone. My chair is an older model Herman Miller Aeron. Finally, the nice view of seaplanes landing on Lake Union doesn't hurt.
07. David DeSandro
Job: Web designer and front–end developer at nclud
At home I have a 2007 20" iMac. I use a Logitech Corded Mouse M500, which gives me five mouse buttons to work with. On the left is a big "computation book" I found at an office supply shop, yielding 11x9 inches of gridded glory. On each side of the desk represent my two best relationships, my marriage to my wife, and a house plant I've had since college. Both cabinet and desk are from Ikea.
08. Brad Frost
Job: Mobile web strategist and designer at R/GA
My set up is a cozy little space that doubles as a personal music studio. A MacBook Air is my main machine, which is connected to an external monitor. Because I'm a mobile web designer, I have a slew of devices: an iPhone 4S, 3GS, iPod touch, Galaxy Nexus, Droid 1, Droid Incredible, a BlackBerry Curve, Bold, Palm Pixi and an iPad. It's all part of the job. And to provide much-needed distractions, I bash away on a much-used electronic drumkit, synth and recently acquired Rickenbacker bass.
09. Jon Hicks
Job: Gentleman designer and icon artist
My desk is currently a basic IKEA job, but I’m looking into buying a standing desk to replace it! I use a 13” Macbook Air plugged into a 24” LED Cinema Display, with wired keyboard and magic mouse. The screen is propped up with a copy of ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ and to the left of that is the Mobee induction charger for the mouse. Apart from that, there’s a cup of tea (always), paperwork pile, a few wee books and a stylophone for musical interludes.
Matt Hamm has the desk behind mine!
10. Elliot Jay Stocks
Job: designer, speaker, and author
My cloud-centric set-up comprises of a 27" iMac and an 11" MacBook Air, both maxed-out in terms of specs. Everything is synced via DropBox (and iCloud where necessary) and additionally backed up to CrashPlan. I've got various FireWire and USB hard drives permanently attached to the iMac; the Air is for when I'm on the road or just want to work downstairs on the sofa or in the garden.
11. Cindy Li
Job: Staff product designer for Y!Design (Flickr)
I have the standard gear from Yahoo: HP monitor, and a Macbook Pro. I'm working on the Flickr iPhone App so I must have my iPhone 4S handy.
The rest range from a Pentagon mug I got while visiting there last year. I have a few Hello Kitty items, one of them is my eyeglass case that I got from the first Sanrio store in Tokyo. There's also a helmet for when I'm avoiding the dart fights at work and my pink roxio headphones to concentrate.
12. Dan Mall
Job: Founder/design director of SuperFriendly
Everything you see here is set up on a Galant desk from Ikea. I work on a 27" iMac with an external Dell monitor, and a LaCie D2 Quadra Hard Disk holds all my work. Superman and Batman remind me to be SuperFriendly. Apple's Magic Trackpad, iPhone, iPad, and a Wacom Intuos tablet help me make things. I use a Blue Yeti to make sound and Harman Kardon SoundSticks to hear it. Belkin and battleship USB hubs give me all the accessory support I need. A LEDU drafting lamp provides ample lighting for sketching and glancing at my favorite wedding picture, reminding me why I do all of this.
13. Shane Mielke
Job: Designer and creative director at 2Advanced Studios
My workspace sits in the corner of my 800sq foot “Mancave” and comes complete with a bathroom, extra bedroom for quick power naps, TV, couch, gaming consoles and guitar for quick creative breaks from the computer. My desk is actually two desks side by side allowing me the room to keep my laptop within reach but spread out my second 3D/video workstation. I can easily slide my chair back and forth between the three computers and I have an open view of the TV. This configuration also allows my wife or kids to surf next to me while I work.
14. Sarah Parmenter
Job: Web Designer, speaker, owner of You Know Who
I predominantly work on a 27" iMac with two HD's one SSD for the OS and a regular for data storage, but I also have an 11" Macbook air for travelling. Working in iOS means I need an iPhone & iPad for testing, but I've also got a Blackberry Playbook after delving into the world of designing for Blackberry. A Rhode Podcaster sits to the left for the day I finally get my podcast live.
15. Veerle Pieters
Job: Graphic/web designer
We have a a big desk and large windows with a view over a big meadow across our street, which creates a lot of light in the office. It gives you this light and spacy feeling. Things can get all over the place on my desk when I’m in the middle of my process, but after that I clean things up, as I like to keep my desk as organised as possible. To the left I have this big mic I use for Skype and for recording a screencast. Next to it a battery kit for my iPhone 4S is recharging.
16. Yaron Schoen
Job: Design lead at Twitter NYC, founder of madeforhumans.com, co-founder of Float
As you can see, my home office is not that glorious. In the not so distant past, when I was freelancing, I had an entire room that acted as an office with a wonderfully large desk and a ton of designy stuff on it ... but then I had a baby and the office became a nursery. Since then I also joined Twitter which rendered my home office a tad obsolete. It now serves as our laundry bin in the corner. True story.
17. Kyle Steed
Job: Illustrator and designer
I spend many hours at my desk. Drawing. Designing. Thinking. Drinking. So I always like to keep tools and resources at arms length. Whether it's my journal, scrap paper or the graphic artists guild handbook on pricing and ethical guidelines (highly recommended). In the mornings I'll sip coffee. In the evenings I'll sip whiskey. I always enjoy keeping photographs of friends nearby as well.
18. Jon Tan
Job: Designer and co-founder of Fontdeck
I sit at the smallest of three co-working desks I designed for Mild Bunch HQ in the new space we recently opened up. My machine is a 15" Macbook Pro with a matt hi-res screen, and with it I use a Midori Travellers’ Notebook, Whitelines paper, Faber-Castell pencils and Muji Pens. Inevitably, an iPhone is around somewhere. A Fuji X100 (which I love) is usually on the desk, but I’m using it to take the photo. I have a Polaroid Pogo printer for quick photo-sticker printing which go into the notebook. Coffee is essential, fruit helps, and sunshine is a much-appreciated bonus!
19. Trent Walton
Job: Founder and 1/3 of Paravel
I work out of a home office in the Texas Hill Country. It’s got a nice view, and the only point of access is an external door, which helps keep my work environment separate from the rest of the house. My setup is pretty straightforward – my main machine is a 27” iMac. I’ve got a 13” MacBook Air I use around the house and when traveling. That’s supplemented with an ever-evolving collection of devices (tablets, phones, etc) for testing.
20. Samantha Warren
Job: Web designer, maker of styletil.es, design director at Phase2 Technology
Many people assume designers love to work in the dark but I prefer to be surrounded by tons of natural light. My current workspace makes me feel like I am in a treehouse. I need just the right balance of clean desk and cluttered knick knacks to be productive. Everything around me has a warm memory attached to it. The little drawers are from my grandfather's work shed from when he was a painter and the wind-up toy was a gift from my mother. The bobbly headed dashboard dog is named Tito and a relic from my old VW Beetle. Oh, and I love plants.
Do you want to show off your desk, too? Post a link and tell us about the setup of your workstation in the comments!