In that same vein: what if you could only have five tools to design with? If your entire design career from now forward could only include five tools, what would they be?
PaperOf course. Paper is an incredibly versatile design tool. You can sketch on it to create fast, clear wireframes. You can prototype interactions with it, or show how to use a complex tool. Failing all of that, you can make awesome paper figures...you are stuck on a desert island, after all.
SharpiesSharpies and paper go together like...well, like Sharpies and paper. They're made for each other. At ZURB we love designing with a stack of ZURB sketch paper and a fistful of Sharpies. Sharpies let you get your thoughts down in quick, broad strokes that keep you from getting hung up on the details.
If I can cheat a little I'd bring sharpies as well as a sharpie pen, highlighter and letraset grey marker – my preferred set of sketching tools. If I can't cheat then standard Sharpies will do just fine.
PhotoshopAlright granted, the rest of these assume I have a computer but hey – ZURB post, ZURB rules. If it helps we can pretend we're stranded on a desert island with a computer built in.
Photoshop may be clichA' but it's an incredibly powerful tool for designers. Here at ZURB we use it for our visual designs, both for our clients as well as our internal tools. We've used Photoshop to dress up printed reports we deliver (like site audits) as well as to create most of the individual graphical elements we use in implementation.
CodaCoda is a great web design IDE by Panic. It has a polished (though not perfect) UI, supports site synchronization and SVN integration and is a pretty good text editor to boot. Coda stays open on my machine pretty much all day every day with a few different sites open. Don't give Dreamweaver the time of day if you can get your hands on Coda.
iTunesOkay, maybe this isn't a design tool but at ZURB we need our music to keep going through the day. Jeremy had a post about this not long ago. Whether it's Mark cranking anything from Michael Jackson to Lonely Island or Ryan's bizarre electronica or my half-punk, half-german metal playlists we've got music playing just about every minute we're here. You won't catch me on a desert island designing without some tunes.
That's my list. You're heading off to a desert island – what tools are you gonna take?