Last Modified April 10, 2016
In case you're curious what tools I use for designing my own sites, here's the list. Warning- this won't do you much good unless you're a Mac user- I do all my web projects on the Mac, but I have striven to suggest Windows software that's been recommended to me when appropriate.
BareBones software's BBEdit Pro is an excellent text editor with lots of power tools that make it excellent for HTML coding as well as CGI scripting. It has an HTML aware spell checker, powerful grep search and replace (on bunches of files at once if you like), macro processing, an HTML checker, function menu (for scripting and HTML documents with multiple jump points), and much more. The commercial version is about $100 and is well worth every penny. For those who can't afford it, there's the freeware lite version.
Jove is a version of the popular UNIX editor Emacs, without most of the bells and whistles. I use it to make quick edits to my pages and scripts directly on the server when I don't feel like downloading the files just to make a small change. For those who try out Emacs and like it, there is a full suite of HTML tools for it (I believe it's called HTML helper mode).
PHP is a powerful scripting language designed specifically for web programming which has a very low learning curve. These days I do most of my web programming in PHP and mostly use Perl for backend maintenance type scripts.
Perl is a powerful general purpose scripting language with a very low learning curve. I find it very useful for writing CGI scripts for my web sites, and also for scripts to preprocess web site files and maintenance scripts.
MySQL is a free fast open source database server which is very easy to learn to use and administer, especially with the help of phpMyAdmin. I use it for the backend of all my scripts that require a database.
I use Photoshop for general graphics editing. There is also a Windows version of Photoshop.
GraphicConverter is an excellent general purpose graphic conversion program which also has basic editing features. It's not as fancy as Photoshop but it's a lot faster and the batch processing features are quite easy to use. I generally use GraphicConverter for most of my graphics adjustments that don't require layers. There is no Windows version of GraphicConverter but I hear PaintShop Pro is a popular alternative on Windows.
I use iCab as my primary browser. It's a Mac only browser and not that well known but it has a lot of very nice features that are particularly useful for web testing such as built in validation, easy modification of the user agent, and the ability to view source in external applications and have the browser automatically reload the page when saved.
I use Lynx to test web sites for presentation problems on text based browsers. I also occasionally use it for quick browsing, especially when my net access is running slowly. There are versions of Lynx for just about any platform.
This validator checks pages against the HTML standard and lets you know what errors are in the page so you can fix them more easily.
HTML Tidy is an open source utility that will clean up web pages, remove common errors and unnecessary tags and other useful features. There are versions of HTML Tidy for most platforms.
URL Manager Pro has been an essential tool for my web site design and surfing. It is a spectacular bookmark manager which offers organization and features the big name browsers can't match, including adding bookmarks direct to a folder, editing bookmark names and adding notes when they're added, color coding bookmarks, and many other useful features. My favorite feature is the ability to create shared menus of bookmarks which show up in most net applications, making it easy to open your mail, news, web, ftp, etc. links from all your heavily used applications, and makes organizing bookmarks even easier. Sorry Windows users, I've never seen anything like URL Manager Pro on any other platform.
Transmit is an sftp/ftp client for MacOS X only. It allows you to open files automatically in the editor of your choice and save them back to the server. I find it saves me a lot of time over copying the files to my computer and back again. These days I only use sftp for editing files on remote servers because FTP is not secure. There are other ssh/sftp clients out there for Windows but I don't know if any have the amount of features that Transmit does.
O'Reilly and Associates publishes many excellent computer books. I highly recommend "HTML: The Definitive Guide" which is both an excellent book to learn HTML from (even interesting enough to read cover to cover) and is also very useful as a reference book. Also quite useful is "Webmaster in a Nutshell" (Deluxe Edition) which contains quick reference information for many webmaster duties, and also contains on CD the full text of four of O'Reilly's web themed books. If you're doing Perl scripting (CGI or otherwise) "Learning Perl" and "Programming Perl" are quite useful. For those who occasionally do work on UNIX servers, and want a quick reference on the commands, "UNIX in a Nutshell" is a good buy.
The World Wide Web Consortium is the standards making body for the web. They've got lots of useful information on their site, including the full HTML specifications.