The Tools I’m Using

Many times it’s assumed we all know what other designers and business owners are using in their day-to-day operation. So I thought it would be fun to open up and see a little behind-the-scenes of what Annette Furio Design + Birdhaus Co. uses on the regular to get. it. done.


My new MVP. Yes, there are some things that drive me crazy about this program (talk to me later about this… maybe you can help me ?!) but the benefits vastly outweigh the quirks. I use this only (and I mean only) for web / mobile design. One of my big qualms was the keyboard shortcuts, so here’s a nice little guide I found to help you with that. 

Used for website design, but only if I have to. I won’t start a new web project in Photoshop anymore. I’m a full out convert to Sketch. Obviously Photoshop is great for photo editing, which I use it for a few times a week.

I use Illustrator (like most people) for logo design, iconography design, and anything that needs to be “drawn.”

All of our invitation designs for Birdhaus Co. are created in InDesign. I also do all my proposals and estimates in InDesign. I have it open at least once a day. I love this program. There’s not much more to know.   

InVision is the best way, in my opinion, to share designs with collaborators and clients. It is well worth the money (it’s not exactly cheap at $264 per year … a good chunk more than my $99 per year Dropbox Pro account). Clients and collaborators can comment directly on screens and it syncs beautifully with Sketch. The exporting step is completely seamless and has cut down my time by at least half of what I used to spend.



Why? Because it was free and it seemed to do the trick nicely. If I ever get more advanced in coding, I may look at other options (recommendations welcome).



Asana is my MVP of business apps. I have an account for Birdhaus Co. projects and one for Annette Furio Design projects and I can easily switch between the two, thanks to their great design and UX. Asana also has a mobile app, so points for that. Some project management apps I’ve tried are too in-depth for what I really need, but this one has just the right amount of detail. Highly recommend for an individual or small teams.

I used Slack a ton when I worked at an agency, but now that I’m a “solopreneur” I don’t have much of a need for it when I’m not collaborating with other groups of people. Lots of professional groups use Slack, so maybe I’ll be on the lookout for one of those. It gets a little lonely (and heck, useless) when you’re the only one! 

This is how I stay in contact with my Birdhaus Co. partner in crime, Heather.

Dropbox Pro
I’ve been a long-time subscriber to the Dropbox Pro plan. I’m on the go so much now that I absolutely need access to my files from anywhere.

Gmail for Business (GSuite)
I bought the package with my Squarespace account and I haven’t been disappointed. It made setting up my custom email domain and calendar super easy.

Apple Calendar
I hook up all my Google calendars (personal and business) to Apple Calendar and it’s perfection.

Google Drive (Sheets)
Used since day one of Birdhaus Co. We still haven’t switched to Quickbooks because we’re highly organized and diligent about tracking (and just don’t want to pay for another service – ha!). A friend of mine, Meredith, introduced me to Job Book which I’ve been using for Annette Furio Design and I LOVE it. Also, I have not invested in the Microsoft suite, so Google is my preferred alternative.

Used for all invoices, both on the Birdhaus Co. and Annette Furio Design side. I don’t love their fee structure (which is why cutting a check is always welcome, please and thanks) and I don’t feel great about passing on the fee to the client (get in on that before I change my mind!)

I almost forgot this one, which is funny because I have it open in my browser at any given time. I use Toggl to track time on all my projects, including time for new business meetings, writing proposals, and sometimes even non-billable hours. Call me crazy, but I just love to see all the data at the end of the month and year. It is also super helpful to know if projects are staying within budget (and adjusting proposals based on those findings.)

I am sure there are more, but these are my favorites and / or ones I use most often. I hope you found a little nugget of useful information. Cheers!

Annette Drapac