Having brewed websites for almost 12 years now, I've used a fair share of tools and websites to help streamline the process. Nowadays, as a busy freelancer and online entrepreneur, I try to stay as efficient as I can in the web creation process. Just about every tool/website listed here I use on at least 90% of my projects (Dell XPS M1210 Battery) .
1. Photoshop CS2 - Yeah, kinda obvious -- I upgrade every other version usually. Used for all my imaging needs.
2. Flash CS3 - Another obvious one. Although I also use Flash for all my vector needs as well (as opposed to buying Illustrator). Most people would argue that Illustrator is a "must-have," but you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish with Flash (and of course, I speak as web designer/developer, not a print or identity designer) (Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery) . I'm sure I'll get it someday :-)
3. The FWA - The standard for the best Flash websites on the web. Great inspiration fuel.
4. CoolHomePages - Another website that simply databases great looking websites, all filed under various styles and types (Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery) .
5. FaveUp - Not as many websites here as Cool Home Pages, but a really good directory of logos and some sites.
6. Flashloaded - Some well-written and very cool Flash components. I particularly like their 3DEnvironment component and have used it a few times (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11S Battery) .
7. Flashden - A stock Flash site. Great for inexpensive Flash stock.
8. iStockPhoto - The best micro-stock image website. A few bucks for some really great photos/illustrations.
9. TechCrunch - If anything significant happens in the world of tech, it will appear here. Great news coverage on startups as well (Dell Vostro 1710 Battery) .
10. Smashing Magazine - Great design "lists" including ones for well-designed sites and free quality sites.
11. FlashKit - A bit of a confusing website, but a great source for free sound clips for Flash and a few other Flash tidbits.
12. A List Apart - The best original articles for "people who make websites." Great CSS workarounds here (ASUS EEE PC900 battery) .
13. Kirupa - Wonderful site if you're a Flash rookie or veteran. Tons of tutorials, tips, and files - plenty for other developers too (.Net, PHP, Photoshop, etc.) (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ61B battery) .
14. SciTE - I've always been a handcoder for my sites, and this is my favorite, albeit somewhat archaic, text editor. The shortcuts, file tabs, and syntax coloring all seems to be just right. I use it for all my HTML/CSS/PHP and most of my .Net (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ18M battery)
15. SharpDevelop - Why pay hundreds for Visual Studio when you can get a very similar program for free. The best open-source IDE for a .Net developer.
16. Firefox - Besides being a more secure browser, Firefox has innumerable plugins helpful for any website creator. There's even one for opening an IE tab so you can test your html all in one browser (Sony VGN-FZ21M battery) .
17. Google - Anything I ever need to know about anything, someone already has documented it, and Google will find it.
18. Google Groups - As development questions often appear on newsgroups, this is where I search for them, often finding answers Google's standard engine doesn't find (Sony VGN-FZ150E battery) .
19. SourceForge - Don't reinvent the wheel. More than likely there is an open source project that functions like you need it to, and you'll find it here.
20. Three Monitors - A 22-inch monitor is now around $300 and 19-inch ones are half that, making it cheap to have a dual or triple monitor setup. Email on one, Photoshop/Flash in another, and Editor/Browser in the middle (Dell RM791 battery) .
21. IIS - Developing locally is the only way to go.
22. FreeTextBox - A great rich text box I use for creating CMS systems for clients.
23. PDShop - Not a beautiful website nor cart, but it's the best .Net cart for the money. You won't find a comparable one for four times as much (Sony VGP-BPS13 battery) .
24. NameCheap - I've used my share of registrars and NameCheap is by far the best. The administration is the most logical and simple, with no tricks or annoyances (sony vgp-bpl9 battery) .
25. CrystalTech - The hosting company I highly recommend to all clients and use myself. Competitive prices, great admin panel, and 24/7 tech support with very knowledgable folks.
26. SQL Server Express/Management Studio - The free SQL Server database. Works great for smaller websites (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery) .
27. SmarterMail - Solid email software. Easy and comprehensive admin and a good webmail client too.
28. NewEgg - The low-cost, quick delivery shop for all computer hardware needs. Lots of reviews and product images as well.
29. MySQL GUI Tools - The best tools to manage a mySQL database (Sony VGP-BPL15 battery) .
30. Alertra - Ever worry that your website might be down and you wouldn't know about it? For a few bucks a month, Alertra checks your site thru the day and will email or SMS you if anything goes amiss. A lot of options and worth every penny if you run your own websites (Dell Inspiron E1505 battery ) .
31. Google Analytics - Free, robust analytics program that you can implement in 5 minutes. What more can you ask for?
32. SecureFX - A $59 FTP program that's reliable and well-designed. I've used many of the free FTP tools out there, but this one just makes file transfer easier (Dell Latitude E6400 battery) .
33. Yahoo Site Explorer - An easy way to see how your site is doing from an SEO perspective.
34. Western Digital Passport - I have a couple 80GB units for all my backups and large transfers. A perfectly small size and a reliable company for data storage (HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery) .
35. Yahoo Unlimited-To-Go - How can you work without music? Especially when you can access an insanely huge library of music for so cheap (one offer gives you two years for $80).
36. Google Reader - You must keep up with the design/development field or else. I now have 40 newsfeeds that I scan almost daily (Hp Pavilion dv3-1000 battery) .
37. BlinkSale - As a solo freelancer, this makes invoicing so much easier. Sends emails, reminders, and thank-yous. Also good as a very primitive accounting of moneys received (Dell Precision M70 Battery) .
38. TradeKing - Profits from business go to investments via my online broker TradeKing. IRA options and only $5 a trade.
39. Fool Caps - This is a great research community for investment market ideas. A chunk of my yearly income is from investments (Acer Aspire One battery) .
40. PrimoPDF - I keep all my business as PDFs and PrimoPDF lets me transform docs easily to PDF.
41. White Tile Board - Whiteboard at office stores is way overpriced. You can get a 4x8 foot panel from Home Depot for $12 and coat your whole wall. Not only will friends be impressed by your wall art and apparent tech savvy-ness, it's great for tracking projects or mapping ideas (SONY VGP-BPS8 battery) .
42. iPhone - Along with a Bluetooth headset, this makes mobile communication and information so much easier and quicker. I use it to read all my RSS feeds as well.
43. Pidgin - An open source instant messenger that allows me to have all the various IM clients in one piece of software (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery) .
Though I'm 100% positive that I forgot some things, I think this list is still representative -- I hope it's been helpful and please comment on any tools you've found indispensable to your business.