The shortcuts on the desktop are certainly effective, but not very esthetic, especially when there are many shortcuts on it.
STablauncher is a tool helping you to launch your programs. Not only does it launch your favorite programs but can also launch your web pages, files, folders. The access is as quick as the shortcuts but more beautiful and more ergonomic. It uses low resources as possible and allows you to customize the appearance of the tabs in different ways by changing transparency, colors, animation, etc.