The world of web development is constantly changing, with new development, business and productivity tools being introduced every single day. The vast majority of these tools will prove to be useful to at least some developers out there, but which ones do you actually need to use, and which ones are just fun to play around with?
Here's my list of the top 8 most interesting and useful web dev tools I've come across in the last few months.
Being able to create a mockup of your web design can save you days of trouble later on, plus you can give potential clients a look at exactly what their new site will look like. Original Mockups allows you to make your ideas a visual reality in a matter of just a few minutes with a drag-and-drop interface which is very easy to use, especially if you have any previous Photoshop experience.
One of the biggest problems most freelancers face in running their business is being paid on time, but Hiveage takes care of that problem for you. It's a sad fact of life that certain clients who hire freelancers think they can live on less money than anyone else, or simply deserve to be paid whenever the client feels like it. Freelancers are also notoriously bad at billing on time, but Hiveage is a set-and-forget invoicing solution, so it takes care of most of that hard work for you.
Very few freelancers reading this will have their finances organized in any kind of sensible or useful way. The usual excuse for this is that you're too busy being "creative", but the reality is that unless you have your finances organized properly you could find your freelance business going broke far more quickly than you thought possible. Cashboard allows you to manage entire projects, and their invoicing, from one single interface, plus it also works with major payment processors like Paypal and Stripe.
This is a great tool for anyone who's sick and tired of manually having to capture, crop, shrink, save and upload dozens of screenshots every day. Why? Because manually handling a high volume of screenshots is an incredibly time-intensive process, so anything which can eliminate that particular chore is always going to be welcome. ShrinkTheWeb is free and has the kind of tech support which would make bigger companies envious, to say the very least.
If there's one thing most developers and content managers hate about WordPress it's the default content editor included with it. It still amazes us that the team behind WordPress hasn't found some way to make content editing and typography as simple within WordPress as it is in Google Docs, for example. MotoPress can help remove all the headaches you experience when trying to create dynamic and interesting page designs with any WP site, plus it also fully supports responsive designs too.
Engaging website visitors within the first few seconds of them arriving on your site is one of the best ways to keep them around long enough to convert them into a subscriber, or even a paying customer. Animatron allows you to create the kind of web-based animations which can help you achieve your goal of improved visitor engagement, and you won't even need to learn a single line of code to make that happen. Animatron plans range in price from completely free to around $20 per month, with all your work stored safely in the cloud, making it easy to retrieve no matter where you are.
You communicate with your clients via email on a daily basis, but have you ever put any thought into what your email template says about your business? Or how that same old boring email template might not make that potential client you've just contacted sit up and pay attention to your marketing message? Stamplia allows you to create email templates which stand out from the crowd, so you know you'll make a bigger and better impression the next time you contact a client. Stamplia templates have also been tested for compatibility with the major email providers, so you shouldn't have any problems there.
So there you have it. What did you think of my list? If you have anything you want to add to the conversation why not add a comment below, especially if there are any tools which you feel belong on this list, but aren't featured here.
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