There’s an old saying that a bad workman blames his tools. But there is no denying that having the right tools will make any job easier and more enjoyable. We love designing and building websites—and having a suite of reliable and effective tools at our disposal is part of what makes it fun.
We’re happy to recommend and endorse the tools that we find especially useful—so here are a few of our favourite products and services. Some of these are affiliate links. If you do decide to check them out we may get a small kickback—which helps to keep the coffee machine full of beans.
Pricing starts at under £10 per month with a 30 day free trial. If you sign up with our link you’ll get a 10% discount for the life of your subscription!
Favourite Online Accounting
FreeAgent is award-winning online accounting software designed especially for small businesses. We’ve been using it since 2010—it does everything we need and more, and customer support has been first class. The user dashboard looks really nice—presenting all your financials in easy to see graphs and charts. It handles expenses, receipts and invoices. integrates with bank feeds and plays nicely with a variety of third party systems.
Pricing starts at $2.99 per month for a personal license and there is a 30 day free trial.
Favourite Password Manager
1Password is a tool for managing your passwords. It works everywhere–on your computer, tablet and phone–and allows you to set a different, non-trivial password for every one of your online accounts. And like it says, you just need one password to access them all. Having strong passwords is absolutely essential and 1Password makes this really simple to manage. This is another tool we’ve been using since 2010 and with thousands of online accounts to manage we couldn’t get by without it!
Pricing starts at $13 per month (billed at $150 per year).
Favourite Dedicated WordPress Host
Flywheel is web hosting company that specialises in hosting WordPress sites. They make it really easy to manage and migrate your website, technical support is excellent, and their servers are super-fast. They’re not the cheapest—but if you need reliable, high-capacity WordPress hosting we highly recommend them.
Linode virtual machines start from just $5 per month.
Favourite Cloud Hosting Provider
Linode is a developer-friendly cloud hosting provider. We’ve been using them for VPS hosting since 2010 but they also offer a range related services. Technical support is great—as is their documentation and quality of service. If you want the scalability of cloud-based hosting then Linode are worth checking out.
Domains start at just £9 per year for .co.uk and £12.50 per year for .com with 400+ domain extensions to choose from.
Favourite Domain Registar
We’ve used iwantmyname for domain registration and DNS hosting since 2012. They offer over 400 global domain extensions at no-nonsense prices. Their simple, clean user interface makes it nice and easy to find and register the right domain for your website. They also provide some nifty DNS automations that makes it really easy to set up your new domain with a bunch of popular online services.
Mailchimp is FREE for accounts with fewer than 2,000 subscribers. Paid plans start at just under $11 per month and get you premium features.
Favourite No-frills Email Marketing
Mailchimp is an online email marketing service for small businesses. They make it easy to set up email capture forms so you can build an email list, and then send smart looking email newsletters to your subscribers. Mailchimp also provides a bunch of automation features along with tracking and statistics to see how well your campaigns are performing.
MailerLite is FREE for accounts with fewer than 1,000 subscribers and comes with premium features like automation. Paid plans start at just $9 per month.
Favourite Email Automation Platform
MailerLite is another great platform for email marketing. Easy to set up and use, it also offers campaign automation for accounts on its free service tier—really powerful for sending an tailored email sequences to your subscriber list.
GeneratePress is FREE but a Pro license unlocks essential premium features for just $59 per year (or snag a lifetime license for $249).
Favourite Multipurpose WordPress Theme
GeneratePress is a lightweight WordPress theme with a focus on high performance and low overheads. It is a nice, clean theme in its own right and the Pro version provides a load of customisation features and a basic page builder. When combined with a fully featured page builder like Elementor it becomes a real powerhouse. The GeneratePress theme is coded to a high standard and developer Tom Usborne provides top notch technical support.
GenerateBlocks is FREE but a Pro license unlocks time-saving features and templates from just $39 per year for a single site.
Favourite Lightweight WP Page Builder
GenerateBlocks builds on the new Gutenberg blocks system in WordPress. Unlike many page builders GB is fast and lightweight—and it comes with additional features that make it a breeze to quickly and efficiently build out nice, clean page layouts across your website.
Elementor is FREE but a Pro license unlocks additional widgets and templates at just $49 per year for a single site.
Favourite Advanced WP Page Builder
Elementor is the most advanced page builder plugin for WordPress. Its drag-and-drop interface and built-in widgets bridge add a whole new dimension to the somewhat prosaic content management tools of WordPress. The combination of Elementor and a lightweight, blank canvas theme like GeneratePress provides the WSYWIG page layout tool that non-technical designers crave.
Gravity Forms licenses start at just $59 per year bringing a ton of advanced features and integrations.
Favourite Form Builder For WordPress
Gravity Forms is the best form builder plugin for WordPress that we have found. We’ve used it on pretty much every site we’ve built since 2012. It makes setting up contact forms a breeze and with the many add-ons available it becomes a really powerful tool for integrating with payment gateways, email marketing platforms and other third party system. Gravity Forms really is a powerful and flexible extension to WordPress and another tool we couldn’t do without!
WPMU DEV membership gets you access to their full package of plugins at just $190 per year for a single website. A FREE seven day trial is available.
Favourite WordPress Site Management Plugins
WPMU DEV provides a range of services for WordPress users, but we particularly like their site management plugins. They make it easy to secure your website against attacks, ramp up performance and perform a myriad of useful tasks without any hassle.
The WooCommerce shopping cart is FREE. Extensions vary in price depending on their functionality.
Favourite Shopping Cart Plugin
WooCommerce is the go-to solution for adding an online shop to your WordPress site. It powers 3 out of 10 e-commerce sites and provides a fully featured shopping cart, payment integration, and order and inventory management. It is easy customised with a range of extensions that make it ideal for multiple scenarios including event and asset booking, made-to-order customisable products, subscriptions and much more.