Tools you can trust
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Favourite Email Marketing Platform
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.
Favourite Simple WordPress Theme Vendor
StudioPress offers a range of high-quality WordPress themes built on their highly regarded Genesis Framework. The great thing about StudioPress themes is the simplicity that they offer the user—they don’t clutter up the WordPress user interface or overwhelm the user with configuration options. They are solidly built and well documented, so there is still plenty of scope for customisation if needed.
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.
Favourite WordPress Page Builder Plugin
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.
Favourite Form Builder WordPress Plugin
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!
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.
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.