As a web developer, I rely on a lot of tools, pieces of software and online resources to run my business.
Some tools help me to develop and launch websites, while others help me to stay organise and keep afloat in my business. I honestly couldn’t do what I do without them!
In this post, I’m going to take you behind the scenes and show you 10 of the tools I use to run my web development business.
1 | Brackets
My code editor of choice (i.e. the place I write my code) is Brackets.
I was introduced to Brackets when I started my full-time job as a web developer, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I just love the simplicity of it, and it helps me to write code quickly and efficiently.
Bracket was created by Adobe (the people behind Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) and this means you can open up Photoshop files inside of Brackets and extract information from them such as font sizes, hexadecimal values and spacing measurements.
One of my favourite features of Brackets is the Beautify add-on that helps me to tidy up my code and make sure that it’s easy to read.
2 | Filezilla
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a way of transferring files between the client and server, and it’s how I access the files of the website I’m working on.
In order to use FTP you need to use an FTP client, and personally I use FileZilla. I have to admit, I’ve only ever used FileZilla so I don’t have any other FTP clients to compare it to! But it does the job, so what more do I need?!
I work on a lot of different websites so it’s much more efficient for me to be able to access all of the websites I need to access in one place rather than having to log into the cPanel or hosting account for each individual website. Also, I have connected Brackets to FileZilla so that when I open a file it automatically opens in Brackets for me.
3 | Local by Flywheel
Discovering Local by Flywheel was a real game changer for me. Prior to using Local I had always developed with WordPress using live sites. I would just set up a sub-domain, install WordPress and push all my updates via FTP. It was so time-consuming!
Local by Flywheel is an incredible free tool that allows you to create local development environments for WordPress. You can use it to run local copies of live websites too.
I always feel so much safer using Local by Flywheel as I’m not messing about with a live website, and if WordPress development is something you want to get into then I definitely recommend using this tool to help you practice.
4 | WordPress
Of course! How could I not include WordPress!
I often joke that WordPress is my one true love, but in all seriousness, it’s an amazing tool and I love working with it.
So many people think that WordPress is just a blogging platform, but in actual fact, it’s so much more than this. WordPress allows me to build websites for my clients that they can then have full control over via the user-friendly admin area. You can use WordPress to create online stores, membership websites, courses, client portals and so much more!
Of course, this very website is powered by WordPress, and you wouldn’t be reading this right now without it!
5 | Trello
Trello is a project management tool that works on a system of boards, lists and cards. I started using Trello to plan out my content for my personal blog back in 2015 and I’ve used it ever since.
I have a board for my blog, and within this board I have a list for post ideas and a list for each month. I then create cards for each blog post and give each card a due date so that I know when that post is due to go live. I have the Calendar power-up activated on this board so as well as seeing my blog posts in lists, I can also see them plotted on a calendar.
Of course, you can use Trello for planning and organising all sorts of projects, business related or not. Outside of my business, I’ve used Trello to organise moving house and to plan holidays.
You can sign up for Trello here (and if you use this link I’ll get a free month of Trello Gold at no cost to you!).
6 | Asana
Asana is another project management tool that I use. Some may say I’m mad for using both Trello and Asana instead of just using one, but I just like doing somethings in Trello (like planning my blog content) and other things in Asana.
I use Asana to manage all of my clients and the work that I need to do for them. I also use it to create checklists for WordPress theme development, testing and go-live checks, which I can just duplicate as and when needed.
One thing I really love about the Asana is the ability to easily chat with other team members who are working on the project. Chatting in Asana saves having to go back and forth with emails and it keeps everything organised.
7 | Skitch
Skitch is another tool I discovered at my previous job. I noticed a fellow developer using it and I downloaded it straight away!
Skitch is a tool that allows you to take and annotate screenshots. I use it to create graphics for my blog posts and for my user guides that I produce for my clients.
I love the simplicity of this tool. Previously I would just use the print screen button on my keyboard to take screenshots, and then I would annotate them in Photoshop, but this was so much more time consuming than using Skitch.
8| Adobe Photoshop
Even though I’m a developer and not a design, Photoshop is still a very important tool in my business.
I use it to edit the photographs that I use on my blog (yes, I take all the photos myself!), to create social media graphics, and to open mockups of websites that my clients provide me with.
While there are a lot of amazing free graphic design tools out there (Canva being one that I love), I honestly don’t think you’ll ever beat Photoshop. Sure, it’s an investment, and it comes with a steep learning curve, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion.
9 | Toggl
Much of the work I do as a developer as billed hourly, and therefore I need to keep track of how many hours I’m spending on each project for each client.
To do this, I use a free time tracking tool called Toggl. All I have to do is create a task, assign it to a client or project and then turn on the timer. And when I’ve finished working on that task I turn the timer off. Then when it’s time to invoice my clients, I can easily create a report that shows me how many hours I need to charge for.
Even if you don’t need to keep track of your time for clients, I’d definitely recommend just tracking your own time to see how you’re spending it. I promise you, the results will be fascinating and insightful!
10 | Chrome DevTools
I honestly don’t think I could do my job without Chrome DevTools!
Chrome DevTools allows developers to see the code that powers any website online. You can see the HTML structure, the CSS that is being applied, the scripts that are running, and so much more.
You can also play around and edit the website on-the-fly using DevTools. This allow us developer test out changes we plan on making to a website, and it helps us to diagnose problems with a website without even needing to access the website files. Any changes that we do make using DevTools disappear after we refresh the page because we haven’t actually made any changes to the website files. Pretty cool, eh?
While most modern web browsers come with developer tools, Chrome’s tools are considerably better than any other browsers.
To access the Chrome DevTools, simply open up Chrome on your computer and hit F12. You don’t need to download or install anything to get started!
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