Resources & Tools
This is a collection of tools and resources which make running your web design business much easier.
Over years of building our own business, we tried literally hundreds of different tools and have compressed that list down into the best of the best.
Where available, some of these links are affiliate links. But every single one of them is used in our business.
If you have questions about anything on this list, or find something else so epic that you think it should be listed here, give a shout out in our Facebook group.
Let's get into it.
Project Management & Client Requests
Teamwork Projects & Teamwork Desk
Teamwork is a project management tool that does pretty much everything you could want it to do. After testing and playing with over 15 different tools, this is the one we settled on for our web design project management system.
Some of the things we use it for:
- Creating common task templates for use across projects
- Assigning a project manager, designer and developer to each project, which automatically assigns all tasks to those people
- Automatically setting due dates and timelines based on a start date
- Notifying people when a task is ready for them to work on (task dependencies)
- Notifying people when tasks are overdue
- Tracking time to tasks & projects
- Tracking time or tasks which are outside of scope, to be later charged to the client
- Integration with Teamwork desk to gather client feedback and change requests
- All feedback is converted into a task and tracked until completion
- Seeing overall progress of open projects
Overall it is a great system. I'd be lying if I said it was perfect, but out of everything we tried (we spent 3 months looking) it fits our web design business the best with great pricing to boot.
CRM and Email Marketing Automation
Moving to Active Campaign was one of the best business decisions I ever made. After comparing most well known solutions in this space, this is the one we settled on. And wow has it transformed our business.
The automation builder is second to none. We use the marketing automation portion to handle lead magnet delivery, website waitlist emails and capturing briefs from clients on autopilot before meeting with them. It ties in well with the kanban style CRM platform, which means you can fire off emails based on moving clients through your sales process.
One of my favourite examples is our "end of job" automation. We simply have to drag and drop a job into "complete", and it triggers a series of emails which:
- Asks the client how their experience was
- If they provide great feedback, it asks for persmission if we can use as a testimonial
- Ask for referrals
- Upsells to website care or maintenance
- Checks in a month later
- Archives the job
For a full review and more info, check out this post.
Lead Capture & Opt Ins
Thrive Leads or Bloom
Capturing leads is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Even if you don't have the time to create an ebook or lead magnet, you can capture leads a variety of ways:
- Website waitlist
- Packages & pricing information booklet
- Booking in a brief consult/virtual meeting
The next most important thing is that it is easy to set up those opt ins/lead capture, otherwise you'll never do it.
These two tools make it ridiculously easy.
We personally use Thrive. It gives you more flexibility over what your popups and forms look like. It integrates with just about every major marketing platform.
Bloom is still an amazing option. We used to use it but like the flexibility of Thrive more. If you don't care as much about flexibility, it's easy to set up new forms in a snap. One downside is you need to purchase the Elegant Themes membership to get access to it, but that also includes one of our favourite social plugins, Monarch.
Hosting and Staging Sites
Cloudways is our favourite hosting for web designers, ever. With it you can quickly and easily set up new WordPress installs, and quickly migrate existing sites in. For us, this cuts down on the time wasted setting up live sites for clients to preview their websites.
We also usually set up our more technical clients ot those with special requirements on Cloudways. It is built on top of other infrastructure like Digital Ocean and AWS which makes it easily scalable.
Read more at this post.
Shopping Cart / Payment System
Selling product & services online need not be difficult. But lots of systems out there seem to make it difficult. ThriveCart is a brilliant cart system that is perfect for selling things online. It makes it super easy to set up a great looking checkout page for just about anything with:
- Multiple payment gateways (we use Stripe & PayPal)
- Custom fields to collect any special information
- Embedded testimonials to increase conversions
- Upsells & bumps (increase revenue with other products)
- Receipt emails
- Automatic tax calculations
And much more to come. The best part of Thrive is how actively it is being developed. The team are clearly dedicated to making this the best cart system on the planet. There's very active Facebook group full of users and people from Thrive. Their support is responsive, and everything they do gives me confidence in where this is headed.
As a web designer, you manage a ton of client passwords. Asking for passwords via email and storing them in a spreadsheet is insecure and asking for trouble in the future.
LastPass provides a central place to store all your client passwords and give access to those passwords to members of your team. You can control who gets access to what passwords by creating shared folders and user 'groups'.
It saves us so much time and headache. It's also inexpensive.
I do have one problem with LastPass, and that is the Enterprise version interface. It makes some tasks a pain in the behind, but totally makes up for it with how powerful it is.
Follow Ups & Reminders
This is one I use personally, rather than as a company wide tool. It's very simple. When you send an email, you can bcc a special address like firstname.lastname@example.org to remind you to do something or follow up with someone in that many days.
If you cc the same address, it will automatically follow up with the person you emailed. On the pro version ($5 a month), you unlock response detection. When enabled, if the person responds, it cancells the follow up.
I use it to:
- Follow up with potential leads
- Follow up on outstanding quotes
- Remind me to check in with people about just about anything
- Even to remind myself about things
Check back for reviews on the following tools which we use in our business.
Google Apps / G-Suite - Everything you could want in an email & file system
TextExpander - To create shortcuts for phrases and text blocks that you repeatedly type
ServerPress - The easiest way to setup a local development environment for WordPress
Content Snare is part of Aktura Technology, a web app and SaaS development company. Web designers work with us to expand their capabilities. If clients ever approach you to build something that you can’t quite handle in-house, drop us a line.