Some of the tools I use
It suddenly struck me the other day that it might be useful to share with you some of the tools I use on a daily basis. I’m not talking so much about code editors and suchlike, but rather things that you, as a ‘non-techie’ who has a business and/or website to run, might find useful.
Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far – most of these are free to use, so have a dig around and work out what might be useful for you. [Note: none of the links here are affiliate links & I take no responsibility for the service any of these companies provide!]
Storing Passwords Securely: RoboForm
Do you ever get a little overwhelmed with all those passwords?! (Or even worse, feel a little guilty as you use the same password across all your accounts?) RoboForm securely remembers your passwords for you, and makes logging in a whole lot easier. In todays ubiquitous world, I suggest the ‘Everywhere’ option – as it will sync across all your devices – mobiles included.
Tracking Time: Toggl
Although most of my work is done on a fixed-price basis, I like to track the number of hours I spend on a particular project – partly to work out if I’m charging the right amount! I’m not very disciplined at this, and used a number of tools unsuccessfully before I came across Toggl. It’s very simple, and they have a desktop widget, apps, etc which sync with your online account. Log in and you can get a report that will tell you exactly how much time you’ve spent on Project X over the last week/month/year.
Sharing Files: Dropbox
Ok, so there are multiple options here, but the one I use most (normally to allow clients to send me large photos) is Dropbox. Once installed on your computer, it acts like another ‘folder’, into which you can put ‘stuff’ and then share the folder with a given email address. You currently get 2GB of storage free, and also get 500MB added to your account for each referral you make – so when I email my client a link to share photos with me, and they then install Dropbox, I get another 500MB of free storage (up to 18GB).
Sharing Files (the technical way): FileZilla FTP Client
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a way of uploading files to a server. I use it pretty much every day when in the process of building websites, but it’s also used for sharing large files. I’ve used FileZilla for ages, and found it serves my needs just fine.
PDF creation: PrimoPDF (if you don’t have later versions of MS Office)
When uploading documents to your website, it’s normally accepted that PDF is the best format in which to upload. It looks more professional than a Word .doc file, and the vast majority of people will have Adobe Reader – required to view PDF files (not everyone has MS Office). The latest versions of Office have the ability to save a document directly in PDF format – simply ‘Save As’ and select ‘PDF’ from the file type drop down.
If you don’t have this option, an alternative is PrimoPDF – this adds a new ‘printer’ to your computer, which rather than printing to a physical printer, will print to a PDF file. Once you have PrimoPDF downloaded & installed, select ‘Print’ as normal, then select ‘PrimoPDF’ instead of your normal printer. Select your required options in the dialog box that appears, then your PDF document should pop up.
Finding Photos: Flickr
Not everyone has a huge stock of photos from which to choose from; and not everyone can afford to fork out for stock photos for each blog post they write. Flickr is a good alternative – use their advanced search to return only images with a Creative Commons licence, specifically, images that can be used commercially. Just remember to add an image credit link back to the photo on Flickr.
Resizing Photos: Picasa
Whether it’s to upload to your website or to send to a friend, you’ll want to make sure your photos are not MBs in filesize. Picasa makes it easy to resize a whole set of photos at once – see my blog post here for instructions.
Email Newsletters: MailChimp
Email newsletters are great for pulling people back to your website. I use MailChimp both for Hexagon and also for clients of mine. It’s brilliant – so easy to use and makes creating good-looking, professional email newsletters a doddle. Best of all it’s free if you don’t mind having the MailChimp badge at the bottom of your email.
Well, there’s this thing called WordPress… 🙂
Let me know if there’s anything else which you use and you’d like to share…