My Recommended Tools and Services for Web Developers

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These are my recommended tools, services, and resources for web developers.

Note: This is a professional review site that receives compensation when you purchase through the affiliate links. I personally test or research each product before endorsing it. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.

My Recommended Web Hosting

Through my clients, I have experience with tons of web hosting services. Some are great, while many are awful.

I use SiteGround for all of my personal blogs, as well client sites with moderate traffic. Their servers are fast, and their reliability is superb. And they offer free SSL certs which are relatively easy to set up.

Web Hosting

For higher-end WordPress hosting, I recommend WP Engine. My favorite feature is the one-click staging site creation. It copies your live site to a staging URL where you can mess with it, then push it live when you’re done.

Domain Name Hosting

Your domain name is one of the most valuable components of your web presence. It’s best to register it yourself at a domain name hosting company – don’t let your web developer “take care” of this!

I recommend NameCheap for quality affordable domain name hosting:

Site Monitoring

I use the free Uptime Robot service for unlimited 24/7 site monitoring. Receive an email when your site is down!

For more detailed analysis, I use Pingdom, which gives you waterfall charts showing the load times of all of the elements of your site. Pingdom also offers site monitoring as a paid service.

Local Web Development

For developing sites on my computers locally, I used to use ServerPress, but I switched to MAMP (Mac and Windows). It’s free, and really easy to set up sites on.

I’ve heard really good things about FlyWheel Local. Offers local SSL cert, deployment tools, and ability to test website email when offline. It will even give you a live URL where your local site can be previewed by others!

Time Tracking and Invoicing Software

As a freelance contractor, it’s important to track time accurately, and to be able to easily generate invoices. Harvest is a great, easy-to-use solution that I use every day and has saved me tons of time. It automatically generates PDF invoices, and offers my clients the ability to pay using PayPal. Get a $10 credit if you use the link below:

Harvest time tracking

Notes

I use Evernote every day for logging my daily activities, keeping track of my clients, jotting down blog ideas, and for personal notes. It works on all of my devices and saves me tons of time!

Evernote

Desktop Email Client

I guess I’m a little old school – I still use a desktop email client. When Windows Live Mail went away, I switched to eM Client. It’s compatible with all of the major email services including Gmail, Microsoft Live Mail, and most standard providers. It has the right balance of features and simplicity for me. Read my full review here, or click the link below to go to their site.

Photo Editing

For the vast majority of my simple photo editing needs, I use Paint.NET, a free desktop Windows application. It’s great for general image re-sizing, adjusting brightness and contrast, and doing quick markups. It’s easy to use and just works.

Bulk Image Editing

Check out Fotosizer to do bulk image resizes. To add watermarks, check out Watermark-Images.com.

Free Photoshop Alternatives

Of course, I use Adobe Photoshop for more intense tasks like removing parts of an image, but for a lighter-weight free alternative, check out Gimp, available for Mac and Windows.

If you’re really into creating drawings without Photoshop, check out Krita, which is also able to open some Photoshop files.

A free online alternative to Photoshop is Photopea. It’s awesome because it can open Photoshop files in most cases, saving you from having to subscribe to Adobe just to open a ps file.

On my iPad Pro, I use Adobe Comp CC for sketching and drawing along with the Apple Pencil. It’s a free download! You can make some pretty cool watercolor and oil paintings with it.

Creating Color Palettes That Look Good

If you’re like me, and not a graphic designer, picking colors that look good together can be difficult. But, Adobe Color CC is a free site that helps you pick colors that go well together.

Free Images

If you’re a blogger or if you generate almost any kind of web content, you need images, check out my favorite sources for free stock photography.Free Hi-Res Images for Your Website – great list of sources of free images.

If you need temporary images for a site that you’re developing, look no further than PlaceBear.com and PlaceKitten.com: free images of kittens or bears with the dimensions you specify!

Git for Dummies

I use version control for many of my sites. In general like the command line, but haven’t fully gotten the hang of the Git command line workflow. So, I use SourceTree, a free Mac and Windows app that handles all of my code check-ins and other operations using a GUI. I use it with both Bitbucket and Github.

Checking Browser Compliance

If you’re coding for the web, caniuse.com is invaluable! It tells you which features work on which browsers and what versions. Especially useful if you have to be compatible with older IE browsers (if you’re working on such a project, my condolences).

Clearing Your Website’s Featured Image in Facebook Feeds

Facebook caches the featured images of websites that you post. That’s great, but it’s a problem if you ever want to change the image that Facebook shows of your site in its feed. To refresh the image cache, use the Facebook Sharing Debugger.

Checking DNS Propagation

If you’ve changed the DNS of a site and are wondering if it’s fully propagated, WhatsMyDNS.net is an awesome tool.

CSS Tools

These are some helpful online CSS tools and resources.


Javascript/jQuery

  • FlexSlider – (now owned by Woo Themes) is the best jQuery slider plugin. It is responsive and works on mobile.
  • TimeAgo – You know how when you update your status on a social networking site, it says how long ago you did it in real time?  For example, “two minutes ago”, “three days ago”, or whatever. This neat plugin transforms a time in ISO 8601 format to “time ago” format. Use the “.toISOString()” method to convert date and time to ISO 8601.
  • TouchWipe – Need to detect a swipe on a mobile device? This is your solution. Works on iOS and Android. Remember to set the preventDefaultEvents parameter to false if you want to be able to pinch, zoom, and scroll in the swipe area.
  • Reveal – Easy-to-use code to implement a popup box on your website.
  • YouMightNotNeedJQuery.com – Just like it says, you might be able to replace the 2MB jQuery download with a few lines of modern, browser-compliant JavaScript. Simply search for the JavaScript equivalent for most jQuery commands.
  • WaypointsTrigger events as the user scrolls down the page. Events trigger by default when the element hits the top of the browser window, but you can set a percentage amount to trigger at different points in the browser!

PHP

  • PHP Mobile Detect – Yes, I do responsive design, but sometimes you have to know what kind of device you’re on for various reasons.  This is the PHP plugin I use when I have server-side code that needs to know if it’s going on a mobile device.

Website Privacy Policy Services

Websites are legally required to have a privacy policy, especially with GDPR (the European privacy law) in effect now. Big companies have lawyers for that, but for most sites, that’s just not economically feasible. Fortunately, there are alternatives to hiring a lawyer.

Iubenda is probably the leading website privacy policy service. They will update your policy in real time as the laws change. They have a subscription model so this is still mostly for bigger companies.

A cheaper alternative is TermsFeed. This service has a one-time fee with no monthly subscription. Cost is usually around $100 or less. They will still host your policies online and update them as the laws change.

Iubenda is still more detailed and comprehensive, but for bloggers and smaller sites, TermsFeed should be fine.

Share Your Tools!

What are your favorite web developer tools? Please leave a comment below! – Brian



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