After 20+ years of planning, designing, developing, managing, hosting, and scaling websites — we've seen it all.
We've gathered the best of the best below. From tools and software to help you plan a website, to the best website hosting for stability and support. These are our very best recommendations.
We use, or used, ALL of these website tools below. We have many years experience with each and only recommend tools that we feel are essential to helping you have a better website.
Also, don't miss our articles, videos, or free website guides & checklists.
a ProtoFuse Proverb
"It is essential to have good tools, but it is also essential that the tools should be used in the right way.”
– Wallace D. Wattles
Planning, Strategy, Architecture
- ClickUp. They claim it's the "One app to replace them all." And you know what? They're right! We LOVE this for not only PM activities, but for their Docs feature — it crushes Google Docs.
Sitemapping, Flow Diagramming
- Slickplan. Their software also offers functionality in diagramming, content planning, and mockup management. But, their bread and butter is sitemaps and the only sitemapping tool we recommend.
- Lucid. Need a beautiful data flow chart? This tool is the best out there because of its speed and ease of use.
- GatherContent. This software does just one thing — help you craft, organize, and approve content for your website. Excellent for teams with many writers/editors.
- Grammarly. Who needs an editor when you have this tool? It has saved our butt too many times to count.
- Rev.com. Speech to text services, great for video or podcast captions and transcriptions.
- Convert Case. Handy little resource when working with weirdly formatted text. Copy/paste, choose how you want to convert.
- Axure. We've used nearly every prototyping tool out there. Axure is the most powerful, collaborative, and easy to use.
- Balsamiq. Want just a basic wireframing tool? Can't beat this one.
- Canva. For graphics, content creation, etc. Excellent collaboration features.
- Invision. Great for presenting/approving design mockups. Also offers prototyping.
- Webaim color contrast checker. Tool to ensure your text has a 3:1 contrast ratio against background.
Data, Measurement, Testing
- Google Analytics & Google Search Console. We hesitated to put this on the list because most people have adopted them. If you haven't, do it today.
- UserTesting.com. The gorilla in the testing space, but they're truly the best.
- Hotjar. Heatmaps, recordings, surveys, and more. This is powerful software critical to helping you see how people are actually using your website.
- WordPress. 43% of the Web runs WordPress as their CMS. Why? Because with the right people, framework, and customization — there's nothing you can't do. Also, the community and integrations at your fingertips is unmatched. See all WordPress recommendations below.
- Pipedrive. We've used a variety of CRMs, but this one stands alone in pricing, ease-of-use, and flexibility.
- WP Engine (get 4 free months with this link). This hosting platform is exclusive to WordPress. There's just not a better infrastructure, pound for pound, out there. And their support is AMAZING.
- UptimeRobot. Simple & cheap service to monitor uptime of your website, SSL, and more.
- Cloudflare. The most powerful and secure DNS host service available.
- BuiltWith. Quickly get a listing of the tech a website is running such as CMS, CDN, Payment Processor, CRM, and much more.
- DNS Checker. Helpful when migrating a new website to check DNS propagation.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
These two tools are at the top of every SEO professional's list. They help with keyword research, ranking tracking, and competitive research.
Image Optimization, Tools
- Image Extractor. We recently used this free tool during a website redesign to save images quickly and easily straight from the browser.
- Kraken.io. The best service for image optimization & compression. Their "Web Interface" is lightning fast with drag and drop functionality, and also offer an API/plugin.
- Codeable.io. The only WordPress-specific freelancer platform. We rarely offer website development services and recommend trying to find a WordPress developer here before going anywhere else.
Theme, Page Builder
- Beaver Builder. The absolute best page builder. Easy-to-use, well supported, big community.
- Astra Theme. Fast, popular, and fully customizable.
- We are in the process of creating an article detailing our WordPress plugin recommendations.
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