The tools you use have a surprising amount of influence on the way you do work.
Everyone, from police detectives to construction workers and web agency owners, relies heavily on their set of tools to achieve important goals.
If you have the right tools, keeping your workflow streamlined and organized is no problem at all.
But it was the psychologist Abraham Maslow who first wrote that “If all you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
In most cases, your choice of tools defines the way you do work more than the other way around. This can become problematic in a field like a web design and development, where the need for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking is constant.
This blog post is about the tools I use on a regular basis. My intention is to share the knowledge that helps web agency owners improve productivity and efficiency. Read on and find out what these tools are good for, how much they cost, and what you can expect to gain by using them.
The Top 10 Tools for Web Agency Owners
Before getting into the best tools for web agency owners, a few clarifications:
- None of these tools are strictly web development tools. They are operational and management tools suitable for nearly any creative industry. There is no guarantee that they’ll fit your workflow the same way they fit mine – but it’s worth a shot.
- The team at UnlimitedWP genuinely uses these tools to generate value for clients. We have no affiliations or promotional deals with any of the tool developers. You’re getting on the objective rundown of each tool, which includes benefits and drawbacks.
- I couldn’t include every tool in the UnlimitedWP shed for this post. If you feel like an important one has been left out, add it in the comment section!
So what are the best tools for web agency owners to use? Let’s break down some of the most useful options out there:
1. Proposify: Create and send Proposals in Minutes
As a web agency owner, you’re responsible for a lot more than pure coding. One of the most important things that you have to do is create great proposals. After all, if you can’t convince your client that your services represent the best value for achieving their goals, what are you going to code?
Proposify makes the proposal process simple and effective. The team behind it used to run their own web agency, so they know exactly what clients are looking for, and what obstacles web agency owners typically run into when creating these documents.
Using Proposify’s templates and digital signature capabilities, you can get a proposal made, delivered, and signed in no time. Additionally, you’ll be sure to impress your clients with a professional-looking document that outlines all of the project’s important information in an organized, attractive way.
Cost: I pay $50 per month for Grandfather pricing, and it’s absolutely worth it in terms of the amount of time saved.
2. Calendly: Schedule Calls with No Fuss
How much time do you spend going back and forth with clients to schedule calls? Better yet, how many clients do you estimate you’ve lost because they were hesitant to schedule a call to get the process started?
Calendly takes all of the guesswork out of scheduling calls with clients. The ability to automatically set a date for a call hugely improves the customer experience by reducing the amount of communication that has to take place before you start talking about the project itself.
Calendly is like the call-scheduling solution to the famous TCP joke. It streamlines everything you need to establish in order to communicate with clients smoothly. It also makes it easy for team members to schedule calls with management – calls that would otherwise become emails that rarely, if ever, receive an immediate response.
Cost: Although there is a free option, I pay $8 per month for extra flexibility and integration.
3. Hubstaff: Calculate Your Efficiency and Hourly Rate
Hubstaff is one of the newer tools we’re using at UnlimitedWP. As of this writing, Hubstaff has been part of our workflow for about 6 months. It’s a powerful tool for calculating work activity and efficiency.
Essentially, Hubstaff is a time-tracking software solution that allows you to measure your agency’s work capacity against your quoted prices. Within a short time, you will have the data you need to factor complex processes into your quotes even when you’re not sure how long they take to complete.
By using Hubstaff and performing some simple arithmetic, you can calculate your work efficiency for just about any project, including billable and nonbillable hours. Schedule a call with me and I’ll show you how it’s done.
Cost: I pay $115 per month for a team of 17 + myself. Your costs will differ based on the number of users.
4. BrowserStack: Live Web-Based Browser Testing
Live testing is important for any web developer. If you are manually testing your websites in multiple browsers, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to streamline testing and improve your results.
The reason is simple: You can’t keep the latest versions of all browsers on your work PC. Trying takes more effort than it’s worth, and certainly takes more time.
BrowserStack solves this problem by allowing you to virtualize different browsers directly from your preferred browser. It even allows you to check your website against older browsers and mobile browsers. You can even use a Java applet to test local pages before they go public.
Cost: I pay $39 per month for this tool, and the quality testing improvement is well worth it.
5. Screencast and Jing: Make Explaining Easier with Screencasting Software
Screensharing software is one of the most important web agency owner tools in the shed. How many times do you need to explain something on your computer screen to someone on a different computer? If you’re like me, that happens every day.
Screensharing videos make it easy to demonstrate exactly what you’re seeing on your screen while commenting on it. This improves internal communication between team members and improves external client updates – no more long phone calls or email threads.
Both Screencast and Jing are owned by TechSmith. You can sign up for a free trial before buying a subscription to find out just how useful this tool will be for you.
Cost: I pay $9.95 per month with storage, and you can earn a slight discount for paying a year in advance.
6. Zoom Meeting: Video and Screenshare Calls On the Go
Although Screencast and Jing are extraordinarily useful when it comes to recording and sending one-on-one communications, they don’t offer full video conferencing functionality. As a web agency owner, there are many moments when you need more interactivity than you can get with a screencast.
Zoom lets you make and record video conferencing calls. This way, you can give your development team and collaborators first-hand exposure to your clients. This saves time and reduces the chance of miscommunicating a client’s wishes to your team.
With a permanent URL from Zoom, you can make it part of your Calendly call information profile and immediately jump into calls on a mobile device, desktop, or even dial-in telephone. Out of every tool on this list, Zoom might be my favorite.
Cost: I pay $15 per month for this service, and have completed more than 1000 calls using it.
7. HootSuite: Manage All Your Social Media Accounts in One Place
Social media is important for upholding your web agency’s reputation and credibility. Maintaining your social media presence isn’t hard, but it does take time and effort.
HootSuite makes it easy to manage multiple social media accounts, essentially turning multiple time-consuming low-impact processes into a single high-impact one. If you also manage social media accounts for your clients, it’s an absolute must-have.
Also, if you have more than one person managing social media, Hootsuite is a must-have. It can get pricey as your team grows, but the ability to manage a cross-platform team within a single environment is worth the price.
Cost: I pay $15 per month for basic single-user Hootsuite functionality. It supports a maximum of 10 users, but at steeply increasing rates.
8. MailChimp: Automate Email Beyond Marketing
Everybody knows MailChimp. If you don’t use it, you are almost certainly receiving emails from someone who does.
But what I’ve discovered is that you can use MailChimp for much more than email marketing. Although that is its primary function, there are lots of ways that automated email communication can help you deliver web projects on time.
For instance, at UnlimitedWP we email clients two weeks into every project asking for Google Analytics access, or for a UA code and tracking script. Since we do this on every project, why not automate the process? MailChimp allows us to do that.
Some of the emails you may want to consider automating include:
- Introductory emails and onboarding
- Reminders and updates
- Post-project feedback/review
- Assigning login access credentials
- Password resets
Take some time to think about how you can turn necessary emails into unique, branded experiences using a platform like MailChimp. That password reset email is a perfect opportunity to stand out because you know your client has to open it.
Cost: The company’s free service is enough for what I do.
9. HotJar: See What Users Are Doing On Your Site.
As a web agency owner, your entire business is built on user interaction. If your websites engage users and generate value for clients, then you’re a success. If your websites don’t, you should definitely find out why.
HotJar lets you do that. It gathers qualitative data about user activity on your websites. This is different than your regular run-of-the-mill data analytics.
Qualitative data refers to all of the information you can’t represent in numbers – like heatmaps, funnel tracking, and surveys. You can use this to fix leaks in your sales funnels, finding drop-off points where users abandon shopping carts, and more.
Cost: The ability to watch movies of real users interacting with my websites is worth the $29 per month I pay for HotJar. There is also a free option – so try it out!
10. Site 24/7 Monitor: Monitor Uptime and Load Speed with Ease
Once you hit a certain threshold of websites built, manually monitoring uptime and load speed becomes impractical. You need a service that will send you an email as soon as anyone of your websites breaks down or starts running slowly – so that you catch it before your client does.
Site 24/7 Monitor does exactly that, and it definitely represents a key-value towards the customer experience. This is especially true of non-tech-savvy clients, who tend to have a single opinion about website problems: that they’re your fault.
With website, server, and network monitoring, you can fix issues before they become problems and ensure that your clients remain perfectly happy with your work. The service even offers real user monitoring and cloud monitoring services.
Cost: I pay $25 per month for Site 24/7 Monitor, and it’s well worth the ability to be proactive about website maintenance.
Extra Credit: Three Bonus Tools You Need to Start Using
Since we’ve already covered some of the most useful tools for web agency owners from a business organization perspective, there are an additional three tools that need to be mentioned. These are far more popular and more self-explanatory than the list above, so they’ll get a passing mention here for the sake of completeness.
- TeamWork or Asana. Project management can make or break your business. Teamwork, Asana, and even BaseCamp are all-powerful task management tools that can help keep your projects organized and your clients informed.
- Slack. Task management platforms are great for keeping an eye on overall business priorities, but Slack is the best tool for managing day-to-day processes. Slack is so popular that you probably already have it – if not, you should try it.
- Google Drive. Another big one, Google Drive makes document collaboration easy. Even if you have your own project management tool, you may still find yourself relying on Google Drive for small-time projects or specific, one-time workloads that don’t easily fit in your established workflow.
Since these are all big, well-known platforms for getting work done, there is a great degree of crossover when it comes to adopting one or more of them. There is also a great degree of competition from new companies trying to outdo these established brands.
This small selection of tools is just a primer on the real capabilities that choosing the right set offers web developers and agency owners. It’s a great place to get started, and I hope they are as useful for you as they have been for me.
Comment below and let us know what other tools you rely on!
Do you have questions about which tools are best for web agency owners? Ask us for guidance on which tools you need most!