Whether you’re just getting started in web development or you’ve been working in the field for many years, you’ll always need tools which make your life easier and your design work a breeze. There are many free and paid resources for web developers, but figuring out which ones might work best for you is time-consuming. We’ve done the legwork for you and figured out the unique features of some of the more popular resources out there.
There are around 1.7 million websites out there, driving the need for web developers to both create these sites and keep them running. Nearly every type of business has a website these days. And although not all small businesses have their own website yet, expect them to seek development help as more and more people get online and access the Internet via their mobile devices.
With so many different developers working on a wide range of projects, there is also a plethora of valuable tools cropping up throughout the market. Let’s explore some of the best resources currently at your fingertips.
A content management system (CMS) allows you to get content online easily. All of the heavy lifting of development is done for you. You simply make tweaks to the design or the content until you meet the needs of your clients. Here are some CMS systems that you might enjoy using:
Without a doubt, WordPress is one of the most popular CMS systems on the market today. The software itself is free to use as an open source project, but you may need to invest in plugins and themes if you want to customize the CMS for your individual needs. Because the platform is open source, there is a lot of free help and advice on how to use the system and change it to meet your needs.
If your design skills are a bit more advanced, then Typo3 may be just the ticket. Like WordPress, it’s an open source project. However, it offers more security than WP and a ton of design flexibility if you know coding language. The system has an online community and tutorials to help you figure out the workspace.
Drupal is another free CMS solution and is among the top three most popular CMS platforms. The system is made up of modules that cover different areas of your site, such as content, e-commerce or SEO. It has a deep learning curve, however, so past experience with design is almost a must-have to effectively use Drupal. It’s friendly to multiple users and is used frequently by public institutions such as schools.
When it comes to design, there are a number of things that can help you stand out from the crowd. Although you likely know how to code things from scratch or create your own images on Photoshop, there are some tools which can make designing a bit easier for both beginner and advanced web developers.
CoffeeCup is a free HTML editor. If you want a quick way to update your code and get a website up and running in HTML, this free tool offers a lot of advantages. For instance, the system offers a real-time preview of the site so you can make sure everything looks the way you want before you go live.
At some point in your design work, you’ll need icons for your website. Or, if you’re creating an app, you’ll need icons to instruct users where to navigate next. Endless Icons offers sets as well as individual icons. Basic icons give you a good place to start. You can then add color if you want to further individualize the images.
If you’ve ever tried to design a website for a new client, you know how often the name you’d like is already taken. NameMesh lets you plug in different words and come up with generated names that might work for your website. You can also search by common names, hyphenated or short domain names. Some of these newer, creative domain combinations allow web developers and clients to play around with word combinations and TLDs until you find the right fit.
As a web developer, one of your most valuable assets is your time. If you could learn better time management skills, how much more work could you complete or delegate to others? Fortunately, there are some free tools that will help you out.
Toggl helps you see how much time you’re spending on various tasks and lets you track billable time for clients. You can also download an app that helps you track your time while working remotely. If you find you’re spending too much time on unimportant tasks, look for ways to farm that work out to someone else.
DropBox is free for a certain amount of storage, but then you will have to pay a little for anything over the quota. You can use DropBox to sync up files on your computer so everything gets backed up automatically. You can also combine the program with tools such as IFTTT to automate content and data backup from files added to your website.
Todoist helps you get organized on all your tasks and projects by sending reminders and integrating with some of your favorite apps. Put items on your to-do list and get regular reminders even if you’re offline. You can also use the system as a calendar so you can review upcoming tasks each week.
Finances and Invoicing
Many developers work as freelancers. Staying on top of your finances and invoicing clients can be cumbersome without the right tools. Fortunately, there are some simple organizational resources for web developers that don’t cost much — if anything at all.
Did you know you can use Square for more than just sending out an invoice and taking payments? Their system allows you to set up recurring payments, complete with invoice reminders set to go out at specified intervals. This works well for businesses that have an ongoing renewal rate, such as website hosting companies or designers who charge regularly for a package or to-do updates.
This free online tool allows you to send out quotes and invoices for free. You can, of course, upgrade for additional features as your business grows. But the basic package costs nothing and gives you a chance to try out Zervant to see if it works for your business needs.
Wave offers free online bookkeeping software so you can stay on top of your finances at all times. You can use the system to track income and expenses for tax purposes, invoice clients, accept payments and even run payroll. It also allows you to scan and store receipts for future reference.
Design tools make your life easier and reduce the time it takes to complete tasks. Instead of having to draw a font from scratch, for example, you can use a ready-made font. Look for tools that free up your time for more creative endeavors.
Google fonts are compatible with those using Google as their browser. Their fonts are also free to use, which is a nice perk for developers. You’ll find common fonts such as Roboto or less common fonts such as Raleway. No matter what type of project you’re working on, you’ll find a ready-made font with the personality you need.
HTML5 Up lets you create HTML templates you can use over and over again. These are handy for creating a full site or something smaller, like HTML email templates. You can also create templates that work both for mobile and online viewing, testing them on different screen sizes.
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FreeForMatter.com lets you test out your HTML code to make sure it has the right look and format you want. If you’re writing particularly complex pieces of coding, this tool allows you to see errors before they become nightmares. The formatter finds missing tags or unbalanced HTML tags and fixes them for you.
Tips for a Better B2B Site
Design Roast, none other than yours truly, offers a list of tips on creating a better B2B website. Along with this article, which suggests learning your sales funnel and creating a better buyer persona, you’ll find articles on a wide range of design topics, including tips about the latest tools and freebies on the market.
As a developer, you may work on more than one project at a time or handle projects with a lot of moving parts. Project management software allows you to make sure everything is completed in a timely manner and everyone on the design team is on the same page. Here are a few of our favorite project management resources for developers:
Git is a free, open source project management solution. The system is set up to handle both large and small projects and is very easy to learn. The system allows you to create role-based codelines and create new branches for specific features within a project.
If you haven’t yet tried Trello for project management, you should give this free platform a whirl. Cards make up the basis for this system. Cards can be assigned to individuals and moved around within the dashboard to show where you are in the process and what work is coming up.
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Asana puts team management at your fingertips. Start with the Basic package, which is free. However, if you want to upgrade and gain features such as the ability to create private teams, add milestones and implement workflow rules, you’ll need to upgrade to at least a Premium package, which runs $9.99 per user per month (billed annually).
Dozens of Other Resources for Web Developers
It’s impossible to cover every good resource for web developers in a single article. The ones listed above are a good starting point, but use them as a springboard to find the tools that work best to drive your business and help you grow. You don’t have to spend a fortune to gain access to valuable tools for developers. You do have to pay attention to what’s available and what other users enjoy.