Resources (aka The Best Web Design Stuff)
We thought it would be useful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all of your web design needs. We are always learning new, better ways to do things and when we do we’ll add them to this list. You should bookmark this page for your reference and convenience.
The BEST Web Hosting Company: WP Engine
Without web hosting you cannot have a website so it only makes sense to find the absolute best web hosting company out there. We've tried a ton of them and we fully recommend WP Engine.
They are the MOST reliable hosting company we've ever used and the customer support is the absolute BEST in the industry. You can be chatting with a competent person in minutes anytime of day and that is rare. They are not cheap but they are definitely worth it. Here are just a few reasons:
- Daily backups (which you can actually reinstall in a few clicks)
- Free SSL (Google likes these now so every site should have one)
- Free Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Simple to use interface (this is great if you are scared of WHM / Cpanel)
NOTE: You CANNOT host unlimited sites with them like a regular WHM interface, instead you buy a package that contains X amount of accounts to put sites on.
The 2nd Best Web Hosting Company: HostGator
If you don't want to go with WP Engine (maybe they are too expensive or you don't like their interface) then you should go with a reseller account from HostGator.
They are pretty reliable, inexpensive and the customer support is pretty good. Are they perfect? Nope. Is anyone?
- If you are creating your own website, get the WP Cloud Hosting. This includes a CDN, malays scanning and removal, WP and plugin updates and more.
- If you are a web designer, get a HostGator Reseller account. This will allow you to host an unlimited number of domains for the same low price (meaning that you can charge your clients a monthly hosting fee but your monthly payment to HostGator stays the same).
NOTE 1: We recommend that you do NEVER host your website with companies such as NetSol or 1&1 or any of the discount hosting companies. You get what you pay for. If you want to avoid headaches and clients bitching that their website is down do not only spend $4.99 on hosting.
NOTE 2: We also have a server with BlueHost but it frequently has issues and ZERO support for resellers, so we’re not their biggest fan.
Best Place To Buy Domain Names
GoDaddy: They have been the leader in domain names for years and we register 100% of our domain names with them You can always find a coupon online and getting around their control panel is easy.
Do not waste your time with crappy domain name companies - it will result in headaches and lost money.
Best Website Engine
WordPress: It’s 100% free, it’s easy to use, constantly being updated and it’s incredibly flexible in what it can do. This is the ONLY platform we create websites in – we recommend the same for you.
There are thousands of developers available to help you with your WordPress site. There are over fifty thousand plugins for WordPress that help make your site even more awesome.
Some of the biggest companies in the world use WordPress such as CNN, New York Times, Forbes, Best Buy, eBay, UPS, etc... (see more here) so you should be using WordPress too.
Best Website Design Platform
Beaver Builder: Being able to drag and drop elements onto columns, create a full width row with a video background, make the header stay at the top of the screen when you scroll... used to just be a dream (or require tons of CSS and plugins).
Not anymore... Beaver Builder has completely changed the game.
Now you can create an entire modern layout in just a click. You can customize the overall design using the slick Customizer. Animating elements on the page used to take miles of CSS, but now you just click a few buttons and it's done.
There are other page builders out there and some are good... but none are as good as Beaver Builder. We love Beaver Builder so much this entire website was created using Beaver Builder... yes even this page!
Best WordPress Plugins
Gravity Forms: This is by far the best form creation plugin for making every kind of form you can think of. From simple contact forms to advanced multi page forms with conditional logic fields, Gravity Forms does it all. If you are making websites for a living, you need this plugin.
BackupBuddy: This is a must have plugin. Not only can it make a complete backup of a website, it makes the process of moving sites headache free. It’s never been more easy to move a site from domainA.com to domainB.com It’s so simple…like done in less than 10 minutes simple!
WP Triggers: We created this plugin because we had a client who needed certain functionality and there wasn’t any plugin that could do it. It’s flexible, simple and just works. From a zip code finder to virtual scavenger hunts this interactive plugin is an easy way to give sites a “little something extra.”
Best Product Distribution / Shopping Cart / Payments
WooCommerce: Traditionally ecommerce websites are the most difficult to setup but they are the most profitable. WooCommerce takes the difficult setup and makes it super easy. Every ecommerce site we create, we use WooCommerce.
PayPal: We use PayPal to collect payments from clients and to sell products online. It’s easy to setup, you can email your clients links to pay you, millions of people already have a PayPal account and you don’t need your own merchant account or SSL.
Best Web Design Software
Adobe Creative Cloud (Creation): In order to make great graphics for websites, you need an image editing program. Nothing beats Photoshop. Adobe recently got smart and realized that people don't like having to pay $1,000 per year for the latest version of Photoshop - now you can always have the latest version for just $10 a month. If you want the entire suite of Adobe products, it's just $50.
DropBox (File Backup): All computers will die at some point, don't lose all your files! We have been using DropBox for years (we share a folder so we each have all our clients files whenever we need them). #genius
Filezilla (FTP): There are a lot of FTP clients around but Filezilla is fast, free and has been our choice for years.
Chrome (Browser): It's fast and it's not IE. 🙂
FireFox (Browser): It's got great developer tools and is pretty quick
Kindle Apps (Reading): Buying physical books is so 1990's. We buy all our books digitally and can read them almost anywhere thanks to Kindle.
Best Sites To Get Stock Photos
iStockPhoto (Paid): Websites can either be made or broken by photography. Don't let bad photos destroy your website. You can find great, professional photos for any website here. Kind of expensive but pass the cost on to your client.
Fotolia (Paid): They have decent photos at a cheaper price than iStockPhoto (but not as nice)
Flickr (Free): Flickr has gazillions photos and some of those are available for free for commercial use. Make sure you change your license type to Commercial use allowed (do NOT steal photos, ever)
Death to the Stock photo (Free): They send you a free bundle of stock photos each month for you to use for any purpose you want. They have really nice photos and it's free... what's not to love?
Unsplash (Free): Tons of gorgeous photos for free, however while they do have some business related photos (great for client websites) most of their photos are of trees, mountains, oceans, etc... which is where we get a lot of the photos for our website.
PicJumbo (Free): Broad selection of photos from a reall talented photographer and he did something really smart = he sells sets of images from the same scene. For example if you like one of his photos of a computer on a desk... he probably took 30 different photos to get the perfect angle... we'll you can buy all those different angles. #smartidea
Pexels (Free): While this one doesn't have number of stock photos as the others mentioned here, Pexels has something none of the other free ones have... VIDEO! Yay! Free video files which are great for row backgrounds.
Best Email Marketing Service
Mailchimp: It integrates with almost every major plugin out there (including Gravity Forms), the interface is gorgeous, the mailings look great on any device and they even have a free plan - so it's great for beginners.
You can also setup automated email... like an 8 week email course where the subscriber gets an email every week.
This is the one and only email marketing service we use (and you should be using it too!).
We've tried ConstantContact and AWeber... they both suck compared to smiling monkey in the blue hat.
Best Ways To Test Your Website
Google Analytics: How do you know what page on your website is the most popular? Where are your visitors coming from? Find answers to those questions and more with a free Google Analytics account.
Optimizely: Which headlines convert the best? What colors get people clicking more? If you are into A/B testing (and you should be) then Optimizely is the fast way to test tons of variations.
Best Books & Best Authors
Tony Robbins: Tony Robbins is amazing. We've read every one of his books and went to Unleash The Power Within event in New York City and it changed our lives (no joke).
Tim Ferriss: The 4 hour series is a must read for anyone not willing to follow the default life plan
Robin Sharma: Great messages crafted into brilliant stories, an interesting and inspiring author.
Deepak Chopra: If alternative health and wellness if your thing, Deepak is the man.
Seth Godin: He is a marketing genius! If you haven't at least read the Purple Cow... go read it now.
Education of Millionaires: This is an eye-opening book, it's so good that it's one of the few titles that we own the digital and hardcover version.
The Secret: Your thoughts become things! It's a fantastic book and the movie is great too (we own both)!
Best Video Hosting Sites
Vimeo: Sometimes you are building something that you don't want the world to see, like if you are building a membership site. So putting your videos on YouTube is out, get a paid account at Vimeo and control where your videos show up. We use this for our video courses.
YouTube: Most promotional videos are put on YouTube because it is the biggest video site out there. Videos embed easily with WordPress, so if you have a product/marketing video that you want the world to see... put it on YouTube.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links! OMG!
Please note that some of these links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that we have experience with all of these companies/products, and we recommend them because we think they are helpful and useful with client projects that we've worked on, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. You can read our entire Affiliate Disclaimer here.