What is the best tool to do X?
Over the years, I’ve learn that if you are using the right tools and really master them – You become 10x better at what you do. This post is a short list of tools that entrepreneurs, developers, designers and ‘startups people’ might find useful. It base on my personal experience, so (of crouse) there are many other good options out there. The best advice is to try few tools and see what is working for you.
It doesn’t matter if you are building for the web or for mobile platforms (Android, iOS). In the end of the day, you will need a ‘server side’ and hopefully it will be on an infrastructure you can trust for: performance, scale, redundancy, security, easy of usage etc’. I’ve used the first three cloud providers in the list. I really like the power of App Engine. Although, you will need to work in the ‘app engine way’ and not your own. If you need certain capabilities that app engine is not supporting, I suggest trying one of the IAAS options.
- Google App Engine – I recommend this option because it gives you great ways to focus on your product and not administrative server tasks. Another good option is Google’s infrastructure as a service in the name of Compute Engine that will give you the freedom to have a clean server to work with.
- Rackspace – Got nice sets of options for hosting and deployments. I’ve used them in my last startup (HighGearMedia) and they had a good value proposition.
- Amazon Web Services – The current leader of cloud computing.
- Microsoft Azure – If you like MS technology stack.
- Pivotal – Cloud Foundry is the result of an industry efforts to build an open platform as a service.
- Heroku – Supports Ruby, Node.js, Python, Java, and PHP so you can use the languages you know.
In the diagram below you can gain a good view of all the options on Google Cloud Platform.
You should focus on your monetization plan from the start. It’s an important and critical aspect of your business. First, you must avoid the ‘startup fantasy land’ of ‘we will grow our user base and later put some Ads’. You need to think creatively what is you value proposition and how to the deliver it so your users will understand it and appreciate it enough to open their wallets and pay you for that. Here are some excellent services that will save you from the complicated mechanics of accepting payments.
- Stripe – Payments made easy with their great APIs and documentation. Here is a live example I wrote that shows the power of Stripe API.
- Dwolla – Transactions made easy. I’ve used it in the past and was quite happy with their service and dashboards.
- Google Wallet – If you live in the US/UK, it might be worth checking this powerful integration and ability to have ‘one click’ payments.
- Braintree – Let you accept payments from a wide array of suppliers (bitcoin, apple pay, Paypal etc’).
- Google Analytics – One of the most popular free options you got. It’s giving you a powerful demographics insights as well as many features to gain information on ‘what is going on’ with your product. Try the ‘real-time’ view to see what is going on your site right now. It’s also great to put it on a big monitor in the office so everyone could see what is moving the needle (or not).
- Optimizely – A powerful optimization tool for websites, web applications and mobile apps.
- Chartbeat -A real-time analytics. They got powerful dashboards your CEO will love.
Design For None Designers
Your designer will use photoshop, illustrator etc’. However, in the current environment of ‘full stack employee’ you wish everyone to know the difference between UX and UI and to be able to share their ideas in a visual way. There are many good tools that let you ‘put your ideas on paper’. One of my favorite tools is the whiteboard. A big one is better.
- Skitch – Works nicely with Evernote (after they bought them). It’s good to collaborate with others on images, drawing etc’.
- gomockingbird – A online drawing app.
- Balsamiq – Wireframing mockups online. They also got a native app.
- MockFlow – design UI workflows.
- CSS frameworks: Foundation and Bootstrap are the leading frameworks. Both got a great set of components and a “mobile first” grids you wish to leverage.
- JS Frameworks: AngularJS, Ember, Backbone and Meteor (which is a full JS stack framework).
- Chrome DevTools
- For more modern tools that will help you be more productive: developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/tools/
- ImageOptimizer – There are many more options. You can also have a Gulp, Grant plugin for this.
Search Engine Optimization
- Google Webmaster – A great tool that will give you lots of insights into your site’s problems, issues and ways to improve it.
- Site Explorer – Analyze the links in your site.
- WordPress SEO – In case you have a WordPress website.
- SEO Checkup – After you are done with webmaster tool – you can use this check for more improvements.
- ZenDesk – Early customer support is a critical success factor. You should also try out highrise.
- MailChimp – email marketing with analytics. A great tool with lots of options to gain true insights from your mailing campaigns.
- Get Satisfaction – Let your customers get support online with this easy (and quality) service.
- SendGrid – A cloud email service.
- Google BigQuery – It is the best SAAS tool to analyze terabytes of data without effort.
- Factual – Data as a service
- Platfora – Hadoop as a service
- Google Alerts on topics and competitors.
- Google search or LinkedIn, Twitter, facebook. Lots of information is out there.
- VentureBeat Profiles
Last but not least, FounderSuite which offer a set of tools for entrepreneurs.