Every web developer has the go-to tools that they use to run their agency and we are no different!
One issue we did find when we were just starting was that all of the tools people recommended were either expensive, hard-to-use, or both.
Many business owners are also starting to opt to design their own websites, and it can be hard to find tools to use.
So we decided to compile a list of the top 5 free web development tools for every web developer.
We use or have used all of these tools ourselves, from our website to those of our clients, and while there may be alternatives out there these are the tools we have found most helpful.
So, without further ado:
You may recognize this as one of our Top Five Free Plugins We Can’t Live Without. It’s on that list for a reason and it stands true here as well. While the exact brand of form building plugin isn’t really that important what is important, and what will make your life so much easier is having a plugin to create forms instead of coding them.
Gone are the days when coding forms were easier as you could make it exactly how you wanted. Instead, just take the plugin route and go drag-and-drop. You’ll be thanking yourself when a client asks you to build a 6-page behemoth of a form involving signatures, uploads, and everything in between.
One form plugin that we do recommend avoiding id Contact Form 7. It may be massive and well used but it is also super bulky and has the potential to slow down your site significantly, as it loads its files onto every page on your site. Not just the ones with forms.
Diib is one of those tools that we use for a purpose other than it was intended. It is intended to give you tips and such on ways to improve your SEO, site speed, mobile traffic, and social visits.
What we use it for, and what we recommend using it for is a weekly update on everything to do with your site. Every week you get an email from Diib showing your growth from a variety of sources. When integrated properly it tracks your mobile visitors, social growth and engagement, and ties it all together in one neat email.
The tips that they do offer are sometimes helpful as well, but many of them are simply the best SEO practices. Especially in the free version, where the email will be largely the greatest benefit.
GTMetrix is one of the best ways to monitor load speed, size, and more for your site! Using both PageSpeed (Google’s proprietary speed measuring tool) and YSlow (Yahoo’s version), it will not only give you a basis for how your site is doing, but it will also tell you how to improve it.
With speed being a large metric when it comes to SEO and search results, it is crucial that every aspect of it, especially speed, work in your favour. Mastering these reports, without significant amounts of knowledge of everything they’re looking for is something GTMetrix excels at. For every issue with the speed, it breaks down what is causing it, how to fix it, and how important it is. Knowing all of this can be a lifesaver for every web developer!
Want to know how to master these reports like no other? Check out this amazing post from Online Media Masters. They managed to get their site to 100% GTMetrix scores and have written a complete guide on how its done. Including explaining why!
SEMRush is our go-to tool for everything SEO. Everything from on-page SEO to checking backlinks can be done in this tool. Not only that, but it also sends you updates for changes you need to make to your site, optimizations, keyword ranking, ideas, etc.
SEMRush is the first and only tool on this list where we recommend upgrading to the Pro version from the free version if you can afford it. However, it is rather expensive for a new developer at a whopping $100/month USD. But it is worth every penny! We personally have spent entire days in this tool optimizing our site, building backlinks, and doing keyword research. For a complete review of SEMRush check out this very well written article from PCMag.
While just the phrase “Google” may seem broad it is because they offer such a massive quantity of helpful tools that we consider them all together as the ultimate tools needed for every web developer.
Google Analytics is the leader in website stats. This tool tells you everything happening on your site. It tells you how many people visited it, how long they stayed there, what they did on it, etc. Knowing this information can help you improve your site so it is more welcoming to visitors, performs better, and is searchable.
On top of all that Google Analytics offers the best acquisition report out there! Acquisition reports are a great way to see how people are discovering your website. It helps you track how your social media is doing. Are those posts you do every day actually bringing traffic to your site? Are those backlinks you’ve reached out and gotten getting views? Only one way to find out, and that’s using Google Analytics.
Google Search Console
So you’ve looked at your Google Analytics and found that you have a lot of referral and organic search traffic coming to your site? Google Search Console is one of the best ways to keep track of how you’re doing in the search results, keywords you’re ranking for, and how many people actually click your link once they see it.
Coupled with a couple of the above tools Google Search Console is a great tool in every SEO effort as it is the most detailed stats you can get directly from the people showing your results!
Hopefully, this article has given you a basic place to start for tools that will be helpful for web development. Keep checking back to our knowledge base for future articles on tools we’re using to help us in our web development efforts every day.