Every trade has their tools and web development is no exception. We live in a world where people's attention is short-lived and fickle - therefore, using everything you can to keep them engaged and ensure your web design is optimised is key. The web tools available to web designers can help speed up websites, improve how they are used, develop their design, learn more about an audience, include greater features, and boost search engine optimisation. So which five web tools should everyone in the web design industry be using ?
Firstly, there's Google Analytics. Not including this on any of your websites is a major oversight. It should be there from the day you launch, as it is an excellent way of measuring site traffic and learning more about the behaviours of your audience. It can show you how they have landed on the site, where they came from, how long they spend on each page, what they click on, and information about them such as their location, computer system and language. All of this can then be used to create more tailored digital marketing towards them.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag manager is a handy tool that allows you to easily track events on your website, without having much coding experience. It is designed for marketers who wish to track in depth paths and customer stories without getting down and dirty with in depth code. This could range from a whole host of things, such as tracking button clicks, phone calls, cart processes and more. The great thing about tag manager, is that it integrates with a whole host of platforms, such as Google analytics. Tag manager can also be used to setup retargeting campaigns and is commonly used to install Facebook Pixel for social campaigns. We recommend tag manager as a must have web tool.
Google Search console
Google Search Console goes hand in hand with analytics and is focused on organic traffic growth. It allows you to see linking pages, error statuses and search traffic locations. It provides a more in depth on page and off page SEO analysis and can be used to help grow organic traffic.
For any web designer, a wire frame should be one of the priorities when it comes to mapping out how a project will run. It will help you save time and money, and can ensure your client is informed from the early stages about how their site will work. This can help to address any issues prior to the site being built, which means you won't develop something that is then disliked. Additionally, it will mean you have a core skeleton to use when building the site. Wireframing is more of a concept rather than a web tool, however there are many wireframing web tools out there to make life that little bit easier.
This is not exactly a web tool, however it is greatly important for websites. It's important to know your skill-set - as a web designer or developer, that may be creative software and coding. However, it isn't always writing. Your site still needs text though, and often this can hold a huge amount of value to how successful your site is. Words can sell your business, and ensure people understand what the product or service does and how it works. Many web teams choose to work with copywriters to get fantastic words to compliment their designs. Copywriters can help create engaging content to promote growth. Not only that, good content can actually increase conversion rates and help to grow organic traffic. Why would you not prioritise high quality content ?
When building a website on WordPress, plugins can help to save you a significant amount of time. These are pre-written pieces of code or software that can be downloaded and quickly integrated with your website. They may include templates, design elements or web tools for helping boost your site, such as Yoast SEO, which helps to optimise your site, and Speed Booster, which improves your site loading speed. There are literally thousands of useful plugins that can integrate with common CMS platforms such as Wordpress or Magento. If you are not tech savvy and require a modification, chances are there is a pre-made plugin to solve the problem you encounter. Plugins are a great way of saving time, however they could potentially slow your website down. Make sure you check a plugin's reviews before installing it. Remember, not all plugins will be fully compatible with your website and some plugins may even clash with others. It is always handy to have a developer available in the event of an error, although most times you can simply undo the mistake.
Knowing your audience is vital to developing a continually successful site and identifying weak points. Google Analytics is great for this, but it only goes so far. That's where heat maps come into place. This effective tool enables you to find out what buttons your user is clicking, where their mouse is hovering, how they are using your site, and what they engage with. This information can be used alongside Google Analytics to continue developing a successful website. It shows you what changes need to be made, and where problems could be ironed out to avoid losing out on customers' time and money, and reducing your bounce rate.
As far as web tools go, Hotjar is an inexpensive solution to page optimisation. This clever tool can create heat maps, as well as record the activities of a visitor on your website. This allows you to literally watch their interactions on your website so you can determine what is working, and what is not. Hotjar is a great web tool as it goes that one step further than a standard heat map. You can literally watch a video of a users experience on your website.
CrazyEgg is probably one of the better known heat map web tools on the internet. CrazyEgg can be used to optimise websites by generating heat map analysis. It is a a common tool that is used in the web industry.