5 Essential Apps for Building Good Websites

The apps I use in my website building process as a freelance Web Designer.

1. Design Wireframes with Adobe Illustrator

I use Adobe Illustrator to visually mock up the design of a website, so my clients can give me feedback and approve the design before I begin building it. I'll also use illustrator to create any vector content for the site, such as logos, icons or illustrations which I'll export as SVGs so they'll render well on any screen at any size.

Sidenote – I've heard a lot of good things about Figma, which I'm going to check out soon.

Pricing: US$20.99/mo.
adobe.com

2. Build Websites with Webflow

After my client has approved my visual mockups, I'll create the website for them in Webflow. When I first started building websites I used Modx, then I tried Couch CMS, a handful of other platforms, then Wordpress. I kept searching for a more user-friendly system though, and found Webflow in 2013. I was excited to be able to quickly build unique looking websites in a more visual manner, andI now have confidence that my clients are able to edit their websites easily, with no more complicated backends they can't figure out. Webflow been a game-changer in my web design process.

Pricing: Free starter account, upgrade as you add more websites.
webflow.com (affiliate link)

3. Get Client Feedback with MarkUp

Markup is great for getting client feedback visually, as it allows you (and your client) to add notes on your test website, in exactly the right place. I use MarkUp when working directly with clients as well as with design studios as an internal feedback system.

Pricing: Free (with upgrades available).
markup.io

4. Manage Domain Names with Hover

I've used several domain name providers over the last couple of decades. I'd never really found a provider that ticked all of the boxes until I came across Hover. I think that's mainly because their specialty is providing domain names. Although they are priced slightly higher than other providers it's worth it to me because of the below points:

  • They don't try to upsell you on every click you make while you're trying to purchase a domain.
  • If it's supported on your domain, you get free WHOIS domain privacy (some cheaper providers charge for this).
  • You don't have any restrictions with the type of records you can add (some cheaper providers make you pay more to be able to add specific records such as TXT records.
  • The user interface is well-designed, so it's really easy to update DNS records.

The only thing to be aware of is their support chat isn't available 24/7, which can be a difficult if you're not based in the North American timezone. So if you need help when going live with a site, take those hours into consideration if you think you might need immediate help from them.

Pricing: From $4.99 per domain
hover.com (get $2 off a domain)

5. Measure Traffic with Google Search Console

Once I've made a site live, I'll add Google Search Console. Some might say it's not 'essential', but it's a good practice to include in your process. Whether or not your client needs it immediately, installing it onto the site once launched will mean that you (and your client) will have traffic data at any point if they need it to make marketing decisions such as keyword adjustments. Once you've added Search Console, make sure you submit a sitemap to help the new site be indexed quicker.

Pricing: Free
search.google.com

Next, take a look at the 7 Helpful Admin Apps I use in my day-to-day admin tasks as a Freelance Web Designer.