4-best-seo-tools-for-web-designers

There’s a lot of overlap between SEO tools, which is why it can be so difficult figuring out which is the best to use. To simplify things, I’ve selected the 4 SEO tools that will seamlessly integrate with your design workflow and won’t break your budget.

You already have a ton of tools in your web design toolbox which is why I’m reluctant to write this post the way I would for copywriters and SEO pros. Why? Well, because there are literally dozens of SEO tools you could add to your workflow. Unless you’re promising clients that their websites will go to #1 in search results for every keyword they want to win, there’s no reason to add that kind of complexity to your life.

That said, you can’t completely ignore SEO. No one is going to shell out money for a web hosting plan, domain name, and professional web design services and not expect results in return. But before your client’s website can start capturing leads and sales, it needs organic search traffic — which is why you’ll need some SEO tools and strategies to help you out.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to the best SEO tools for web designers.

Moz: The Best Premium SEO Tool

There’s a lot of really good competition out there when it comes to premium SEO tools, but Moz is the clear winner as far as web designers are concerned.

Moz - one of the best SEO Tools for web designers

One of the things that’s great about using Moz for SEO is that it comes with a free toolbox. Whether you need an introduction to search engine optimization or simply want to give a premium SEO tool to try, the toolbox will do the trick.

With free Moz tools, you can do things like:

  • Research possible keywords;
  • Analyze the rankability of your domain;
  • Review your current keywords (regular and branded);
  • See if you’ve earned any featured snippets, backlinks, and more;
  • Snoop on the competition’s website and ranking keywords.

Of course, if you make the upgrade to Moz Pro, you gain access to more powerful SEO tools, like:

  • Technical website audits;
  • Backlink analysis;
  • Missing keyword opportunities;
  • Local SEO strategies;
  • SERP rankings for desktop, mobile, and local.

And it’s all laid out in an intuitive dashboard.

A Word About the Competition

Mangools, Ahrefs, and SEMrush are all fantastic options if you’re trying to build higher-ranking websites and to scale up your SEO offering for clients. However, these are all truly premium solutions, so unless you’re prepared to use every feature these pay-to-play tools offer, it’s probably not worth it to open your wallet for them.

Ubersuggest: The Best Free SEO Tool

You’re probably wondering if any of the leading SEO tools are available for free. There are a few, but Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is by far the best of the litter.

Ubersuggest

What’s really nice about this tool is that, although it’s simple enough to use, you can put it to work for you in a number of ways.

For example, you can use the site audit tool to review current clients’ websites. If you’re looking for a conversation starter, this could be your ticket in. You’ll have insights on how well or poorly their website has done in terms of SEO, get suggestions on how to improve, and even be able to see their site speed while you’re at it.

You could also use this tool for basic keyword research and recommendations, which would make it especially helpful in earlier planning stages. Or take it to the next level and assess what’s going on in your clients’ competitive markets.

Yoast: The Best WordPress SEO Tool

For those of you that design websites using WordPress, Yoast is a must-have SEO plugin.

Yoast Analysis Results

Although Yoast doesn’t help with keyword planning or backlink tracking, it allows web designers and writers to improve their search engine optimization page by page.

  • It allows you to assign a focus keyword, title tag, and meta description to each post or page;
  • It lets you preview your Google search snippet on desktop and mobile to make sure everything fits and a featured image is present;
  • It scores your page on how well it’s optimized around your keyword;
  • It scores your page on other SEO factors like text length, image alt attributes, internal links, and so on;
  • It scores your page on readability as well.

There’s more you can do with Yoast as a web designer. You can use it to generate sitemaps, create custom Open Graph and Twitter Card tags, and even automate how your site’s search metadata is written.

Google Search Console: The Best Analytics SEO Tool

You’re already using Google Analytics to review key website metrics as well as to make data-informed decisions for future design improvements. But did you know you can add Google Search Console data to your Google Analytics dashboard, too?

Google Analytics

From here, you can pull data on:

  • Landing page traffic and performance;
  • Geo-specific data;
  • Device-specific data;
  • Search queries and click-through rates.

However, Google Analytics falls short in providing its users with all of the search-specific data it tracks on the web, which is why you should add Google Search Console to your list of SEO tools.

Google Search Console Dashboard

From this dashboard, you can:

  • Submit your XML sitemaps to Google;
  • Check for mobile usability and errors;
  • Quickly scan for security or speed issues (speed is currently in beta);
  • Review page-specific impressions, rankings, and click-throughs;
  • Track internal links, backlinks, top linking websites, as well as the text they’re using to link back to you.

Even though this tool won’t necessarily help you plan your search optimization strategy, it’s a good place to go when you want to troubleshoot why your hard work isn’t paying off.

Other SEO Tools Web Designers Should Be Using

There’s more to SEO than just link building and keyword optimization. Google looks for other trust and authority signals, too, when determining the rank of a website. And, as a web designer, you’re in the best position to handle this side of SEO.

Here are some of the SEO tools you should be using in addition to the ones above:

  • SSL Certificate: If a website is on HTTP, that’s an automatic penalty. So, always make sure your websites have an SSL certificate installed;
  • Speedy Hosting: Site speed is a huge deal in the scheme of things — and it starts with the quality of your web hosting plan and provider. When it makes sense to do so, power up your hosting with a CDN and caching plugin;
  • Image Compression Tool: For all their worth, images can cause a lot of grief for web designers. By running each image through a compression tool like TinyJPG you can keep their size from shrinking your website’s ranking.

And, of course, make sure you’re always using high-quality design tools and adhering to mobile-first standards. When a website looks outdated, runs poorly, and isn’t properly managed, Google and your visitors are sure to take notice.

Featured image via Unsplash.

7-ui-tools-for-creating-better-digital-color-palettes

While there are plenty of fantastic color palette generators available on the web, in this post, we thought we’d share our favorite color tools specific to UI design.

It’s important to keep in mind that choosing colors for user interfaces calls for a different set of requirements than for example, a graphic design project. Not only does UI design require a comprehensive set of colors with a range of variations and shades — but designers also need to think about how color will add to the user experience of a digital product. This means carefully considering color semantics and ensuring designs are accessible, all while remaining on-brand.

It’s no surprise that color is one of the most essential foundations for a digital product’s design language, so it’s crucial that you choose your color palette with intention. Below are a handful of UI color picking tools we recommend that will help ensure the effectiveness of your designs and of course, keep them looking nice and polished!

1. Accessible Color Matrix

When it comes to product design, we should all be keeping accessibility in mind. Ensuring your UI’s color contrasts are in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is one of the ways you can do this. Accessible Color Matrix makes it super easy to test out potential color schemes for your user interfaces. What makes the tool especially unique is the ability to test a range of colors rather than just two at a time. Check it out:

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2. Eva Colors

This handy AI tool generates a semantic color palette based on your brand’s primary color — each color is assigned to a purpose you should apply it to: success, info, warning, and danger. On top of that, Eva Colors produces the various shades for each color generated and has a really easy export feature. You can even toggle to view the colors in both light and dark mode! Simple, effective, and intuitive.

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3. Palx

Palx is an automatic UI color palette generator. Input your base color, and the system instantly provides you with a full-spectrum color palette based on the primary hex code entered. The colors generated work harmoniously together and you can also easily export all of them by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

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4. Copy Palette

Created by Dribbbler Dimitris Raptis, Copy Palette enables you to create consistent monochromatic color combinations and export them directly into your favorite design software. According to Dimitris, the idea came to him after struggling repeatedly with generating the consistent monochromatic color palettes he envisioned for his interface designs. We love that Copy Palette also lets you can adjust parameters like the contrast ratio of shades and number of color variations.

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5. Cloud Flare

Cloud Fare is a custom tooling that not only helps you build out color sets, but also preview palettes against a plethora of UI elements like headers, icons, buttons, and much more. The best part is that you can check each palette’s accessibility contrast scores and edit those colors as needed. It’s an insanely helpful two-in-one color palette and visualization tool to help you work more seamlessly with color. Check out their extensive instructions so you can make use out of all of their awesome features!

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6. Palettte

Use Palette to create and sample color schemes in which colors seamlessly smooth into each other. You have full editing capabilities in terms of fine-tuning hue and saturation, and adding more color swatches as needed. Simply click on the plus icon at the top left corner of the tool to get started and when you’ve got a palette finalized, hit the export button at the top right! If you already have a color palette on hand, you can easily import and edit it further to get your desired values.

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7. Open Color

If you prefer to simply pull a pre-made UI color palette that’s guaranteed to work well, check out Open Color. The website essentially provides an open-source color scheme that is optimized for user interfaces. If you don’t have a brand color set in stone, this is a sure-fire way to ensure your UI color palette is both effective and attractive. And, if you’re new to using color in UI design, check out their Instruction tab which includes a helpful manual specifying the intended use of each color!

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For more web design resources, check out our roundup of accessibility tools to evaluate your design’s contrast ratio, 7 best illustration resources for web design projects, and learn how to avoid the top 5 mistakes new web designers make when starting out.


Find more Community stories on our blog Courtside.
Have a suggestion? Contact stories@dribbble.com.

exciting-new-tools-for-designers,-october-2019

It’s already time to start thinking about all the seasonal design elements that you will use for the rest of the year. That might be icons or illustrations or fonts. We have a few new elements this month that might fit the bill, as well as learning tools and inspiration. Here’s what new for designers this month.

UIPrint

UIPrint is a set of sketching templates for devices that you can print out to create with a pen (because some of us love to draw mocks and ideas in meetings). The current collection includes more than 10 printable wireframes and sketchpads. Grab prints for devices you use most of download the whole set and get printing.

uiprint

Haptics

Haptics provides developers with a quick and easy way to see what the different haptic feedback is like on supported iPhone & Apple Watch models. Available only in the iTunes store and requires iOS 13.0 .

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HTTP Mock

HTTP Mock allows you to intercept and view all of your HTTP (and HTTPS) mock endpoints or entire servers and rewrite, redirect, or inject errors.

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Art of Symbols

Art of Symbols is a project published by Emotive Brand that takes a look at the root the design and meanings of common icons and symbols. The project was originally published day by day as an Instagram project, but has been compiled into a website that’s super informative and fun to look at.

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Smoother & Sharper Shadows

Smoother & Sharper Shadows is a tutorial that will help you clean up the look of drop shadows using the box-shadow CSS property. You can get more control over the look of shadows for more polished designs.

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Copy Monkey

CopyMonkey uses machine learning to mimic your handwriting style like a monkey. There’s not a lot of work value in this one, but it is a lot of fun to play with.

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CTRL Z

CTRL Z is a fun interactive flyer that can provide a source of inspiration. Click and drag to see just how this flyer for an upcoming art installation works.

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Shape

Shape lets you customize the style, colors and border of more than 1,000 static and animated icons and illustrations. Export to React, SVG and Lottie. The tool also includes UI templates to help you use icon collections.

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Winning Icons

Winning Icons is a set of 50 vectors that celebrate achievement. With medals and celebratory icons in three styles, this collection is made for winning. The set is available in SVG and JPG format.

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Sketch Devices

Devices is an updated set of modern device mockups for Sketch by the team at Facebook Design. From the design team: “Facebook supports a diverse audience around the world and an equally diverse set of devices. To emphasize that in our design mocks, we redrew a range of devices to show the global diversity of the people using our products. Each device comes with a bitmap of the device (with and without shadows) and the original Sketch file for that device.”

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Animated Icons

Animated Icons is a collection of fun line icons with interesting animations for something a little extra in your projects. Download the JSON for Lottie, GIF, or After Effects formats. Pick and choose icons or download them all.

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Fresh Folk

Fresh Folk is an interesting collection of illustrations of people, places, and objects to enhance design projects. You can use illustrations as mix and match characters and scene elements to create almost custom illustrations from the library.

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Where to Put Buttons on Forms

What’s the perfect placement for a button on a form? Well, it depends on what information is in the form. This great explanation/tutorial by Adam Silver can help you think about the logic behind button placements and make your forms more user-friendly.

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Mozilla Developer Video Shorts

The team at Mozilla Developer has launched a new video series packed with demos and tools that teach web technologies. You can find the first few videos on their website or follow the channel on YouTube for new videos when they post.

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Fliplet

Fliplet is a “prefab” no-code app editor that helps you build all kinds of different apps without coding. It uses a library of open source components, or you can create your own. The core feature base includes everything you need to get started with an app build.

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Quickmetrics

Quickmetrics is a dashboard-based data collection and sharing tool. Track all kinds of data including signups, response times, or almost anything.

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Deep Work Stats

Deep Work is a productivity tool that helps you see how you’re actually spending time on the job. It scans your calendar and computer time to determine how much time you have for deep work and shallow work, how much time you spend in meetings, and how you compare to co-workers and globally.

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Bridamount

Bridamount is a handwriting style typeface with a fun set of special characters. (And it’s free for commercial use as well.) It includes a full upper- and lowercase character set.

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Cascadia Code

Cascadia Code is a monospaced font that’s still in development. You can modify it using glyphs and FontTools. It includes programming ligatures and is designed to enhance the modern look and feel of the Windows Terminal.

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Dealerplate California

Dealerplate Cailfornia is a funky typeface that mimics the letterforms on license plates. This is one state in the font set that features 17 fonts.

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Krisha

Krisha is a display font with an all caps character set and funky smooth lines for letterforms. It’s big and bold and one of those few free fonts that’s also available for commercial use.

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Mallie

Mallie is modern, fusion font with multilingual support. It’s a very versatile font that would make for a fun brand design.

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Santa Claus

It’s not too early to start planning Christmas designs. This comic style font, Santa Claus, could be just the right element. It makes for an interesting uppercase only display.

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Scarekrowz

Just for Halloween is Scarekrowz, a funky spooky typeface for the season. The font includes just 94 characters, but could make for a fun, seasonal display.

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10-best-seo-tools-to-boost-your-organic-traffic-in-2019

10 Best SEO Tools to boost your organic traffic in 2019

The average Joe’s guide to experts Top 10 Best SEO tools that won’t break your back or budget.

You should know that you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting your SEO campaign requires by yourself anymore. Even the top-level SEO experts aren’t getting by on their own. So why not free up your time and get more done through adopting the new wave in productivity that SEO tools sponsor? Here’s what you should consider.

Think of that cramping set-back keeping you from dominating your niche, grabbing more opportunities, or just simply getting by. What if you knew that it requires less effort to fix than you thought?. Even better, how would you feel knowing you don’t need to be an SEO expert to get started on it?. Well, you don’t have to answer that yourself too the experts already have.

The Best SEO tools listed here will show how experts have shamelessly used their help to get past competitors plenty of times and how to do it yourself. Even though there’s ten of them. don’t worry about getting a ton of these gizmos, just one of these SEO tools used properly can help you strike the bull’s eye of your SEO goldmine.

Free vs paid subscriptions.

Most of them are free so don’t worry about breaking your budget. And as for the paid subscriptions: you can take advantage of the free trial offers before you commit to making a purchase.

Best SEO Tools in 2019

Let’s begin with SEO Tools…

1) Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a helpful competitor analysis tool which is backed by a large database of back-links. It is one of the most preferred SEO tools. You can check which websites are linking to your competitors and use this information to jump on opportunities to gain a competitive edge in your industry.

Ahrefs

Its capacity to carry out revealing SEO audits is one of its most favored features. Gaining insight on what keywords your competitors are ranking for, what brand of content is doing well in your industry and who is digesting it, as well as showing which key points you need to improve the efficiency of your website is expected from the Ahrefs keyword explorer tool.

That is not all you’re getting out of this. You can use the Ahrefs dashboard to either monitor your website’s ranking, view your competitors, or monitor projects for your clients.

Here is what you can expect from an Ahrefs SEO Audit

  • Total ranking of your back-link profile strength/Domain Rank
  • Total number of backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Rank tracking for both organic & targeted keywords

Try Ahrefs!

2) Moz

Moz

An SEO marketing tool like Moz is necessary to give insights on rankings and shifts that affect the SEO landscape, especially with the frequency of Google algorithm update roll-outs. It can also expose you to new opportunities to increase your advantage over your competitors.

Moz is favored in the SEO community for its capability to produce a transparent overview of website performance. You can optimize each of the pages on your website based on the findings you gather from the reports.

Though you can expect to pay for this due diligence, it is also accessible as a free Moz toolbar download.

Moz Tools

Taking advantage of Moz’s page optimization features can help you know about the following:

  • Search traffic
  • Search data
  • Keyword targeting

The Page SEO Checker tool will help optimizers in monitoring rankings and keeping up with the key areas that stand to be improved by offering performance-enhancing recommendations.

Try Moz!

3) Google Search Console

Google Search Console

This is one of the free SEO tools we were talking about. In a nutshell, this Google-sponsored tool reports on what factors most influence your website’s presence in the Google SERP’s.

Factors such as your website’s visibility in Google’s search results, its usability, your contents (especially keywords) usefulness, and its ranking. It also highlights who is visiting your website through Google’s search engine and how they are interacting with the efforts you have set in place to attract them.

This is a boost to your user experience optimization in regards to having an overview of your impact on Google’s audience. This is especially true when monitoring which devices they use, such as the boost in mobile usage (AMP). All you have to do is copy a tracking code from Google Search Console to paste into your websites HTML. Doing this will help you gain knowledge on the important parts of your SEO campaign.

Connect your website with Google Search Console

You can expect to get the following insights from the Search Console reports:

  • Page index
  • CTR
  • Back-links
  • Geographic targeting

The Google Search Console offers to index changes made to your website immediately instead of the usual waiting period. Doing so with Google Index can take weeks and even months to register

Google Console is also said to help with chasing off cyber threats. This should come in handy for a business/establishment which is vulnerable to malware and spam attacks.

Try Google Search Console!

4. KWFinder

KWFinder

As for KWFinder, we’ve found that it caters a powerful keyword research and management tool with a straightforward user interface. The paid subscription starts at $29 per month billed annually. The subscription offers a generous 100 keyword lookups per 24 hours as well as other useful benefits you can find here. This SEO tool does have a free plan available that allow a user three keyword lookups every 24 hours. You can also try the 10-day free trial.

Overall, the tool is great for focusing on all the information that involves a single keyword. It balances this out by catering for long-tail keyword combinations.

As part of its package, the ‘Rank Tracker’ tool provides keyword suggestions. This gives users insight into data that covers a keywords search volume, the average cost per click, competitiveness, the difficulty score or if the keyword is trending or not.

Users get the capacity to find low competition keyword combinations that have a search volume that should boost their rankings. When you find a suggestion that you like, you can add it to your list of keyword suggestions on the tool.

KWFinder Features

The dashboard is easy to navigate and offers convenience to import or export a list of keywords and analysis reports as a CSV or TXT file.

Try KWFinder!

5. SEMRush

SEMRush is always ending up in the top 10 Best SEO tools lists we’ve come across. It earns its authority from being an SEO keyword research tool famous for boasting a large keyword database. It doubles as a marketing tool, making it efficient as both an SEO & SEM tool. Helping to measure and track your campaigns, evaluating your performance as well as your competitor’s to keep you efficient in your market.

SEMRush Keyword Stats

The API integration makes it compatible with Google Docs, Google Analytics & Google Search Console. That’s three times the advantage and convenience. You can use it as a domain comparison tool to match your websites meta information such as search data, traffic insights, back-link monitoring, position tracking, and other ranking factors against another website through an analysis report that can be accessible in PDF format. A competitive edge can be gained from these findings by making your content unique and your user-experience a cut above the leading competitors in your niche.

SEMRush Content Creation Ideas

You can tweak your website’s performance with the On-Page SEO Checker Tool. The dashboard enables users to get a look at the keywords in their content with the Topic Research tool, keep a finger on the pulse on the social media shares they are collecting and also get backlink ideas. The one-click posting feature is good at supporting multimedia posting across many social media channels.

Try SEMRush!

6) BuzzStream

Buzzstream

Buzzstream is a web-based CRM software which has workforce and email management automation capabilities. You can access emails, track, and follow-up on your email outreach as well as your link-building projects all in one place with the ‘Sequence’ feature.

You won’t need to cross-reference tasks on a spreadsheet anymore, Buzzstream has a chrome plugin that can help to manage and track campaigns within your browser. Users can integrate the software with social media and other API supportive platforms.

The Discovery feature helps with your content marketing efforts. You can look for experts, influencers, and bloggers by inserting your query in the search bar. A list of recommendations will appear on the interface. You can filter these results to get your ideal candidate. There is an option to add them to your prospects lists for consideration if you can’t make a decision on the spot.

Here’s a quick look at how you can use it for scheduling tasks, as well as tracking your team’s work-flow through the course of a particular project.

Buzzstream scheduled Tasks

Buzzstream can handle your back-link strategy by monitoring who is linking back to you. If you get stuck, their notoriously efficient customer services can walk you through any of the issues you run into.

Try Buzzstream!

7) ATP(Answer the Public)

Answer The Public

A free keyword research tool like ATP can help with producing informational long tail keywords. ATP is a combination of SEO and marketing capabilities which are useful for the Press Coverage Reporting aspect of your content distribution to the public.

Answer The Public questions

You can generate a lot of content ideas for your audience from such access to consumer insights. A bulk of questions is supplied by ATP when you enter your query in their search-bar and can be accessed in list-form or a circle.

ATP Questions chart

Preparing your content with strong hints of your audience’s motivations can be helpful in making you a leader in efficiency within your market.

ATP’s ability to produce buying intent keywords makes this easier to draw in organic traffic with the content in your topics. This can be useful for targeting your audience with reviews and buying guides.

Try Answer The Public!

8) Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest

SEO guru Neil Patel’s free keyword tool can be used to gain an edge in your market. Ubersuggest is a free hack to use in boosting your website’s ranking. You can get insights into your competitors content marketing strategies on its user-friendly interface.

Peeking into your internet neighbors SEO, content & social media strategy implementation can be a practical way of getting insights on what’s working. Such insight takes you beyond the limitation of relying only on data insights.

If you know that generating keyword ideas to implement in your content strategy is the first step to improving the relevancy of your content, this will keep you from posting content that your audience is not interested in.

This is what you can expect from Ubersuggest:

  • Keyword volume
  • Keyword competition
  • Seasonal trends
  • Social network shares
  • Number of backlink’s

Ubersuggest Backlinks

Building your link profile with the tool provides a view of your competitor’s backlinks. This should help you figure out which links to add to your own. Knowing which websites your audience is linking to can narrow the scope of prospects to approach in your niche/industry by a great deal.

Try Ubersuggest!

9) SpyFu

Spyfu

For search marketing, SpyFu offers a reasonably priced cloud-hosted tool that is structured around increasing efficiency for marketing campaigns. It is believed to be an entry-level to advanced business software solutions. Its enterprise plans start from $33 per month.

When coming up with a marketing strategy, you are going to need a tool that makes it easier to gather information on your competitors. Spying on how they execute paid ads, how they gather profitable keywords and the likes will help chart your course. It gathers this intelligence by zeroing in on your competitors Google SERP’s and Adwords’s activity.

Spyfu Overview

You can track your competitors marketing methods on Google along with their Organic Ranking and Paid Search history on Adwords for the last nine years. Searching any domain active on Google will also present an overview of vital information you can use to get ahead. This information is part of SpyFu’s capacity for showing what keywords they have purchased, the ranking of their organic reach, sales leads, contact details, and the likes.

Try Spyfu!

10) Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO Plugin

You no longer have to worry over whether your article is SEO friendly or not. When producing SEO content, it can be hard to manually evaluate whether you are being effective or not. WordPress users can set up Yoast SEO plugin on their website. It analyses which parts of your articles can be improved to boost its SEO ranking.

These include readability, scannability, writing voice, meta-descriptions, image alt tags and more. It can also keep you from over-optimizing your content by offering suggestions to keep you within the required number of keywords/key-phrases to use.

You can expect a:

  • Readability analysis
  • Insights tool
  • SEO analysis tab

Yoast SEO Plugin Content Analysis

It easy to fall into the trap of creating content that is only focused on ranking in search engines with such a tool. Writing natural content for readers and using the tool along with an LSI keyword tool or a thesaurus can help you appeal to both your audience and search engines.

Try Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress!

Conclusion: Enough tooling around!

We avoided listing some SEO tools that have the same function. Each one of these SEO tools caters for every distinct corner that shapes the structure of an SEO campaign as well as SEO as a whole to make a big difference to the ROI of your efforts.

Bookmark this for further use. Every SEO engineer, marketer, and the regular internet entrepreneur can find a tool best suited for improving their SEO and conquering the World Wide Web by keeping this with them. Feel free to share your experiences as well as this article with your community. You might be getting someone out of their rut by the virtue of doing so.

Note: This List on the Best SEO Tools is contributed by Pollen Lekau. If you have an extra-ordinary article to contribute, then check our Guest Blogging Guidelines.

best-tools-for-graphic-designers-in-2019

The advent of the digital space has created an increasing demand for skilled visual communicators who are able to represent brands online. A vast majority of graphic designers are also no longer working for specialised agencies and consulting companies, choosing instead to work in-house for companies.

These changes in the status-quo have, in turn, propelled the innovation of graphic design software. Designers in 2019 want better, digital-first, cross-platform and more affordable tools — a demand which has catalysed the creation and growth of massive and very innovative companies.

Let’s review the most prominent graphic design tools of 2019, to help you pick the ones best suited to your unique creative workflow.

Raster Graphics Tools

A solid raster graphics design tool is a must-have for any serious designer. The good news is that raster software comes in all shapes and sizes.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a professional photo editing application that makes no compromises on quality, despite offering one of the most affordable products on the market. It offers powerful features for fettling and fine-tuning images, as well as modules that reveal great depth, colour and detail in raw files.


Photoshop

Photoshop 1.0 was released back in 1990 — and has since become one of the most well-known graphic design tools of all time. In 2019 Photoshop is still a great option for anyone looking to create anything that involves raster graphics.

Procreate

Procreate is a powerful raster graphics tool for iPad and iPhone devices. Using a good stylus, a skilled designer can create stunning graphics and art. Procreate has been around for a while and has amassed a huge social following on Instagram and YouTube by showcasing their most inspiring pieces and detailed tutorials.

Pixlr

Pixlr is a free online photo editor that gives desktop apps some serious competition. While it’s relatively new with some features still in beta-mode, the editor is perfect if you’re looking to fine-tune photos or power complex compositions. It’s easy-to-use, free and bound to get better with time as new features are rolled out.

Vector Graphics Tools

Vector graphics are everywhere, both in online and offline realms of design. For years vector graphics design hadn’t been as accessible and popular among the masses as rasters, mainly because vectors are inherently precise and sophisticated. But in recent years that’s changed, as better and more intuitive software had entered the scene.  

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is a popular vector graphics editor with advanced features for creating illustrations, icons, branding, UI designs, typography, web graphics and more. The zooming features are particularly useful for ensuring accuracy, while the live and responsive nature of the program is commonly celebrated as its greatest strength.

Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is another reliable option. Featuring a wide variety of tools, filters and effects, Illustrator is used widely across the graphic design community for websites, video games, logos and more. It allows you to produce artwork with pixel-perfect accuracy, while the design presets and templates ensure speed and convenience.

Vectr

Vectr is a free option for vector graphics. It’s an intuitive option that’s easy for anyone to learn and use, and perfect for those who don’t need the more advanced features of high-end applications. It’s a great option for anyone looking to create simple vector graphics in a jiffy.

Vectornator

Vectornator is the ideal vector graphics tool for iOS and iPad devices. It has an easy drag and drop interface that makes it easy to use for novices, while still offering some advanced features like auto-trace, unlimited layers, colour profiles, live blend modes and alignment tools.

Font & Color Tools

Fontbase

Fontbase is a cross-platform font management system. You can organize the fonts on your laptop into collections, preview them adjusting the color or background and experiment with styling.

Fontbase is free, but comes with a premium subscription option, which includes features like advanced search, auto-activation and advanced glyphs.

Befonts

The idea behind Befonts is quite simple — it’s a platform offering free fonts for creatives. Downloading fonts is easy and the members are encouraged to submit their own free fonts.

Fontspark & Colorspark

If you’re truly passionate about graphics, these two little apps might become irreplaceable in your toolbox. Fontspark helps designers discover and preview fonts, while Colorspark is all about — you guessed it! — colors and gradients.

Stock Photos

There are many free stock photo platforms out there. Sometimes you just have to be persistent and check a couple of platforms before you find what you need. Here are the major royalty-free images directories out there:

  • Unsplash — probably the most popular and widely used stock images platform out there.
  • Pexels — another large and popular royalty-free photos directory.
  • Burst — free stock photos for websites and commercial use.
  • FoodiesFeed — thousands of beautiful food pictures.
  • Freestocks.org — high quality photos all released under Creative Commons CC0.
  • New Old Stock — vintage free of copyright photos from the public archives.
  • Duotone — free duotone images.
  • LoremPixel — an API that serves stock photos at specified sizes.

Stock Icons & Illustrations

As a graphic designer, you can never have too many icons and illustrations to use in projects. It’s usually easier to modify pre-made assets instead of creating them from scratch.

  • Flaticon — 1593000 vector icons in SVG, PSD, PNG, EPS formats.
  • Iconfinder — a marketplace for SVG vector icons.
  • Iconmonstr — another big directory.
  • Icons8 — SVG icons categorized by styles and trends.
  • Font Awesome — the web’s most popular icon set and toolkit, also it’s open source.

Social Media Design Tools

Social media is a huge and constantly expanding medium for graphic designers. After all, this is primarily what has birthed new roles like Social Media Manager.

Although technically you can use any of the above-mentioned tools to design social media graphics, certain specialized tools might be easier and more practical to use.

Canva

Canva is indisputably the most commonly used image editing software, and it’s not hard to see why. It has an incredibly easy to use interface, has a free tier that comes with a lot of useful features and can be used to make anything from Facebook Cover Photos to Instagram Stories. You can layer images, colours and impressive typography in a myriad of ways to create unique graphics for your social media posts in minutes.

Pablo

Pablo is the fastest and easiest way to create images with quotes for social media. It’s free to use and you won’t even need to sign in to start creating inspirational quote images, blog post headers, testimonial posters and more.

RemoveBG

Ever wanted to use a particular element of an image but remove the clutter or background around it? RemoveBG allows you to do just that, in a matter of minutes. It’s completely automated, so you won’t have to do anything other than upload the photo you wish to remove the background from.

We’ve also compiled a more comprehensive list of social media design tools for you to explore.

Logo Design Tools

If you need to create a logo quickly and effortlessly, DesignEvo might be a perfect choice. It’s a free online logo maker with 10,000 templates that you can use and customize as you like.

Your Unique Toolkit

Now that you’re familiar with some of the best graphic design tools on the market, you can be assured that there’s a perfect tool for you at every step of the process, whatever your budget or skill-level might be. While there are bespoke benefits attached with each tool, the right one for your needs should include all the features that suit your convenience whilst still being suited to your abilities and budget.

When it comes to graphic design software, it appears that the product offerings are only becoming more competitive and advanced with time – so always keep an eye out for the newest tools and return to this list as we’ll be updating it regularly.

5-accessibility-tools-to-check-your-design’s-contrast-ratio

If you’re working on web design projects, then it follows that web accessibility should be one of your top user experience considerations. Whether it’s finessing on-page readability for users with visual impairment, or ensuring that your web page’s visual cues remain effective on mobile devices, sometimes color alone may be what’s standing between you and a truly accessible and inclusive design.

One of the most important considerations is contrast ratio — or the luminance relationship between light and dark elements (most often text) in your design. Users with certain cognitive disabilities may require lower contrast text, while low vision readers may need high contrast user interface considerations in the visual design they consume.

Likewise, color blindness is also a consideration that needs the attention of any designer implementing a design process which strives towards equitable, accessible design.

The good news is that there are a handful of inexpensive — and even free — tools that can help you become more cognizant of design for all, and how you can help people equitably experience the design you’re creating.

1. Contrast

Contrast
 is a macOS app that offers designers a way, like its namesake, to immediately gauge the contrast ratio of color choices to assure they are in alignment with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). An app that’s built for immediate feedback without being a burden to your design workflow, Contrast also offers a guide
 on their site that acts as a primer on some of the WCAG accessibility standards.

The app acts as a small menu bar which you can integrate into whatever design software you’re using, or move the menu bar around your desktop to use as a floating window anywhere else on your screen.

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2. Color Safe

If you’re looking for an in-browser option, Color Safe
 is a web-based tool that allows designers to generate color palettes based on WCAG standards for contrast ratio. Simply select your project’s background color, font family, font size and weight — plus the WCAG standard you’re trying to achieve — and Color Safe will generate palettes whose contrast ratio scores you can compare.

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3. Tanaguru Contrast-Finder

Tanaguru Contrast-Finder
 is an easy-to-use, web-based tool that allows you to simply enter your preferred foreground and background colors (in either RGB or as a hex code) to monitor your design’s contrast ratio. The tool allows you to select your desired minimum contrast ratio scores, while also generating a list of adjacent colors to evaluate.

These provided alternatives also come with in-use samples of different text sizes, weights, and their resultant contrast ratios — giving you a sense for which color and text choices will not only be more accessible, but play nicely together as part of your overall design.

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4. Stark

With plugins for Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch, Stark
 is a plugin that features a suite of tools to foster accessible and inclusive design standards — right from within the software designers are already working with. Stark’s contrast checker tool allows designers to double-check that their typography and font size — in conjunction with the design’s background colors or supporting visuals — provides the necessary legibility and sufficient contrast to harmonize with accessibility guidelines.

As a bonus, Stark also assists with additional accessibility issues, including color-blindness. The app allows designers to view their work in color-blindness simulation and make tweaks to their design system.

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5. Spectrum

Spectrum
 is also a free tool that can assist you as you design with color-blind users in mind. A free Google Chrome extension developed by Yehor Lvivski, Spectrum also allows designers to directly test their sites across a range of over eight different versions of color vision deficiencies, including an array of red-green and blue-yellow color blindness.

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With over 200 million people in the world who are visually impaired, web accessibility should be a top consideration in every designer’s process. Now that you’ve got some handy apps in your toolkit, it’s your turn to get out there and make the web a more accessible place for all!

For more color resources, check out a practical UI color application guide, and our favorite color palette picking tools.


Find more Community stories on our blog Courtside.
Have a suggestion? Contact stories@dribbble.com.

color-tools-for-designers-2019

Designers are increasingly taking risks and using single bold colors to communicate their web design. No matter what color you need to work with to create a good color scheme, there are best practice examples all over the web.

Moreover, when informed by color psychology, designers can make the best decisions for their color schemes that deliver emotional impact.

PROMOTED

16. Site Palette

A browser extension to generate comprehensive palettes. A must-have tool for designers and frontend developers. Free colour scheme extraction

17. BrandColors

The biggest collection of official brand color codes around. Includes hex colors codes for 500 brands including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many more.

18. Colorwise

Search through the most voted products on Product Hunt

19. HTML Color Codes

Easily find HTML color codes for your website using our color picker, color chart and HTML color names with Hex color codes, RGB and HSL values.

20. ColorBox

Colorbox is a color tool to produce color sets.

21. Generate — Coolors.co

Create, save and share beautiful palettes in seconds!

22. Color — Cloudflare Design

A color palette tool for interface design

23. Instant Duotone Effect Generator

Create beautiful duotone effects instantly in your browser for. Upload your own image or use one of ours: dozens of perfect duotone pairings included.

24. Color Tool — Material Design

Create and share color palettes for your UI, and measure the accessibility of any color combination.

25. Blendy

Blendy is a tool to preview CSS Background blend modes quickly. You can play around with blend modes, colors, gradients and try them on your images.

26. LOL Colors

Curated color palette inspiration

27. Color Hunt

Color Hunt is a free and open platform for color inspiration with thousands of trendy hand-picked color palettes

28. ColorMe

Visualize The CSS Color Function.

29. Polarite

Polarite is a machine learning assisted decision making app for generating harmonious color schemes.

30. Gradient Hunt

Thousands of trendy color gradients in a curated collection that is updated daily. Get a fresh color gradient for your next design project and save all the gradients you like.

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31. Palettable

Generate beautiful color palettes using the knowledge of millions of designers.

32. ColorSpark

A simple and effective tool that generates random colors and gradients to help designers put together unique and striking color palettes.

33. SVG Colorizer

SVG Colorizer, colorize SVG icons and SVG vectors automatically

34. Sip

Sip Color Picker for Mac. A better way to collect organize and Share colors.

35. CoolHue 2.0

Get free sketch gradient colors plugin and gradient collection palette.

36. Color Koala

Color Koala is a quick palette generator, creating gorgeous colors for all of your side projects.

37. SchemeColor

SchemeColor.com is a top-rated website to download, create and share thousands of beautiful color combinations. Get detailed information on hexadecimal colors codes and convert them to RGB and CMYK equivalents.

38. Free Mesh Gradient Collection

100 mesh gradients in .sketch, .png, .ai, .jpg, .eps

39. WebGradients

Come to WebGradients.com for 180 beautiful linear gradients in CSS3, Photoshop and Sketch. This collection is curated by top designers and totally free.

40. Gradient Buttons

Beautiful Gradient Buttons with Hover Effect

41. ColorKit

ColorKit blends colors and generates a color’s shades and tints.

42. Eggradients

Ready to use gradient background colors. ✓ Cool Gradients are prepared according to the latest design trends. And it is served in the form of eggs. ✓ With hex and CSS codes.

43. Cool Backgrounds

Explore a beautifully curated selection of cool backgrounds that you can add to blogs, websites, or as desktop and phone wallpapers.

44. Google Art & Culture Experiment — Art Palette

Art Palette is part of Arts & Culture experiments, which explore innovative ways for users to interact with art collections. With Art Palette, you can search for artworks that match a color combination of your choice.

45. GradPad

CSS gradient generator, create lovely CSS color gradients for web designs in the browser

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PROMOTED

46. Khroma

Khroma is the fastest way to generate, discover, search, and save color combos and palettes you’ll want to use.

47. Color palettes

Browse thousands of color combinations on Canva and create your own designs without hiring a designer. It’s free!

48. Color Safe

Color Safe is a tool to explore beautiful, accessible color palettes for your website based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

49. Paletton

Use the color wheel to create great color palettes.

50. Colordot

Simple color picker everyone

51. Colors

Colors is a 100% data driven collection of color palettes.

52. Contrast Ratio

Easily calculate color contrast ratios. Passing WCAG was never this easy!

53. Color Lisa

Color palette masterpieces of the world’s greatest artists.

54. Color Designer

The main purpose of this tool is to help with building a color palette and generate tints and shades based on it. Just pick a color, and the app does the rest. You can use the preselected colors or the color picker for more control.

55. Color.review

A modern tool for exploring and finding accessible colors. Make sure that everyone can see your creations.

56. Blend

Blend — Create and customize beautiful CSS3 gradients.

57. Contrast

A macOS app for quick access to WCAG color contrast ratios

58. Grabient

Beautiful and simple UI for generating web gradients.

10-best-tools-&-apps-for-wordpress-freelancers

Something I see a lot with the WordPress consultants I coach, as well as something I experienced in the early days of my own agency, is that the wrong tool can do a lot of damage to the foundation of a business.

You might be thinking:

“Who has the time to research the best tools and apps though? I just need something that works for now.”

But there’s a trade-off. If you don’t create a stable foundation for your business with the right set of tools now, it will cost you much more time and money to replace them and repair your business down the road.

So, rather than waste what little time you have recreating the wheel, I’ve gathered up the 10 best tools and apps for WordPress freelancers. If you want more time to focus on what’s important (like building websites and making money), you need to start here.

10 Best Tools & Apps for WordPress Freelancers

This is something that comes up a lot in our private Facebook group. People want to know which WordPress page builder plugin is best. Or how to keep track of their income. Or whether they should be tracking time on jobs.

And they’re right to be looking for the best tools and apps. They’re the key to creating a solid foundation for business — something both you and your clients both need to succeed.

These are your essentials:

1. WordPress Themes: Astra and GeneratePress (Freemium)

Although you may be inclined to build WordPress websites with different WordPress themes, you’d be doing yourself and your clients a great disservice by doing so.

That’s because every WordPress theme has its own nuances: customisation options, theme variations, flexibility in design and development, and so on.

While that variation may seem like a good thing because it means more versatility in what you build, it doesn’t actually work that way. Because the more WordPress themes you have to memorise the layout and functionality of, the more time you spend readjusting to the given theme’s workflow every time you start a new project.

That’s why you need to commit to one or two themes.

The ones I’ve found WordPress freelancers have the most success with are Astra:

Astra - one of the best tools & apps for WordPress freelancers

And GeneratePress:

GeneratePress

Both are lightweight, responsive and highly customisable. They also work really well with the WordPress page builder plugins I’m about to talk about.

2. Page Builder Plugins: Elementor and Beaver Builder (Freemium)

While the WordPress editor may suffice for blogging, it’s really not ideal for building the pages of your website. And while you can leverage the beautifully made templates provided by WordPress themes, page builder plugins allow you to have much more control over the design and code.

There are a number of page builder plugins you’re going to run into. However, if you’re trying to use the best plugins to start, then there are two I strongly recommend. Choose one.

If you’re a web designer, consultant or other WordPress professional, Elementor will fit nicely into your workflow:

Elementor


In fact, it’s the theme that WP Elevation used to design this website. It’s also the plugin I use in most of my WordPress tutorials.

Beaver Builder, on the other hand, is going to be best for web developers that want more control over the code and functionality of their pages:

Beaver Builder

The debate between Beaver Builder and Elementor is a common one and for good reason. They’ve both been on the market for years and are well-loved by the WordPress community. If you have to start somewhere, they’re going to be your best picks.

3. Asana (Freemium)

It’s not just WordPress tools that are going to be crucial to the success of your business. You’re going to need various business management tools and apps to get everything else in line, too. Starting with a task management system.

When you’re first starting out, Asana is going to be your best friend.

Asana

Not only can you track and organise all of your clients and projects in this tool, but you can create templates so you don’t have to spend so much time on tedious tasks (like setting up projects or onboarding clients).

Then, if you decide to grow your business and build a team, you can upgrade Asana so you and your team can collaborate more efficiently within the same workspace.

4. Toggl (Free)

One of the tricky things about managing your time when you’re a freelancer is knowing exactly how much of it you need to get stuff done.

If you’ve been building websites for a while, you might have a good idea of how long it takes to get them out the door. But you’re going to have to be more precise than that. How long do your client kickoff calls? How about your content gathering and research phases? And how about QA?

If you’re not scheduling enough time for yourself in Asana, you’ll either end up working extra-long days to get it done (and risk burnout) or you’re going to miss deadlines (and upset your client). Neither situation is ideal.

To keep yourself sane and your clients happy, put Toggl to work for you.

Toggl

This time-tracking tool lets you capture how long you spend on whole projects as well as specific tasks. And not only will this help you better budget your time, but it’ll help you price your services more effectively, too.

The Secret to Making More Money with WordPress Is…

Toggl is just one piece of the pricing puzzle. If you want to charge better rates and make a greater profit, sign up for this free webinar.

5. Evernote (Freemium)

Take a look around your desk. Do you have sticky notes and notepads covered in details and reminders from client meetings? Now, take a look at your digital workspace. Does it have a similar vibe?

You can’t afford to leave your notes scattered around. You need to capture your ideas more effectively. With Evernote, you’ll not only be able to take down all of your notes in one place, but you can better organise your thoughts there, too.

Evernote

Even better, it works on all devices, so you no longer have to manually take notes anymore. You can dictate them by voice, link websites or save screenshots for reference and inspiration.

6. Call Recorder Lite App (Free)

Another way to avoid the burden of having to take notes by hand is to record your calls and meetings with clients.

A great tool that does that is Call Recorder Lite. It’s an app you install on your iPhone to record, export and save your calls.

Call Recorder Lite

That way, you won’t have to worry about missing any pertinent details from your client meetings later on. Even better, it will free your focus from the page, so you can pay closer attention to what your client is saying and really be engaged in the conversation.

7. LastPass (Free)

On average, how many tools and WordPress websites do you think you log into every day? That number will only grow as your business does. So, how do you keep track of your username and password for each application?

To ensure that you always use a strong username/password combination, you’re going to need a password manager like LastPass to help you out.

LastPass

In addition to storing your login credentials there, you can use LastPass to create super-secure passwords for new tools. You can even share your credentials with others through this app, which will come in handy when you hire an assistant.

8. Accounting Software: Xero and QuickBooks (Premium)

Financial security is the dream for every freelancer. But it’s not something that will happen if you don’t know your numbers.

I get it. You know money is going out of your business, but you worry that you don’t have enough coming in. However, those numbers are the only way to confirm it, so you need to pay attention.

With accounting software, the responsibility of tracking your cash flow doesn’t ride on your shoulders. You can automate that piece and then spend your time focused on bringing in new business and charging rates that will bring your profits up.

Two of the best accounting software tools for freelancers are QuickBooks:

QuickBooks

And Xero:

Xero

Both of these tools grow alongside your business, too. So, if you only want to start with self-employed tools like budgeting and tax management, you can do that. Then, when you’re ready, you can upgrade the tools, so they do more for you — like manage invoices.

9. Spotify (Free)

This early in the game, you can’t afford to let distractions or stress slow you down. If you let them work their way into your workflow now, it’ll be hard to fight them off later.

That’s why I always recommend that freelancers find a Spotify playlist that keeps them calm and focused. The one I’m most fond of is called Jazz Vibes.

Spotify Jazz Vibes

Even if you’re not into jazz, that’s cool. Video game soundtracks, for example, are good for helping people focus, too. So, play around with it and find the genre or playlist that works best for you.

10. Runkeeper (Free)

It won’t take long before you realise just how hard it can be to maintain your health and wellness when you’re busy running a business or scrambling to get clients.

This is another one of those things you need to create good habits around early on. If you don’t, you’ll soon find that your lack of physical activity causes you to feel sluggish and unmotivated during the workday. That’s a major problem for freelancers whose sole source of income comes from the time they’re able to commit to building websites.

To keep yourself motivated and accountable to your health, I’d recommend you find the right health and fitness app. For me, it’s Runkeeper.

Runkeeper

With it, I keep tabs on how much walking or running I do each day while monitoring progress against my goals.

Wrap-Up

There you have it. The 10 best tools and apps you’re going to need to make your life a lot easier as a WordPress freelancer. This is just the start though. Once you start to pick up steam in your business, there’s more to be done to turn your business into a lean profit-generating machine.

In Parts 2 and 3 of this Best Tools & Apps series, I’ll share the resources you’ll need to take your business to new heights. So, stay tuned!

Oh, and if you want to see what other tools our WordPress community is talking about or have questions about ones not included on this list, join our Digital Mavericks Facebook group. As you can imagine, it’s a hot topic around these parts.