Behind the scenes...
Surfing the web all day leads to some interesting discoveries and creations. This is part blog, part lab. These are our musings.
As a company that makes web tools, we love discovering, testing and using stuff other people make. The list below isn't exhaustive, but all these tools play a crucial role in the way we run our company.
We've all seen software that's PACKED with powerful features to handle any possible scenario, but then you use it... and it sucks. It's like wiping with leaves - it gets the job done but it's a terrible experience. Trello is the unique tool that IS powerful and flexible and attractive and handles almost any scenario... yet feels like three-ply silk wet wipes.
Trello is the ultimate organizer of anything and everything. We keep all of our jobs, to-dos and hair-brained ideas in here. We also create boards that clients view and edit with us - so it plays a crucial role in how we keep everyone on the same page.
Before Slack we had a buffet of tools to communicate internally: email, text messages, Google chat, Google Hangouts, phone, FaceTime, Skype. Communication is oxygen - so having options can be a good thing. But often we couldn't remember where we had conversations. Attachments were hard to track down. Water cooler banter got mixed in with business discussion. It wasn't efficient.
Slack fixed these problems. While we still use Google Hangouts for video calls, Slack handles everything else. It saves all attachments, conversations and links - then allows you to search them. There is a web app, desktop app and mobile app - so you're always able to stay in contact with your team.
Accounting - yawn. Invoicing - snooze. Estimates - ugh. That's how most people think of administrative work. It's done begrudgingly, it's not fun and it pulls you away from things that actually make money.
There are several options for keeping all your books in order, and we were lucky to find Freshbooks. The interface is simple and clean. Keeping track of our clients and projects has never been so easy.
It's time I say what we're all thinking - Microsoft Office is bleeding a slow death and needs to go. It's the de-facto software for businesses for one reason... "that's how we've always done it." Seriously, can someone please explain to me... in Outlook if I am the last person to reply to an email thread - and then I reply again to that last message (my message)... why does it send ME an email?! I can safely say that, while in conversation, I NEVER want to send myself an email. (Now, I know I can "Reply All" to avoid this, but come on...)
So the question is, who is going to take down Microsoft? Well, luckily there's a little startup from Mountain View, California with big dreams - and they deliver. Email. Word Processing. Spreadsheets. Calendars. Cloud Storage. Access all your information from ANY computer or smart phone. Documents can be edited by multiple people at the same time. No more emailing stuff around the office. Life is so much easier.
If you've ever started a company or created a new product, you know how important it is to get your business structure in writing. Before money or time are spent, it's best to get everyone on the same page. Lay everything on the table. Back of a Napkin walks you through the tough questions and pumps out a legal document at the end.
We don't use this tool often but we LOVE it. It is simple, effective and elegant. Most importantly though, it is USEFUL. It shows you don't need the backing of Google or big VC money to make something that can help people.
We have other tools we use for development, but this is what we use to keep the BLZ engine cooking. Are there any we missed? Any you prefer? Have an idea for your web app or want to chat about anything above? Let us know!
As I have heard from my sister in law on several occasions - it's a lot easier to decorate someone else's house than your own. This was definitely the case with our website.
For about 3 months we have been discussing updating our website. A lot of ideas had been thrown around and there had been some good discussion. Along with big decisions of layout, sourcing images, fonts, copy and zeroing in on a 'vibe' we want to convey - just finding time to break away from client work was difficult enough.
So this morning we came into the code zone and said 'today is the day'. Challenge: can we turn all of our discussions into a website by the end of the day? As of 5:53pm, the answer looks like YES. We have some work left to do but we should be launching in the next 90 minutes.
Have a poke around and let us know what you think.