5 tools that are essential running my website
With the re-design of my website and the launch of my blog I have expected a high workload in the future to keep things updated and maintain both blog and website. At this point I had to become more professional and efficient working on them using the right tools.
Sublime Text 3
Notepad++ used to be the holy grail for me as an editor but I became more and more doubtful about it reading a lot about Sublime Text. Many blogs and videos on YouTube recommended to use Sublime Text 3 as an editor for web development.
Now that I am using Sublime I can’t live without it anymore. It is amazingly fast to use and knowing how to use it increases the efficiency at a whole new level. There are many plugins like Emmet, SublimeLinter or LiveReload. Also I must admit I am a multi-cursor addict. Try it out yourself if you are not using Sublime Text 2 or 3 yet. It certainly takes some time to learn but it’s worth it. Seriously!
To be honest I am not a designer and maybe not even much of a web designer, so for someone like me, icon fonts are great. The fonts can be used to render sharp icons in almost every browser and all modern browsers.
These days web designs have become simple, flat and to the point. In this case icons fit perfectly rather than over-artistic images that are hard to understand. Especially for navigation or teasers for sections, icons can be a great tool.
I am using Font Awesome and it seems the most popular icon font next to Glyphicons used in Bootstrap. Font Awesome provides more than 300 icons which can be used for various cases. The icons can also be combined and of course like every other element in CSS colored, resized or animated with CSS3 — but have a look.
I prefer to search for the right icon rather than searching ages for a picture that I may even need to buy. Even I am limited to a few hundred icons I still feel flexible enough and save a lot of time using icons.
Bootstrap is great. I just simplifies prototyping and the responsive part of a website. Bootstrap itself is marketed as a front-end framework that’s what it really is. It provides you a set of CSS classes, JS plugins and a HTML base to quickly build responsive projects.
I use Bootstrap a lot especially when I have a new idea and need to quickly draft a website, it becomes very handy.
GitHub / Git
GitHub is based on version control system Git and has become widely popular managing especially open-source projects such as Bootstrap or Joomla!. As of December 2013 GitHub is hosting more than 10 million repositories.
A few weeks ago I started to use GitHub to manage the source of my website and blog. It helps to keep track of changes I have made and deployment to live website has become much easier. I don’t need to use FTP anymore trying to remember what files to upload. Now I just connect via SSH and pull the latest changes from repository once I am ready whereas uploading/updating the source takes only seconds.
I have created a private repository on GitHub for the whole project.
According to w3techs around half of all websites use Google Analytics to track their visitors and so do I, but the user interface does not attract me and can be too complex for me sometimes. This is why I prefer Piwik in most cases.
Piwik is an open-source analytics project which can be installed on your own host. So all the data will be your own and not stored with Google. It covers most of Google Analytics features such Real-Time tracking or campaigns etc.
For me Piwik is an interesting option since it’s open-source, runs on my hosting and it feels like checking the statistics is just quicker with Piwik. There is also an app for Piwik!
These are the tools I probably use the most in order to run my website. Each one of them is key to be efficient.
I’m sure there are even better tools I don’t know yet about.
What tools do you use? Let me know.