This is my personal list of things/services which I find very useful in regard to designing websites. In such a list of useful tools for webmasters, it is not possible not to mention WordPress, obviously. It is the most popular content management system and does not need much introduction. It is available in two flavors: wordpress.org (free and self-hosted) and wordpress.com (freemium and hosted by WordPress). I have only used the self-hosted version, as it offers greater flexibility. The list below does not include useful WordPress plugins as it would make the list to long.
Vivaldi is the best web browser ever made in the history of web browsers, at least for desktops and laptops. I have no doubts about it. Advanced, flexible and customizable. Tab-tiling, notes, taking screenshots of whole pages are just a few of my favorite features. Previously, I I had used Firefox as my main browser, from version 1 to 81. Switching to Vivaldi from Firefox has greatly increased my productivity. It runs on Chromium – the same layout engine that is used e.g. in Chrome, Opera or the new Edge browser. But Vivaldi is much better and much more user-friendly than those browsers. If you don’t know it yet, you can download it here.
Notepad++ is an extremely convenient and useful text and code editor for Windows. You edit code and notes in convenient tabs, as known from modern browsers, and can save the files in a number of formats, e.g. html, css, php, txt, etc. By default, the content of the tabs remains saved, even if you don’t save them as files and restart the computer. After you restart the program, you will see the tabs as you left them, which makes it very convenient for everyday notes. This lightweight software can be used for many purposes. Notepad++ is developed by Don Ho and can be downloaded here.
Cloudflare is a fantastic service acting as a reverse proxy and a content distribution network. What does it mean?
If you activate Cloudflare on your website, whenever a visitor requests a page, this request will go through Cloudflare, so that the server hosting your site is, in a way, hidden. This allows to block certain types of undesired traffic, either automatically or through firewall rules. This is the reverse proxy functionality. A content distribution network, as the name suggests, distributes certain types of content (e.g. images, .css or .js files) across a network of their servers around the world. This way, at least in theory, they can be served faster to visitors from distant locations.
Cloudflare offers several plans or tiers. What’s amazing is that the free tier is not only perfectly usable but also extremely useful!
Some time ago, Cloudflare also started to offer domain registrar services at wholesale prices. The prices are really lower than at most mainstream registrars. However, there are some limitations:
- at the time of writing you cannot register new domains with Cloudflare, you can only transfer already registered domains from other registrars
- Cloudflare cannot publicly advertise their wholesale prices, so you will only see the price when you try to transfer a domain
- the domain must be added to one of Cloudflare’s plans before you can transfer it
- you cannot use nameservers other than Cloudflare’s (which for most people will probably be irrelevant)
Cloudflare’s registrar’s service offers great value for money if you can accept the limitations. The address of their website is simply cloudflare.com.
Blisk is a Chromium-based browser developed for web-designers and web-developers. It allows you to simulate many devices, .e.g. popular phone and tablet models. You can certainly test the responsive behavior of your websites by simply resizing the window of your regular browser on your desktop computer. However, sometimes you may miss some mistakes. I didn’t catch one CSS mistake related to vertical resolution when I was testing the site by resizing the browser’s windows. When I tested the site in Blisk, I immediately noticed the mistake.
When you launch Blisk, you will see that it is not a typical browser. In the left sidebar, you will have a list of popular smartphones, tablets as well as common laptop and desktop resolutions. You can quickly simulate what your website will look like on these devices. Fantastic and so much better than resizing the window manually.
Blisk is a freemium product. The free version is perfectly usable and will be sufficient for most users. The premium version, as you might have expected, offers some additional, advanced features. You can find Blisk here.