This list isn’t about designing websites; it’s about running websites … you know, “webmastering.”
Contrary to what some people want you to believe in, running a website takes some time on a daily basis. You can’t just leave everything unattended and hope that nothing will crash, get hacked, or simply stop working for whatever reason.
And it only gets worse if you’re running more than one website. Probably somewhere around six or eight websites the whole “webmastering” becomes a fulltime job.
Thankfully, there are some tools you can use to speed everything up a bit. And I’m not only talking about website maintenance tools. There are also tools for managing a publishing schedule, keyword research tools, checking if your sites are up, and other things. So in the end, the main theme of the list is to make a webmaster’s life easier, not to focus on a specific aspect of the work.
1. Uptime Robot
Quite simply, this is a tool that lets you know whenever one of your sites goes down. Trust me, you want to be the first person to know such a thing, and not to find out after a reader sends you an email.
Uptime Robot is free, lets you monitor up to 50 sites. Sends alerts by email, SMS, Twitter, RSS, and checks your sites every 5 minutes. I’ve been using this tool for over a year, and I haven’t experienced any problems with it yet. Highly recommended.
This is one of those Google tools that’s a little less popular. And I can’t see the reason for this because the tool is great. I actually think that every webmaster or person managing any website should sign up for an account.
GWT provides you with a lot of information on what’s going on on your site from Google’s perspective, which is exactly what you want to know if you’re trying to build good rankings.
Among the information you’ll find: search queries that have returned pages from your site, links pointing to your site, the most significant keywords on your site (according to Google), +1 metrics, malware diagnostics, list of crawl errors, “fetch as Googlebot” tool, site performance stats, and more.
For some webmasters this is a must-use, for others not so much. Not everyone runs their websites with keyword focus in mind. And it’s quite understandable.
If you’re running a personal blog or a news site then keywords are not that significant. For personal blogs it’s because … well, you just don’t care. And for news sites you’re essentially publishing completely new stuff every day, which means that there have been no trends for relevant keywords yet.
For most other pages, however, keywords are very important. Google Keyword Tool lets you find some valuable keywords and phrases worth targeting in your SEO efforts. The tool gives you estimated traffic numbers and other statistical data. Even though it has been designed for AdWords’ users it can be successfully used by anyone else too.
Bonus tip. Don’t forget to track your rankings. You can use some tools for this too, but they usually require a small investment. The simplest way of tracking your rankings, however, is to google your desired phrase and look for your listing in the results. Only remember to use the private browsing mode of your browser while you do that. Otherwise your results will be customized to your previous behavior and user account.
A webmaster’s work is rarely a one man’s work. In most cases you have to collaborate with other people. There are content writers, designers, developers, marketers, social media managers, and so on. Communicating can be difficult, and email is not the best possible solution here. This is where Teambox comes into play.
Teambox is an online collaboration tool (you can sign up for the basic plan for free). It lets you create tasks, share them with others, create wiki-style pages to share knowledge, upload files important to your current projects, communicate in a social-network-like style, and more.
Funny name for what turns out to be a really friendly and useful tool. Basically, this is a to-do list software. It can be accessed from many different platforms (mobile apps) and of course also via the traditional way – web browser.
In short, RTM is so much more than a simple to-do list manager. It’s a highly organized environment with lots of features such as: different levels of priorities, multiple lists, tagging, keyboard shortcuts, reminders, and more.
For instance, a webmaster can use it to store a list of things to do with their websites, or a list of posts to publish, or schedule some maintenance tasks, or whatever else.
This is a very popular tool, but have you been using it the right way? OK, I’m in no position to tell you which is the right or wrong way, but let me just give you an idea on how you can use it to monitor the world you’re in, as a webmaster.
Google Reader is perfect for checking what’s going on in the niche your site’s in, or in the website development space in general. You can simply sign up to the most popular RSS feeds in your niche, create a custom folder in Reader to have them all in an easily digestible form, and then use them for fast inspiration when you want to publish a new post or article.
Mind mapping is one of these new ways of gathering information that we’ve been exposed to in the recent years. Essentially, mind mapping is a way of representing our thoughts and giving them a physical form that’s easy to grasp and understand.
And the best tool to do that on a computer is FreeMind. It’s free, obviously, and it’s also the easiest to use and the quickest tool out there.
Managing a website consists of a lot of different things, which can be difficult to keep an eye on all in one place, in a way that actually makes sense. That’s why mind mapping is perfect for this. If those things make sense in your head then they will certainly make sense in a mind map as well… Something that cannot be said about a Word document, for example.
For the final entry let’s go back to the technical side of things. Smush.it is a tool designed by Yahoo! (yes, they’re still alive) to help you reduce the size of images used on your website.
Images usually consume most of your bandwidth (besides videos), so reducing their size is always a good practice. Smush.it uses some optimization techniques to reduce the size of images without any loss in quality.
If you don’t want to go to the tool manually every time you upload a new image to your site, and you’re using WordPress then I’m happy to let you know that there’s a plugin available that makes everything happen automatically.
For the final thought, I strongly believe that the tools on this list can make your webmastering life easier. For me, not having them would make it really hard to deal with everyday tasks and responsibilities.
Can you think of any tool worth including here? What else are you using?