Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross sang about it in 1992 and in 2014 it is still as true as ever…the best things in life are free.
People love and get excited by the idea of getting something for free…
Giving away something for free has been one of the most effective marketing strategies for many, many years and is exactly what various standout companies of the last decade have taken advantage of. The likes of Google, Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter have used ‘free’ to propel their economic growth. Providing things for free is the new cost of advertising and PR.
In the creative industry of Design and Online Marketing people are continuously creating new free and useful tools that help the likes of us (the marketers and designers) to do our jobs. I wanted to bring together a small selection of some of the tools that the Attacat team use on a daily basis, in the hope that you will find some value in them.
My Top 5 Picks (In no particular order):
1. WhatFont – Is a free chrome extension that allows you to instantly find out what font is being used simply by hovering over the text. It is really useful for a designer as it allows you to see what you can do with typography on the web or which fonts can actually be used.
2. TinyPNG – This tool has been really helpful with regards to the new Attacat website. We have a lot of images on the site and this tool allows you to compress up to 20 images at once without losing transparency or quality, this then allows for your website to load faster.
3. ColorHexa – Colour is a key element in any piece of design and this fantastic tool provides you with all the information you might need about a specific colour including its RGB, CMYK and Hex codes. It also allows you to blend or create a gradient between 2 colours.
4. Pixlr Editor – This is the closest thing you will get to a free version of Photoshop. This is not a tool that I use but it is great for my colleagues or anyone who is not a designer and just wants to be able to resize or make quick image changes. Many of its features work similarly to Photoshop as well so it’s a good starting point for beginners.
5. Viewport Resizer – Now more than ever people are viewing websites on mobiles and tablets. It’s therefore important for websites to be designed with mobile in mind. Viewport resizer is a browser-based tool to test any website’s responsiveness. Our developer Chelsey uses this tool pretty much on a daily basis.
That’s enough from me, lets see what some of the other Attacat’s are using:
Page Speed Insights – If you’ve ever opened up a site and had enough time to make a cup of tea, clean out the litter box and solve the national debt before it loads, you might be interested in this tool from Google. This is especially useful if you’re absolutely flummoxed as to why your AdWords quality score might have tanked after you uploaded those 500 images to your landing page. It even shows how you’re performing on mobile (hint: you should definitely care how you’re performing on mobile!).
Chad Summerhill’s Free Excel Spreadsheet for PPC Test Ad Testing for Statistical Significance – When running ad copy tests, Mr Summerhill has made things super simple. I take the data from my “champion” ad and my “challenger” ad and his nice excel spreadsheet table determines which ad is my winner and at what confidence level. Extremely useful, I use it every time I run an ad copy test. All in all this tool helps me ensure the ads I am running for my clients are as effective as possible. Chad’s been clever too, you can’t download the excel template without tweeting about it first, cheeky but fair play!
From an SEO perspective, Screaming Frog (site crawler/spider) and Open Site Explorer (link analysis) are pretty invaluable as free tools and can be upgraded to paid when you need more from them. From an emailing and outreach side of things, Signals by Hubspot is useful for tracking who’s opened your emails and Boomerang can be used to schedule and remind you about emails. Finally, as we’re talking about email, Rapportive is useful to showing people’s social profiles (and custom notes) right alongside their emails.
Mozbar – Bit of an obvious one but I do actually use the Chrome mozbar extension pretty much every single day. Even if it is just to speedily check a website’s title tags and meta description – it’s definitely quicker than searching the website code. It’s my go-to-tool for pointing out obvious problems with a web page. Maybe they have a funny looking canonical in place, maybe they are missing a meta description or have a rubbish page title – mozbar is my first stop for checking these things out.
Well there you have it, some freebies and trade secrets shared, hopefully a few will help you as much as they help us. If you have any great free tools that you could not do your job without then please do tell us by leaving a comment below.