A couple of days ago we received an email from QuickBooks asking us about our everyday tools. Initially my internal SEO black hat warning bells started ringing. However Carrie from QuickBooks managed to get me hooked, and now here I am writing about our everyday tools.
Working in a smaller digital agency means that money can be tight and you need to be extremely clever about your resources. I imagine it’s the same when working in any startup or SME.
Calculating the actual return on investment offered by a tool can be tricky business. The usefulness vs the cost of a tool is something you learn to figure out quite quickly. In other words, will the time you save, as well as the enhanced quality of work, make up for the price of the tool and the time it’ll take you to get to grips with it?
Being a digital agency, almost all our tools are (surprise surprise) digital. Very few days go by in which we don’t see cool, new software that we’d like to buy. To everyone’s disappointment, but for obvious reasons, we can’t have ‘em all.
When we trial new software and tools, we take a lot of different things into consideration. We like to throw some feelers out and to see what our pals are using. Personal recommendations are powerful.
Let’s get started with some general tools that our team can’t live without. I’ve also thrown a few content-specific tools in there that are invaluable to our content team. Our favourite tools include, but are not limited to, the tools mentioned below.
Timetastic is a beautiful little tool hand built in Manchester. It’s a simple calendar system we all use to book our holidays. Essentially, it’s the old fashioned A3 poster with names, dates and colour coded stickers – made digital.
Say I want to go away for a week. I request my holidays through my Timetastic app on my phone, my boss receives a notification, he accepts it, and that’s me booked off. That is assuming he accepts my holiday request of course, but he is yet to reject one so far 😉
The calendar keeps track of holiday allowance, holidays booked, sick days and doctor/ dentist leave. It’s super simple to use, and provides a neat overview of who’s going to be in the office.
Working in SEO, Ahrefs is my best work pal. Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO and content tool, and hand on heart – makes our job as content marketers a helluva lot easier!
Local SEO is a big part of the custom digital packages we provide our clients. To be able to write unique and relevant content, we need a tool where we can dive into stats and explore content opportunities. We need to analyze search volumes, keyword rankings and difficulty, backlinks, traffic, referring domains and much more.
Ahrefs has a smooth dashboard loaded with important stats and information, and is possibly the most important tool for our content team.
Teamwork + Timer
Teamwork is our project management hub and if you ask our Head of Digital, Ross, I’m sure he’ll say a vital factor to our success.
Through Teamwork Projects, Ross keeps our entire team on task and makes sure that our days are filled with new client tasks, web development maintenance, and Digital Impact jobs.
To boost productivity, and to be able to charge our clients accordingly, we time all our tasks through the Teamwork timer app. Teamwork projects makes it easy for us all to crack on with our individual tasks in the morning, and keeps all sort of stats on our timing, performance, late tasks etc.
Our home-made Task Board
Built by our own lead developer, our Digital Impact task board draws all its information from Teamwork Projects.
Our DI Dashboard is a much neater one, and only shows the tasks for a specific period. Our designer and web developers have daily tasks, whilst our content team works a weekly schedule.
This little tool makes it super easy to check if, for example, our senior designer has time to create a graphic for a piece of content, or if we need a developer to code up a landing page.
The dashboard shows our time estimates for the week/day, time logged, time remaining as well as the due date.
I used to write priority lists and spend a good hour a week (if not more) planning my tasks, but this little crafty tool, built in-house, has made all my planning redundant. Now all I need to do is turn up on a Monday morning and work my way through the tasks of the week.
Whilst our senior designer is a Sketch wizard, us guys in the content team are less fluent in digital design.
That said, Sketch is an absolutely brilliant tool for creating graphics to go with the content we create. A good piece of content needs a top visual appearance too, all of which is part of the content package we offer our clients.
I don’t know an awful lot about all the amazing things you can do in InVision if you are a proficient user, but I know that in our team – the InVision App links us all together.
For example: our designer will share his work on a new landing page, then a content guy will comment on the layout of things and write up matching content. Our designer then uploads a final design of the landing page, leaving the developer to code it up and push live.
Teamwork at its finest, and InVision makes it look easy.
Instead of shouting across the office, sending one email after the other and walking 10 metres to chat with a colleague, we use Slack. Actually, we use Slack a lot.
Call us lazy, but this tool really works in our office. When people are in the zone and with headphones on, you can easily ping them a short DM and they can get back to you on their own time.
Minimising emails and making sharing resources a piece of cake, Slack can save a lot of time.
Slack can also be a bit of a gossip channel, but if you’ve got your notifications right you can pick and choose when you want to be disturbed.
We swear by the Google suite and the Google Drive here at Digital Impact. We’ve got shared folders across teams, and the ‘live save’ function makes it easy to collaborate and work on documents and in sheets at the same time.
Google has made instant collaboration available, and my oh my is it saving us all a lot of time!
Before the Google suite, you’d need to send a Word document to your colleague, await their comments along with the returned document. After step one it would be a question of play/ repeat until all parts agreed. If there were more than two people involved, the feedback loop could be a never ending story.
Now all you need to do is share a Google doc with the people that need it, and they can edit/ comment/ suggest as they wish.
9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Our comprehensive range of coffee machines
Though not limited to the digital industry, this article on everyday tools wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the beans that fuel the digital machine.
Our daily coffee routines are not to be taken for granted. To keep everyone happy, a good cup of coffee is a must in our West Regent Street office.
We all like our coffee a little different, so our coffee machine: employee ratio is pretty high.
We’ve got a kettle for guys who needs a quick fix and dream of instant brews, a filter coffee for the more patient but flavour loving coffee drinker, a french press for a simple but high quality brew, an aeropress for the hipsters who claim it’s the only way coffee should be prepared and an espresso machine for the latte loving crowd.
Our selection of coffee brewing tools is really quite extensive.
Tools of the Trade: Did We Miss Anything?
I sincerely hope you’ve found some interesting tools in this article, as that was why I wanted to write it in the first place.
If you’re using a tool that you love more than chocolate and days off, please send us a tip! As I said, we are lovers of useful software and friendly recommendations. Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought!