I thought I would use this page to highlight some of the products and services I use in both a personal and professional capacity.
Web Hosting: Vidahost
Most websites don’t need the chaos of cloud hosting virtual servers (although Vidahost do those as well) but for hosting a regular ol’d website (static or CMS-powered) you just need a competent, reliable, easy-to-use web host who isn’t going to try to sell you extra services you don’t need.
Vidahost took over my former web host (WebAttention) back in 2007 and in that time I can probably count the downtime in minutes. On top of this, their support has always been knowledgeable and quick to resolve any queries I have.
All-in-all I can’t recommend them enough.
Obviously every site needs a domain name, not matter where you run it. Most hosting providers will offer to register domains for you, they may even give you one free, but I’ve found there are benefits to going with a separate (specialist) company when it comes to registering your domain. Apart from not being tied to your host (or domain provider), some of which try and tie you in to your domain so you can’t move it, they usually offer better rates and, more importantly, far more control of the advanced features of a domain. Such as the DNS settings and nameservers, which comes in very handy.
I’ve used 123-Reg for years because they’ve always offered good prices, great control, timely reminders and they don’t try and sell me add-ons (too much).
The only downside was their US domain pricing, which is what I use GoDaddy for. They don’t have a great rep, but they do offer good control and great prices. The only downside if you have to put up with their attempts to trick you into buying stuff you don’t want each time you buy or renew.
Email Marketing: MailChimp
Having worked for a company that produced an email marketing platform and had a go at writing my own mailing list manager I’ve got a somewhat unique perspective on tools like this. I knew of Mail Chimp although they weren’t a direct competitor, but they were always doing clever things like giving away compatible templates to allow you to build your emails and doing clever things with their interface.
So when I was looking for a service to allow me to mail a few hundred people, quickly and simply, but without resulting to the unprofessional approach of BCCing everyone in, I took at look at them and was pleased to find that not only do they offer a great service, but for low volumes you have the option of a free account.
Having sent several campaigns with them now I can say that the service is very easy to use, offers a great range of features (such as custom fields, merging in fields, dynamic content, an API and list filtering) and some excellent reporting so we can see how well our campaigns are doing. Well worth using and competitively priced should you need to send more emails or simply wish to remove their advertising.
Task Management: Todoist
I looked around for some time before I found a service that worked for me. It needed to be visually simple, easy to input tasks and, most importantly, easy to put tasks into projects/groups. Todoist was really the only service to offer the latter and it keeps getting better. Plus it’s free (I haven’t gone for the premium option yet, but tempted by the reminders).
Now they’ve got plugins for Chrome, Firefox, Outlook and and iPad/iPhone app I can check and update them wherever I am.