As a fully remote team from the beginning, we understand the importance of having the freedom to work from wherever feels most comfortable to our partners. While we have an office, our team members are spread across different locations. To stay connected and productive, we rely on various tools and platforms and always look for new ones to try out. Here are some of our favorite tools that are worth sharing. We'd love to hear your suggestions if you know of any others we should check out.
Suggest on Twitter Last updated on Oct 02
Slack has served as the central communication hub for our team since 2013, seamlessly integrating our Figma projects, Zoom meetings, Whimsical docs, GitHub webhooks, and various helpful bots. In addition, we've fostered streamlined collaboration and efficient workflows by inviting clients to join our Slack channels or connecting two companies.
Google Workspace has been our steadfast partner, reliably managing mailboxes, documents, and sheets. We primarily rely on Sheets to track billable hours, ensuring our clients receive timely and accurate invoicing.
Mimestream is a native Mac app designed for Gmail, featuring a familiar Mail.app appearance with a significantly enhanced user experience.
WeChat's widespread popularity in China has led us to adopt it as one of our official contact channels, ensuring seamless communication with our clients and partners.
While recently helping a client set up custom domain mailboxes, we found Proton to excel in every aspect, impressing us with its user-friendliness, security, added features, and competitive pricing.
Loom, sharing a resemblance in name with Zoom, has become an essential communication tool for our team. It offers asynchronous communication, and we've grown to rely on it for creating informative internal tutorial videos.
Zoom stands unrivaled as the premier tool for online meetings and seamless collaboration.
Replaced with Lark Meetings and VooV Meeting.
Spark has won our admiration for its collaborative email writing and discussion capabilities, effectively eliminating reply-all chaos. Its time-saving Templates feature is a particular standout, streamlining our communications.
Replaced with Mimestream.
Notion serves as our go-to documentation hub, crucial in preserving knowledge and skills as we focus on expanding our team and fostering a shared learning environment.
Replaced with Lark.
Figma has become our primary design tool, consolidating the functionality of Sketch, Abstract, and Zeplin. This streamlined solution has eliminated messiness and reduced costs, keeping everything neatly organized in one platform.
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are occasionally utilized for branding projects.
Cinema 4D has emerged as a vital component of our creative process, with most of our marketing designs incorporating 3D elements. Even when creating 2D-like illustrations, designing in Cinema 4D offers greater flexibility and room for experimentation.
Initially, categorizing Framer as either a design or development tool proved challenging. While we primarily use it to implement Figma designs, it shines in refining interaction design details. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoy using this versatile tool, and it consistently delivers a delightful experience.
Rive is our go-to choice for interactive animations, thanks to its open-source runtimes that ensure compatibility across platforms while maintaining a minimal footprint.
We transitioned from Drama to Origami, drawn by its versatility, cost-free availability, and the vibrant community supporting its ongoing development and innovation.
Visions of Chaos
Although we've only begun exploring Visions of Chaos, its comprehensive integration of Chaos Theory and Machine Learning sets it apart as the most complete all-in-one application in its field.
Drama is our current favorite for crafting intricate interactions and animations, despite primarily using Figma's Prototype feature. Before adopting Drama, we experimented with Origami, Flinto, and Principle, each contributing to our evolving design process.
Replaced with Origami.
As self-proclaimed font enthusiasts, we relish the opportunity to experiment with Fontstand, allowing us to explore and test out unique typefaces for each new project.
Whimsical excels as our preferred tool for designing wireframes and flowcharts. The recently added Docs feature has quickly become our primary resource for documenting product changes, discussions, and strategic planning.
Replaced with Figma.
We've joined the Linear bandwagon and found that the glowing reviews hold true. While it bears similarities to other task management systems we've used, Linear offers a distinct, seamless experience, packed with thoughtful details that make it an absolute pleasure to use.
Our collection of legitimately acquired paid font files and highly valuable top-secret contracts are securely stored and protected in the reliable and trusted box.
After experimenting with numerous low code/no code tools, we sought a stable solution to avoid constant data migration, particularly for financial information. We've settled on Lark, primarily utilizing its doc, table, and meeting features to meet our needs efficiently and reliably.
Following numerous trials and challenging data migrations, we ultimately selected Coda as our internal data management platform. This choice allows us to break free from the constraints of pre-defined paradigms offered by other tools, enabling customization of appearance and functionality to suit our needs.
Replaced with Lark.
While we contributed to the design of Hipacloud, our endorsement stems from its ability to consolidate the functionalities of numerous tools we once relied on. This all-in-one platform effortlessly manages reimbursements, estimates, payroll, project scheduling, and company finances, making it an indispensable asset to our team.
Replaced with Coda.
Zoho Invoice has been a loyal and dependable companion, eschewing flashy animations or interactions in favor of simplicity and stability. After experimenting with various tools, we sought a reliable solution and found it in Zoho Invoice, opting for a straightforward approach that we can trust.
Although we use Harpoon to send estimates and invoices, we've opted to switch to Timemator for time tracking due to its more advanced features and regular updates. While Harpoon's time tracking feature proved insufficient for our needs, we continue to rely on it for efficient management of estimates and invoices.
Replaced with Zoho Invoice.
As longstanding paid customers of Basecamp, we continue to utilize its features for projects requiring extensive sharing of deliverables and documents. However, with the direct invitation of clients to our Slack channels, we now reserve Basecamp for occasional usage.
Not suitable for small businesses due to its high cost and slow performance in China.
After a hiatus, we've returned to Asana, impressed by its latest enhanced power and versatility. Along with the familiar kanban boards and lists, we now enjoy our favorite feature, the timeline view. A recent complex project necessitated a robust tool, and Asana proved indispensable in keeping track of all the moving parts. We can't imagine working without it now.
Replaced with Notion.
Our company places the utmost importance on our visitors' privacy, just as we do with our own data. We've switched from Google Analytics and Gauges to Fathom, a privacy-focused alternative, to honor this commitment. As a result, we can provide a seamless user experience without the need for intrusive cookie consent popups.
We're thrilled to be able to publish and schedule Instagram posts from our desktop, but it's worth noting that boosting posts is not a built-in feature of the app. Nonetheless, this newfound functionality has significantly streamlined our Instagram workflow.
Replaced with Instagram.com
Pitch is a comprehensive platform for creating professional presentations. Its library of high-quality templates allows anyone to quickly and easily design beautiful and engaging presentations.
Since our website operates on a static architecture, we rely on a third-party form tool to manage client inquiries. Formspark has proven to be a reliable and robust solution. It's surprising how much people enjoy filling out forms, and Formspark's power and stability make the process seamless for everyone involved.
After Twitter's acquisition and subsequent shutdown of Revue, we paused our newsletter activities. However, we're now back and excited to leverage the powerful features of Substack, which facilitate the development of a dedicated and engaged community.
We understand the importance of polished presentations in effectively conveying the value of our designs. That's why we're huge fans of Paste, a user-friendly tool that automates the presentation design process, allowing us to focus on the content and let it handle the rest.
Replaced with Pitch.
We've connected Smallchat directly to one of our Slack channels, enabling website visitors to initiate direct conversations with us from the page. This seamless integration streamlines communication and enhances the user experience.
We removed Smallchat from our site because it tracks our visitors.
As part of our commitment to improving communication with clients, we've introduced new ways for them to contact us quickly. As a result, Getform stands out as one of the few tools we can confidently say is "easy to set up," enabling us to swiftly and efficiently integrate it into our workflow.
Unstable email delivery and poor spam handling. Replaced with Formspark.
If you're a subscriber of Dine News (and you should be!), you've likely seen Revue in action, powering our email marketing campaigns with its user-friendly interface and powerful functionality.
At our company, GitHub is our go-to platform for managing all our website and client projects. Thanks to Microsoft's generous offering of free private repos, we no longer need to worry about the costs of maintaining our codebase in remote repositories.
While GitHub excels in most aspects of version control management, we've opted to leverage our own GitLab server for enhanced speed and compliance. Additionally, we've established a streamlined CI/CD workflow on Aliyun to optimize our development process.
Aliyun is critical in providing a fast website experience for domestic visitors and ensuring our clients can use the CMS we've provided seamlessly. Its robust infrastructure and advanced technologies enable us to optimize website performance and deliver exceptional user experiences.
CloudFlare is a unique platform. It offers impressive features, such as its full DNS service with speed optimization and powerful Workers that can turn a Notion page into a website with a custom domain.
Fork is our preferred git client for macOS, prized for its fast and friendly interface that helps to demystify the often-intimidating world of git for designers like us.
Visual Studio Code
After diving into React development, We’ve been won over by VS Code. Its vast selection of integrations and extensions is unparalleled, allowing us to streamline all aspects of the development process, from debugging to committing, in a single, neat, and enjoyable application.
Vercel is our latest web hosting provider, and we've been thoroughly impressed with its exceptional speed and performance. It provides lightning-fast access speed and delivers remarkable build speed, reducing the build time from three minutes to just 22 seconds compared to our previous provider, Amplify.
We have fully migrated to Aliyun private servers, but we continue to use it for testing.
Our relationship with Strapi is a bit of a love-hate one. While we appreciate its free, powerful, and customizable nature, we also acknowledge its occasional temperamental tendencies. As most clients have budgetary limitations, we can't always opt for commercial CMS solutions, making Strapi an attractive option. However, we recognize that it requires a significant amount of patience to work with at times.
While GitHub Pilot is undoubtedly a powerful and impressive tool, we've also had great success using Codeium, a free alternative with similar capabilities and functionalities.
We use AWS to host all our websites, leveraging its complete services such as CodeBuild for code building, Route 53 for traffic routing, S3 for file hosting, and CloudFront for content delivery. This comprehensive infrastructure ensures exceptional website performance and reliability for our clients.
Replaced with Vercel.
Netlify has quickly become our new toy, our preferred build and test platform for Jekyll and Gatsby sites. It's impressive speed and user-friendly interface have made it a delight to work with, elevating our development capabilities to new heights.
Replaced with Vercel.
CleanShot is an excellent screenshot tool that our team loves to use. Its powerful annotation features and built-in cloud sharing make it a perfect replacement for services like Droplr and CloudApp.
ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize how we work and create, but it's not quite advanced enough to replace many of the tools mentioned here. Nevertheless, we believe companies that haven't integrated ChatGPT into their daily workflows may soon become obsolete.
As a loyal Alfred user from day one, I initially hesitated to switch to Raycast. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the faster app, modern interface, and powerful extensions it offers. Ultimately, I found the transition relatively easy and now enjoy the benefits of a more efficient and powerful tool.
Inoreader is a reliable RSS feed service and reader that offers a refreshing alternative to algorithmic feeds.
You can subscribe to our RSS feed!
Wappalyzer is a helpful tool for identifying the technologies a website uses, making it easier to stay updated on the latest front-end advancements.
Arc is a unique web browser that brings users a refreshing and exploratory experience. Its ability to allow users to open frequently used web pages in separate windows fits in well with our workflow, eliminating the need for constantly opening and closing tabs.
Psst, do you need an invite?
Handbrake is a helpful tool for compressing and encoding videos, which can be useful when dealing with large MP4 files.
Here’s our preset for compressing videos to use on the web.
mymind is a bookmarking service that uses AI to tag and categorize bookmarks for its users automatically. It benefits visual users who want a more effortless way to bookmark and organize their online resources.
DeepL's translation is significantly better than Google Translate, and when combined with Grammarly's error correction, it can be a powerful tool for confidently communicating in a foreign language.
Optimage is a great tool for manually optimizing image file sizes.
Grammarly is valuable for those who want to improve their writing and avoid mistakes. In addition, it is beneficial for non-native English speakers or anyone who wants to enhance the clarity and professionalism of their written communication.
QuillBot is a great alternative you should try too.
DocuSign is our team's go-to electronic signature service when working with foreign clients and contractors. It's a reliable and trusted solution that ensures documents' secure and efficient signing.
Replaced with Dropbox Sign which comes with our subscription.
Timemator is a time-tracking tool that automatically starts the timer based on the files you work on or the applications you use. This eliminates the need for manual tracking and ensures accuracy in time tracking.
We no longer accept hourly billing projects.
Elpass is an excellent all-in-one password manager that is lightweight, fast, and syncs with iCloud. Its autofill feature works exceptionally well, making it a more reliable option than other password managers like 1Password.
Of course we designed their lovely logo!
If you enjoy taking notes, Draft is a must-try app. Whether jotting down design ideas or taking meeting notes, Drafts offers a fast and versatile plain text editor that syncs seamlessly across devices. Its powerful features make it a top choice for note-taking enthusiasts.