1. Pencil and Paper
This is as simple as it sounds – a pencil (or pen, if you prefer) and a piece of paper. In this day and age where entrepreneurial dreams are interwoven with digital innovations, it can be more effective than ever to go back to basics. For one, when something is jotted down, it is mentally ‘cleared’ in your head, which allows more space in your mind for bigger and perhaps greater ideas. Furthermore, writing gives one a sense of achievement, e.g. recording an accomplishment. With that sense of achievement comes greater motivation to keep the wheels on your venture chugging.
What’s more important than an eye-catching design? One that actually works, of course. Invision gives one the liberty to design a sleek yet practical and user-friendly UI (User Interface) for an app or a website, all while providing detailed and simple to understand pointers throughout the process. Upon signing in, users can get acquainted by watching a demo video, then tinker with three preloaded demo projects until they are comfortable enough to venture out with a blank slate. Invision comes in two types of accounts – Free and Pro. Since Sony, Dell and Uber are among the names Invision counts as its satisfied customers, you can’t go wrong with this one.[
When Whatsapp is already clogged with group chat notifications, and Facebook makes procrastinating too tempting, there’s Slack for all your team communication needs (the name’s pretty ironic, we know). Available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and Windows Phone, pretty much everyone can get in on Slack. Instead of groups, chats are categorized into ‘Channels’, so you might have a channel for Marketing and another for Design. Unlike groups, however, channels are public, so everyone invited to the company’s Slack account can view all of the ongoing interactions, making for a modern, transparent communication flow. That said, there are also options for private channels as well as one-on-one messaging. Files of all kinds can also be transferred here with a simple drag-and-drop gesture. If congested work inboxes give you anxiety, you’ll be happy to hear that Slack users have reported an average 48.6% drop in internal emails.
When there’s too much going on and you just want to get the lowdown in a glance, Trello is where it’s at. Its calling card is, well, cards that contain information regarding an ongoing project, and these cards can be dragged from list to list to update participants about new happenings and feedback in real-time. Users can either leave comments on the cards, or upload files from the usual suspects like Google Drive and Dropbox. It saves plenty of time, and is a pro at keeping matters organized. At the moment, it is already available for major browsers like Chrome and Firefox, and iOS, Android and the Kindle Fire devices.
Landing pages are the first impression of the Internet. Hence, the importance of Unbounce. Mainly a marketing tool, Unbounce lets users create landing pages that will maximize the website’s ability to convert and retain visitors. Designing pages is easy and fast with a drag and drop interface, and can even be customised for a mobile platform. What’s perhaps the most appealing feature is that seemingly sophisticated features can be incorporated without the need for any knowledge of IT or HTML coding.
So your team has gotten the art of communicating down pat, and the website and mobile app look great – now how about figuring out how successful you are at actually reaching your desired audience? Hotjar is your go-to. This analytical tool helps you discover the most visited areas of your website in the form of visual representations of their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour. You can also set up polls and surveys to ‘talk’ to your users directly, as well as recruit testers for new features among your existing users.
(Bonus) 7. Product Hunt
Once your startup has taken off, that’s only where the real work begins. In order to stay ahead of the competition and grow with your users, it’s vital to keep track of other apps and websites that are in the same sandbox as yours. For example, if your venture focuses on a niche product, it’d be wise to use Product Hunt to see examples, both regional and international, of websites peddling a similar product. It will not only push you to keep upgrading your brand, but give you inspiration for the next big step too.