In the course of working in web development since 1997, I've spent time on hold with just about every hosting company imaginable. I've learned that GoDaddy's cheap intro offers don't make up for the nightmare of their complicated hosting control panel and horrid support. I've learned that Network Solution's high prices are not normal. And I've learned that you get what you pay for online - cheapest is seldom best. I am often asked for suggestions for service providers so I started this page. I only recommend things that I personally have used for a long time and continue to use on an ongoing basis.
Weebly While the name might be a bit silly, Weebly is a very solid, feature-rich hosted content management system website platform. It offers a simple drag-and-drop editor is very easy for novices to use and the html code module will let you inject custom code when wanted. The realtime, built-in CSS editor is nothing short of delightful to work with and with unlimited pages AND storage for $4 a month it's pretty hard to beat! It even includes a mobile-friendly version of your site at no extra cost. Online stores can be added for $30/mo. at very competitive transaction fees. I personally use and highly recommend Weebly (this site is build on it). Try it for free at www.weebly.com.
Blue Host If you're looking for shared server hosting I can't recommend Blue Host highly enough. I've been building sites with them for over ten years. Their rates are very competitive, their service offerings are terrific, their control panel is easy to use, and their support is fantastic. Check them out at BlueHost.com.
I highly DO NOT RECOMMEND GoDaddy, Network Solutions, WinHost, Deluxe for Business, aka Aplus.net because they are unnecessarily difficult to use and consistently put sales over support. You may get a "great deal" but the hassle you have to endure to actually use your products will quickly outweigh any savings.
For standalone domain name services I highly recommend FatCow. For one low monthly fee you get domain name services and one email account. Their system is easy to use and their support is great (I've only ever needed to use Chat to get fast, friendly assistance. Check them out at FatCow.com.
Tools: Services, software and apps I personally use and love
Email Marketing I have used Constant Contact for email marketing and online event registration and payment for over ten years. It's not the cheapest but hopefully you've realized that the cheapest is seldom the best. If you're looking for an easy way to produce beautiful, effective emails promos and newsletters, give Constant Contact a try.
Online Forms While there are many choices, I have yet to find anything that can hold a candle to JotForm. From the drag and drop editing to the easy implementation and tracking, it's a winner in my book.
Online Payments In spite of what their marketing says, PayPal is old money to me. Stick with it if you love buckets of spam and phishing (gag). But for an elegant, low cost, transparent solution that simply works, get Stripe. 2.9% + .30 cents per transaction and it integrates seamlessly all over the place.
Software As much as I love my Mac, I can't say the same for all of Apple's software so I use Microsoft Office for all of my business admin needs. I do use and enjoy iMovie and iPhoto. I'm completely addicted to Stickies and TextEdit too. For design work you'll usually find me in Adobe CS6 (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and a bit of Dreamweaver). I also use some great web-based image editors like Pixlr and Canva. I also use and love Camtasia for video screen captures, mobile screen capture and full video editing.
Apps I love how apps can empower us to do a zillion amazing things and I've evaluated hundreds (maybe over a thousand!). My recommendations are based on ease of use, functionality, price and user interface design. Here are some current work-related favorites:
Mileage: Formerly a MileBug user I've switched with glee to MileIQ (over $500 mileage write off per year in taxes).
Project management: Asana and Things
Online meetings: Join.Me (LOVE it!)
Photography: TiltShiftGen, Kinotopic, ProCam, ChronoCam, and more.
Video: FiLMiC Pro
Audio: I haven't found anything that beats the build in VoiceMemos app.
Learning: Udemy, Swiftly
Instagram: Over, Splice, Glimpse, DeluxeFX and many others.
Computer: MacBook Pro 15" Laptop I've been a Mac shop since 1998. I currently work on a MacBook Pro 15" with an iPad Air and iPhone 6. In over 15 years with Apple I've had ONE virus (a worm actually), and just two equipment failures. In both cases Apple Support went above and beyond to help me with a speedy and zero-cost repair - even though in one case the machine was out of the AppleCare warranty. If you treat your machine gently and avoid pirated software Apple will love you back. I've averaged over five years of daily, hardcore use on every machine I've owned and my previous three laptops still work - in fact, I still use them almost daily. Macs cost more for a reason. They're worth it.
Input: Wacom Bamboo MTE-450 In almost 20 years of work I've never experienced any repetitive stress injuries and I credit this to the amazing, beloved Wacom stylus & tablets I've always used. My first one lasted almost ten years and the current one is going strong on at least 5 years of age. Great product.
Desk: Converted Treadmill In 2013 I converted my seated work station into a treadmill desk and it changed my life. I spend the majority of each day standing or walking. I've found that I can work much longer with none of the sludgy feeling and aches and pains I used to have after sitting all day. The treadmill was a gift from a friend, to it I added a piece of wood for a keyboard tray (held in place with an exercise band). I also built a large shelf over the treadmill that holds my laptop and a larger, second monitor. Even if I had purchased everything the total ccost would have been less than a nice desk chair. If you can do it, do it! You won't regret it.
Mobile: Apple iPhone 6 and iPad Air I fell in love with my iphone in 2009 and that same handset sits on my desk as my radio player as I work. I highly recommend iPhones and iPads if you're wondering which phone or table to get. The app marketplace is very mature with over a billion apps and I've found the hardware to be remarkably tough.
Please let me know your thoughts, experiences and recommendations too!
Note: I personally use and highly recommend Weebly, FatCow, Blue Host, Constant Contact, Amazon and Animoto. If you click on their links on this site I may get a tiny commission. Thanks if you do!