57+ Tools to help create your first website, product or service

Awhile ago Anna Guenther, the excellent Chief Bubble Blower of Kiwi crowdfunding site PledgeMe, tweeted a shout out for tools to build a first product/app/website. This is the redux of my popular 'My Startup Stack' post.

57+ Tools to help create your first website, product or service

Awhile ago Anna Guenther, the excellent Chief Bubble Blower of Kiwi crowdfunding site PledgeMe, tweeted a shout out for tools to build a first product/app/website.

Whilst I sent over my previously popular 'My Startup Stack’ post, I also felt like it was time for a redux. So here we go.

Be process driven, not tools driven

First we need to define what the product/service/website should even be. If this is your first time at the rodeo, I heartily suggest using an established product design or business model design process, rather than focusing on what tools can do for you.

Should you even build it?

Not all ideas are created equal. If you want to create a business out of your idea, start with business model design to see whether people even want your idea in the first place…

  1. Lean Canvas
  2. Customer Development Labs
  3. Value Proposition Design

Already worked out that people actually want what you’re intending to sell? Great.

What should it look and feel like?

Here’s my original Startup Stack article, and a follow up about not focusing on development tools.

Product Design is a process which looks more intently at the experience people will have of the product, and can be used in parallel or integrated into the likes of lean startup too.

4. Google Design Sprint

5. Frog Collective Action Toolkit

6. Value Proposition Design

7. MVP Design

Here’s some tools to help you along the way (and martial them into a useful format) once you have some ideas about what you need to build:

8. Craft — making sense of complex product ideas

9. ProdPad — create product roadmaps to keep everyone informed

Making it real

I get it. There’s nothing like something people can see, touch, and use.

So here’s some tools to support your journey of building your first website / product / app.

You’ll notice I’ve not touched on graphic design and branding at all in this post - there’s some options for that in my original Startup Stack article, if you need.

Landing Pages & Marketing Automation

Having a web page which you can send people to for signups or to test interest in your idea is a good start. Having some marketing automation behind the scenes can help keep those people engaged whilst you’re working on other things.

10. Leadpages — landing pages (starts from $37 / month)

11. Carrd — simple one page websites (starts from free)

12. Instapage — landing pages (starts from $29 / month)

13. Drip — email automation (starts from free tier)

14. Mailchimp — email news & automation (starts from free tier)

15. Autopilot — marketing automation (starts from $25 / month)

Low Fidelity Design & Mockup Tools

When you’re ready to start getting feedback on your ideas, there’s nothing like mocking up the idea for people to look at. Whether your idea is digital, or physical, getting it out of your head and onto paper/screen is the important part.

16. Balsamiq — low-fi wireframe creator

17. Prototyping On Paper — start with paper, then make it digital

18. Sketch — flexible design software for the Mac

19. Paper — iOS apps to help you get ideas out of your head and onto ‘paper’

20. Placeit — a mockup generator like few others

Building rough and ready, functional prototypes

If you’re ready to go beyond mockups and develop a prototype, here’s some tools to work with.

Building Websites and simple Web Apps

21. Wordpress + plugins + BeaverBuilder — from membership sites to a ‘wizard of Oz’ MVP you can do a lot with WP!

22. WP Engine — the best WP hosting around, imho

23. Bubble — drag and drop web app builder

24. JustInMind — a web/mobile app prototyping tool

25. Invision & Craft Plugin — collaboration software and clickable prototypes

Building more complicated Apps

26. GoodBarber — drag & drop native app builder with a few different options — from content-centric, to ‘ordering’ apps.

27. Firebase — backend infrastructure from Google

28. Swift — build native iOS apps (for developers)

29. Android Studio — build native Android apps (for developers)

Taking Pre-orders

30. Pledgeme — there is only one Crowdfunding & Crowdequity platform in NZ, right? Right. Oh and Crowdlending too. Yup.

31. Celery — a nifty little service I found researching this article… if you don’t have a crowd, but do have a product — this is a great solution for getting yourself out there.

32. LandingPay — another researching find… take deposits for services you’re offering, direct from your website.

Building Online Stores

33. Wordpress + WooCommerce — a power combination for online stores

34. Squarespace — a simple to use ecommerce site builder

35. Weebly — another simple to use ecommerce site builder

Building educational products

36. Teachable — very simple to use online module service, with billing built in.

37. DashLMS — a learning management system to integrate with Wordpress

Building Communities

38. Mobilize — communicate with a network or community

39. Fleep — for communities focused around shared work, Fleep offers some real flexibility

40. Slack — recently has become the go-to for teams to communicate, lacks some flexibility for networks.

41. Flarum — next-gen forum software

42. Mighty Network — a new kind of social network, from the founder of Ning

43. Meetup — for communities of place

Building Bots / Conversational UI

44. Flow XO — drag & drop builder works for Messenger, Slack, SMS, Telegram & Web

45. Chatfuel — drag & drop builder works for Messenger

46. Landbot — turn your home page into a conversation

Building Games

47. Gamefroot — game development platform

48. Buildbox — game development engine

Building Media Platforms

49. Vimeo — video hosting and film making community

50. Wistia — video hosting and creation tools

51. Soundcloud — music or podcast hosting made simple

52. Buzzsprout — podcast software

53. Podbean — podcast software goes enterprise

Building Nonprofits / Mission-driven Entities

54. DoGooder — campaigning tools for small to large organisations

55. CiviCRM — an open source relationship management solution for mission -focused orgs

56. Crowdskout — a competitor to CiviCRM (and the likes of NationBuilder who I’m not linking to), which is soon to launch a smaller organisation pricing tier

Digital Glue To Hold It All Together

57. Zapier — want Trello to talk to your Twitter? Slack to talk to your Meetup? Zapier glues together modern mobile & web applications to automate the simple stuff.

58. IFTTT — “If This Then That” runs on a similar idea of formulaic commands which run automatically, but instead of another service triggering data to move, you can also use other inputs like time, temperature, and more.


Please don’t get lost in the tools. Focus on answering a real need.

“Move fast and break things” doesn’t work all that well when people are involved.

“Putting your dent in the universe” is really a stupid idea. How about you grow things, instead of wanting to put a dent in things?

How about we just focus on building things people want and need, and solving some real problems in the world?

Wondering if I’m making money by serving you these links? Nope, consider it a contribution to the commons. None of the links are affiliate links, and I don’t get a dime from any of these companies, I just think they’re useful.

What did I miss?

Hit me up on twitter, or leave me a response here.

Thanks to Anna Guenther for the provocation!