12 Tools for a 7-Figure Productized Web Design Business

Let’s play “would you rather.”

Would you rather:

A) Have a list of every possible tool out there for running a productized web design business and have to research which one is best, or

B) Get recommendations from the trenches for tools that we used that work well together for a productized web design business

If you said “B,” this post is for you!

Us Productizers are looking to squeeze out every last drop of efficiency in our processes. It also means trying to make the processes as simple as possible and limiting the number of steps to as few as possible (hence why the tools should work well together).

Internal Communication

Tool: Slack

Unless you’re brand new to business on the interwebz, you probably know about Slack, the business-focused messaging app that has completely taken over internal communication. In just a few short years, Slack has pretty much muscled out all other communication tools. Because it’s THAT good.

Why it’s great:

Chat apps are not a new concept. But where Slack really excels are its integrations:

  • Trello: Create a Slack channel feed of your Trello activity and follow card movement and commenting.
  • Google Drive: Easily share Google docs inline in messages
  • Stripe: Create a revenue feed that updates every time a payment comes in
  • CallRail: Create a “marketing caller ID” that shows where a person found you as they’re calling
  • MailChimp: Keep an eye on new subscribers and unsubscribes
  • PipeDrive: Stay on top of what stages deals are in
  • HelpScout: Get a slack notification when someone submits a support ticket
  • Gravity Forms: Get notified when new leads come in through contact forms
  • Zapier: Integrate EVERYTHING else!

Branding and Positioning

Tool: Productized Web Design Business Vault

When you’re starting out, doing a little legwork upfront to really think through your target customer will save you a TON of time down the road.

The Productized Web Design Business Vault has a number of highly effective worksheets to hone in on your target market quickly.

Why it’s great:

  • Find a high-value market or niche
  • Determine which of the 4 Positioning Pillars you’ll use to compete in your market
  • Learn to use language that hacks your target audience’s brain by knowing what motivates them

Project Management

Tool: Trello

I can’t believe Trello is still free. There are probably 100s of project management tools out there, but Trello continues to be my tool of choice, especially for a smaller company.

Why it’s great:

  • The Kanban style board gives you a very quick visual representation of where all clients stand
  • Integration with Slack allows the whole team to get a sense of what’s going on even if they’re not always in Trello
  • The speed with which you can work with Trello. This can’t be understated. Although there are more full-featured tools, Trello is lightning-fast to work with. This is absolutely crucial to a productized web design business.

Documenting Processes

Tool: Process.st

Often overlooked, documenting your processes is key when you’re trying to scale your productized web design business. Not only will it reduce errors and lead to happier customers, it will make it MUCH easier to train new employees or even contractors. Process.st has a free tier that helps you document your procedures.

Why it’s great:

  • Very effective organization of tasks and subtasks
  • Send out to-do checklists to contractors and employees and monitor their progress (awesome for new hires!)

Creating Proposals

Tool: Bidsketch/Google Docs

To be honest, we tried a few different proposal creation tools and always came back to Google Docs. Google Docs integrates nicely with Slack, and we used Gravity Forms with the signature add-on to handle the eSignatures. This made Google Docs almost as effective as a true proposal tool. Plus it was free!

That said, Bidsketch, had we stuck with it, would probably have been more efficient. So if you’re just starting out, you might want to try their free trial and see how you like it.

Why Bidsketch is great:

  • Gracefully handles eSigning
  • Piece together proposals from re-usable sections
  • Integrates with Freshbooks, which we discuss a little further down
  • See what sections of your proposal clients are spending time on (hint: it’s usually the section with the dollar amounts!)

Building Client Websites

Tool: Offsprout

There are tons of page builders and website builders out there, but only one that is focused solely on freelancers and web design companies looking to build and manage all of their client websites in one central platform: Offsprout.

Sure, I’m biased because I’m the co-founder, but it’s what we used for our web design business before we sold that company (and the new owner is continuing to use Offsprout), and I truly believe that it’s the best option for companies that worry about building a company rather than just building websites.

Why Offsprout is great:

  • The Site Grower can build a fully designed client site for you in just 5 minutes
  • All updates, backups, and maintenance is taken care of for you
  • Duplicate sites in a single click (great if a new client says they want a site similar to one in your portfolio)
  • Manage users, plugins, DNS, domains, reporting, and build sites all from one central platform

Call Tracking

Tool: CallRail

Call tracking is something that I don’t see getting discussed much when it comes to marketing, but I think it’s essential for a productized web design business. With call tracking from a company like CallRail, you can keep track of where your leads are coming from.

And with the Slack integration, you can even find out where leads are coming from as they call! That means if you’re running a PPC ad and you see a call coming in from that ad, you immediately know the messaging that that caller has responded to and can tailor your sales call accordingly.

Why it’s great:

  • Easy to use – simply drop a piece of javascript code in your header
  • Integrates with Offsprout so that you can track visits, form submissions, and calls in one central dashboard
  • Slack integration provides extra smart caller ID


Tool: Freshbooks/InvoiceNinja

Collecting money is always a pain in the butt. Alas, it has to be done. We tried a couple different platforms before landing on Freshbooks for our web design business (and then subsequently built our own plugin to replace Freshbooks).

Freshbooks isn’t perfect (they require clients to “enroll” in autopay for recurring charges which is a real pain and why we ended up building our own), but they can get the job done.

InvoiceNinja is a newer company. I’ve actually never tried them out, but they seem like they could work better than Freshbooks, especially as a tool for web design businesses, and it’s free!


Tool: Pipedrive

Holy CRM! There are tons of options when it comes to CRMs, and nobody seems to get it perfect. However, Pipedrive comes pretty darn close for productized web design companies.

Like Trello, they have a nice Kanban style display that allows you to move prospects easily from one stage to another. Also, they have a Slack integration that can keep the whole team updated as to a prospect’s progress through the sales pipeline.

Their reporting could be better, but gets the job done if you’re meticulous about your data entry.

Why it’s great:

  • Easy to get the hang of – very low learning curve
  • Pretty much all of the features that you actually need
  • Slack integration


Tool: Helpscout

Helpscout is simple to set up, simple to use, and simple for clients to use. Just map an email address to your Helpscout account and all emails sent to that address will automatically become tickets. From there, you can address or delegate as appropriate and the support emails the client receives look much like a regular email would (best user experience in my opinion).

Their most glaring weakness is ticket merging, which can be very cumbersome if you have a client sending 20 one-line emails with changes they want made to their website (you know that client!). But that isn’t enough for me to withhold my recommendation.

Why it’s great:

  • Seamless integration with your email
  • Low learning curve
  • Good price


Tool: Xero

Anyone enjoy accounting? Yeah, me neither. But with Xero, a lot of the accounting work is done for you. Do yourself a favor and just pay for a Xero account. You’ll thank yourself at tax time.

Why it’s great:

  • Great in vs. out graph to keep track of your profit
  • Integrates with Stripe, a payment processor
  • Keep track of your expenses with the Xero app


Tool: Gusto

Once you have employees, you have to deal with the tax rules and regulations that come with having employees. And you probably should pay them as well! Gusto makes the whole process a breeze.

Why it’s great:

  • All tax forms are taken care of for you
  • Expense reimbursements are easy
  • Can handle full-time W2 or contractor 1099 employees


There you have it! That’s the toolset that I recommend for running a successful productized web design business.

And don’t forget to download the Productized Web Design Business Vault:

If you have any additional tools that you swear by, leave them in the comments section below.

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