Software we use at Little Warden (2021 Edition)

Every year, I wanted to do a “Tools we use at Little Warden post” but last year got ahead of us so here is our 2021 list nice and early. 

First of all, what did we say goodbye to in 2020

Crisp
Live chat software

We turned off live chat, it wasn’t helping sales and support queries were still being sent by email. It just meant I was constantly on edge waiting for the next notification, as soon as we turned it off there was almost a sense of relief.. Also be warned if you use Crisp, their billing system will charge you for an extra month you don’t get to use, yet no amount of fact or evidence will persuade them that it is happening..

I spent over an hour on their own livechat and just gave up in the end.

Trello

Kanban style management

We’ve just not used it as much as we have before, mainly because we’ve changed the way we do planning, we are constantly looking to improve and optimise our process and maybe one day we will come back to it (although our good friend Ned is going to take us through Notion soon)

Camtasia

Screen recording software

We’ve not needed the weight of Camtasia recently, our videos comprise of small snippets of video layered with humorous (we hope) slides, when we get into larger screencasts and videos Camtasia will return to the list I’m sure.

What are the new kids on the block

Zoom

Do I even have to explain?

TickTick

Todo list app

Yes, it’s another todo list app and while it’s early days but we are enjoying the crossplatform nature of ticktick and more importantly we have a routine of adding and checking to a ticktick list. The big question is, where will it be on next years list?

CleanshotX

Screenshot / recording software

We replaced Monosnap with CleanshotX. We were finding Monosnap having issues with the latest version of OSX and discovered CleanshotX as part of the Setapp subscription which made it a no brainer!

Barrier

Open Source Software KVM

In the office I have a four monitor setup. Two for working on with my Mac, one for the LW Dashboard (more info coming soon) / our home CCTV and one for a windows PC I use for various tasks (mostly the odd game of fortnight with friends). Barrier has replaced Synergy as the software KVM which allows me to seamlessly use the same mouse and keyboard to control them all.

Glance

Lightweight CCTV Viewer

We use Glance to keep an eye on our home CCTV system, this is especially important during the Christmas Light Season as it lets you know when people are outside watching the display!

What are the staples

Balsamiq

Amazing wireframing tool

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Balsamiq is the best piece of software I’ve ever spent money on. It has been used almost every day for 10 years and almost every feature of every project gets mocked up in Balsamiq before going ahead and getting implemented

Profitwell

SaaS Profitability Metrics 

It’s been hard to look at Profitwell for the last year but that doesn’t mean we should hide from it, they provide some excellent SaaS metrics and integrate directly with your payment platform.

Canva

Macromedia Fireworks for the web

I am a terrible terrible designer, Canva covers a lot of that and allows me to mockup graphics quickly that look good.

Sublime Text Editor

Code Editor

Once again, we’ve yet to find another editor that manages large files and has the amount of plugins and functionality that Sublime does, at one point Atom Editor was looking good but that seems to have been cast off like an unwanted child compared to Visual Studio Code

Mailplane

Multiple Gmail inbox manager

I have too many GMAIL inboxes that all need individual signatures, contact lists and histories, Mailplane has allowed me to manage them all individually for years, sometimes it gets a bit excited and has a memory leak but a quick restart and we are all sorted.

SQLPro Studio

Database GUI

SQLPro Studio allows us to manage Postgres, MySQL and SQLite databases all in one, a relatively new bit of software functionality is been added all the time and there are some key things missing (such as export options) but it’s getting there.  This year we’ve seen SQLPro Studio added to the Setapp subscription

Xero
Accounting Software

Danni will kill me if I don’t put this in here.

What is in your list? Are we missing anything? Let us know!

A Little Warden Free Trial!

After months and months years of prompting by our good friends at Sitebulb, today we are switching things up and offering an optional free trial for people to give Little Warden a go. 

When you sign up now you are given the option of paying for your account (which is certainly our preference) or you can take a 14 day trial and explore the features of Little Warden.

A trail account will get similar resources to a small team but there is one exception You cannot sign up for a free trial with a gmail or other free provider account (we’ve been burned with these before).

Other than that, all account functionality is active, as we dip our toe into this new option for people, we WILL be monitoring for abuse but fingers crossed you people on the internet will be nice, signup for a trial and realise hey, this thing is great!

As usual, any questions send us an email or tweet @littlewardenapp

How we work on Little Warden during the Lockdowns

As we enter week 3 of Lockdown Number 3 in the UK I wanted to give you a bit of an update as to how we are dealing with it and still working on new updates at Little Warden!

Due to the schools closing, we’ve had to open the Hodgson Family Academy once more and lessons run throughout the weekday. It’s a job share with two teachers Mum and Dad and some substitute teachers of Cosmic Kids Yoga, Muzzy and the wonderful team at BBC Bitesize.

Heather and I alternate between one spending an hour or two in teacher mode and one will go to another room and focus on work.

Whilst it isn’t easy, we only get to work on things together when Scarlett is in bed.

We know we are so lucky to have the ability to both work at home and two people to swap with to focus on work, but we know that with the vaccine on the horizon, we have hope that things will return to normal soon!

…and that’s how this thing is supposed to go, some qusai-bullshit-overly-happy everything is going great, buy our product marketing post. 

But that wouldn’t be the truth, the truth is that both Little Warden and I are just starting to get back on track after a terrible terrible year.

Truthfully, when COVID hit and the country descended into lockdown (the first time) we lost a significant % of our customers in the first two weeks,  that was a difficult thing to accept as one of the main design principles of LW was to ‘keep an eye on things when staff aren’t around’, all of our growth, projections and development skidded to a halt and we focused on saving what we could.

Whilst eventually, after the initial panic, a lot of customers came back, new ones started to find us and on this third lockdown we are pretty much stable, this has set us back months if not longer. 

From a personal standpoint, I’ve not handled the last few months well at all. LW is my baby, I get excited about every signup, upset at every cancellation and panic everytime there is a bug (it’s true, just ask Heather), when we lost that many customers in a few weeks, I was heartbroken, I felt like we’d failed and some part of me still does.

Whilst LW was starting to recover, I was struggling with some UX tasks on my todo list, certain functionality that I just couldn’t get right, a task that should have taken a week was taking months.

Add that to the fact that most of my marketing plans for 2020 were shelved and I just didn’t have the energy to work on any more especially as by the end of the year we were heading for another lockdown and at one point. We even had discussions at some points with parties about selling Little Warden.

But then something happened that tipped me over the edge; I got banned from Twitter for a week, initially I didn’t realise how much that would affect me.

In ‘normal times’ I’m a pretty social person, I love conferences, meetups and as a family we eat out with friends and family a few times a week.

During COVID, Twitter has been my main source of social interaction with people, it’s my main communiction platform for friends I’ve known for years (some of whom, I’ve never met), losing that connection to the outside world made it all seem much more real and lonely. 

Obviously this couldn’t continue, with the help of my incredible wife and a few other friends, I started to focus on a daily checklist of achievable goals and outsourcing some of the stuff that I’m struggling with.

Then I had an Icelandic Pizza Moment* A breakthrough with one of the UX issues, this opened the floodgates to creativity.

I created a 6 month marketing plan for Little Warden and we reorganised the feature list responding some loud user feedback and Heather has being doing amazing work on features, tests and updates that our users are already loving (i.e. did you notice we launched teams this week)

Though things still are not ‘great’ the fact I started writing this at 2:30am because once again I’m unable to sleep due to the groundhog day style environment we are living in means I still have things to work on but I KNOW how lucky I am to be in this situation with my amazing wife and daughter who have been so supportive.

Last year I promised to write more posts and send more newsletters, this year I might not write more, but I’m gonna be a little more honest about what’s going on inside the mind of actual Real Dom. 

Well, this got a lot more disheartening than I thought it would and it sort of feels like I need to end it on a happier note and push some marketing stuff for Little Warden?

Our product roadmap and marketing plan have never looked better! Productivity whilst dimished due to the Hodgson Academy is still better than where we were as we have clear and achievable goals.

We’ve just launched TEAMS (finally) and have some more announcements this and next week of exciting updates (or at least as exciting as they can be when you are talking about website monitoring!)

On that note, I can hear the school bell (siri alarm) ringing and it’s time for Teacher Mr Hodgson to clock on and talk about the Number 7 in all it’s forms.

Thank you 

* I’ll explain that in another blog post

Introducing Teams!

Whenever you launch a startup with a small team you have to make feature sacrifices, things that you can ‘build in later’ and when building Little Warden, Teams / Additional users was one of them.

Last year during the global pandemic (remember that, I’m glad that’s over and done with) we decided to implement them but it turns out, that’s a lot harder than you think!

Introducing Teams for Little Warden

Here is what you get

  • Individual logins and passwords (no more swapping post it notes!)
  • Granular access levels limiting actions or projects 

Here is what you don’t get

  • Per member pricing – Unlimited Users included on all packages (apart from freelancer)
  • Team Members cannot modify billing.

How it works

When you create a team member in Little Warden you give them a role, that role has specific abilities and access rights, you can have as many roles as you want, but typically during our testing, most companies have let all users have full access to everything.

What about notification emails already in the system

This was a difficult one I’ll be honest, whilst the original plan was just to instantly convert them into team members, we’d have to assume permissions for all of our accounts and that’s just not possible. 

So anyone that is a notification user will get an email allowed them to request Conversion into a team member, when this is clicked, the account owner gets a notification and a direct link to give the user a role.

I wish we could solve this easier but we couldn’t and once everyone is upgraded it won’t be a problem anymore!

As usual, everyone on the team is invited to a quick one2one walk through of the system and capabilities, there will be a direct booking link in your invitation email!

Little Update 2021 #1

You know how at the start of 2020 I said “I’m going to write more on the company blog and ensure that we send out a regular newsletter…”

I tell you what I didn’t account for, a global pandemic, so if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna give myself a bit of a pass on that one.

But 2021, New Year, New me, and as I type this from my living room, in lockdown, whilst Scarlet does her Daily Cosmic Kids Yoga and BBC Bitesize, it would be easy for me to coast back into the ‘other things to do’ mindset but NO, THE INTERNET NEEDS MY VAGUELY FUNNY AND SOMETIMES IN THIRD PERSON CONTENT.

Little Updates

I’ve just finished a plan for what we are working on for the next 6 months and if we stick to it, then we’ve got a very exciting few months for Little Warden coming up (and since I’m not telling you the plan, if we don’t stick to it, you’ll never know!

What’s Next?

But what I will tell you is that you’ll see some nice updates to our User Management system and custom content extraction very very soon (maybe even this week?)

Family Updates

We are fine, for those of you not in the UK, we are back under lockdown which means that we have a four year old in the house who expects to be entertained, educated and fed during the day which is slightly distracting but it is what it is, we do see the light at the end of the tunnel

Next Family Trip?

hahahahahahahahahahahahahhaah

That’s a wrap!

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and of course, Robot Dom