We had a great time at this year’s Cultivate event!  The keynote speaker, Tim Sanders, was fantastic and shared a lot of valuable information. If you weren’t there, I highly recommend attending next year.

This year I spoke on “Boosting Efficiencies with Digital Web Tools.”  I love clean processes, efficient systems, and good tools. They make our jobs (and life) easier.

Running my web agency takes a lot of organization, and over the past 5 years I have found some of the best web tools/apps.

If you weren’t able to make it to Cultivate (or just need a refresher), here are the main points from my breakout session.

Communication Tools / Apps


It’s a free and simple way to time your social messages across multiple social channels for the best reach.  Includes analytics.

How Optimal Web uses Buffer

Google Hangouts

We use this all the time for group chat and video chat.  It’s cross-platform, syncs conversations, allows screen sharing, and gives smart notifications (including read receipts).

How Optimal Web uses Google Hangouts

Google Voice

It’s a free service that gives you one number across multiple phones, regardless of your carrier.  Set it to ring multiple phones, control when it rings (ex. 9am-5pm), set personalized greetings, and even block callers. It gives you access to online voicemails (with hilariously inaccurate transcripts) and free texting.


Organization Tools / Apps


This tool has become our library.  We use it to capture everything (notes, pics, videos, etc.) in organized notebooks we can share with others, as well as by public URLs.  It’s the iTunes of notes, accessible anywhere, and lets you find things fast.  It also includes OCR.

How Optimal Web uses Evernote


We save our “read later” items to pocket for a fantastic reading experience we can share with others.  It’s our personal newspaper.

How Optimal Web uses Pocket

Google Drive

Drive has a lot of features, and we use it constantly.  It includes cloud-based office software, stores all file types in the cloud, runs on multiple platforms and includes powerful search.  We especially love how Drive documents are live, meaning it’s one version to all users, eliminating conflicted copies.  It also simplifies collaboration between team members and clients.

How Optimal Web uses Google Drive 1
How Optimal Web uses Google Drive 2

  • Get away from the file system

  • Share without needing to log in

  • Internal reporting simplified


Getting Stuff Done Tools / Apps


Our task management program facilitates teamwork without email (AMEN!), making less work about work.  It’s cross-platform, flexible and customizable.  This simple and powerful tool is used by top tech companies, universities and the Fortune 500.  It’s also free if you have fewer than 30 users.

How we use it:

  • Trusted source

  • Defined areas of responsibility

  • Invite clients and independent contractors to tasks

  • >50% reduction in email (huge boost in productivity)

  • Use software to remind us of tasks


It’s easy to drown under emails so we use Sanebox for smart email filtering.  It works everywhere, uses labels/folders and BCC, sets automatic reminders, and you can snooze emails.

How Optimal Web uses Sanebox

Cash Flow Tools / Apps


Our easy-to-use bookkeeping shows when clients view invoices, accepts online payments, and helps us get paid faster.  They have amazing customer support and useful customer portal.

How Optimal Web uses FreshBooks


We use quoteroller to easily make professional template quotes, saving us a ton of time.  It includes valuable analytics like when proposals are opened, what sections are viewed and for how long.  It takes signatures online, helping us close deals faster.


This sales-focused CRM visualizes the sales pipeline.  It has a mobile app and you can easily import contacts from other CRMs (like Highrise).

How Optimal Web uses Pipedrive


Our easy-to-use accounting program includes just the features you need and is fun to use (seriously!).  It saves us (and our accountant) a lot of time.  Plus, its up-to-date reports help us make great decisions.

How Optimal Web uses Xero

More Life-Saving Resources: