The zero cost workflow we use at WATB

5 min read
Jonny Pathan
A person typing at a key board

As you know, we are a digital agency that deals with web, design & marketing; in any given day we can have a silly amount of tasks to complete. Not only do we have to complete tasks, but we also need to manage, schedule and tick them off when complete.

In this post, I want to share with you our current workflow to achieve the above, the best points about our workflow are;

  1. It’s free
  2. Some of it’s automated! (Every one likes automation right?)

We really think this could help some businesses improve their productivity.

Let’s take a look.

Here’s how our current workflow looks.

Email / Phone Call > Trello > Teamweek > Trello > Slack >

Let’s look at each of these tools and how we get them talking to each other, minimising the time we have to spend at each stage.

Email

Let’s start with email. We use Thunderbird by Mozilla, it’s free and open-source (which means lots of developers make great add-ons for it). Essentially, it’s a lightweight Outlook; perfectly adequate for most small/medium size businesses.

On an average day this is where the majority of our tasks come through. It’s never a good idea to keep all your todo’s cluttering up your inbox, plus who else knows about them? A good team shares responsibility and has a grasp on what everyones working on. This is where Trello comes in…

Trello

For those of you that may not have heard of Trello, it’s a free web-based management app. Trello uses the kanban principle for managing projects, originally popularised by Toyota in the 1980s. Projects are represented by boards, which contain lists. Lists contain cards (which are essentially tasks). Cards progress from one list to the next (via drag-and-drop), for instance mirroring the flow of a feature from idea to implementation. Users can be assigned to cards. Users and boards can be grouped into organisations.

Trello Board demonstrating a work flow

One of the most under used features of Trello is the email address that gets automatically assigned to a board/project. What this allows us to do is email a task directly to Trello straight from our inbox. The way we do this is by saving the project email address in our Thunderbird address book with a nice and easy contact name. In this instance (see screenshot) we use the name “FBFF Timesheet”. When one of the nice team at FBFF email us a task, all I have to do is forward the email to “FBFF Timesheet”. The email appears as a card on the project board. Neat right?

Here’s where it gets even better, if you pop in a description of the task and someones username into the subject field of your forwarding email, it will automatically create a card with that description and assign it to that person!

Here’s an example subject line: Edit text on Contact page @Jonny.

Now we have a card with the email in the body, a unique description and it’s assigned to someone in your team. WIN.

Teamweek

Ah, Teamweek, the glorious Gannt chart web app. Again, it’s free.

Teamweek provides a visual look at who’s working on what in real time. See who’s available and schedule projects for both the short- and long term. It’s easy to use and perfect for planning.

Now that we have our project task in Trello, how do we go about scheduling that task, say for next Monday? We could assign a date to the task in Trello, which would be ok, but, we want to be able to see all of our upcoming tasks across multiple projects at a glance. This is where we use Teamweek, which allows us to assign a task to someone in what is essentially a linear calendar.

We love automation, so let’s look at how we get Trello to talk with Teamweek.

There’s a wonderful Chrome extension called Teamweek Button which allows you to add tasks to Teamweek directly from Github, Trello and GitLab. In this instance we’ll only be using it from Trello. Once you’ve installed the extension you get this neat little button inside your cards on Trello.

Teamweek example

Now we can push a task straight out to Teamweek, assigned with a user, date, time and project.

So far, we’ve forwarded an incoming email straight Trello and then pushed it out to Teamweek in a few clicks. WIN.

Slack

Slack is a fantastic team messaging app, again it’s free and it has tons of integrations with other apps.

We have Slack running all the time in our office, it allows us to ping each other files, send messages and sometimes harass each other. It’s great.

Why did I mention Slack at all? Well, once someone has completed a task, wouldn’t it be great if it popped up as a message in Slack?

This is what happens in our office. We use Zapier (Connects the apps you use and automates tasks) to make Trello to talk to Slack. I’m not going to go into the setup of Zapier here (jump to their site to see how it works, it’s fairly straight forward). But, essentially, once someone’s completed a task, a message pops up in Slack that let’s the team know it’s complete!

Slack example

There’s more

There are so many great integrations to be found, a little bit of patience and setup is all it takes. For example, we have apps like Google Calendar and StatusCake notifying us of new events in Slack, allowing us to practically see everything from a glance from with one app.

I hope this picture of our workflow has somehow given you some insight into how teams like ours work and maybe it well help your team as well.

Perhaps you have some suggestions or an awesome workflow you already use? Please share them with us below!

You can follow our co-founder and creative director Jonny on Twitter for more ramblings and tips about business and design here. @jonnypathan

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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