These are the products and technologies we use to bring you Ultra Light Startups. We’re pretty happy with everything listed here, but if you’ve got suggestions on better alternatives, we’d love to hear from you.
WordPress.org – The primary platform for the Ultra Light Startups website. For the first two years, the site was hand-coded HTML/CSS. Eventually this became difficult for users to navigate and difficult for me to manage. WordPress is free and there is an enormous and growing ecosystem of themes, plugins, extensions, designers, developers, and online help.
I did consider Drupal (another open source project with an equally huge ecosystem) but chose WordPress in the end because a) it’s simpler to use/learn b) the product and community seems to have lots of momentum and c) Drupal 7 (which is supposed to be easier to learn) was taking so long to be released.
Thesis – A premium WordPress theme. It manages the layout, navigation menus, sidebars, design, etc. I understand it was the first WordPress theme to be run as a serious business (support, upgrades, user forums, etc).
There are other premium themes now and plenty of free themes, but I chose Thesis because a) it’s well supported b) it’s got a long track record and c) there seemed to be many well-designed WordPress sites that use it.
HostGator – Hosting service for UltraLightStartups.com
MailChimp – Email Service Provider. I send an email newsletter once per week and occasional incidental emails. (sign up for the Ultra Light Startups newsletter here, if you’re not already registered)
Competitors include ConstantContact, iContact, and AWebber. I chose MailChimp because a) great analytics b) helpful video/text tutorials and advice c) social media integration (merge tags, Social Pro, etc) and d) support/integration with other services I already use (Eventbrite, WordPress, etc) . Their in-browser editor used to be difficult to use but has gotten much better.
Eventbrite – Ticket sales, registration forms/surveys, badge printing, event marketing (helps us market events ourselves plus they do some marketing on our behalf). I get approached fairly regularly by people claiming to have an Eventbrite replacement. Generally, these people don’t understand all of what Eventbrite does and miss many key features. So far no alternative has come close to replacing it.
Ustream – I started with Ustream when one of their community managers found Ultra Light Startups (I believe it was on a Mashable events guide). They figured it would make great content for their network and they offered to promote a live-streamed Ultra Light Startup show. I was amazed when our first show had over 5,000 viewers (due in large part to their promotion efforts, no doubt).
Ustream’s competitors include LiveStream, Justin.tv, and Watchitoo (among many others). We went with Ustream because of the excellent personal support and the large audience which they are able to direct to our show (and hopefully, we direct an audience back to them). I’m really impressed with their Social Stream tools (which help your video go viral while it’s being broadcast) and with the video/audio quality.
Dropbox – Cloud-based file storage and synchronization. It’s a fantastic product that I can’t live without. If you don’t have it yet you should definitely check it out.