Hover handles domain registration for cushionapp.com and several other domains.
GitHub hosts the source code of the app and GitHub Issues is used to track bugs, features, and milestones.
The marketing website is hosted on GitHub Pages, which is free, static, and version-controlled.
Google Apps hosts email for the team as well as spreadsheets for research and expense tracking.
Siteleaf makes it possible to easily update the marketing website without needing to deploy the app.
ExpeditedSSL installed the SSL certificate and automatically renews it each year. The service is a set-it-and-forget-it.
The SSL certificate encrypts requests between the app and the API.
The web app uses a PostgreSQL database running on Heroku, which includes automatic backups.
The web app currently runs on Heroku, which is very easy to set up and maintain, but very expensive.
Sentry alerts me of any uncaught exceptions in Cushion and provides all the details I need to debug them.
Papertrail pulls in all the server logs from Cushion, so I can easily query them when I need to dig deeper on an issue.
Codeship handles testing, compiling, and deployment of Cushion. It’s incredibly flexible and easy to use.
Cushion uses Mandrill to send triggered emails, like password resets or failed payment follow-ups.
The newsletter update emails are sent using Mailchimp. It’s easy and powerful.
Slack is a great for chat, but also perfect for centralizing notifications from other services, like Stripe and Intercom.
The first newsletter update email was sent using Campaign Monitor.
The asset files are served by AWS CloudFront, a content delivery service that greatly improves transfer speeds.
Typeform is a hosted survey service. We use it when performing research for new features.
Hosted Graphite serves the dashboard for StatsD server metrics and user activity.
Librato serves the dashboard for server metrics and user activity, pulling in data from logs and StatsD.
Intercom is essential to communicating with Cushion users, providing customer support, user analytics, and in-app messaging.
Code Climate reviews the app code, grades it, and highlights areas that could be improved. This isn’t a necessary service, but useful for a clean codebase.
The web workers run background jobs, like generating downloadable backups and requesting 3rd party services.
The Redis database is used to queue and manage background jobs. Redis Cloud is a one-click Heroku add-on, but very expensive.
Zapier automates several workflows on the marketing side of Cushion.
Baremetrics integrates with Stripe to analyze revenue and monitor payment activity.
The scheduler spawns background jobs every 10 minutes to import new clients, projects, and invoices from Harvest for the auto-import integration.
The marketing website’s fonts are self-hosted and licensed from MyFonts. The header font is Effra Bold by Dalton Maag and the body font is FF Tisa Pro by Mitja Miklavčič.
The web app fonts are self-hosted and licensed from Just Another Foundry. The fonts include several styles from the Facit typeface by Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura of Just Another Foundry.
Flickity is the responsive and touch-enabled carousel library by David DeSandro. We use it on the marketing page to cycle through user testimonials.
Skylight profiles server requests and pinpoints which ones are the slowest and which are the heaviest.
The wildcard SSL certificate secures all of Cushion’s subdomains. Namecheap came recommended, but there are plenty of other certificate resellers.
To spread the word in person, we ordered stickers from Sticker Mule. The proof was approved same-day and the stickers arrived 5 days later.
We tried Google Adwords for advertising, but quickly realized that we’re better off spreading the word in other ways while our budget is low.
We started posting design process shots to Dribbble as a way to reach a wider segment of the design community.
ChartMogul integrates with Stripe to analyze revenue and generate reports about MRR, churn, and lifetime value. Once ChartMogul started offering a free plan, we downgraded because we could get by without the pro features.
We use Postmark to send transactional emails, like confirming a user’s email upon signup, resetting passwords, etc. They’re one of those “do one thing and do it well” kind of services that we love.
Heap helps us analyze the traffic and funnels on our marketing website. We can make changes and easily see the effects.
We pay international freelancers using TransferWise, which is much cheaper and easier than using a bank.
We use Soundcloud to host our “Ask a Freelancer” podcast.
JustWorks handles health benefits, payroll, and paying freelancers. They make it easy, so we can focus on Cushion.
To keep an eye on all of our server metrics, we use Datadog on a separate monitor to gather everything in one spot. It helps us keep an eye on any spikes in traffic, memory, etc.
We use Segment to abstract all of our analytics APIs into one. Update: We realized our usage was so simple that we no longer needed Segment.
Craft is the CMS for Cushion’s marketing website. It’s incredibly flexible, allowing us to arrange entire product pages without touching code.
Domain Agents served as the middleman for our acquisition of the domain name in.vc.
We acquired the domain name in.vc to use with our invoicing feature.
We use Let’s Encrypt for the SSL certificates for both the marketing website and in.vc. Eventually, we’ll migrate our other SSL certificates to Let’s Encrypt. It’s free and easy.
DNSimple lets us use the root domain of in.vc as a Heroku app. It’s a steep price to pay to simply remove “www”, but we couldn’t find a simpler way in time for launch. Update: We have since extracted our client-facing invoice page as a separate app and no longer need DNSimple.
We use Notion to manage our ideas, thoughts, and roadmap. It’s an incredibly well-designed tool that feels magical.
Screenflow is by far the best tool for recording screencasts. We use it specifically for creating our support videos.
Vimeo hosts our support videos. We could probably use YouTube for free, but Vimeo has worked for us.
We briefly tried Buffer to schedule our tweets, but realized we didn’t need the Pro features.
Our marketing website is hosted on Linode, which provides a fast VPS that we can use with CraftCMS.
We design all of our interfaces using Sketch, which is very quick and lightweight to use.
For our ACH invoice payments, we use Plaid’s bank auth API to authorize clients’ bank accounts. We then send the auth token to Stripe to complete the payment.
To simplify our infrastructure, we migrated to Heroku CI for continuous integration. We’re thrilled with the performance and cost, which uses performance dynos and is prorated to the second.
Timber helps us monitor our logs and easily sift through them. Its interface is very clear and intuitive compared to other logging tools.
We use ngrok to tunnel from our local dev server to a remote URL that Plaid can trigger its webhooks. ngrok does provide a free service, but those URLs expire after 8 hours and are recycled, so we couldn’t use them. We pay extra for custom, secure URLs.
Our staging servers let us test the entire app in an identical environment to production before flipping the switch.
I don’t think we’ll ever find the perfect email marketing service for our newsletters, but MailerLite gets pretty close. Their email editor is very versatile and doesn’t cause make my blood boil. It’s also 3x cheaper than Mailchimp and their support responds in minutes.
Take a close look at the costs that go into running a web app and why we use specific services.
Follow along with the journal for insight into the overall experience of building an app.