Domain Registration

Hover handles domain registration for and several other domains.

Private SCM

GitHub hosts the source code of the app and GitHub Issues is used to track bugs, features, and milestones.

Website Hosting

The marketing website is hosted on GitHub Pages, which is free, static, and version-controlled.

Email Hosting

Google Apps hosts email for the team as well as spreadsheets for research and expense tracking.

Website CMS

Siteleaf makes it possible to easily update the marketing website without needing to deploy the app.

SSL Management

ExpeditedSSL installed the SSL certificate and automatically renews it each year. The service is a set-it-and-forget-it.

SSL Certificate

The SSL certificate encrypts requests between the app and the API.

Web App Database

The web app uses a PostgreSQL database running on Heroku, which includes automatic backups.

Web App Server

The web app currently runs on Heroku, which is very easy to set up and maintain, but very expensive.

Exception Tracking

Sentry alerts me of any uncaught exceptions in Cushion and provides all the details I need to debug them.

Log Management

Papertrail pulls in all the server logs from Cushion, so I can easily query them when I need to dig deeper on an issue.

Continuous Delivery

Codeship handles testing, compiling, and deployment of Cushion. It’s incredibly flexible and easy to use.

Email Delivery

Cushion uses Mandrill to send triggered emails, like password resets or failed payment follow-ups.

Email Marketing

The newsletter update emails are sent using Mailchimp. It’s easy and powerful.

Chat / Notifications

Slack is a great for chat, but also perfect for centralizing notifications from other services, like Stripe and Intercom.

Asset Hosting

The marketing website, javascript files, stylesheets, and images are all stored in AWS S3, which literally costs pennies a month.

Email Marketing

The first newsletter update email was sent using Campaign Monitor.

Asset CDN

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 Review

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.

Web Worker Server

The web workers run background jobs, like generating downloadable backups and requesting 3rd party services.

Redis Database

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.

Revenue Analytics

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.

Website Fonts

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.

Web App Fonts

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 JS library

Flickity is the responsive and touch-enabled carousel library by David DeSandro. We use it on the marketing page to cycle through user testimonials.

Web App Profiler

Skylight profiles server requests and pinpoints which ones are the slowest and which are the heaviest.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

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.

$59 - $247

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.

Design Process Hosting

We started posting design process shots to Dribbble as a way to reach a wider segment of the design community.

Revenue Analytics

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.

Transactional Email

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.

Payment Transfer

We pay international freelancers using TransferWise, which is much cheaper and easier than using a bank.

Audio Hosting

We use Soundcloud to host our “Ask a Freelancer” podcast.

HR & Payroll

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.

Website CMS

Craft is the CMS for Cushion’s marketing website. It’s incredibly flexible, allowing us to arrange entire product pages without touching code.

Domain Broker

Domain Agents served as the middleman for our acquisition of the domain name

$19.95 + 1%
Domain Name

We acquired the domain name to use with our invoicing feature.

SSL Certificate

We use Let’s Encrypt for the SSL certificates for both the marketing website and 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 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.

Screen Recorder

Screenflow is by far the best tool for recording screencasts. We use it specifically for creating our support videos.

Video Hosting

Vimeo hosts our support videos. We could probably use YouTube for free, but Vimeo has worked for us.

Social Scheduler

We briefly tried Buffer to schedule our tweets, but realized we didn’t need the Pro features.

Website Hosting

Our marketing website is hosted on Linode, which provides a fast VPS that we can use with CraftCMS.

Design Software

We design all of our interfaces using Sketch, which is very quick and lightweight to use.

Bank API

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.

Continuous Integration

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.

Log Management

Timber helps us monitor our logs and easily sift through them. Its interface is very clear and intuitive compared to other logging tools.

Tunnel Hosting

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.

Staging Server

Our staging servers let us test the entire app in an identical environment to production before flipping the switch.

Email Marketing

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.


Running Costs

Take a close look at the costs that go into running a web app and why we use specific services.

View the Costs

How It’s Made

Follow along with the journal for insight into the overall experience of building an app.

Read the Journal