October 2, 2021

Platform Roundup: Communications

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Part of my mission to run a sustainable business and to do well & do good relies on my tech choices. I am a developer, but there is no way I can, or would want to, build every single tool I use in my business from scratch. So the next best thing I can do is choose the tech products and services in an informed and conscientious way.

Lately I’ve been sharing the tools I use for development, and web tools. Today I’m writing about the different web tools I use to communicate. Email, conference and social apps where you can reach out to me. Just remember, this is my experience and your mileage may vary, but overall, these tools result from my research and concern for selecting products that align with my values. None of the links in this post are affiliates. They are just here for convenience and they direct you to the product’s homepage.

Email

Email Octopus

Email Octopus is an alternative to MailChimp. Their service is simple, affordable and privacy friendly. The business is a startup without investors, and they like it that way because it lets them guarantee their users come first. They are committed to promoting and fostering ethical email marketing, and they use their business to help with ocean cleanup. They cover all the basis.

Fast Mail

Fast Mail is my email and calendar provider. They are a privacy friendly Gmail alternative and they’ve been around for 20 years. Their values say it all to me: “We want to shape a future where people come first—with technology made for you, not against you. Here, you are treated fairly, and good behavior is the norm.” I’ve been using them for two years and I’m thrilled with their service and interface.

Online Meetings

Whereby

Whereby is a new videoconference platform startup from Norway. They built their business on principles of privacy, transparent progression and quality of life for their employees. They are a great alternative to Zoom, Teams and Google Meet when you are concerned about the use of data by these companies. Simple, easy and their free tier has pretty much everything you need.

Harmonizely

Harmonizely is a scheduling system to book online calls and meetings. It’s main selling point for me is that it integrates seamlessly with FastMail and Whereby. This ecosystem revolves around the CalDAV standard for emails, so far I haven’t found other products like Harmonizely that integrate with FastMail calendar.

Slack

I use Slack for communication with many of the teams and communities I’m a part of. We use slack privately at the ethical move, as an open community in Out In Tech, Leapers and the Prosocial Design Network. It’s a helpful place to connect with an easy-to-understand interface, and it’s free. The downside of slack is that on the free plan, your messages are only accessible for 90 days, so it’s not a great place for a knowledge base.

Discord

I’ve been using Discord for years. It started as a platform for gaming and gamers, but it slowly has become my primary hub for communication and community. In Discord I work with and help other web designers with using the Divi theme. I’m a member of some coding communities which are fantastic for getting over the learning curve of a new language or framework. Communities around A11Y and accessibility are part of my Discord diet and I’ve enjoyed learning all the ins and outs of making servers and bots to run communities in the platform. They’re not perfect. There have been issues with user created content on the platform. There have been some privacy concerns too. But overall I see a platform constantly revising their standards, pushing out accessibility improvements and making privacy fixes. There’s some way to go, but I’m here for the ride.