Archive for the ‘Web Apps in General’ Category

Master your website speed with these free tools

website speed

Speed matters! At least as far as getting the right information at the right time is concerned. When surfing the Internet, one of the most noticeable aspects about a website is its loading speed. After typing in a URL or clicking on a link, everyone expects to be directed to their desired website in under a second, or if not, in at most 2 seconds. And any website that takes more than that to serve information starts getting on a user’s nerves. End result – the user switches to another website that serves the data he’s looking for faster. After all, in this busy world no one has the time to wait around for webpages to finish loading.

That need to get hands on information in the shortest possible time has given rise to quite an apt website design requirement – if it’s not quick enough, it’s not good enough. But this mantra is often a tough one to live up to, especially for websites that have a lot of dynamic content on their homepages. Designers and developers in the field keep struggling with strategies to bring the time needed to load websites to as low as possible so that their potential customers don’t turn away without even checking out their content.

Huge shout out to all you guys out there who’re doing this every day. We understand the kind of pressure you have to live up to in order to make your website as content-rich, engaging, unique, and light-weight as possible while ensuring that it opens up in under a second every single time.
But we also give due credit to the fact that Internet users in general are not very patient; doubly so when they’re surfing through their mobiles. Thus, as a designer, you’ve got to make sure your website is as nimble as it can be so that your organic traffic doesn’t get redirected to another website due to loading lag. And helpful as we are, in order to assist you with this little predicament we’ve compiled a list of easy ways that you can use to improve your website’s loading speed. Check these out and try them when you can. We’d be thrilled to know how they worked for you.

Why quick response is an absolute must for websites?

Regardless of how novel your product or how reliable your services, if you’re unable to showcase your stuff to the world within a couple of seconds, you will most certainly end up with loss of incoming business. At any point in time, there are more than one companies offering the same line of products and services (in other words, you always have competition). If you don’t make sure your product is the one a customer views first when buying, well, you’re practically landing your competitors the deal gift-wrapped!

Let’s take a quick look at the core statistics that prove our point:

  • As per a study conducted by Amazon1, for every 100ms of improved page load time, revenue increased by at least 1%
  • Reports1 claim that Shopzilla started making about 12% more revenue by simply cutting its page load time from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds. Plus it helped bump up their page traffic by 25%
  • On the adverse side, an experimental deliberate1 2 second slow down of search query results by Bing resulted in a 4.3% decrease in revenue per user

Sufficient to say that a website that takes too much time to load is bound to suffer from a reduction in conversion rate and loss of new customers. This fact is restated by a survey result1 which says that to 39% of everyday Internet users, performance is more important than the functionality of a site.

Impact on organic traffic

Page loading speed is a significant factor in determining your website’s Google ranking. A while ago Google started to consider page speed when evaluating websites; as a result, a website that is too slow to load isn’t considered that useful. So even if your website content is great, it won’t show up within the first few search result pages if it is taking too long to load.

Now that you know the why, we’re sure you want to know about the how.

Tricks & Tools to help you speed up your website’s loading time

There are a whole bunch of articles out there that can help you with tips for enhancing your website’s loading speed. Herein we’re making you privy to the actual tools which can help you apply the tricks you’ve read about to bring in some real change. Every tip is accompanied with the names of tools you can use to really experience the effect of that the tip.

Measure your website’s current loading speed

First, you need to know your starting point (a.k.a. how bad it is). Find out your website’s current loading speed using any of these tools:

  • Google Page Speed Insights & their Mobile Website Speed Test module – Online page speed test site which provides some great insights on what you need to do to improve your site’s performance. These tools help you detect the exact pain points which play the role of bottlenecks to your website’s loading speed. On running the test your website will get a score from 0-100. If it ranks above 90, you’re in good shape. Otherwise it might do you good to heed Google’s suggestions on why your page is loading slowly and how you can improve it.
  • WebPageTest.org – One of the most versatile page load testing tools which can test your website from multiple locations worldwide, using real browsers. By default it makes 3 runs and then displays loading times, detailed waterfall chart, request details, and of course, optimization suggestions. It also has its own grading scheme (6 grades from F to A). It can even capture a video of your website loading.
  • GTmetrix – Provides a great analysis of websites by giving grades on both Page Speed and YSlow. In addition to measuring speed, this tool also gives you info about why your page speed is slow.

After you’ve found out if your page speed is slow, use one or more of the below mentioned methods to pump it up a notch. Also, during the entire process ensure that you verify the impact every modification has on your website’s speed by repeating this step.

Optimize Images

It’s a no-brainer that the heaviest component of a post is its images. Large sized images are the prime contributor to slow loading websites. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using them to enhance your text. You just need to compress them with the right tools to ensure they reduce in size and load much quicker. You can decrease the size of bitmap files with lossless compression using:

And while you’re at it, you may also want to optimize animated GIFs and SVG vector images using tools specific to those kind of images. A great tool to optimize GIF images is ezGIF and SVG Optimizer by Peter Collingridge works great for SVG images.

Bonus Tip: While compressing is a great idea, you should probably keep evaluating the real need of all those high-res images on your website.

Optimize Site Code

In addition to reducing the size of images, you can also reduce the overall size of your code. Known as “code optimization”, this mechanism reduces the load that is sent to the browser by removing unnecessary characters like spaces, tabs, end of line, etc. You can minify any kind of code that’s sent to the browser – HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. Also, you can apply smart techniques like moving web resources such as fonts, CSS files, and JavaScript to the bottom of the page to facilitate the loading of text before other web components; that way if by chance your images or videos take a couple of seconds to load, at least the user can read your content and be engaged. You can optimize website code manually or use a tool like Refresh-SF or Minify Code for the purpose.

Use Caching

Browsing caching is primarily applicable to websites with a database connection such as ecommerce or content management platforms but it can be used for all websites in general. The idea behind the concept is to set an expiry date, or a maximum age limit, in the HTTP headers for static resources like images, CSS, JavaScript, PDF files, etc. Caching basically saves “snapshots” of your webpages and delivers them as static HTML which is the fastest way to access data on the web. Thus by enabling caching, browsers automatically load previously downloaded static resources from local disks rather than over the network thus avoiding direct data requests to the database, which in turn contributes to a quicker loading time for your website. Check if your website makes use of caching with Browser Caching Checker. To enable caching on your website you could either make direct code changes through scripts or use a plugin like W3 Total Cache for WordPress or WP Super Cache.

Bonus Tip: In quite a few cases, a not-so-great hosting provider can impact page speed for websites with databases. Thus, before you spend time on caching optimization, it would be a good idea to think about choosing a better hosting provider.

Generate CSS Sprites

Another great way to ease some load off your website is to use CSS Sprites. This technique essentially combines multiple small images (icons, buttons, etc.) into a single file called “sprite” and displays them at once. By combining smaller images into a single larger one and requesting for that single large image you’re effectively reducing the number of HTTP requests the browser has to make and thus contributing to a faster loading website. You can easily generate such merged files and obtain CSS code at the same time with CSS Sprites Tool or CSS Sprites Generator.

Check GZIP Compression

GZIP is a file format and an algorithm used for file compression and decompression. It is widely known to save 50 to 80% bandwidth, significantly increasing website loading speed and is thus recommended by page speed tools like Google Page Speed. In fact if GZIP compression is turned off for your website, these speed testing tools will tell you that and suggest you to switch it on. With Check GZIP Compression you can check really quickly if the compression is present and see how much transfer is saved thanks to it.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

While the Internet is one big invisible “connection” of networks spread across the globe for which distances shouldn’t matter, the ground reality is that, the farther your website visitors are from the server returning the information, the slower your website loads for them. This is because data needs to go through more “Internet nodes” to get to those visitors. That’s why Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) were first thought of. A CDN is a high-performance network of servers that replicates the static assets of your website and serves them to visitors from the closest POP. Simply put, a CDN includes proxy servers located throughout the world. When visitors view your website, they will be shown content from the mega server that’s geographically closest to their location. This “clone-and-relay” action results in a much quicker serving of a website and it is this ability of CDN networks that has made them one of the most effective ways to supercharge your website’s speed.
You can check what CDN providers are used on a website with CDN Finder.

Edit .htaccess file to speed things up

Now here’s a real winner of a tip. A large portion of the server configuration required for speeding up a website is done via editing the .htaccess file. In fact, editing this file is the main way to implement GZIP compression and website caching. We didn’t find an on-line .htaccess file generator that would focus (or include) pro-speed code. Instead, we collected some of the best code snippets that repeatedly appear on many blogs and combined into kind of a boilerplate2:

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml text/css text/javascript
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:gif|jpe?g|png)$ no-gzip dont-vary
Header append Vary User-Agent env=!dont-vary
php_flag zlib.output_compression on
</IfModule>
<Files *.php>
SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
</Files>
<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header unset ETag
Header unset Last-Modified
</IfModule>
<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-php
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/cgi-php5
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/cgi-php53
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/cgi-php54
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:gif|jpe?g|png)$ no-gzip dont-vary
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:exe|t?gz|zip|bz2|sit|rar)$ no-gzip dont-vary
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:pdf|doc)$ no-gzip dont-vary
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:avi|mov|mp3|mp4|rm)$ no-gzip dont-vary
Header append Vary User-Agent env=!dont-vary
</IfModule>
<ifModule mod_gzip.c>
mod_gzip_on Yes
mod_gzip_dechunk Yes
mod_gzip_item_include \.(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^application/x-javascript.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
</ifModule>
<ifModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 2592000 seconds"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 2592000 seconds"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 2592000 seconds"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 604800 seconds"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 216000 seconds"
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access plus 216000 seconds"
</ifModule>
FileETag None

Just copy and paste this at the beginning of your .htaccess file and check the results.

Wrapping things up

We’re hoping the tricks and tools listed above will help you make your website significantly faster. It’s a great feeling when you’re closing in to a 100/100 Google Page Speed result. But don’t forget that your website is a live entity. It changes, so can its loading speed. Monitoring loading times is a smart move. It lets you react before users start voting with their feed and before Google decreases your website grade.

1 Statistic data source: https://www.fldtrace.com/why-a-fast-loading-website-is-good-for-your-business
2 .htaccess file based mostly on magento-htaccess

4 ways to connect your data & your web apps

A wise tech-guy once said, “It all comes down to data and how it is exchanged”. Spot on we’d say! Laptops, hand-held devices, smart TVs, all send and receive data. Apps, websites, and software programs, all function on data. Needless to say, there’s an obvious connection there. The invisible thread between devices and software programs / apps, is the data binding them. It is ‘data’ which enables apps to control devices. Each and every device operates according to the hardware interfaces and software programs running behind it, which in turn communicate by exchanging data. And with almost every modern device working the ‘smart’ way over the Internet, data and its constant exchange across channels, devices, and apps has become the new reality of tech world.

Apps and Data go hand-in-hand

Almost all of us use one or more web apps in our personal and professional lives on a daily basis. And if you’re in the habit of working with multiple websites, your data footprint is probably more than others. Every web app directly or indirectly collects or generates different data on different assets. “Assets” here include people and the devices they use every day.

When we say “web apps generate and collect data”, the kind of data we’re referring to includes everything from general signup information like name, age, gender, address, contact number, etc. to more personal information like habits, preferences, messages from social media interactions, food choices, to-do tasks, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Whether you realize it or not (or want it or not), you have an online identity which can give any arbitrary tech guy every single detail about your personal and professional life at any point of time. And that is made possible by the data you willingly punch into the various web apps you use. The calendar reservations you make, the task lists you create, the kind of communities you subscribe to on social platforms, every bit of data comes together at the end to create an online version of you.

Guess there’s no point in wanting to keep things private anymore!

But jokes aside, when you’re going to use web apps to that kind of extent, why not use them in a way that you know exactly how much information you divulge over the Internet and through which web apps and websites? If you can centralize the information you reveal across web apps, you can control and manage it more effectively.

You access and disperse more data than you know

Apart from the personal information we give out willingly, there’s a lot of other external data we make use of every day. Articles, blog and social media posts, weather data, currency exchange rates, etc. are all things which aren’t directly personal but still accessed by us to a great deal and thus contributing to our online habits. And then there are the everyday electronics and appliances we use. Smart light bulbs, smart door locks, smart air conditioners, air purifiers, wear-able devices (IoT), etc. are all little technical wonders that can adapt to our preferences and surroundings to deliver a more personalized experience. And no points for guessing how they do it.

When we use so many devices and mechanisms to disperse data and information across different networks, wouldn’t things be a lot simpler if the common data could be summarized at one place, non-critical data filtered out, and relevant data shared among web apps that use it? Whether personal or external, if there was a way for users to view what data they’ve supplied to which web app while enabling web apps to collaborate through common data, things would become quite organized. Plus, users would be able to monitor and manage what chunk of their identity and preferences crosses over the Internet making their online presence much safer.

You can get hold of all that functionality if you connect the various web apps you use through some kind of collaborative bridge. Fortunately, there are not one or two, but multiple entities available which can play the part of that bridge for your web apps.

Connecting web apps through a common platform is a wise plan

One of the brightest ways to centralize your data is to connect your web apps through a common platform, like a dashboard. You might not be aware about this but there are a lot of vendors out there who are developing platforms and tools to help people with this very task – organizing their data by establishing connections between the web apps they use. Typically, such platforms include a ton of inbuilt features like one time sign-in, report and analytics, and much more which can help you streamline your information exchange over the Internet.

Connecting your web apps achieves multiple goals.

  • A common platform with single sign-in facility will reduce the number of web apps you need to log in to everyday, thus simplifying stuff
  • It saves time
  • It boosts your productivity

Now that that’s settled, you’d obviously like to know about some great ways to connect your web apps right? Well, let’s start with something you already know about and probably use frequently without realizing its worth. APIs – heard of them, haven’t you?

APIs and other tricks to connect web apps and data

Among the best ways to connect data and web apps are APIs. Quite a few web apps and data sources out there include inbuilt mechanisms allowing them to “integrate” with other websites and applications through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). APIs are in fact a set of functions enabling other applications to connect with and communicate across channels to share, search, download, and upload data. This allows connection between web apps (data exchange and executing functions) and aggregating / gathering data from multiple sources in specialized software.

Apart from APIs, here’s a list of 4 other great ways in which you can connect your data and your web apps:

1. Built-in integrations

“Integration” is just another fancy word for the communication (information exchange) that takes between web apps. When visiting the website for a new appealing tool, one of the things most people tend to look for is built-in integrations. This feature allows the new tool you’re researching to easily collaborate with a number of popular technologies or tools that other people generally use in conjunction with the tool you’re researching. For example if you’re looking out for a new email marketing application to promote your business, you’d probably want to look for an application that has built-in integration with CRMs since marketing and customer relationship management are quite closely related.

In fact, some app connections are so natural that developers include integrations as prebuilt features in their apps in order to attract more users into buying their apps. All the user needs to do is copy the app credentials (usually API Key) from one application and paste in another to make the communication happen.

2. Plugins, modules and extensions

A common issue many tech-impaired self-hosted bloggers face is, wanting to implement a particular feature like a layout or widget on their blog that can display only specific data on particular webpages. This requirement basically needs them to extract some data from their existing blog posts and display it on a particular section of their website. Again, major data exchange needed. Enter – plug-ins, extensions, and modules built to act as bridges that can extract data from the required places and serve them at the desired places in the format of choice. Everyone’s happy!

There are quite a few CMS platforms like WordPress, Magento, and Drupal that are so popular that they have their own ecosystems for integrations. Currently, there exist 60,000+ plugins for WordPress, 40,000+ Drupal modules and more than 10,000 Magento extensions. These ecosystems were originally created to enable external developers to add new functions to the platforms, but over the years they’ve evolved into great ways to connect external web apps. If you spend a lot of time on such platforms, they can be your control center where you integrate many other apps.

3. Dashboards

Remember we mentioned that your tryst with web apps would be much simpler and safer if there was a way to connect data from many different sources and display it on a single, clear platform for centralized access? Well, customized dashboards are “it”. There are many specialized web applications which act as brilliant dashboards to combine the data you share through other web apps and display it to you in a concise manner for better control and management. Some of the best examples include:

  • Google Data Studio – With the number of Google web apps that exist and the kind of customer base they have, rolling out a dashboard application for user convenience that could consolidate all their data dispersed across various Google apps was just inevitable. Data Studio is free and not just taps into Google data (Analytics, Ad-Words, YouTube, Search Console, and Google Spreadsheets) but also popular database formats (MySQL, PostgreSQL) and numerous analytic data available through 3rd party connectors. Report generation, data source management, and centralized information, are just a few of the key features.
  • Klipfolio – Probably the most versatile application with hundreds of data sources available, Klipfolio offers an online platform for building real-time business dashboards allowing business users to connect to many data services, automate data retrieval, and then manipulate and visualize the data. With features like built-in formula editing, combining and slicing data, and easy cross-device access, this platform is a great way to manage your business web app data.
  • Cyfe – Great-looking cloud based business intelligence application with a ton of features (like TV-mode), Cyfe is all-in-one business dashboard designed to analyze, transform and report data from different integrated sources of business intelligence. The freemium platform enables business users track and monitor all business metrics in one single place by assembling current information from multiple sources into a single, consistent, and a coherent presentation format.

Other dashboard applications deserving a mention include Geckoboard, Dash, Databox, and Zoho Reports.

4. Automation tools

Some web applications offer closed lists of integrations, other enable great APIs. You don’t have to be a developer or spend time writing API clients to use data from different sources in a smart way. You can use one of the incredible tools that can integrate with hundreds of APIs (for downloading and uploading data) and just tweak them a bit by adding some automation. “Connectors” as they are often called are these code snippets which make communication between different web apps possible. You may develop your own connectors or pick one from the huge array of readymade ones available online. A lot of budding developers out there keep experimenting with their programming skills and design connectors for many popular apps for nominal prices. The simple visual interfaces of such connectors let you easily configure “recipes” and connect applications in pairs with different rules. If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, do IFTTT (“If This Then That”) and Zapier ring any bells?

Wrapping things up

Hope the above list of options will enlighten you on ways to connect your web apps through centralized data management platforms. So go ahead and try it out by skimming through your subscribed web apps and checking their integration options. You can also search for them on IFTTT and Zapier integration lists. Don’t forget to share other popular, ready to use “recipes” you’ve tried out.

How to discover new great web apps for your work

discover web apps

There are many ways to get your work done on time, in an efficient manner, and without much risk. Opting for specialized web apps is one of them. As a web designer or web developer, you’re already aware of the benefits web apps bring to the table, like their presence on all devices, web-browser based execution, elimination of the need to be downloaded or installed, the opportunity to capture a much larger audience, and so on. But if you had to pick one key benefit they give you, what would it be? In our opinion, it would be the way they automate your work so you get to save a lot of your precious time.

Working with web apps automates your work

Web developers and designers have a lot of loose ends to take care of in their regular work. Brainstorming to find the perfect idea, giving it a shape in the form of drawings / sketches / blue-prints, conducting discussions to finalize their designs, giving them a material shape through diagram creation tools, coding to bring the material designs into action, testing whether they work as envisioned, and probably a lot many other activities. If looked at closely, a lot of those activities can be automated so that time and effort can be saved. For example, once the initial idea has been put down on paper and has been sufficiently brainstormed on, some web apps and web based tools can be used to draw it using flow diagram (or similar) constructs, the subsequent coding can be (and mostly is) achieved through IDEs, and even testing can be taken care of through specialized web apps for the purpose.

So in effect, the whole mechanism of automating your work through web apps helps you save a ton of your daily work time. And when you have more time, you have the opportunity to be more productive. You can use the time you save to come up with new ideas for even better projects, conduct research on making your existing projects better, or if you like, use it to relax and give that ever working mind of yours a much needed break.

Are there any web apps you use regularly?

Regardless of the field you’re in, there are a ton of web apps that you can use on a daily basis. And if you like to stay up-to-date with what’s relevant, you likely already use lots of web apps. Slack, Pocket, Hootsuite, Trello, MailChimp, etc. are some of the most popular web apps people use for varied business purposes. Do you use any of them in your day-to-day work? If so, how do you find out about them; Internet research, word of mouth? Did you know that at any point there are thousands of great web apps being used out there, some you’ve probably never even heard of?

With mobile application development becoming the IT trend of the decade and the consumer base for web apps increasing every day, more and more specialized web apps are constantly introduced for developers and designers. But the harsh reality is that while some of such web apps skyrocket and get all the hype, others having equal potential and a more affordable nature don’t make it to the mainstream because they don’t get the proper attention, the proper funding.

But that doesn’t mean no one notices them.

Over the years, several online developer communities have come up for various technologies that give small useful applications their due by getting them the right king of recognition – from other more established developers, tech-startups, potential customers, small scaled businesses, and even investors. Such communities make for great platforms where developers can showcase their work to the world, and maybe even strike the right cords to make it big.

But why are we telling you this?

Because until small web apps become the “next big thing”, they are just that – extremely useful web apps dedicated to solve specific purposes and very nominally priced. Imagine the kind of win-win deal you could strike if you got to know about some such great web apps that can aid you in your work and not seem heavy on your pocket too. You’d obviously want to try out such web apps. But here comes the obvious question – how would you find such apps?

How you can discover new web apps

We’ve compiled a list of avenues you should check out if you’re on the lookout for new web apps. Try them out in any order you’d like, and we’re sure you’ll be able to find something interesting:

Google

When it comes to searching for something on the Internet, the obvious answer is Google. In this case however, the search may or may not pan out. Not unless you specifically search for the phrases “top web apps”, “new web apps” or “top tools”. And while you’re at it, you may want to optionally add a launch year to narrow down the search results.

Product Hunt

Remember we mentioned communities where new tools, products, and apps can be showcased to catch the right attention? Well, Product Hunt is currently the mother of all such communities! Founded in 2013, Product Hunt is a platform dedicated to the sole purpose of letting people share-and-discover new products. It’s a global platform which surfaces the best new products every day for enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations. And it works on a simple user voting principle. So a product that actually sits well with the users of Product Hunt gets up-voted to the top of its lists. Anyone, designer / developer / coder, can submit a product on the platform and it will be listed in a linear format among all products submitted for the day. There’s a comments section for each product which allows users to post their direct feedback (invaluable for the developers behind it) and a voting system that enables users to rate it. If there’s a place where you can find awesome new web apps, this is it!

Betalist

Another gold mine for new apps, products, and ideas, Betalist is a community of makers and early adopters showcasing their startups and exchanging feedback. A quick look through its website and you know you’re in the right place. Technology, Marketing, Finance, Business, Socializing, and startups from every other field you can envision head over to Betalist to gather pre-launch responses from end users. Browse through their homepage to sift through all new apps for the current week and click on the ones you like to view their brief introduction, get their website link, share about them on social media, and/or up-vote them. Simple and effective. If you’re a real early adopter, eager to check very fresh web apps, you definitely want to check out Betalist. Alternative: BetaPage.

Social News Shows

Over the past decade, a number of social news websites and shows have come up which are backed by people who are passionate about bringing innovation in the way things are done. They invest in upcoming startups, product vendors, and web app makers, so that talented people can continue doing what they do best. One of the prominent players in this field is the team behind Y Combinator. Y Combinator is an American seed accelerator founded in 2005 by investors from different walks of life. The company created a new model for funding early stage startups and invests in a large number of startups twice a year. Two years later, they started Hacker News, a social news website focusing on computer science and entrepreneurship which highlights notable work by programmers and developers and also provides them much needed funding. When looking for new web apps, Hacker News is also a place you’d want to check out.

Specialized platforms for software search and ratings

And when you’ve been through the top players in the arena, here’s a list of other players; websites where not just developers, but the general public comprising of every day users can post their experiences with a particular web app or product so that you can benefit from their findings:

  • GetApp – Portal that puts up tool and app reviews and introduces you to new upcoming apps that can help you grow your business. Here, you can search for web apps from different business verticals like sales, marketing, finance, collaboration, human resources, communication, BI, etc. so you can search for exactly the kind of app you’re looking for, sorted by a category filter.
  • Capterra – Giving away its nature through the tagline “Find Software”, Capterra enables you to compare products, read reviews, and get access to the latest software research to find the right solution for your business. The software and apps listed on this portal are divided across 500+ categories, backed by 325,000 reviews, and used by some of the biggest organizations worldwide.
  • G2Crowd – Powered by real user reviews, G2Crowd is probably the fastest growing software and services search platform. With categories spanning across e-commerce, hosting, CRM, analytics, security, IT management, content management, and more, this platform allows people who have used an app or software to give their detailed feedback of the product in the form of a review so as to enable other potential users make informed decisions.
  • Other notable names in this list are CrozDesk and TrustRadius which again offer the same functionality, in a different packaging.

Websites informing about startups launching

As you’re probably already aware, there are many websites out there that keep posting updates about new startups. From these websites you can get the names of new upcoming startups and then find out about them on Google. This would help you narrow down the ones which develop the kind of web apps you’re looking for and you can proceed from there on. Some key websites that offer this nature of service include:

Zapier integrations

Zapier and IFTTT

Another smart idea for finding web apps that have already been verified by the market and became popular is looking at available integrations lists of Zapier and IFTTT. But it is quite probable that on website as widespread as these two, you won’t find what you’re looking in the first time around (it’s probable, not certain). If that happens, you can return to these web pages to check if something of your interest has been posted a little later.
Pro Tip: You can monitor the changes to these lists with change monitoring services like VisualPing so that as soon as something of interest comes up, you’re informed.

Subscribe to Super Monitoring Blog notifications

Probably the best way to discover new apps and quickly learn something about them is to subscribe to our blog notifications. We keep posting reviews of great web apps and tools here every now and then so you can stay updated with what’s buzzing.

Found an interesting app, but considering if it will really benefit you?

Often, even after finding a web app a user thought would be great for their work they don’t seem to have benefitted from any significant value addition. This can happen when they start searching for an app without really penning down their goals, the list of requirements they’d need to fulfill to reach those goals, and an estimate of the kind of time they’re willing to invest in accomplishing those goals. As such, they can end up with a web app that has potential, but doesn’t really suit their current purpose.

Thus, stay clear on your goals before starting to research for the perfect web app. Thereafter, keep the following points in mind to ensure that you’ll derive some benefit from the web app you put so much of your time searching for:

  • Read descriptions and comments about the web app on the discovery site you’re searching
  • Google for articles on the web app
  • Search YouTube for video reviews from actual end users
  • Sign up for free trials (if available) or schedule a demo

Wrapping it up

It is worth it to regularly check the online market space and find new web apps as some of them can really make your work (and life) easier. Of course, it takes some time, but with a little effort you can automate (or outsource) a substantial part of it and derive some real value.

How to pay less for web app subscriptions

With the consumer base for web apps increasing exponentially every day, developers have dawned into a new profit making strategy. They’ve come up with innovative ideas to design addictive web based applications that can keep you hooked on to them for a major part of your day. So much so that after some time when the web app shows you a small flashy “offer” sign somewhere in the corner, you jump at the opportunity of experiencing or witnessing something new and sign up instantly; often without realizing what you’re getting into. And more often than not, people subscribe to countless web apps even if the total subscription amount they’re paying every month is a little too much on their pockets.

While that is true, many a times web app subscriptions are crafted in such a manner that opting for them is actually justified. If for an acceptable amount of payment you get to take the benefit of additional features and the developers behind the app can make some recurring revenue, everybody wins. The only real trick lies in spotting the truly beneficial app subscriptions and ensuring that they don’t start becoming unfair to you.

So are you ready to glean on a few smart subscription tricks? Well, do read on.

Before we start – a brief glance at the benefits of web apps

You’ve probably already read countless detailed articles on this so we’ll make this as concise as possible:

Web App Benefits for DevelopersWeb App Benefits for Users
  • Increased Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
  • Long-term Customer Engagement
  • Recurring Reliable Income
  • Bundling offers bring added value
  • Option to experience better features
  • Free Trial Periods
  • Flat Rates help stay within budget
  • Expectation of decent level of service

 

Considering the reasonable benefits detailed above, it is only natural for web developers across the world to feel pulled towards launching more subscription based web apps. As a user too, the benefits are quite alluring, but evaluating every aspect of web app subscriptions is wise before putting money on the line. That’s why you should be aware that there are multiple subscription models for web apps and you should be picking one that suits your needs best.

Basic App Subscription Models

Typically, subscription models are categorized as follows:

  • Fixed price – a single subscription price for all customers
  • Variable price – several subscription rates are available where price dictates the number of features, number of users, speed of service, storage capacity, and so on
  • À la carte – app features are priced individually and the total subscription price varies from user to user depending on their selected features.
  • Pay what you want – every user receives the same features but can choose their individual subscription price, above a minimum threshold. Not much data exists on the viability of this model, so use with caution.

In most models payments happen monthly, which fits comfortably with personal customers (monthly salaries) and the business market (monthly accounts); but yearly subscription apps prove to be more beneficial in the long run.

How you can ensure you’re not spending too much on app subscriptions

Combining the facts that almost all popular applications have launched their web app versions and that over 60% of the world’s population use smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet, it won’t exactly be rocket science to reach the conclusion that most of us use more web apps than desktop applications in our professional and personal lives. Some of such apps are free while others paid; but when you’re in the habit of using an app every day, paying for it doesn’t really matter.

Imagine if you’ve subscribed to even 5 – 6 web apps. How much money are you spending every month on just the subscriptions? You probably don’t think about it much, but in total, all the SaaS subscriptions cost you a little fortune. Now, all of us have the good sense of saving a little even when we spend, and that’s what prompts us to opt for sales, discounts, and offers on our favorite stuff. So why don’t we apply the same logic to our web app subscriptions?

While you might not be able to end all your web app subscriptions (and it’s not very wise to do so too), there are ways in which you can save on your web app subscriptions.

Tip #1: Track your subscriptions

The first step towards keeping tabs on your web app subscriptions is to track them. Some of us enroll for monthly / yearly subscriptions for so many web apps (domain hosting, web hosting, email marketing, insurance, online music, Netflix, etc.), we don’t even remember which one’s we’re subscribed to. Keeping things organized always helps track the loopholes and see more clearly. So start keeping a track of all your subscriptions for easier management.

You can track your web app subscriptions manually with free software programs like spreadsheets (MS Excel or Open Office), for instance, or with the help of specialized tools built solely for the purpose like TrackMySubs.com.
TrackMySubs.com gives you access to interface based subscription tracking. It shows you an organized list of all your monthly and yearly subscriptions along with the amount you need to pay when you want to renew and the date when you need to renew. You can customize the tool’s interface to show all amounts in the currency of your choice. Using it gives you benefits like automated alert and reminder systems (so you never forget to renew subscriptions), multiple currency support (so you know how much you’re spending in your own currency), and detailed reporting (so you can break down your expenditure on subscriptions and know exactly how much you’re spending on them every month).

A key benefit to using dedicated subscription tracking tools like Trackmysubs.com is that they help you find ways to save money by spending less on unnecessary subscriptions. Some even suggest alternative, better deals.

Tip #2: Cancel old subscriptions that you don’t need anymore

A study earlier this year by a popular cash-back website found that nearly a quarter of us continue to pay for subscriptions because we find it too hard to cancel them. It is human nature that once we are signed-up to something it feels like too much of an effort to unsubscribe. No matter how much you think that cannot happen to you, if you’re keeping tabs on your app subscriptions, you’ll find a few you’re paying unnecessarily for. Whether you forgot to cancel a free trial or are still paying for an old subscription that you don’t use anymore, spot useless subscriptions and cancel them. You might end up saving quite a bit.

Tip #3: Pick Annual Subscriptions over Monthly ones

Though picking a smaller amount over a big one seems like the obvious choice, when it comes to subscriptions, going for the higher priced annual subscriptions is advisable. If you choose a monthly subscription owing to the difference in amount, think of how much extra you’ll end up paying if you continue using the app for over a year. It is almost always much cheaper to pay up-front for a year than for every month. Moreover, annual subscriptions give you access to discount and offers which in turn help you save on the entire deal. Additionally, users who go for annual subscriptions are eligible for regular updates, more advanced features, and proper technical support from the app vendor, all of which are absent in monthly subscriptions. Annual Subscriptions are basically win-win for both you and the app vendor.

Tip #4: Subscribe directly through vendor website, not third-party services

Often when using the App Store or the Google Play Store, we purchase and subscribe to web apps directly from them. What we don’t realize is that sometimes these stores apply additional fee on top of the web app subscription rates to make their cut of the deal. This can be disadvantageous to you as a user. You could actually save a few bucks by directly going to the app vendor’s website and subscribing to the app from there. A typical example of this scenario is the claim by Spotify back in 2015 through which it encouraged its users to cancel their App Store Spotify subscription and re-subscribe directly through the Spotify website. The app vendors claimed doing so could help users save up to $3 per month on their subscription.

Tip #5: Recommend the web app on social media in exchange for bonuses

When a new web app is launched, the team behind it is usually looking to expand their user base. A positive review, a recommendation, or word-of-mouth publicity by a user who has tried the app goes a long way in establishing that user base, so look for bonuses offered by the developers of the web app you’re subscribed to. In exchange for sharing your positive recommendations of the app on social media, inviting new users, and writing reviews, they might offer you free account extensions helping you end up getting free subscription for some time.

Tip #6: Apply Saver Coupons

Whether it is to buy groceries, clothes, or web app subscriptions, everyone uses coupons to save on purchases. When ordering for the first time, search the Internet for coupon codes applicable to your desired purchase. Searching for the perfect coupon site can be tough, but a little research on Google should help you. If not, here a few great platforms that help in collecting rebate codes:

  • Coupons.com – Probably the most used (and most loved) coupon website out there (with an overall user satisfaction rating of 4.5 / 5 stars), this website offers thousands of deals on popular brands, printable coupons, and a mobile app.
  • RetailMeNot – Another coupon giant who gives customers access to hundreds of thousands of digital coupons and offers from retailers, their coupons range across a wide variety of popular categories, including Accessories, Art, Automotive, Baby Products, Beauty Products, Books, Clothing, and many other options.
  • Offers.com – Keeping user benefit in mind, this coupon website helps you take advantage of legitimate freebies by validating each of them and weeding out the ones to avoid. By showing only legitimate deals, this website protects yours from being fooled while digging for deals on the Internet.
  • DontPayFull – Another great place for access to online coupons, coupon codes, discounts, and promo codes that are added and updated daily.

A bit of careful digging around and you just might find the deal you’re looking for. And while you’re at it, sign-up to be informed about the latest deals on app subscription coupons so that you don’t miss a chance to save.

Tip #7: Talk to the provider

It may sound far-fetched, but something as simple as talking to the app provider could be just what you need. Quite frequently, app providers are on the lookout for regular customers who are eager to sign up for yearly subscriptions with them in exchange for a little discount. If you’re already signed up with them and want to extend annual subscription, you can catch them at just the right moment. It is very likely that if you tell them you’re considering extending your subscription, you’ll have all their interest. Then when you ask about any special offers – they are most likely to give you one.

  • Pay less for your web app subscriptions supermonitoring.com/blog/h… via @supermonitoring

    Tweet this

Rounding things up

While the above tips are sufficient to help you save some serious money on your subscriptions, another handy tip could be signing up for deals at websites like AppSumo, StackSocial, or MightyDeals. They offer mostly lifetime subscriptions which means you pay once, really good money, and use forever; basically a good deal if you get it for an app you know you’ll use for more than 2 years.

If you’re a smart shopper, becoming a smart app subscriber is something you should definitely make an attempt at. We know you’re busy – but if you manage to assign some time to this task, you could be able to significantly lower your fixed costs.

How to find the best alternatives to web apps

Web applications or web apps have become the new norm for everything online. Just a decade ago, in the age of desktop based programs, who would have thought of a time when nothing would need to be hosted or managed locally? But that distant possibility has become modern day’s reality where everyday tasks like emailing, messaging, researching, and even activities like shopping have intermingled with client-server based architecture into applications users fondly call web apps. They’re interactive, engaging, and useful. From webmail, wikis, and instant messaging services, to online retail sales and auctions, almost each user demand is being fulfilled through web apps.

But have you ever stopped and wondered what is it that gives web apps their power? Exactly how are web apps different from traditional desktop based applications apart from a sleeker front-end? How can a user new to the concept find the right web app for his purpose?

Through this article, we’re trying to answer all these questions and more.

What makes web apps appealing?

Over the past few years, the market has seen a shift of trends as far as mobile app development is concerned. While native mobile apps are still popular, web apps that run directly in browsers have captured everyone’s attention. Currently, there are thousands of interactive web apps out there targeted at solving various purposes. From everyday home users to professionals like web-designers and web-developers, people are raving about the utility and the ease of operation web apps bring with them.

Popular researchers have listed the following key factors which make web apps alluring:

  • It’s easier to create web apps using one stack (HTML/CSS/JS) and frameworks like React, Angular, and Aurelia
  • Web apps do not require an app store submission
  • Most web apps run in all browsers for all devices from desktops to Smartphones

Moreover, with mobile browsers supporting features like geo-location, vibration, microphone access, and many upcoming specs for HTML/DOM APIs like device orientation, people prefer to use their hand-held devices for everything. So much so that vendors of popular native apps are rolling out web app alternatives. The time for the creation of an ecosystem where developers have the freedom to choose which type of app best suits their project doesn’t seem too far away.

Business Benefits of web apps

From a business point of view, web apps offer the following significant advantages:

  • They are cost effective to develop – Businesses don’t need to develop different versions of the same application optimized for different operating systems since all components of the app are online. All that needs to be done is browser testing.
  • They are easily customizable – All the user is concerned with is the application’s front end. So businesses only need to update its look and feel or presentation to suit users of different ages and preferences.
  • They make it possible to capture a wider audience – Since the devices used to access web apps cover a broad range including PDAs, mobiles, tablets, as well as desktops / laptops, a much broader range of users can be targeted and captured with such apps.
  • They offer better interoperability – It is far easier to integrate a web app with another than it is to make a desktop application communicate with another. Web-based architecture facilitates rapid integration of enterprise systems while improving workflow and enhancing business processes.
  • They’re scalable and more secure – For web apps that need more power, only the server hardware needs upgrading making them extremely scalable. Also, since such apps are deployed on dedicated servers monitored by experienced administrators, they are far more secure than desktop applications which are managed at the client directly.

Given such key benefits that web apps bring to the table, it is no wonder businesses across the globe prefer pumping huge money into web app development.

Finding Your Ideal web app

Deciding that you want to go with a web app to complete a particular task is only half the battle won. The other tougher half involves picking the perfect web app that will help you fulfill your goal with minimum or no hassle. And believe us when we say this, finding your ideal web app from among the huge variety available online is quite an uphill task. Especially when there are tons of web apps built to the same end.

So how do you do it? Just keep the following pointers in mind:

  • It should have an easy to use interface
  • It should help you complete your task in the shortest time and with minimum taps / clicks
  • It should either be free or very cost-effective
  • It should be accessible on different devices and browsers, example iOS – Safari as well as Android – Chrome, etc.
  • It should take up minimum device resources
  • Support for in-app suggestions is good to have
  • The technology stack behind the app should be one that stays relevant for at a couple of years to come

Finding a web app that stays true to all the criteria mentioned above though difficult isn’t impossible. And generally, everything stays good as long as your requirements don’t change drastically and the web app you’re using continues to fulfill all your needs. But, what happens when either your requirements expand, or the capabilities of your chosen web app seem limited?

Why are users compelled to look for web app alternatives?

When user requirements change from a fixed set to a wider one that includes 3 or 4 more needs, the app they’ve gotten used to might fall short of the occasion. In such cases, users are compelled to move on to more advanced web apps having more features while also retaining the capabilities they fell in love with originally.

To understand the point better, consider a simple scenario wherein you’re trying to plan your travel to an exotic destination. Imagine that after researching online and reading a lot of user reviews you pick a great travel planner web app and use it to materialize your plans successfully. Once that trip is done, you don’t feel the need to upgrade to a more advanced app and in fact, don’t use this one much either. Now for your next trip, you need ideas along with relevant flight and hotel details (and booking support) and you also wish to carry out detailed comparisons between different destinations. Since your earlier set of requirements was quite limited, the app you needed at that time was very basic. However, now you need something better. You need an app that doesn’t just show you a set of destinations to pick from (depending upon your preferences), but also show you available hotels and flight combinations for that destination all within the dates and budget limits you’re targeting.

Obviously, your current app cannot do all that. So you start looking for a new web app. Here you could opt for one of two approaches – research for the perfect web app from scratch; or find for an alternative web app, one that includes the basic features you originally liked, along with more. Getting the drift?

If you are, you’ll agree that this opens up an entirely new avenue – web apps that suggest alternative web apps. For clarity’s sake, let’s call these alternative suggesting web apps, tools. There are a lot of tools and techniques available online which allow users to search for the perfect alternatives to particular web apps. Let us take a look at some of these.

  • There are a lot of tools and techniques available online which allow users to search for the perfect alternatives to particular web apps. supermonitoring.com/blog/h… via @supermonitoring

    Tweet this

Searching for the best alternatives to web apps

Given the vast variety of web apps available in the open online market, it is quite unlikely that there is only one app for one purpose. There are several apps that achieve the same purpose but differ in prices, features, performance, interfaces, etc.; and when you begin searching for a web app alternative, you might find one that suits your purpose and pocket more than the one you’re currently using.
There are a number of ways that can help you find the best alternatives to web apps:

Google

This one is obvious. Google has the answer to everything, literally. So when in need for an alternative web app, just enter what the app does in the search field or use “[app name] alternatives” as the search keyword and Google should throw some pretty decent suggestions at you. You could also type the phrase “[app name] VS” and look at the suggestions for apps that come closest in functionality.

Wikipedia

Sometimes, the Wikipedia page for the app you’re currently using has a ‘Category Page’ section that lists apps similar to the current one. That can be helpful.

Quora

Over the past few years, Quora has emerged as one of the best place for users to directly ask questions to other users about pretty much anything under the sun. Simply post a question on Quora asking “What are the best alternatives to…” and you should start receiving suggestions soon enough. This question is in fact one of the most popular queries on Quora.

Social Platforms

Facebook and LinkedIn are awesome forums to join groups of people like-minded to you. Once you become a member of a group, you can ask people there about alternatives to the web app you’re targeting. However, these social groups come with a minor drawback. Before posing a query on them, you should perform a thorough search. Questions like “alternatives to [app name]” are quite common and it is very likely that someone might have already asked for an alternative to the app you’re going to ask about. Group members don’t appreciate repeat questions.

Specialized Websites

A lot of dedicated websites have emerged which help you easily find web app alternatives as well as detailed information about such alternatives. Some of the best ones are:

  • AlternativeTo.net – With an extensive database that includes information about almost 65000 web apps, this approach to finding great software prevents you from settling for anything less than the best. AlternativeTo.net lets you easily search for alternatives to some of the most popular commercial web apps like Adobe Photoshop, MS Word, MS Visio, AutoCAD, and free web apps like YouTube, Skype, Google Chrome, etc.
  • SimilarSites.com – A cool and simple way to discover the best websites and alternatives on the web, this tool helps you find related sites and topics similar to the ones you love. It offers website recommendations for similar pages while intelligently giving you more options.
  • Alternative.to – One of the most comprehensive sources to find alternatives to products, places, solutions, answers, and pretty much anything – including web apps, this tool even lets you compare the various alternatives and choose the best one.

While all the above methods are equally good to pick competent alternatives, it’s important to compare all available options and satisfy yourself completely before making a final choice. When subscribing to a particular service or tool, once you attach yourself to a provider, sometimes it becomes really hard to migrate to another because of complexity issues.

A Sneak Peek into some of the best web apps Around

Now for the fun part! It’s time to weigh how web apps actually fare when in action. We’ve been scouting the Internet for the most useful and user-friendly web apps for Web Designers, Web Developers and Internet Marketers. The following 10 beauties are just a sample of 100+ applications we have reviewed.
Do dedicate a bit of your time to reading about them and if possible, play around with them whenever you can just to get an idea of all that web apps are capable of achieving.

Other hit names that we didn’t include in this list are Evernote, Slack, Twitter, Dropbox, etc. which are no less popular and continue to play the part of industry titans.

A few final words

The mesmerizing world of web apps holds a lot of promise for almost every project and need you can think of and there are tons of options to choose from. So before you decide to write off a task as undoable, look around and try to find a web app which can do it for you. If you find one you like but can’t use for some reason, rest assured that somewhere there is an alternative to help you out.

  • Browse Categories


  • Super Monitoring

    Superhero-powered monitoring of website or web application availability & performance


    Try it our for free

    or learn more
This website uses cookie files to improve user experience. If you don't approve, please turn off the cookie usage in your browser settings. close