Posts Tagged ‘web applications’

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 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

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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.

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