Learn about the Web-based software applications that will serve your business well.
Well, my friends, this is the second to last article for The Digital Marketer. Even good things sometimes come to an end. But don't despair, later in this article I'll tell you how you can find me and follow my new digital adventures.
On to my favorite Web apps.
There seems to be an app for just about everything we need, but we tend to hone in on the ones that are really, really useful. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a few applications that rock my world. Most of the apps I'll discuss are generally Software as a Service offerings, and there are new ones popping up every day, so it's a real testament to how good a product is if it's still relevant six months to a year after you first start using it.
What is Software as a Service?
Software as a Service--or SaaS as it is sometimes known-- is a model of offering or selling software online that you can use from any computer connected to the Internet. You and your team can access features and functionality to get something done or support the work you're doing. Some common types of software solutions where you can subscribe to SaaS include:
• Expense reports
• Task management
• Project management
• Group collaboration
Not all software comes with services and not all services offered online include software, however, more and more people are becoming accustomed to moving away from the desktop to beginning to work in “the cloud,” which means working entirely online. Cloud working can consist of many SaaS offerings.
Some Saas is free whereas others use a pay as you go model. Still others will charge per user or a premium price for additional features or services, usually with several levels of cost.
Useful Web-Based Apps
I'm always looking for innovative solutions to common work problems. These are a few of my favorite things. Yeah, you knew I'd be looking for any reason to break into Karaoke!
My virtual team faces the challenge of collaborating on documents and projects without ever meeting face to face. Though I've tested several collaboration and project management solutions, including one called 5pm, we've recently switched over to Glasscubes. I'd have to say Glasscubes is currently my number one application. We pay about $125 US per month for unlimited users and 20 workspaces.
Though Glasscubes is a little pricier than 5pm--where we were paying $48 per month --the thing I love about Glasscubes is that their product was created to be a virtual workspace where virtual teams can have discussions, archive files and assign tasks. The space and collaboration comes first with Glasscubes. Most other project management software offerings in the cloud start with the project management part and tend to feel less like a space and more like a filing cabinet with a calendar attached.
A suite of cloud-working tools that are still an integral part of my daily work routine is Google Apps. My team uses Gmail as their email tool, we upload and share documents and spreadsheets via Google Docs, we use Google Sites to create wikis for each of our clients, and Google Forms to build forms both for internal use, such as process checklists, and external use, such as quick surveys. And now that I'm thinking about this, parts of Google Apps may be redundant applications based on what Glasscubes offers us, and yet I'm having a hard time phasing out my Google Apps.
Quickbooks or Freshbooks
For accounting, my company uses Quickbooks software and are currently exploring Quickbook's ramped up online version. For my freelance work, I'm returning to Freshbooks, which I find much more intuitive than Quickbooks. I stopped using Freshbooks once I took on a bookkeeper who preferred Quickbooks. Using Freshbooks again is like returning to a familiar friend, and when it comes to invoicing and managing my accounts, I definitely need a friendly solution.
The Best Apps to Manage Messaging
A different daily need I have at work is to manage my messaging in social networks. Because I'm a creature of habit, I use one product on my iPhone and another with my Web browser and they aren't always the same software.
My main messaging need besides email is posting to Twitter and not just to one but to over a dozen Twitter accounts that I either own or co-tweet with others. I use Tweetie on my iPhone--the company that was just acquired by Twitter--and actually prefer the older version to the newer one, which goes back to my “familiar” comment. Once I get used to a software, I tend to keep using it and not upgrading when I find the upgrades to be less than helpful to me. I'm stubborn that way.
Though I've tried the desktop Twitter product Tweetdeck , and I keep promising myself I'll try Seesmic Desktop, I find firing up additional software tedious when I already have my Web browser open--which could be one reason I love working in the cloud when I can access all my work through my browser.
I've been trying out Hootsuite lately, and it's a social network communications management solution. I am slowly finding that I turn to it when I want to Tweet beyond my main Twitter account. Hootsuite also lets me post to other social networking accounts such as Facebook, but in typical form, I tend to underutilize the robust features of many software products and only use what I think I need.
Bottom Line: There are many software products out there to help you do what you do, and there is no single right or wrong way to determine which ones to use. Blending offerings from your desktop and the cloud can bring you some of the best solutions to solve your work problems. Now if they could only invent a software product to keep me on track with my exercise regime. Wait! There's an app for that!
That's all we have time for today.
Because this is the second to last show of The Digital Marketer, I'm starting a new podcast called the Zen of Being Digital based on my upcoming book The Zen of Being Digital: Finding Peace in the Spaces Between. You can find more information about this project at zenofdigital.com or twitter.com/zenofdigital.
And if you're on Facebook, please stay in touch by liking my personal page at facebook.com/alizapilarsherman.
Or follow me on Twitter.com/alizasherman to get links to the latest information about digital marketing and social media.
Hey, you can hire me as a keynote speaker or seminar leader at your next event. I recently spoke at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco and received really positive feedback. And did I mention: I wear a pink tiara and boa so you know you won't be bored! For bookings, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Digital Marketer's Quick and Dirty Tips for Building Your Business With Web Tools is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com. I'm your host, Aliza Sherman, signing off for now...and soon, forever.
Tune in for another business boost from The Digital Marketer, the host who's not afraid to go under the Internet's hood & get a little dirty!
Glasscubes – http://www.glasscubes.com
5pm – http://www.5pmweb.com
QuickBooks – http://www.quickbooks.com
Freshbooks – http://www.freshbooks.com
Google Apps – http://www.google.com/a
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com
Tweetie – http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-iphone/
Hootsuite – http://www.hootsuite.com
TweetDeck – http://www.tweetdeck.com
Seesmic Desktop – http://www.seesmic.com
Apps image courtesy of Shutterstock