All posts tagged “Managing”

Managing application dependancies: top tools

Read more about Managing application dependancies: top tools at CreativeBloq.com


Managing your application’s dependencies can be painful, so it’s no surprise that almost all languages have package management solutions. Most people will have heard of NPM when it was associated with Node.js, but there are also options available to client-side JavaScript and other client-side technologies. Here are four tools that should make your life easier.




Creative Bloq

Managing Joomla Multi-blog Site: Reality or a Dream

Running two blogs on one website has become possible with the help of functional Joomla extensions. Regardless your site ‘size,’ you can make its multi-user, multi-blog.
MonsterPost

Managing Pinterest Pins And Boards For Business

Pinterest has been rolling out new features recently which changes the way things are done on the image-sharing site. This makes it a platform to consider in many social media marketers’ strategy as well as the platform to utilize for businesses. Some of these features such as Promoted Pins are especially catered for small and medium-sized businesses.

pinterest

If you are starting out on Pinterest and are not familiar with its various functions, you can start learning about what Pinterest has set up specially for businesses. Additionally, here are 5 more tips to help you better manage Pinterest’s pins and boards for your business.

1. Write Descriptions On Boards And Pins

It may be true that a picture is worth a thousand words and it is a lot more attention-grabbing than lines after lines of writing, however, your boards and pins still need descriptions. A description will give your customers a clearer idea of what they can find and expect from your board. Descriptions also turn up in Pinterest search.

descriptions

The character limit for both Board and Pin descriptions are 500 characters. Make full use of it.

Tip: when pinning from external sources, highlight that image’s description. It will automatically add the highlighted text to your pin description. Also, remember to credit the source.

2. Categorize And Organize Boards

Categorized Boards will be under Pinterest categories, which you can access under the drop down menu, next to Search. This gives your pins more exposure and they will reach those who are not following you. By categorizing your Boards, you are indirectly organizing them; this helps people identify which Boards to browse for the pins they are looking for.

More ways to organize your Boards include:

  1. Rearranging them. To rearrange your Boards, first go to your profile. Once there, simply drag your boards into the order that you want them in.
  2. Place important Boards on top. This way you are indirectly telling people that these are the Boards they should check out first.
  3. Edit Board covers. To edit the Board cover, first hover on your Board. A ‘Change Cover’ button will appear for you to click on. Select a new one and adjust its placement.

categorizeboards

3. Use Secret Boards For Product Launches

Secret Boards are private boards that only you have access to. Pinners have been using Secret Boards to pin and share pins privately. You could too but here’s an idea: why not use your Secret Board as a product launch platform? This is useful if you don’t want your competitors to know what you are up to and it is a better way to unveil your surprise when you make the board public.

FYI you have an unlimited supply of Secret Boards. Here’s how to work one:

  1. To create a Secret Board, go through the normal steps of creating a board by clicking on the + button at the top right.
  2. Fill in the necessary details in the appropriate fields.
  3. At the last section called Keep it a secret?, enable the option as Yes. Once done, click the Create Board button.
  4. To make a Secret Board public, click Edit on the board. Turn the setting from Yes to No. Save your changes.

secretboard

4. Use Rich Pins

Rich Pins, introduced in 2013 are basically pins that contain information rather than a link or path to a source that bears that information. Pinterest came up with 5 Rich Pins, each with a specific purpose:

1. Product Pins contain information on how much a product costs, whether there are stocks available, and a link on where to purchase it from. This is ideal for online businesses and serves as a way to market your wares. The pin also announces to your followers if the price for a product goes down.

productpin

2. Place Pins comes with a map, address and phone number. Don’t just use it to state your location or your branches and franchises, if any. If you are a travel brand, have fun with it by compiling a list of places your pinnners can go. Additionally you can use it to announce where warehouse sales or events are taking place at.

3. Movie Pins not only has rating and review features but also state the cast members and the director. Perfect if you are in the movie industry though even if you are not, you can still use them to share movies to your followers so that they feel more connected to you.

4. Article Pins contain an article’s headline, link and a story description. You can link followers and pinners to related articles about your business or even interesting stories that you just want to share. This pin is ideal for sharing in-house articles too.

articlepin

Recipe Pins give all the information you would find in a cookbook like ingredients, cooking times and serving info. If you are in the Food and Beverage industry, you can share simple free recipes with your audience, something your kitchen-savvy followers would appreciate and probably repin.

richpins

Use the Rich Pins appropriately depending on your type of business. To apply for and to use Rich Pins, read this link.

5. Invest In and use promoted pins

Promoted Pins are Pinterest’s form of paid advertising that is still slowly being rolled out since its launch in May 12, 2014. What’s interesting about it is that instead of only benefitting big corporations, the Promoted Pins also caters to small and medium-sized businesses that follows the self-service model.

It is still undergoing tests, however Pinterest did state that the tool would enable businesses to promote the pins themselves and that the pins will be available on a cost-per-click basis through ads.pinterest.com. As it’s still a relatively new feature, it is only available for US-based businesses for now. If you would like access to Promoted Pins, sign up here.

promotedpin





hongkiat.com

4 excellent techniques for managing your developers

Read more about 4 excellent techniques for managing your developers at CreativeBloq.com


As my career in web development has progressed, its focus has continued to shift ever increasingly towards management of developers. The more time I spent leading and managing developers, the more I started to recognise behaviour patterns (and foibles!) that they are particularly susceptible to. Using my experience as a developer, and learning through trial and error from those who I was tasked with managing, has allowed me to continually tailor my management style to nurture and gain the best possible results.




Creative Bloq

Managing Multiple Drafts Easily in Jekyll

Despite of only being a static website, we can utilize a plugin in Jekyll too. Let’s continue our discussion on creating drafts from the previous post. As you can see before – in the previous post – we created the drafts and put them within a special folder called _drafts first.

Then, as we are ready to publish it, we move them to the _posts folder with the proper naming format.

It sounds easy right? it should be no problem if you’d only manage 1 or 2 post drafts. But, when you have 5-10 post drafts, changing each file name, and specifying the correct date by hand can be a pain. Let’s take a look how we can simplify the workflow with a Jekyll plugin.

Getting Started

Before we go any further, let’s create a new folder named _plugins; this folder is required as Jekyll will search and execute plugins from within the folder. We also need to create a new file named publisher.rb in it; technically, you can freely name that file with any name you like.

We will be using a Jekyll plugin created by Jeffrey Sambells. This plugin will take care of the hassle when publishing a post from a draft in Jekyll. It will rename the file properly, along with the date. And it will also specify the date within the post Front Matter section.

The following is the source code of the plugin, available from this Gist page. Copy this code below and paste it to the publisher.rb file that we have just created.

 module Jekyll class PostPublisher < Generator safe false def replace(filepath, regexp, *args, &block) content = File.read(filepath).gsub(regexp, *args, &block) File.open(filepath, 'wb') { |file| file.write(content) } end def generate(site) @files = Dir["_publish/*"] @files.each_with_index { |f,i| now = DateTime.now.strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S") replace(f, /^date: unpublished/mi) { |match| "date: \"" + now + "\"" } now = Date.today.strftime("%Y-%m-%d") File.rename(f, "_posts/#{now}-#{File.basename(f)}") } end end end 

If your Jekyll server is currently running, restart it for the plugin to work.

Using the Plugin

To use the plugin, we need to create a new folder named _publish. We will move our post drafts to this folder, once we are ready to publish it. However, before doing so, set the date in the post draft’s front matter to unpublished, like so

 --- layout: post title: "This is My Second Post" date: unpublished --- 

Now, move the draft to the _publish folder.

jekyll-plugin/

As mentioned, Jekyll will automatically move the folder to _posts as well as set the post date, then publish the post for you.

Final Thought

We have seen that Jekyll is extensible with a plugin. In this post, for instance, we used one to simplify the process of publishing a draft. You can find more Jekyll plugins in this page: Available Plugins.

Now that we have learned how to setup Jekyll, and publish a post draft. In the next post, we will show you how to publish Jekyll blog to an online server via FTP. Stay tuned!





hongkiat.com

Managing Content You See in WordPress Preview Mode [WordPress Tip]

If you are a regular WordPress user who publish posts regularly, the Preview mode needs no introduction. We use it often to preview our posts as we write, or to do a final check before we hit the publish button. But do you know there is actually more that we can do in this mode?

WordPress has a tag called is_preview which provides flexibility in adding or removing content and codes while the content is viewed under Preview mode. You can display notifications or even hide certain content using simple code snippets like the ones below.

Displaying Notification in Preview Mode

An example of a real-life application for is_preview tag would be for displaying a notification.

For example: when previewing post, WordPress does not show anything that tells the users that they are in Preview Mode. We can use this tag to display a notification that what is seen is in Preview mode.

Using is_preview tag, we can write some thing like this in the header.php of the theme.

 <?php if(is_preview() ) : ?> <div class="alert alert-info"> <strong>Note:</strong> You are previewing this post. This post has not yet been published. </div> <?php endif; ?> 

The code above will show the notification only when we are in preview mode. Add some CSS styles, so that it looks nice, like so.

Hiding Ads/Analytics in Preview Mode

Another case would be for delivering Ads and Analytic codes. If you use AdSense and Google Analytics you can hide them in Preview Mode. This will minimize accidental clicking of your own ads (which is against the Google AdSense TOS), as well as the tracking of your own visit by Google Analytics.

In addition, it will also be useful for ads that count on pageview too, the advertisers will see more accurate pageview count as we hide their ads during the Preview Mode.

To hide ads, you can add the following code.

 <?php if(!is_preview()) : ?> // Ads Code <?php endif; ?> 

The ! notation that came before the is_preview tag that you see above will negate the condition, so it will show the ads only when we are not in Preview Mode.

For Google Analytics, insert the following code in the header.php or footer.php.

 <?php if(!is_preview() && !is_admin()) : ?> // Google Analytics Code <?php endif; ?> 

Notice that I’ve also added the is_admin tag. This addition will also remove Google Analytics when we are logged in as Administrator.

We hope that you find these little pieces of code useful and will save these snippets for use, if needed. If you have any question regarding this topic, feel free to ask in the comments area.


    




hongkiat.com

How to Not Suck at Managing Your Time


Discipline is the mother of all things worthwhile: innovation, strength, wealth, health, knowledge, and of course…success. If you have any intention whatsoever of reaching your goal of becoming a successful web professional, then you must get disciplined about your time.

Before you think this is going to shape out to be some kind of lecture, I would like to confess: I am a terrible manager of time. I suffer from SOS, or Shiny Object Syndrome.

Being a sales junky, I love opportunities. I crave to chase a deal and win. This makes managing my time difficult. But, the more discipline I have found over the years, not only have I achieved greater success, but I’ve also had a lot more fulfilling experience in life and my business.

Early in my web design career, I had no idea how to manage my time. I woke up in the morning and just thought, “I need to get to work.” The result was that I overworked in certain areas of my business and underworked in others.

The Rollercoaster of Feast & Famine

I’m sure you’ve been there…tons of projects, working hard, just trying to get everything done. Then you finish a bunch of work and realize that there is nothing new in the pipe.

“But I felt so busy? Where did it all go?”

This happened to me over and over. I would win a bunch of business and then get to work. I would completely forget about selling, marketing, and anything except the task at hand.

The bad habit created gaps in my cashflow. One of the early stage issues we had was rollercoaster cashflow. One month we would make a big paycheck, and then it would be dry while we went out and hunted for new business.

Part of this problem is understanding how to divide and conquer roles if you have others to rely on. But if it’s just you, then you need to divide your time up into the various roles of your business.

Because I lacked the knowledge about how to keep a balanced business focus, I really struggled to get out of the feast and famine cycle. This cycle can be vicious. Unfortunately I have known several web pros that had to bail on their businesses because the famine cycle hit to hard and they had to get real jobs.

Assuming you want to exit the bumpy roller coaster and jump into a sweet uphill ride to prosperity, the following is my prescription to help you conquer lack of discipline and time management.

Dump Your Memory

The first step in finding discipline in your business is to stop using your brain to store valuable information about your tasks and priorities.

Our brains are great for processing information, making decisions, and being creative. What they aren’t so good at is storing a ton of information. Web design and internet marketing are detail oriented jobs. Lots of little tasks pile up fast.

It’s a waste of time and energy to use your brain to try to keep track of all of that information.

If you aren’t familiar with Getting Things Done (or GTD), I suggest looking into it. I have developed kind of my own Cliff Notes version that I’ve implemented in my own life.

The keystone concept is that you create lists for everything. And I mean, everything. I use Trello to manage my lists and have also incorporated concepts from Ryan Carson on how to organize my board.

My primary board is called CEO, for my job title. It is my task board. I’ve created the following lists:

Later
These are things that are low priority. But, I don’t want to forget them. I might take care of a later item while sitting in the waiting area of the DMV or waiting in line at the Post Office. Later is not about “long term vision,” it’s about, “I’ll get to it.”

This Week
These are items that I need to get done within the next 1-2 weeks. This is where you should add priority tasks as they come in.

Today
What you are actively working on/getting done. Ideally you are dragging items over from This Week to your Today board. Sometimes it gets a little hectic though. I tend to find myself in a lot of meetings with a lot of people with many items competing for my today time. Be realistic.

Waiting On
Any task that is out of your hands, but not completed yet goes here. This list has been one of the best inventions in my life. It allows me to keep tabs on projects or tasks that I don’t need to focus on, but not quite ready to forget about yet.

[MM/DD/YYYY]
I create a list for every Friday of every week. The most recent week always hugs up against my Waiting On list. As I complete tasks, I move them over to my done list for that week. I keep the most recent 6 weeks of completed weeks active on my CEO board before I archive.

Here is what my board currently looks like today (I didn’t tidy anything up, it is what it is).

Maintenance

I started with Ryan Carson’s approach, but as you can see from above, I slightly modified it to fit my work habits. As you begin to use Trello to manage your work tasks, modify it to work for you. One thing I have learned is that it’s easy to over-add to my CEO board. I always want to do more.

But sometimes that can feel overwhelming and I can find a lot of noise getting mixed into things that need real prioritizing. On a daily level, you should re-prioritize your This Week and Today lists. Weekly, go in and do some pruning. Remove things that are possible distractions or not critical to you moving your business forward.

Other Boards

As you get the hang of dumping your tasks and priorities to Trello, I recommend adding some other boards so you can create even more space in your brain.

Here are a few of mine:

Ideas
Ever wake up in the middle of the night with a crazy product, service, or company idea? I get that out of my head as soon as possible. I write a subject and then comment on the card to add some depth to whatever the idea is. I have written some crazy things down, but have found that getting these out of my head creates space for the next, not so crazy idea. On my ideas board, I have lists for my blog, questions from fans for our Q & A Thursday series, and each website I operate. This board gives me a great place to turn to when it’s time to brainstorm. I don’t have to sit there saying, “I had this great idea! But I can’t remember, give me a minute…” I always have the idea ready.

Movies/Books/Music/Articles
I hate hunting down new material when it comes to learning and entertainment. I live on recommendations from others. The problem is that I can never remember that title or author or website to check when I actually have downtime. I created this board and have corresponding lists for each time of content. I just checked my board and saw “One Republic” in my music column…can’t remember where I heard them, but I just hit play on “Counting Stars” and it’s fantastic.

Projects
At uGurus, we’ve begun creating Trello boards for projects and group collaboration. It’s not quite as fancy as some of the PM tools out there, and we still use Podio for external contributor collaboration, but the simplicity makes it an excellent way to manage tasks in a group environment. Each project we do as a team gets a board and we assign cards to people involved at the micro level.

Once you’ve dumped your memory to Trello, you are going to free up a lot of brain power to do the things that are important to your business.

Creating Sanctuaries of Balance

No matter where you are at in your web practice, you’ll need to create time to do all of the following:

  • Market -Getting in front of qualified prospects
  • Sell – Interacting with a qualified prospect
  • Produce – Creating whatever it is you sold
  • Support – Maintaining projects you’ve already built
  • Operations – Billing, systems, and overhead

All of these components will affect your overall business health. If you neglect any of them for a sustained period of time, you will run into problems.

Let’s take sales for example. If it takes you on average three weeks to go from prospect to signed deal with a check in your hand, that means you are at least three weeks from getting income once you actually meet a qualified prospect. If you keep your head down in a project and neglect your sales pipeline, than you are at least three weeks out from a new project once you pull your head up.

Add on to that the time it takes you to find a qualified prospect (marketing). If that is two weeks, then you are at five weeks before your next deposit check.

However, if all you do is sell, the existing projects you’ve taken on might get a little stinky and end up blowing up in your face.

Striking a balance is key.

When I consult with web professionals, one of the first tactics I introduce them to is time tracking. Not just for their projects, but for all aspects of their business. Time tracking doesn’t mean that you need to necessarily get a time logger or something.

The simplest way to track your time is to plan your time.

This becomes a bit of a numbers game. If you are aiming at $ 100,000 per year income, you need to bill about $ 2,000 per week which equals 20 hours at $ 100 per hour.

(If those aren’t your numbers, just mess with them to make them work for your business.)

So you know that you need to carve out 50% of your forty hour work week to production. Which leaves the other 50% for the other activities I mentioned. Since support should be production and a profitable part of it, you need to fit marketing, sales, and operations into the other 50% of your activities.

My recommendation would be to do 20% sales, 10% marketing, and 10% operations. That should add up to 90% of your week. The remaining 10% should be allocated to personal time.

Here is that schedule balanced on your calendar.

This calendar represents 40 hours of productivity with an hour for lunch each day (not part of the 40 hours). If you get busy, and you need to dedicate more time to production, then just turn the above into a 45 or 50 hour week.

What I wouldn’t suggest is to start carving into sales, marketing, and ops time in order to get projects done. This will only lead to future pain when you finish your project and you enter your famine cycle.

The above example can be reworked to fit your work cycle. Personally, I wake up at 6am, do some stretches and exercises, eat breakfast, and am in the saddle by 7:30am. I typically work until 6pm. This gives me a fifty hour workweek. A lot of times I pull a late night shift to take care of things I didn’t get to during the day but still want to wrap up.

As You Evolve Past the One-Man-Band

The time management exercise I just took you through assumes that you are a one man show, but the core concept remains the same as you bring on others into your enterprise.

Managing your time isn’t just about tracking it, but planning for it. Making sure that you are fulfilling all of your “hats” to the best of your abilities. If you bring on additional team members who start doing production work for you, then that time might surrender to more time selling and marketing to fill the pipe for your expanding team.

Since selling my web company last year and shifting gears to helping web professionals build successful businesses at uGurus, I still use a rough version of the above.

Instead of producing websites, I produce online courseware. Instead of writing emails to my clients, I write emails to our subscribers. I know that if I don’t block out two hours every morning for writing blog posts, I won’t ever get to it. My email box is always calling my name. If I don’t block out time to do video interviews, course planning, and support every other day, I will let other things get in the way.

When you dump your memory to Trello and keep a balanced diet of your priorities, you’ll begin to wrangle in that time management beast.

So what are you waiting for?

Setup your Trello board. Dump all of your todos and nagging ideas to lists. Define your hats. Commit a percentage of time to each. Create an overlay calendar so that you can schedule your meetings, priorities, and time to fit your intentions.

This will get you out of the feast and famine cycle and on track to a more fulfilled business and life.


How to Not Suck at Managing Your Time


Speckyboy Design Magazine

Tools for Managing Web Projects – Best Of

With the ever-growing market of tech startups, Web apps and in-browser tools have become extremely popular among developers, designers, freelancers, and project managers. Over time these tools progressed and we now seen the release of desktop software, mobile apps, and even greater possibilities.

project management

For this article I have collected dozens of various online resources from different topics which are useful to creative professionals. The tools are geared towards website projects, but can certainly be applied into almost any technology-based field.

You will find apps for e-mail marketing, task management, cloud IDEs, and so much more. The growth is practically endless and I would expect to see more evolution over the coming years.

Code Management

In past releases of different open source projects the codes have been published on blogs and personal websites. But this method of sharing is not always the easiest, and it does not allow for contributions. I find these couple of tools for managing project codes are the absolute best solutions for a lone developer or teams of coders.

Github

Github and more specifically the Git version control system features an elegant way of managing project codes. Git is more lucrative than Subversion and provides an easier installation process for newbies. Creating new branches is very simple and there is no fear of accidentally losing your hard work.

One reason I highly recommend using Github for hosting your projects is because they have been doing it for so long. Their (free) tools are just simply the best – you have access to a user wiki, Q&A support, push requests, and free webpage hosting for your documentation files. The network is teeming with developers and it is an excellent resource for both submitting and checking out new projects.

Beanstalk

I do not see Beanstalk mentioned as frequently as Github, but it is still a really nice service for newer Internet launches. Their target is geared towards private repositories with a potential team of developers collaborating in the backend. They support Git, Mercurial, and Subversion to handle version control on your project. The features list is quite expansive and even includes multiple choices for live deployment onto a web server!

beanstalk code management webapp services

If you have never heard of Beanstalk I must recommend at least glancing over their website. I think any dev team could greatly benefit from their service, especially for more complicated projects which will need a large number of revisions after launching online.

Bitbucket

Another alternative to Github is Bitbucket which also has free unlimited repo hosting for open source projects. You can pay for a private API key and server space, but this is not required. Bitbucket is also multi-user and supports Git or Mercurial. The best reason to push for Bitbucket is when building with a team of developers who don’t want to shell out money. The amount of internal resources and their online guides make this product irresistible.

Task Management

Anybody who is familiar with managing any creative project will understand the necessity of a to-do list. Moving into the digital era we can expect not just a cool webapp, but connections with other members in our team. Think about shared project lists where tasks may be designated to specific users. These are the best tools-of-the-trade for getting your tasks organized.

Trello

Although I have only spent a short time using Trello it is currently all the buzz among digital task enthusiasts. Their dashboard is extremely easy to manage and the signup process is very quick. Although the terminology can get a bit confusing, the Trello tour page can answer a lot of common questions.

trello todo list website webapp services

One thing I specifically like about Trello is the ability to work with other people in your team. New projects are designated their own Board which contains to-dos or internal sub-boards. Tasks can be classified as To-Do, Doing, and Done. The interface may seem strange at first but give it a shot and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Do

The name is really simple, but the concept of task management is no easy idea. The webapp Do is really easy to use and focuses greatly on team management. Delegate tasks out to different users on various projects. All of your calendars and contacts will sync to display for other members in your group.

homepage landing 2013 design do saas startup tasks list management

Do isn’t necessary for just a single user; the UI might be a bit overkill. But their features are tremendous for any design agency or creative studio. Surprisingly you can integrate Google accounts like Gmail and Google Drive right into the application. If you want to demo their features just sign up using a free plan and test the waters.

Basecamp

Having used Basecamp for many years I still like to include this with the other solutions. The ability to create your own teams and organize tasks dedicated to specific users is very handy. And each project has discussions and calendars for everybody to access. You can host text docs or similar resources which need to be shared among members, and ultimately Basecamp is just the most notable way for bridging gaps for teams and single users.

More Resources:

Payment Processing

Many new tech startups are handling payments from alternatives outside of PayPal. The realm of digital transactions now requires backend support for APIs on credit, or 3rd party vendors as well. These tools are made specifically for developers who need to handle online payments without building everything from scratch.

Stripe

The extremely popular payment API Stripe has been gaining a lot of recognition. In the past year I have seen this mentioned countless times by other CEOs and startup teams who have been struggling with alternatives for payment. Their API is very easy to understand and works well using any backend language.

stripe payment api gateway online services website

I remember they do support a wide variety of both webapps and mobile apps. You can check the documentation page if you want to read a bit more. They even offer a Stripe Connect feature which would provide a quick checkout process for any sales. Out of all the solutions available, I have been incredibly excited to see a company like Stripe getting some real attention.

Paymill

The Paymill website is definitely impressive along with their support docs. The payments are handled via credit or debit cards, along with more gateways coming in the near future. The greatest asset is their vast plugin library which supports Drupal and VirtueMart, among other services.

It certainly isn’t perfect but Paymill can fit into general eCommerce stores without much hassle during the installation.

Braintree

I think Braintree is one of the more adopted gateways for web developers. Their listed clients include Github, Angry Birds, 37Signals, and some other big-name tech brands. Very recently they published a new blog post about frontend JavaScript authentication which is even easier to setup.

The dashboard is also extremely easy to use for newcomers, and I would recommend Braintree as a perfect choice when digging for a simple payment solution.

More Resources:

Data Logging

Admittedly data logs are certainly not useful to everybody. I feel that logging applications provide a deep analysis of traffic and issues within the server. It can help if you are testing updates or changes to your code. Or if you are expecting upticks in traffic and users on the frontend of your website.

These resources may be hosted externally and will procure all of your logs in an orderly fashion.

Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic is a newer startup in the field which offers a very nice service. The log data is presented in an easy-to-skim dashboard interface with charts and numbers. You can easily pinpoint related problems over the recent data queries and organize this information as needed.

And everything is stored within the cloud so you do not need to worry about local disk space. To answer further questions check out their FAQ page.

sumo logic website interface webapp startup

Logstash

The cute design of Logstash will stand out among the other data logging companies. Logstash is completely open source and free to distribute on any number of servers to manage. The installation will take some time, but their features are impeccable for a self-hosted solution.

logstash website open source logging platform api

You will get access to an entire dashboard area which holds all your past logs. This data can be reorganized in any fashion you like, and you can even search logs for a date or reference key. The latest documentation page is also full of great info. This logging system is not for the average user but it grants more control than other alternatives. Plus you cannot beat open source!

Papertrail

The Papertrail App has been mentioned a lot for producing very good quality logs. They are also a cloud-based hosting platform where you can login to access all the statistics from your web server. I feel their price ranges are generally higher than Sumo Logic because of the flat rate per month.

Sumo will only charge users for what they use, so lighter companies end up paying much less. Papertrail is better suited to handle intensive loads and working with a team of server admins or website developers.

More Resources:

Dashboard Analytics

I think dashboards are the most truly interesting web applications of 2013. These tools provide access to all the important data within your company. This may pertain to split testing, e-mail signups, monthly traffic, or any number of metrics. A dashboard is one useful product for measuring the overall success of your project based on hard numerical data statistics.

Mixpanel

mixpanel services startup company analytics dashboard homepage

When I think of dashboard applications I immediately think about Mixpanel. They have been online for a few years and have proven a great track records for analytics lovers. This is a wonderful service when you need to record visitor interactions on your website. Possibly checking for new signups or user retention rates. Their free account is very reasonable and quickly introduces you to the world of dashboard analytics.

DigMyData

The reason I had to include DigMyData into this list is for their ability to connect with a multitude of networks. Businesses need to access a majority of their stats by visiting different websites. However the dashboard from DigMyData can include payments from a number of services like PayPal, Google Checkout, and Stripe.

dig my data startup website homepage services

Plus you can include API keys for your MailChimp, Aweber, or Campaign Monitor accounts. Google Analytics also has a connection method and you can even import documents/spreadsheets from Google Drive. DigMyData is more of a colossus dashboard where you can go for all your company statistics at once. Pretty cool if you have the time!

Instrumental

The Instrumental dashboard app is a little more tech-savvy in comparison with the other two. Most of the charts will monitor your server usage and disk space, along with CPU speeds and other digitized information. This service will be useful to a few companies who value high-proficiency in technology.

However their prices are also not as forgiving. Instrumental is a tool which is nice to know exists, but certainly isn’t required in all projects.

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Customer Support

Startups and newer websites which offer direct support may eventually become bogged down with requests. If you are selling products or services, you will need a way to handle issues from your customers.

This is a big area for webapps which includes at least a dozen or more choices, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try out products until you find one that works for you.

Intercom

Anybody who has read into customer support webapps must know about Intercom. Their popularity is of no coincidence after checking out the product. The Intercom administration panel is super easy to use for beginners and experts. This means you do not need to bring techies on board to handle the support tickets and emails.

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You can manage relationships with the company and specific conversations between customers. All of this communication is archived to access at a later date, as needed. You can also setup a small resolution message box for customers to send their thoughts about the website. If you get a chance to skim the documentation you will notice a whole collection of user-centric features.

GrooveHQ

GrooveHQ is another resource which may be considered one seriously cool application. They support mobile phones and tablets, along with desktop web browsers for accessing the support dashboard. Tweets, tickets, and chats can all be managed from within the same window.

Organizing new tickets and assigning them to various tasks will be a piece of cake. The pricing model can get expensive if you have a lot of employees handling tickets. but Groove is definitely perfect for a new smaller startup launch.

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Tender Support

The Tender support app is a more slimmed version of the other two solutions. This is actually a good thing for people who are looking for simplicity. You quickly have access to the Knowledgebase and closing/responding to discussions. My particular quip is how they lack a free plan for new users or customers with a small userbase. But overall Tender is a distinct support app which does include all the core features you would need.

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A/B Testing

A/B split testing has been around for years but the resources for performing these tasks are just getting into the spotlight. I do not think every website layout will require split testing. But playing around in your design can unearth UI/UX trends you had never even considered.

Visual Website Optimizer

I have spent time reading and toying around with Visual Website Optimizer and I am very impressed with the results. VWO has multivariate testing which split URLS along with JavaScript A/B models. You can track statistics like cross-domain visits and even generate screenshots of user activity. Their features are practically endless and it is a very handy application.

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One other important feature to mention is the ability of collaborating in teams. VWO allows for multiple logins and setting permissions based on user accounts. This is the best optimization tool for working within a team of designers/developers.

Optimizely

Optimizely is another young contender in the market which can help move A/B testing off your server. Their backend has a nice drag-and-drop utility which makes handling your changes a breeze. Developers may want to double check codes before running, but it is a lot easier to maintain your website. I would say Optimizely is the best choice for beginners who are not super familiar with split testing. Their backend is quick to traverse and the UI just makes sense.

optimizely website homepage ab testing service startup

File Sharing/Storage

There will be times when you need to share files between computers or with a colleague online. There are Instant Messaging chat systems which allow for directly sending files, but cloud hosting solutions exist for this very reason. The market is still fairly small but growing rapidly.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a free solution which offers a decent amount of server space and great access on all Operating Systems. I feel that most people who need cloud storage are using Dropbox, so it is a very trusted solution. It is definitely more personalized where you can organize content into folders and share them with other users.

Dropbox is best used in a team environment where you need to keep multiple teammates in the loop together. But it can also work great for an individual, it just depends on your needs for a cloud hosting solution.

CloudApp

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I currently use CloudApp every single day for transferring documents and photos between computers. It is a bit messier than Dropbox since all files are listed in a single root folder and organized chronologically. But the library UI allows you to sort contents by images, text, video, audio, archives, and other common filetypes. This is a more stripped-down version of cloud file hosting for quick and effortless uploading/downloading – even from mobile devices!

E-mail Marketing

Methods of contacting users & customers have been reinvented and re-imagined for many purposes, but e-mail is a timeless classic. Campaign marketing does not disrupt users when they are busy. Instead they receive a nice letter within their inbox waiting to be read. These tools will help you manage subscriber lists and to push out newsletters from an e-mail server.

MailChimp

I simply adore MailChimp over similar applications mostly for their amazing customer service and backend dashboard. They have been online for a while and more people have been flocking to the MailChimp crowd. Users will have full control over their e-mail lists and how frequently to send new campaigns.

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Check out their features page if you want to get an overview. The MailChimp templating engine is very solid and it even provides free custom templates you can use as a base foundation. Anybody who knows the pains of coding your own e-mail newsletter from scratch can attest to the helpful nature of pre-built templates. And one of the most important considerations is that MailChimp will remain free if you signup for a free account. There is no trial period, or the trial is just free until you choose to upgrade.

Postmark

Postmark is a different kind of webapp which supports dynamic e-mails sent via APIs. These may be sent out when users purchase something, or sign up to your list, or send an error message after your application crashes. Postmark is a better system for handling automated e-mail which is to be sent out at various times, as opposed to a whole newsletter campaign sent out in bulk mass.

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Issue Tracking

Another void to fill when building new projects is handling errors and bug tracking. There are lots of solutions you may install on your own server, but 3rd party alternatives can be just as good. It depends on your needs as a developer and how many tweaks/bugs you plan to deal with. When scaling a larger web application these error tracking services will save you a lot of headaches.

Sifter

Ever since the launch of Sifter I have been reading their updates on related blogs every so often. Their project management dashboard is quite useful for dealing with pesky bugs in your code. It is possible to implement many projects and once and designate bugs as being fixed by different users in your team.

The unfortunate part is that you only get a 14-day free trial when signing up. Otherwise their paid plans require a monthly charge of $ 29-$ 149 USD.

Sentry

Sentry is my personal recommendation because of their beautiful dashboard and quick installation for any type of business. Website projects and mobile apps can benefit from using Sentry’s features. Most notably you will receive updates in real-time as they are happening in the application. Plus it can work running on dozens of platforms including Java, PHP, Rails, Python, Objective-C, and more.

You may signup for a free 7-day trial period just for testing the waters. I have yet to be disappointed and Sentry runs a solid open source error catching architecture.

Sentry webapp services startup error exception handling online

Coalmine

I had first noticed Coalmine mentioned in a blog post a few months back. Turns out they are another fantastic error handling service which also manages on PHP, Rails, Python, and even Google App Engine. The project is completely open source and hosted on Github if you want to take a peek.

The Coalmine free plan is an excellent place for beginners to get started who are unfamiliar with error handling services.

coalmine app service startup exception handling

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Load Testing

Many social networking websites which scale too quickly often run into trouble. The servers and databases cannot manage an overload of traffic, and over many repeats this can be disastrous to your project with long periods of downtime. Note that viral content is often the cause, but this scenario could happen to nearly any type of website.

These testing tools are useful to developers who are expecting a lot of fluctuations in traffic and need to study how it should be handled.

Load Impact

One of the quickest solutions Load Impact is a testing suite for websites under heavy traffic. You can manage a dashboard of statistics pulled from your server after running distinct connection tests. Their features will help determine bugs in your code which may be causing issues with loading times. Check out their list of features to get a better idea of what Load Impact can offer.

Selenium

Selenium is not a cloud-based solution as Load Impact, but instead offers a totally different spin on testing for high bandwidth. You can download the Selenium plugin to install in your browser for automating specific tasks related to load management. Things like user logins, updating avatar photos, posting comments, or similar tasks. It is not as straightforward as a self-hosted application but Selenium is very popular among the development community.

Cloud-Based Code Editing

A lot of my small ideas for user interfaces are crafted within cloud environments. There are plenty of tools which allow you to build a fully customizable HTML/CSS/JS webpage, using nothing but an Internet connection and a web browser. These cloud IDEs are great for coding on-the-go and for sharing your quick ideas with other developers.

Cloud9

I don’t think that Cloud9 gets enough mention for all the features that they offer. You can signup for a free account and still use a small bit of server space for testing your applications. Cloud9 is a fully integrated IDE where you may connect into projects hosted on your Github or Bitbucket account.

c9.io cloud9 github cool kitten project management user profile sharing

But Cloud9 is even cooler when you consider that they offer full app hosting for beta testing and planning new features. The premium account costs $ 12/month and you will be granted access to a litany of additional member features, extra HDD space, and the ability to share codes with other members. You may build & test static HTML or even dynamic PHP webpages. Check out their features page to learn a bit more.

jsFiddle

The amazing jsFiddle is definitely not a replicate of Cloud9. But instead a simpler resource for building & testing website interfaces without desktop software. The signup is free and allows you to save projects online which you may revisit later. The publishing system is version controlled much like Git where you may update projects and reset the master root.

All new Fiddles are public by default so it is easy to share links with other developers or post them to your website/blog.

jsfiddle website ui coding cloud hosting projects open source

JS Bin

Another worthwhile mention is JS Bin which has a very similar interface as jsFiddle. The output panel will display your updates and you have the option of switching between the various display settings. The default setup only shows HTML and Output, but you can toggle CSS and JavaScript codes from the toolbar buttons. JS Bin is also free to signup and public for sharing your codes online.

Social Media Sharing

Networking and marketing is a huge part of any successful business. And social media is currently the pinnacle of viral content. These tools are extremely beneficial to keep on top of your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Additionally you may signup to use other services, such as YouTube or Pinterest. Each product has its own benefits and you’ll have to consider a few options to weigh out the pros and cons.

Hootsuite

The HootSuite library has been around for a while and contains a lot of variety. You can schedule posts to publish in the future and organize content like retweets or new user comments. Even better is the introduction of HootSuite teams where you may incorporate different team members into a single account.

social networking marketing hootsuite package tweets facebook sharing

They offer a free plan which allows a basic level of 5 different social profiles. You can access the majority of their features just on the free plan, but consider the other options if you need HootSuite as an enterprise marketing system.

Buffer

An alternative is Buffer which performs many of the same capabilities as HootSuite. I really enjoy using Buffer App because of the simplicity of getting started. You can sign up very quickly and attach all of your related social profiles. Additionally they have extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and even offer mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Buffer webapp management facebook twitter social media profiles

SocialFlow

SocialFlow is an interesting product which handles marketing content a bit differently from the other services. You can track conversations and shared links in real time as they appear on networks. Users will have access to graphs and tables which correlate to your natural social marketing trends. The project is currently in beta testing, however you may request a demo to see what is coming in the very near future.

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Closing Thoughts

The process of building and launching a website has changed quite a bit in the past decade. It is now much easier to handle development updates and sharing project changes with your teammates. The vast number of helpful resources online is a crucial step in the right direction towards garnering more control over your web projects.

But there is certainly no way that I could imagine every useful tool for online businesses. These resources are a huge guide looking forward into 2013 but it is only my collective experience. I would love to see additional suggestions and resources in the comments area. Plus if you are using any similar tools for your own projects it would be great to read personal reviews from developers and founders.

    


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Bigger, faster stronger: managing more efficient redesigns

In the fast-paced world of web design, you can no longer settle on a single creative idea and carry out an entire web project based on that one premise. The key to becoming a successful web designer is being able to adapt and quickly change your projects based on shifting requirements and continuous client feedback. While this may seem like an inefficient process, it actually allows you to work more effectively and achieve a more impressive and satisfying result from your design time. Here’s how to manage your redesigns more efficiently.

Test Often

In order to prevent the need to backtrack at the end of a project to work out any bugs, it’s extremely important to test your site’s functionality often. This means you test as you work – not just when you’re finished. One way to do this is to borrow from a software development practice called continuous integration. This method is based on the frequent integration of development team members’ work – at least once a day – to avoid integration problems. Each integration is then verified and tested by automation, and any issues can be quickly discovered and fixed so they can continue working.

This concept can be applied to your web design work. Especially in the development stage of your process, you should test the functionality of each addition you make. This includes interactive elements, links and browser compatibility. If you run into any problems, you can make fixing them part of your workflow. This makes your work much more efficient than reaching the end of a project and moving backward to find bugs in your site’s functionality.

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Be Agile

It’s a designer’s nightmare to finish a web project, only to have the client decide they want a major overhaul of the whole design (although, you should have contracts in place to prevent this). But another way to avoid this misunderstanding and also to promote a positive communication system is to adopt the Agile method. This is a type of project management that uses a cyclical approach to moving forward in a project. It helps web designers react quickly and positively to changing trends and ideas. Progress is made in increments, so that every area of the project can be re-evaluated at regular intervals. This allows time for necessary changes to be made in a much more manageable way.

Include your clients in this process to create an ongoing discussion and correspondence with them. For example, at each increment you can allow them to review your work.

Tip: Use some free stock photography as placeholders for final images so they can visualize the design in your mockups.

Rather than gaining their feedback on technical details, ask them questions like, “Do you feel that the website is headed in a direction that will meet your overall goal?” and, “Are there any problems at this point that you’d like to be solved?” This will make your client feel that their needs are being met, and any changes they ask for will be more easily met. It will also prevent any major changes being requested at the very end of the project.

Agile is a great way to enhance the way you use your design time. Making alterations or changing directions becomes a natural part of your process, rather than a speed bump that slows you down – ultimately allowing you to move forward quickly and efficiently.

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Tips for Productivity

Even during dips in creativity, there are ways to optimize your productivity.

Cut your hours
Don’t assume that working longer hours results in getting more done. Productivity is best reached by working in increments (much like in the Agile method), so come up with a schedule that allows you to focus for a couple of hours at a time, broken up by breaks.

Work during your peak productivity times
Everyone experiences different creative and productive peak times during the day, so learn when yours is, and make sure to plan to work during that time.

Always be ready for inspiration
Creativity is known for its unpredictability, so always have a way to record ideas or inspiration whenever they hit, whether it’s through a mobile app or simple pencil and paper.

Standardize your process
Whether you choose to adopt continuous integration and Agile methods for your design process or stick to the waterfall model, find what works best for you so that you can follow the same process for each project. This will save time and allow you to work more efficiently.

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Managing eCommerce Inventory across Different Platforms

You have many options when it comes to offering your products through an e-commerce platform. You’ve got eBay, Etsy, Big Cartel, Amazon Marketplace, your own site, and many other venues.Read…

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