Do you suffer from lengthy, confusing email CC chains? Is your desk cluttered with oddball notes? Maybe you scramble to keep on top of your tasks – and the deadlines of your employees and contractors alike.
All of the above may be red alarms that your web projects need to be run more effectively. From cloud storage to project management, join us in exploring the most awesome, productivity-boosting online tools to take your web projects to the next level.
For: Small-Medium Projects, Linear Tasks, To-do Lists, Visual Idea Brainstorming
Trello is a fantastic web tool. Based around ‘boards’ – virtual whiteboards with ‘post-it notes’ – Trello is great for to-do lists and linear tasks and projects – e.g. creating an article from concept to final draft, or organising your weekly chores for a project.
Based around a method called ‘Kanban’, a system designed by former Toyota VP Taiichi Ohno, users can easily create and move ‘post-its’ to show what stage the project is in. Trello is ideal for lightweight, short-term projects – be it business or personal. However, if your project is more detailed, in-depth, or long-term, you may want to look at more substantial project management alternatives.
For: Longer-term Projects, Project Collaboration, Task Assignments
Basecamp is Trello’s ‘sleeves rolled up’, ‘game face’ cousin. What it lacks in a stimulating visual interface, it more than makes up for it in its wealth of features. Designed for businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and teams, Basecamp allows users to easily set deadlines, upload files and keep communication to one, organised place.
While it might not be the cool new kid on the block, Basecamp is a tried and tested juggernaut of project management – from 2004, in fact. While the tool is straightforward, it isn’t minimal to the point of being restrictive. It offers a healthy balance of features and utility that’ll keep you coming back for your online projects – time and time again.
- ActiveCollab – A more advanced, customisable alternative to project management used by the likes of the BBC and Adobe.
- Asana – A clear, visually-stimulating project management tool with Google Drive integration and the ability to forward emails to the tool, turning them into ‘tasks’.
- ProofHub – With advanced features like file annotation, email integration and real-time chat, ProofHub is a sophisticated management solution.
For: Cloud Storage, Multi-Device Compatibility
Steve Jobs famously tried to buy Dropbox. Surprisingly, his 9-figure offer was rejected. Jobs dismissed the tool, calling it ‘a feature, not a product’. Well, with over 400-million users since Summer 2015, it has to be one damn good feature. Dropbox is the king of cloud storage, and for good reason.
A free account nets you 2-16GB of storage (depending on how many people you invite to join the service). The application creates a local folder on your device, syncing the files there with an accessible, online version.
While Dropbox is feature-sparse, its ease of use, reliability and quick setup distinguish it from its competitors. For users looking for easy file sharing across a range of devices, Dropbox makes a superb choice.
For: Cloud Storage, Windows Integration
Linked to Windows phones and operating systems, OneDrive works seamlessly with applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. If you’re an Office 365 subscriber, OneDrive’s storage limit trumps Dropbox’s 2 GB – offering existing subscribers 100 GB storage for a year if they switch from a Dropbox account to OneDrive.
With automatic web and phone app syncing, Microsoft hope to make OneDrive a storage staple. While the tool’s easy integration and larger storage allocation set it apart, it has a lot to contend with in a market saturated with competitors. Regardless, OneDrive is a no-brainer for Office 265 subscribers and Windows users – and makes for a convenient cloud storage tool.
- Sync – A ultra-secure, Canadian cloud storage alternative with automated syncing, easy file sharing, and regular cloud backups.
- Copy – With 15 GB of free storage space and convenient support for multiple users, Copy is a tempting storage alternative.
- SpiderOak – SpiderOak provides a unique spin on cloud storage – where all data (from different platforms and locations) is centralised in one, accessible account.
Research & Note-taking
For: Note-taking, Visual Annotations, Research
Integrated with Microsoft Office, OneNote is the go-to tool if you find yourself saving excessive bookmarks, scribbling notes, and saving screenshots to obscure, never-to-be-found locations on your device. Microsoft’s note-taking tool is more than just a note-taking tool. Use it for research, collecting links and screenshots, creating virtual post-it notes, handwrite annotations, and much, much more.
With Onenote, each element is movable and changeable. Add handwriting, text, images and links – whatever you like. This makes for a powerful tool for research and notetaking, perfect for visual users who like to be able to customise their content as they please.
For: Content Clipping, Basic Annotations, Research
While in the same arena as OneNote, EverNote is a different beast entirely. Where OneNote excels in its free form note-taking capabilities, EverNote is far more suited to research and clipping content from the web. The tool comes as a browser plug-in, allowing you to capture text, images and screenshots of content as you browse. You can also quickly save and organise these clippings, and annotate them with notes, highlighters and tags to make the process even more convenient.
A huge distinguishing factor between Onenote and Evernote is that where the former captures pages as flat images, Evernote captures pages and includes live text and links, allowing you far more potential after you’ve saved your clips. But the two are definitely suited for different purposes. Want to create and easily organise notes and research? Use Onenote. Want to easily clip and edit content from the web? Use Evernote.
- Simplenote – Precisely that, Simplenote offers a simplified approach to note taking – and users can become accustomed to the tool’s core features in a matter of minutes.
- Google Keep – Google’s minimalistic solution to note-taking is one to keep an eye on. Features include colour-coded notes, note sharing and reminders.
Finance & Invoicing
- Wave – Wave provides freelancers and small businesses with a simple, intuitive platform to handle accounting, invoicing and payroll for their businesses.
- Harvest – With time tracking, generated/manual invoices and expense tracking, Harvest is a potent answer to the financial side of your web project.
- Freshbooks – Freshbooks distinguish themselves by integrating with a range of payment gateways, along with the usual range of tracking, invoicing and reporting features.
- TimeBridge – Co-ordinate meetings on an organised calendar with TimeBridge – compatible with Outlook, Google Calendar, iCloud, and more.
- Toggl – This tool is simplified in its interaction and complex in its support for companion apps and tools, making it a pleasure to use for time tracking.
- Invision – If you’re a designer looking to quickly show your clients interactive prototypes, Invision will do this, and more. With its slick interface, project comments, to-do lists, online syncing and live sharing, the app proves itself to be truly invaluable.
- EchoSign – Need documents quickly delivered, signed and organised? Adobe’s e-sign service ‘EchoSign’ is the answer. The tool makes the legal and contractual aspect of your projects a complete breeze.
- HootSuite – This social media management system helps you keep track and manage your company’s social media pages easily, saving you valuable time to focus on important work projects.
- Slack – Slack is your free, no-nonsense tool for communication on projects, using real-time chat and archiving to keep all of your messages in one place.
There’s a huge range of useful apps and tools in this article that’ll – hopefully – help you manage your projects online. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to add them below!