This article is directed at freelancers, small, and medium-sized web design companies who want to keep their workflow in check. It’s not a secret that, even though web and graphic design are creative areas, your success in the business world actually depends on how well you organize.
For you and your team to operate like a well-oiled machine, you may wish to consider using some of the following web apps and helpful software that will make a big difference when it comes to collecting data, wireframing, time tracking, email marketing, sending invoices, sharing files, and overall project management.
Invoicing and Financial Apps
Nutcache is an excellent helper and, in my opinion, the most efficacious project management software for designers and small business owners who are on their way to the top. It’s such an impressively easy tool to operate, and it will certainly improve the quality of your work to a great degree. And did I mention the fact that it doesn’t cost a single dime? As a matter of fact, this is the only known program on the market to cover so much ground and charge absolutely nothing in return.
You can use Nutcache in many languages, and add all of your clients. There is no limit to the number of users, so all of your team members are accounted for. Then, it’s a piece of cake to create estimates, send invoices, keep track of expenses, and of everybody’s time. The program is also frequently updated.
Pulseapp may turn out to be as vital to the welfare of your startup as it sounds. When you’re running a small enterprise, every decision that you make can have a huge impact on your finances, so you need to think it through and make sure that it’s going to be to your advantage. Thankfully, I know just the perfect app that will take that weight off your shoulders.
Pulse helps you monitor your cashflow, and estimate all future income and expenses in terms of days, weeks, and months. So, when you’re on the verge of making a certain call, let this software play out various scenarios and see how that may affect you. Future integration of Quickbooks and Xero has also been announced.
Apptivo is widely used and very accessible when it comes to price. It has established a presence in over 40 countries, and I know for a fact that more than 130K users rely on this software to make their 40K companies tick. Its popularity hardly comes as a surprise, seeing as it may pass as an ultra-equipped seventh heaven for IT specialists and freelancers.
Use this app to run every aspect of your business from a handy ‘command center’ and with a common data model. You would be able to customize invoices with your own brand before dispatching them to whomever they may concern, and make the best out of more than 45 apps, including Customer Relations Management, project management, time tracking, etc.
Wireframing and Prototyping Tools
It’s high time we turned our attention to some more specific design-assisting tools. Whenever you’re working on a mobile website, mobile app, or web app, nothing can possibly come in handier than cloud-based software that helps you test and run a realistic simulation of your prototype, without writing a single line of code.
This type of software becomes even more relevant when you wish to present your prototype to clients, because you’d be able to add animations, and screen transitions, and make it all the more interactive – so they perceive an enhanced user experience which comes closest to the finished product. You can share the prototype via a link, and it can be viewed from iOS and Android devices through the player app.
You have no idea how crucial it is to deliver a good presentation. A stand-alone wireframing tool may help you draw, simulate, and project the essential aspects of your prototype, but unless there’s a comprehensive presentation to go along with it, your client and even your own team members may find it difficult to understand what it’s all about.
This is where PowerMockup steps in. It’s an add-on for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, 2010, and 2013. With this add-on, you can easily search through an extended library with hundreds of wireframe stencils and icons, then drag-and-drop them into your presentation. Besides, you can also fashion your own stencils, by using regular PowerPoint shapes, and then add them to the library.
Collaboration and Project Management Tools
Freedcamp prides itself in being the first ever free of charge collaboration and project management software. The ranks of its users have risen up to 300K, and some of them are illustrious figures like Greenpeace, the American Red Cross. Indeed, you will find that it is not just completely bereft of sign-up fees, but also of irksome advertisements. Here, you have a social and centralized working environment.
Freedcamp gives you a Meebo chatbar with Gtalk, Live Messenger, AIM, and includes applications like Issue Tracker, Calendar, CRM, and Password Manager. Assign tasks, and let your co-workers assign tasks, track your time, send invoices, or share documents from Google Drive.
You and your team will undoubtedly ace each and every task with Comindware Tracker. This cloud-based software stands out because it allows you to set or re-assign them manually, as well as automatically generate them and set predefined priorities and deadlines. In addition, some tasks can even be scheduled to start automatically from time to time.
Another singular aspect about Comindware Tracker is the fact that you can set as many sub-tasks as necessary. Therefore, every team member saves precious time which would otherwise be wasted on e-mails, phone calls, and meetings meant to get things straight. Finally, know that you are instantly notified of any update, when it occurs.
It’s always nice to put your trust in an online time management tool that is known to help entrepreneurs optimize their performance. With Timeneye, the operative words are easy, fast, and powerful. It’s so easy to grasp and user-friendly, and a great ally when you’re working under the pressure of tough deadlines.
Feel free to track time either by manually registering entries, by using timers, or directly from Basecamp. It makes no difference, because the simple interface enables you to track working time with great ease, down to the last billable hour, then generate and export comprehensive reports.
I am very fond of Freckle, since it looks at time management from the perspective of a creative person who abhors managerial matters like time entries, invoicing and setting milestones.
I truly believe that this software did the impossible, and came up with a fresh approach to project management. The vibrant interface practically invites you to keep track of your time, bill and manage clients, as if you were doing something particularly fun and engaging.
We can’t talk about tools for freelancers or startups without drawing on the subject of e-mail marketing. Lacking efficient marketing campaigns, your company or solo practice will be hard-pressed to attract clients.
Mailigen will help you create and analyze supreme e-mail campaigns, point by point. You can now take this web-based software for a spin, for free, and see for yourself what it’s like to work with its professional e-mail templates, in-depth reports, and statistics.
One more excellent sidekick for devising your winning e-mail marketing campaigns is Sendloop. It boasts of offering the least complicated solution in this area of interest, and I am all but ready to concur.
The one feature that convinced me was a drag-and-drop e-mail builder. With that feature, it takes less than five minutes to put together mobile-friendly e-mails. Furthermore, you can count on Sendloop to track your e-mail metrics in real time, as well.
Collecting data is another essential part of your business, so you need to make sure that you’ve got the best tools for this. FormStack is a great candidate, because it’s been around since 2006 and has since contracted a diverse scope of users, which ranges from non-profit organizations, to government agencies.
It would make a perfect choice even for high-traffic websites that register a large number of form submissions on a daily basis.
Typeform is an exquisite assistant. It will help you craft breath-taking and mobile-ready data collection tools that are engineered to increase your response rate. Use this software with confidence, for surveys, forms, contests, landing pages, recruitment, events, education, and so on, and so forth.
You can either enlist Typeform for free, or go pro. Where the free plan does not set any limits to created forms or received responses, the pro plan unlocks possibilities like integrating your brand identity, logic jumps, hidden fields, payment fields, calculator to create shopping baskets or tests, and automatic respondent notification messages.
If you’re working within a team, a good cloud-based file sharing solution is paramount. OneDrive from Microsoft would make a fine choice, as it enables you to store, synchronize, and collaborate on files without much effort.
Users can choose which content to share, so if you only send an e-mail containing a link to one of your folders, the other ones stay sealed.
Droplr can provide you with a nice and quick way to share files, without folders or synchronizing, as long as you don’t overstep the 2 GB sending limit. And yet, users get unlimited storage, domain URLs, as well as the chance to integrate their own brand, and embed images or files on blogs, websites, and forums.
I have finished describing my compiled list of the most sought-after web apps and software for freelancers, startups, and small to medium-sized web design companies. I hope it will help you keep up the good work, raise your business to new productive heights, and bring you closer to unlimited success.