Apps and SaaS Used: September 2016

With the ever changing world of software, I find it interesting to see what software other people are using and why they are using it. The landscape is frequently changing, and it is interesting to see what others are using to be productive

My aim is to write a synopsis of what applications, services or SaaS products I’m using once or twice a year, categorised into both personal and business uses. Ideally along with a quick outline of why I’m using it for and why I chose it over any alternatives if applicable.

Personal

Google Apps

Fairly self-explanatory. Used for email, contacts and calendar, as well as photo backups (unlimited storage, great!). Occasionally used for Docs and Sheets. I went with Google Apps as had a Gmail account but wanted a personal domain with all the Gmail benefits. Free as on a legacy account.

Also using Google Apps for business purposes. Tried out Zoho Mail, but as wanted to use a CRM in the web interface, Google seemed like a better bet so made the switch. Would definitely consider Zoho in the future.

Todoist

My todo list for recurring tasks, further out tasks, and general todo items. Also used as a general dumping ground when browsing the web on my phone (e.g. see a book, movie, TV show, or web page that I need to check out later, I will add it to the Inbox with no date and then clear it out when I have a chance). Tried several todo apps but this seen to stick. In my second year of paying for premium (4,116 tasks completed!).

Trello

One of my more recent additions. Started using as a software development firm we worked with used Trello for a kanban board. Really enjoyed the interface, so have started to use it for more long term project planning. Think that Trello will creep into my workflow more as time goes on. On the free tier.

Evernote

Used for a variety of use, including random writing, meeting notes, web article or page clipping, scanning business cards, scanning hand written notes, saving PDFs, and travel docs and confirmations (should switch to TripIt for this, but Evernote is working for me). Essentially a bit of a dumping ground and writing area. On the paid plan for the extra data syncing and OCR. Have been a paid user for two years.

OneDrive + Office 365

Was getting sick of old Office on my Mac, so researched at how much it would cost to upgrade to the new version. Realised the OneDrive + Office 365 subscription gave me, and four other users, access to the latest Office and 1TB of OneDrive storage, all for about $45 per year (after cash back). Brilliant. OneDrive isn’t as nice as Dropbox, but cheaper, and works fine.

Dropbox

Don’t use this so much anymore as switched all my files over to OneDrive. Still use as people often share files with me on it, as well as my screenshots automatically being stored there with a share link being copied to the clipboard. On the free plan.

Adobe Creative Cloud

My wife signed up for this on my behalf for the teachers discount ($180 a year vs $600 – would not have it if had to pay the full rate!). Currently have installed PhotoShop, InDesign and Illustrator. I really am useless with them, but seem to be able to convert svg to png and some other random basic tasks. Will re-assess if my usage justifies continuing the subscription (even the teacher discount). Perhaps should try and learn the apps properly to get more use out of them.

1Password

My password manager. Been using it for some time. Does the trick and haven’t looked for other options. Did note they seem to be charging a monthly price now rather than the one off cost my purchase was. No idea what the differences are, or if I should change.

Pinboard

Paid user of Pinboard, luckily got in when it was a one off payment rather than an annual fee. Use it for bookmarking things that may be useful in the future, with a few tags for categorizing.

Pocket

For saving articles I’d like to read but probably never will. Nice to open on a plane and read some articles I pocketed a while ago.

Business

Google Apps

As above, however, paying as the business was started after Google started charing for Apps (boo).

Streak CRM

Sits right in on Google Apps email interface, and works perfectly for managing leads. Free tier for one user which works well. Handy features such as snoozing and tracking. Also looked as ProsperWorks CRM, but no free plan made the decision easy.

Quip

This is fairly new in my workflow. Trying to use Quip instead of a mix of Google Docs/Sheets and Office. Nice having a dedicated OSX app (compared to Google), and really love having the spreadsheets and docs in the one file (e.g some text and dot points, some spreadsheet, then more docs, with ability to place formulas in your doc area – awesome!). Also has good team abilities, so may be useful when (if) the business gets bigger.

MailChimp

EDMs and some simple email automation (used with GetSiteControl below). Currently just scheduling the automation in MailChimp based on days, e.g. send email1 instantly then send email2 two days later. This is a paid feature (along with removing the MailChimp logo), but my use case works best buying credits rather than a monthly plan.

GetSiteControl

The dreaded ‘devil email pop-up’ (god have mercy on my soul, but it works!). Used for email capture and give the visitors a special offer (a discount code). This subscribes them to my simple automation sequence in MailChimp.

TypeForm

Beautiful form and survey software. Was using the Pro Plan at USD 35 per month for the ‘hidden fields’ function (essentially, able to append a ?email=users@email.xyz or similar and pre-fill into a form). This was used in an email automation sequence, but was not getting enough responses to justify the cost. Have since developed a simple form of my own coding to replace (just some simple Javascript). Also use for other forms in the business that don’t require the Pro features.

Pixieset

Used to upload and share the client galleries. Looking at changing to SmugMug at some stage as they offer unlimited storage, and concerned will have to get a higher paid plan with Pixieset soon (due to storage limits). Without storage restrictions, can upload higher quality images for the clients.

Wave Apps

A great free invoicing (and accounting system, which I haven’t tried) app. Nice looking invoices, with features such as tracking, automatic reminders and being able to send invoices directly from the web interface. Integrates with Stripe.

Stripe

As mentioned, use it with Wave Apps for credit card billings. Easy to set up, and the money arrives in the bank account seven days after the invoice is paid.

Zapier

Just for some simple automation flows, mainly the forms into Quip.

Google Analytics

Fairly self explanatory!

Briefmetrics

A weekly email report with a quick, digestible synopsis of what has happened in the last week on the website based on Google Analytics data. A perfect little bit of information that easily shows how traffic and conversions are tracking month on month.

Reckon One

Business accounting software, with integrated bank feeds and payroll. Have signed up, but not set up. Need to test out and see how it compares to Xero. For a previous business, I used Xero, but price is a lot higher than Reckon One, so will give it a shot.

Twilio

Not signed up yet, but will be shortly. Will be using to send customers SMS links to their photos.

Random Assortment

  • Messaging – Skype, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Slack.
  • Social – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit. (Would seriously consider getting rid of Facebook if it wasn’t required for business. Don’t get any value from it.).
  • Entertainment – Spotify, Netflix.
  • Browser – Chrome on my MacBook, Firefox + uBlock Origin on my Samsung Galaxy S6.
  • General OSX – Mailplane 3, f.lux, Caffeine, Spectacle, Bartender.
  • General Android – Waze, TinyScanner, Uber, Waze.

Use any different solutions? Think I’m doing something inefficient? Have a better idea? Let me know.

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