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Web Work 101: 10 Apps You Can’t Do Without — Redux

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Last March, I wrote a piece about the 10 apps a web worker can’t do without. A year later, and the app landscape has shifted significantly, so here’s an updated list of what I consider to be the best solutions for our critical tasks in 2010.


1. Invoice management

Freshbooks is still an excellent invoicing service, but there are some new and some improved invoicing apps in this space, such as:

You can also track expenses with:

And add functionality to your online invoicing:

Also check out Celine’s piece on managing your finances online. If you are looking for solutions for creating and managing contracts, check out Celine’s roundup of contract resources. You may also want to check out Outright, a bookkeeping and tax prep tool that Scott reviewed.

2. Time tracking

Need to get a handle on how much time you’ve spent on a particular project or task? There are apps for that — some standalone, some that integrate with your invoicing systems, and some like Where is My Time that help you to analyze how the time flew by and how productive you were during that time. Here are some others:

And in the time-, cash- and distance-tracking category, take a peek at 1DayLater (see our review here).

3. Social CRM

Here are some startups that provide useful Social CRM products:

For quick contact information exchange, I love the Poken social business card and am so disappointed that they aren’t taking off like I think they should. I wear my cute skull Poken at every conference I go to but have yet to get “poked” unless Poken is a conference sponsor.

I’m also keen on Bump for the iPhone and Android, and also covered some other contact sharing apps in this roundup: DropCard, Rmbrme, BeamMe, ShareCard, SnapDat.

At SXSW, I was given a very impressive demo of relationship management tool Gist (see our review here) that promised a lot, though I have yet to incorporate it into my daily work.

4. RSS Reader

I don’t know about you, but I’m over RSS readers. But to be fair to those who have yet to discover the social firehose, you could go with the ever-popular Google Reader (s goog) and the novelty of Snackr, which puts a little ticker at the bottom of your computer screen for passive, almost subliminal consumption of your feeds.

And here are a few other popular feed readers:

For saving articles to read later, I currently use a combination of Delicious, Instapaper, and “favoriting” tweets containing links on Twitter.


5. Email management Social communications management

I have changed the heading of this section because I find that my communications are no longer mainly taking place through email, and are increasingly moving into my social networks.

While I am trying to move away from Gmail and start using email management tool PostBox again (its attachment management tools make it a compelling option for me), I am also looking out other social communications management systems and apps.

I was panicked to find Threadsy — the intriguing integrated communications client that you could use to see your email, social networks, and Twitter in a single place — under “re-construction” but have signed up to see what is happening with the app.

You might also like to check out a few email productivity add-ons we’ve reviewed, such as Xobni, Rapportive and MailBrowser.

6. Calls, Conferencing and Instant Messaging

Right now, my company has been moving away from Skype. Although we all love the app, it seems to drops our calls almost constantly now. We are moving back to the old-fashioned telephone for calls, while for conferencing we have been using

Here are a few phone conferencing and webinar-style conferencing systems that I also use:

Note that I didn’t include WebEx in the list. I am convinced that the company, which once dominated this space, has had a hard time keeping pace with the more nimble startups.

One other phone-related service that my company is trying is eVoice, because we need a virtual PBX system that can accommodate our UK office as well as multiple U.S. locations. Unfortunately,  I don’t have enough experience with it yet to tell you how it is working for us. Stay tuned.

Work Process

7. Project management

My company first used Basecamp for project management before switching to 5pm. Today, I’m seriously checking out glasscubes as it provides project management together with collaborative space. It is much lighter on the project management side — it’s really just a task management  app — but I’m getting a feel for the company’s interesting take on how virtual groups can work better together. More on that soon, too.

Just for giggles and grins, check out my old post about this topic: “Project Management, Collaboration and How Our Brains Work.”

8. Calendars and Schedules

I’m excited about the web-based services that allow me to give out a link to my calendar — or just a portion of my calendar — so  people can get on my schedule. But as my post about a scheduling bungle at SXSW due to system time zone issues, I know that there is still no single tool that “does it all.”

Still, here is a quick rundown of a few tools I’m still using or trying out:

9. Cloud-based collaboration/document sharing

While I still use Google Docs, some fundamental integration issues are making me look elsewhere. As I mentioned earlier, my company is currently experimenting with glasscubes.

Here are a few others:

And I know you’re going to think this is kooky, but the 2.0 version of Spinscape combines mind mapping principles and collaborative communications in a way that is quite compelling to me.

10. File storage/backup/sync

Take a look at SugarSync. It provides backup, file sync and file sharing “on-the-go” on any Mac, PC or mobile device (check out my review here). Here are some other useful options:

A newbie in the “active backup” and file storage space is Soonr, which also has Mac, PC and mobile capabilities.

What are some of the must-have applications you’ve found invaluable in your own web work?

stock.xchng images by johnnyberg, gun, toutouke

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution

34 Responses to “Web Work 101: 10 Apps You Can’t Do Without — Redux”

  1. Sydney Coyle

    Hey, you missed Worketc ( which is a CRM and projects management software that can really do most of the tasks you’ve mentioned. Worketc made it a point to be manager-friendly, with tools such as tracking billable time and invoicing made available with innovative interface. You can also track sales leads and generate progress reports. But this is a great article though. Keep it coming!

  2. I think SOS Online Backup is an advanced online backup solution for a discerning user. It may appear a bit more expensive than the everyday names but if you add up the benefits it isn’t.

    It has featues like:

    Unlimited versions of one file,

    Unlimited number of computers on one account,

    No archive deleted, ever.

    Heavy duty encryption,

    Continuous data protection with “Live Protect”,

    Backup files even while they are in use,(Outlook pst)

    and, very important:

    Great support from really great people.

    Even if it is more expensive than than the “popular” ones, better have your data available one day than not!

  3. What exactly makes a CRM “social”? I went to look at SugarCRM to see what kinds of social features they offer, and the only thing I noticed was that it can pull information from LinkedIn… but I was expecting to see tools to manage social campaigns. Are there add-on modules like this for Sugar or any other CRMs?

  4. Just wanted to thank you for the Postbox recommendation, which you mention again in this article. I have been using it for several weeks now and really like it. Its integration of contacts, documents, links, and searching into the main screen make it a dream to use. Also really like the topics and threaded emails they borrowed from Google.

  5. I love Airset for my online calendar. I can create different groups and color code them on the calendar for easy viewing. They offer a whole bunch of other tools, including contact/group management. I don’t use the other tools much, but they are developing a more robust group collaboration platform, so it will be interesting to see what develops.

  6. Agree with you wholeheartedly on the Poken gadget for swapping business cards. I see they’ve recently introduced Poken Pulse, which is more business like, however they’re still not available in the UK.

  7. Hi Aliza,

    here at Glasscubes we’re really focused on the collaboration, virtual workspace concept and communication, and it is true that we’re not a pure project management tool. However we never really claimed to be but will be adding more project management ‘cubes’ later this summer. I’d love to hear you feedback on Glasscubes as we’re 200% committed at implementing direct feedback.

    Anyone else interested in checking us out we offer 28 free trail across all accounts and you can use this promotion code specially for webworkerdaily readers and get 10% off for life : WEBWORKER10

  8. Aliza,

    If you want to combine collaboration and project management, you should definitely check out our product, PBworks. We’ve had plenty of folks switch over from Basecamp for precisely that reason (no knock on Basecamp, which is a good task/milestone manager, it just isn’t a collaboration platform).

    We offer a 30-day free trial, and we’re happy to provide journalists with trial extensions if they need the time to really put it through the paces.

  9. 77octogon

    How about project management PLUS version control for coders?

    It used to be a choice between GitHub, Assembla and Unfuddle. But now that Assembla is providing free SVN and GIT version control that is private (ie. not just for open source projects), they will likely win.

  10. the post is ok and this is a good resource but the problem is, that there are many other products/ cathegories of products that worth to be mentioned: browsers, interent filters, diffrent management applications, employee monitoring and much more. But who knows, maybe you make you come up with a series of posts related to apps you can’t do without :) . It this case please consider this app

    • I would have to disagree with the RSS is dead crap too. RSS is for content where Twitter style feeds were designed for social dynamics. RSS and Twits are two entirely different animals in the digital kingdom. Many times cross overs with the two lead into cross-ups and is indicative to poorly planned resource management.

      Not flaming you Nathan just everyone else that fed you that garbage. Next thing to die is the world wide web…

  11. A nice invoicing solution I use… CannyBill(

    Does the standard invoicing tasks plus has integration with hosting services & control panels, SSL, and domain services. The integration helps us to offer those services to clients while handling recurring billing for us. Also integrates with Quickbooks, Sage, Basecamp, and CampaignMonitor.

  12. David T

    That’s a whole bunch of whining you’ve collected in your comments – and not deserved from my perspective. I appreciated both the spirit and the content of your blog and I’m off to test out a few of your recommendations.

    Thanks for sharing

  13. what is with your list, who cant live without these apps (its not developers at any rate as you missing to many really essential apps for that e.g version control, testing suites, notepad++, eclipse visual studio etc).

    I would say for any user of a computer the essential apps are a web browser, and office suite (which you have suggested google docs, though open office or even good old ms office are equally good suggestions), a pdf viewer (either adobe or fox it viewer)(note a pdf printer e.g. cutepdf is also quite a handy tool for most people), email clients like thunderbird or outlook, anti virus software, firewalls, data minning detection tools (e.g. adaware), messenger client (MSN, pidgin, yahoo, buzz what ever your poison). those are the really essential items.

    Please go back and fix your list. or atleast amend your title e.g. “10 types of software project mangers might like to use now and again” seems about right.

  14. I would add the following:
    * Notable for design collaboration (inc. SEO)
    * Centripetal for Basecamp file backups (inc. sync to Dropbox)
    * FreeAgent for accounting (SMB)
    * Balsamiq for wireframing
    * MindMeister for mind mapping / collaboration

  15. May I also suggest a goal setting app called GoalsOnTrack( It’s a web-based goal tracking and time management tool, with a very nice web 2.0 interface, and has many nice features to help you keep track of goals, and most importantly it lets you better organize daily todos towards achieving goals. Highly recommend it for serious goal achievers.

  16. Foo Bar

    Uhm…. Which of these 55 apps are the 10 I can’t do without? And mor importantly: Why?

    Please don’t lie in your title. I mean sheesh… I can search for these names myself. The implication is that you’ll help me evaluate them, but that’s clearly misleading. You just want some googlebomb action, taking a link-to-everything approach.