I’m a big fan of web apps. I appreciate they’re not for everyone, but given the choice between the web-based version of a piece of software and its native counterpart, I’ll typically opt for the former.
This is usually because the native version feels like an afterthought, or because it seems incapable of doing anything other than draining my M1 MacBook Air’s battery as quickly as possible.
There are five web apps that I rely on to keep my content pipeline chugging along. Without them, everything would take longer and be full of errors (or, yes, more errors than usual) – if I remembered to do it at all.
Let’s dive in.
I recently described Notion as a tool “I couldn’t run my business without”. I stand by that, but I do wish it was easier to describe what it is.
Let’s give it a go.
Notion is, essentially, a customisable database. You can turn it into pretty much anything you want from a full-blown personal wiki to a simple to-do list. I use it to plan and manage my entire reviews brand, from the content pipeline (for both videos and blogs) to finances, goals and review unit stock.
Notion is available both as a native application and a web app, but I nearly always opt for the latter when using it on the Mac. It just feels at home there. More importantly, it’s one of the best discoveries I’ve made since starting this business.
Check it out: notion.so
If you’ve read any of my blogs, you may have noticed that they pretty much all feature a photo taken by yours truly – just like this one.
That means I spend an inordinate amount of time taking photos of my own face each week, but it also means I’m working with some pretty big files that my Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera spits out. Even when exported to JPG from Lightroom, they’re still several hundred kilobytes too large if you give a hoot about the speed of your website or SEO.
Thankfully, I’ve found a brilliant solution to this. It’s called TinyPNG, and I’m fairly convinced it’s made from magic.
Check out these two images.
Download them and A/B them if you like (although be mindful of any compression WordPress may have applied).
Image A is the original export from Lightroom, which is 947KB. Image B has been processed through TinyPNG and reduced by 83% in file size to just 163KB.
I cannot spot a single difference.
This brilliant little tool will compress both JPEG and PNG files and does so by “selectively decreasing the number of colours in the image”. I don’t know what that means or how TinyPNG does it, but if the net result is a smaller file that looks identical to the original, I’m game.
Every image I publish on the web goes through TinyPNG.
Check it out: tinypng.com
If you’re reading this article on my website, you’re essentially looking at a customised WordPress installation.
Website platforms are a bit like operating systems – everyone has their favourite, and there are some fiercely loyal camps for pretty much every single one. You might think WordPress is a dreadfully open, plugin-dependent mess. And you might be right, but I’ve spent years learning its idiosyncrasies and benefits, and simply cannot be bothered to switch to anything else.
Somehow, I built the entire Mark Ellis Reviews website myself without any assistance, and that speaks volumes for WordPress’s ability to make even a non-web developer look half decent.
At the time of writing, markellisreviews.com is pulling in an average of around 1,700 unique views per day. For as long as WordPress and my hosting provider can serve that audience, I’ll be a happy man.
Check it out: wordpress.com
If you’ve signed up to my behind-the-scenes mailing list, you’ll have added your email address to a list of subscribers in ConvertKit.
I treasure my email subscriber list. Unlike YouTube subscribers, Medium followers and passing website trade, it’s an audience I’m ultimately responsible for. Being kind and trusting enough to hand me your email address in this day and age means an awful lot.
It also means I need an email marketing platform that can take equally good care of those addresses and provide me with the ability to easily send my weekly newsletter.
ConvertKit isn’t perfect by any means. They’ve recently introduced a new email editor which is a bit of a pig to use (although it is technically in beta, I believe), and for some, it won’t be powerful enough as an email marketing platform.
But for me, it’s the ideal mix of features and pricing. More importantly, the built-in templates it offers for subscription landing pages and WordPress-compatible pop-ups appear to be working very handsomely indeed.
Check it out: convertkit.com
5. Capitalize My Title
It’s hard to get excited about this one, and if you don’t write blogs or articles, it’ll probably be of little interest. But if you do undertake any form of writing that requires a headline, Capitalize My Title needs to be in your bookmark list.
Calling this a web app is indeed pushing it a bit, but it performs a very important task for me virtually every day, so it gets a pass.
Capitalise My Title sits neatly within my blogging toolkit, but arguably has the simplest role of the lot. It converts any piece of text into the correct form of capitalisation – that’s it. Whether you want that to be newspaper style, uppercase, lowercase or, curiously, ‘email’, all you need to do is type or paste the words into a box and Capitalize My Title immediately sorts out the capitalisation for you.
I’m all for removing needless thinking time from my day, and this tool means I never need to consider which words to capitalise for my blog titles. It’s a little extra peace of mind and ensures every blog title is consistent.
It’s just a shame that the Capitalize My Title website is such an utter mess of ads and pop-ups.
Check it out: capitalizemytitle.com
What are your favourite web apps? Let me know in the comments!