As designers we rely a lot of Software as a Service based businesses. There’s a huge range of solutions to a lot of the different problems we suffer from day to day. Some of these are so useful that they become part of our daily lives.
Below I’ve listed a few that I either do use or have used, even though they all help me as a designer, they can be really helpful to a whole range of people.
First up is Geckoboard, they describe themselves as a place for all your key data. The simplicity of it is that Geckoboard is a dashboard to show pretty much any type of data you have. You can use it to show your sales from Magento, your visits from Google Analytics or your latest emails from Gmail, plus a whole lot more.
I’ve been personally using Geckoboard over the last few months and found it super easy and simple. Within minutes you’re set up and will find yourself staring at the numbers for a good while.
Geckoboard give you a 30 day free trial, more than enough time to appreciate how much it can help you and become part of your daily life.
If you don’t already use Dropbox, then you should. There are alternatives such as an old favourite of mine, Sugarsync, but Dropbox is the leader of it’s type, giving you a safe place to keep your files and easy transfer. Integrating into your OSX or Windows system is easy, simply drop a few files into your selected folder and within minutes they’ll be nice and safely backed up for you.
Dropbox saves me a nightmare daily by copying all my files from the office to home, so I can pick up exactly where I left off, no faffing around with a memory stick or portable hard drive. You can even view your supported files on your mobile or through any web browser.
Dropbox start you off with a 2gb free trial, but if you’re like me and fill this in minutes, you can get 100gb for only $9.99 (roughly £6) per month, a bargain for knowing everything is there when you need it.
Campaign Monitor do a great job of describing what they do, so I won’t try.
“Send beautiful email newsletters. Campaign Monitor makes it easy to attract new subscribers, send them beautiful email newsletters and see stunning reports on the results.”
The simplicity of it is that Campaign Monitor can be an absolute life saver if you regularly send newsletters. A huge range of options and customisation is available to you, along with well presented result data (Though, you may want to bring that into your new shiny Geckoboard)
Campaign Monitor offer everybody a free account and only charge for what you send. You can get yourself in and have a look around before you make a decision, but it’s definitely worth a look.
BackupBox allows you to move files from one place another pretty quickly and with minimal fuss, the great part is that you can automate this. Personally I use BackupBox to backup FTP and Google Docs to my Dropbox daily, this gives me added security and gives me even more access to my files.
BackupBox works with all the big services, including Dropbox, Google Docs, Box!, Microsoft SkyDrive and Sugarsync. As mentioned, you can backup your FTP, but also your SFTP, Amazon S3 and MySQL databases. The best bit, it’s two way, so you can move files from your Dropbox to your Google Docs and visa versa.
BackupBox give you a fairly lacking free trial, allowing you to transfer a limited amount of files, a limited amount of times, with no automation. But sign up for a full account and get yourself a whole range of features that may not help you on day one, but you’ll be appreciating the money spent knowing you can sleep at night with BackupBox taking care of you.
37Signals make a whole range of SaaS products, but Basecamp is the stand out one. Project management has never been easier than with Basecamp. I’ve spent over 2 years using Basecamp, at the time I didn’t really notice it, it blended in to my day to day, it wasn’t until I stopped using it that I realised how it helped me day to day.
You can easily you can setup projects, assign team members, track time spent and manage resources. Basecamp is constantly growing and having a quick glance the feature list has boomed since my last login.
Basecamp offer a 45 day free trial and after that plans start from $20 (roughly £12) per month.