Helpful Tools and Resources for Managing a New Internet Business

Getting Started with Grunt

Whether you are working alone or with a team of people, launching a new business will take lots of time and effort. Internet-based companies are somewhat easier because there are no requirements to handle physical products. Granted, physical products come into play if you are managing an e-commerce store. However creating digital products on the Internet provides a more lucrative method of launching and scaling quickly.

But what type of tools would be useful when just getting started? I have put together a collection of webapps and resources that you can use for any new project launch. There are often so many details to remember and it is easy to get lost in the myriad of choices. But you should make the time for testing these different tools and see which ones provide the most benefit to your workday.

Task Management

The biggest problem I always run into is keeping everything organized. What needs to be done and what order should these to-dos be completed? The best way to keep yourself organized is by using a task management system. But there are countless solutions out there, so it’s tough deciding which is best. It all comes down to what you are personally looking for and how much functionality is required for yourself or a team.

asana task management screenshot demo preview

The task management tool Asana works great for any type of company. Even if you are working alone by yourself, their interface is really simple for managing project tasks. Plus you can invite people into specific tasks as needed. I think it is a great place to start with a free account and see how you like the features.

teambox tasks management screenshot demo

Another free solution Teambox also puts a lot on the table. I am enticed by their backend interface features which allow for multiple project workspaces. This means you can organize tasks between different online products or even completely different companies. Also Teambox has a conversation feature where you can message other members on your team. It is definitely worth some consideration if you are looking for a free tool that’s also easy to learn.

trello task management dashboard screenshot

To mention just one more resource Trello is a great webapp that comes attached with a free price tag. You can signup and invite team members to your projects forever on this free account. It does not offer as many features as you will find in other project management tools. The interface is a bit simpler and much more focused on tasks/projects rather than team collaboration. But if you like the interface then it is a wonderful solution for any new business.

Cloud Storage

Online cloud hosting platforms are often much more agile for sharing files between computers. It’s a different story when you consider web hosting and CDNs. But consider sharing a .zip of your latest website HTML with two co-workers located at different places around the world. It would be easiest to upload the zip archive onto a hosting client and then share your link with both people.

dropbox preview file hosting cloud storage

Dropbox is a powerful solution for keeping your files organized and sharing entire folders with other people. It also offers a free plan which does limit the amount of files you can host. But this storage space limitation can be upgraded by inviting new people onto the service. I really like their web interface because you can drag-and-drop files to upload into your account. Also you can download entire folders of content as .zip containers right from the website! It has a great system for collaborating with other teammates and I highly recommend that everyone should have a Dropbox account.

google drive documents hosting cloud storage

People often forget about Google Drive, which comes out-of-the-box offering 15GB of free storage space with every Google account. Drive is generally meant for handling online documents including spreadsheets and presentations. But you can also upload other types of media for sharing with your team members. For a free service run by Google it does provide a nice allotment of features. But just the document viewing & sharing functionality puts Drive well above many other competitors. Box.net is another similar webapp you might consider.

Social Media Accounts

If you have a great product then you will likely want to create an online presence. Consider registering a new account on networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and and others. It will boost your website’s visibility and help people find you quicker. But what kinds of tools are useful for managing all of these profiles?

grabinbox social media marketing webapp tools

This newer product GrabInbox has not been online for too long. It is a service which allows you to manage a set network of accounts from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can schedule messages to post at certain times while also checking user responses. Signup is free but for now it’s difficult to tell how the company will progress. If you like demoing these tools as an early adopter then I say go for it!

hootsuite internet marketing accounts management

Now HootSuite is a much more professional solution which has been tried & tested by many other companies. Their free service is phenomenal when you don’t have money to pay for a pro or enterprise account. You can easily manage social profiles from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other common networks. I would recommend trying HootSuite and sticking to them if you like the service. It is simple to use and you’ll never be forced to upgrade from a free account.

UI/UX Testing

Throughout the early phase of launching your product there will always tweaks worth making to the user interface. Nothing is perfect during its first inception, but how do you know exactly what needs to be retouched? There are plenty of tools online for testing various analytics and UX ideas. I want to share just a couple that may prove useful to a majority of Internet projects.

browserstack browsers testing javascript html5 css3

BrowserStack is not a free service but it does provide great support for browser testing. You can quickly generate screenshots from any web browser over the various Operating Systems. It will save time when squashing bugs if your site isn’t rendering properly for a certain browser version. Plus you can run tests on more complicated features like JavaScript or responsive CSS within legacy browsers.

vwo visual websites optimizer a/b split testing

One tool I can really get excited about is Visual Website Optimizer. This allows you to run A/B split testing on your website and track user analytics to learn from the results. I have been very impressed with the many case studies involving big-named corporations. When first getting started you may not have a need for A/B testing – or even understand why it’s helpful. But optimizing the user experience is crucial for obtaining the best results and delivering the best product out to your visitors.

Support & User Feedback

If you are working with customers then it is best to have some type of support management application. Even if you are building a startup or webapp for people to use freely, it helps to garner feedback. Your audience knows what they like and what they don’t like. So with enough testing and great feedback you can fine-tune any project to be working as efficiently as possible.

intercom.io tickets helpdesk support saas screenshot

Intercom is an online service for handling user support problems. This includes a typical web-based helpdesk along with customer relationship management tools. Intercom is a beautiful system for overseeing a project with clients or customers. Even a free social networking site may find Intercom useful for managing support questions. Their free plan is a great way to play around with the features and determine if Intercom can really benefit your project.

uservoice support feedback user testing saas

The web application UserVoice is perfect for handling more direct feedback. You can setup a tiny widget on your site where visitors may directly send messages to your account. It also works as a support system with organized backend tickets. This is a great all-around solution for handling feedback and support problems within a project. Their plans can range up to $100/month but you may also keep the free plan indefinitely for one account.

trackduck user feedback screenshot webapp saas

Lastly the startup TrackDuck is not known all too well, but it is a very powerful tool. You can setup a tiny box in the corner of your site where visitors can send feedback about the interface, potential bugs, and really anything they want. It can integrate with other applications like Basecamp for easily tracking user feedback. Plus there is even a free edition which provides all the basic services for one account! I would definitely recommend TrackDuck if you are just getting started with user feedback tools and want to test the waters.

Final Thoughts

There may be other categories of webapps and tools that can really help entrepreneurs manage their projects. I put together this collection of specific tools which really helped me, and I hope some of these tools will help others as well. But if you know about similar resources that I may have skipped please share with us in the comments discussion area.

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Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a writer and user experience designer on the web. He currently publishes development tutorials and articles related to startups and user interface design. Find out more on his website or you can follow his updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau

Comments

6 comments on “Helpful Tools and Resources for Managing a New Internet Business

  1. Jake,
    This is a huge list. Some products, like Dropbox, I have certainly used. Others, like BrowserStack, I have not. All look like tools new or even experienced Web entrepreneurs may want to take a look at at. Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community!

  2. Jake, also take a look at WebEngage – a SaaS toolkit for online businesses that allows you to run on-site offers/promotions and collect feedback privately from users, all in realtime.

    http://webengage.com/

    Disclosure: I work for WebEngage

  3. May I suggest another great app called Nimble for staying in top if all your communications…

  4. Hi Jake, great article! A lot of good resources here… Although I will have to say my experience with BrowserStack has been a little disappointing. I notice that every time I use BrowserStack to test anything it runs extremely slow, therefore I just installed Mac OS X on a VirtualBox and same with Ubuntu and am testing all browsers on Windows and using the Android SDK to emulate different devices. I will admit that using an emulator may not always be perfect compared to the actual product… But, as far as I am aware, Browserstack just uses emulators as well.

    On another note, Trello is amazing in all sorts of aspects!

  5. I think proofhub is the best one as far as project management software is concerned. I am using it for the past 2 months to carry out my work. I love it. :)