Anyone who’s ever created or helped managed a website knows that it is not a simple “set-it-and-forget-it” process. A great website needs a lot of care and attention, continuously making adjustments in order to make it better and better. But you already know that.
I’m going to assume that you are already aware of the big-name apps for website management and promotion. You’re probably using WordPress to manage your blog and get insights in Google Analytics. You help spread the word about your website on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe this doesn’t match you exactly, but you’re at least aware of these services and why they’re important.
In this article, I’d like to present 10 apps that I’ve found to be really helpful with managing and growing a website. Some of the choices might seem strange at first, and that’s exactly the point! This list is meant to get you thinking about different ways to approach your website and make it better. So without further ado, here are 10 apps (in no particular order) to check out to make your website more awesome:
A website has many running parts to it, which can start to become overwhelming the more you add to it. This is why it’s really important to set up a good foundation for yourself in order to keep track of everything you’re doing (and plan on doing).
At Hover, we’re big fans of Asana for managing our projects. We pretty much use it for everything: jotting down marketing ideas, keeping a backlog of upcoming product features, tweaks to make to our website…the list literally goes on and on.
Asana makes all of this madness a whole lot easier, especially for larger teams (though it’s great for small teams or even individuals as well). You can assign tasks/sub-tasks to colleagues, add due dates, follow tasks you’d like to keep track of, share files and even send messages right from within the app. Asana will make it easier for you to keep track of everything you’d like to do to your site and make sure that everyone is in the know. Used properly, it’ll keep everything nice and organized – no more “wait, was I cc’d on that email?”
Price: Free for teams of 15 or less; $50/month for 15 members; $100/month for 30 members; $300/month for 50 members; $550/month for 75 members; $800/month for 100 members
AddThis is a suite of add-ons that you can place on your website in order to create better engagement with your audience. The tools are divided into 3 categories: share tools, follow tools and recommended content.
Share tools and follow tools place customizable buttons overtop of your site that help grow your audience on social media. Chances are you’ve probably seen these buttons on other sites and don’t realize they’re actually coming from AddThis. The widgets take very minimal effort to set up and will enable your audience to share your website for you.
The recommended content widgets allow you to display other content in a visually appealing and highly clickable way – great for blog content. You can add something as simple as a next article button or add a long list of other content that visitors will be interested in based on what they’re currently reading.
Price: Free or $12/month for Pro
Whether or not you’ve decided to make social media a priority, your audience is there…and they’re talking. Some people will turn to networks like Twitter or Facebook to say how much they love you; others will go there to do just the opposite. This is why it’s so important to be able to properly monitor social activity and jump in on the conversation whenever necessary.
Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management app that will empower you to properly leverage social media. There are too many features to list here but they include seeing all your feeds in one spot, searching for keywords that relate to your website, and seeing meaningful insights into your social activity.
In terms of growing your website, Sprout Social has a number of tools to help with this as well. You can schedule posts to go out at certain times to your profiles, or even add posts to your Queue to go out at predetermined times (Sprout will even determine which times are most effective for you). As mentioned above, you can also use the keyword search feature to find discussions that relate to your website and jump into the conversation whenever it makes sense to do so.
Price: $59/user/month for Deluxe; $99/user/month for Premium; $500/month/3 users for Team
Commenting isn’t anything new, but Disqus takes it to a whole other level. For visitors, it is a beautiful interface that looks right at home within any blog. Plus, Disqus is becoming one of the most popular commenting platforms online, so they will likely already have an account that they’ve used on other websites.
Disqus also makes it easier to manage the comments that your website receives. If you’d like to approve comments before they go onto your website, you can get an email notification the second a comment comes in. As soon as you get one, simply reply to that email and say “approve” if you’d like it to get posted.
You can also use Disqus to show related content within your website, or even sponsored content from other websites. The latter will enable you to earn revenue for clicks on sponsored content, which opens up another potential source of income for your website. Pretty neat, eh?
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want my website to look better but I can’t design anything?” Well, Canva might be just the solution for you. Instead of settling for mediocre design, Canva truly lets anyone create beautiful images to use on their website.
Canva users start off by selecting the type of design they would like to make, such as a Facebook header, blog image, or presentation. Then, it’s just a matter of dragging-and-dropping whatever you’d like into your image. You can upload your own images, but the real magic of Canva is their extensive library of free and premium images. Just search for whatever you’re looking for and drag it right into your image, all within the app. Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Say goodbye to Google Images or Shutterstock and start creating your own custom images to make your website even more unique!
Price: Free; $1 for premium images
No matter how intuitive you think you’ve setup your website to be, you can never really know how people will use it until it’s in their hands. Many website designers will vaguely determine what might not be working about their sites. For example, if Google Analytics shows that people are only spending an average of 10 seconds on the Features page, then that would indicate that something is not working there. Key word: something. But what exactly isn’t working?
Mouseflow is the closest you can get to being in the room with a person when he or she uses your website. Basically, it lets you watch a recording of a person’s screen when using your website. It’ll show you where people clicked and, more importantly, where they either tried to or didn’t click. It’ll even show you heatmaps to discover common behaviour patterns among all of your site’s visitors.
Now you’ll be able to identify exactly what works or doesn’t work with every part of your website in order to fully optimize it. Whether you want people to purchase a product, sign up for a trial or just make it to your blog, you’ll definitely want to give Mouseflow a try.
Price: $19/month for Small; $79/month for Medium; $149/month for Large; $399/month for Extra Large; ?/month for Enterprise
Sometimes a small change can make a big difference. Maybe a Sign Up button is too forward but Try for Free is more inviting. Or maybe not? As with most things, you’ll never know until you try. Unbounce lets you do just this by creating landing pages that you can A/B test with your visitors.
While there are many use cases for Unbounce, it is really the most ideal for those that are guiding visitors towards performing a certain action. Whether you’re collecting emails for a newsletter or directing people to a pricing page, A/B testing different landing pages will help you figure out what the perfect formula is for directing people towards whatever your end goal.
Pricing: $49/month for Starter; $99/month for Pro 99; $199 for Pro 199
As important as you think your website is, people probably aren’t going to check it as regularly as you’d like. This is why you’ve got to bring the content to your audience. “Experts” have long been saying that email will soon be dead, yet it continues to be one of the best ways to engage with audiences.
Whether you’re new to email campaigns or just getting started, I’d highly recommend using MailChimp. They make it easy to manage your lists of contacts, create beautiful emails & distribute them to your audience exactly how you’d like to. What types of emails you send will depend on your particular website and its goals. You might want to send emails of new product features, a monthly newsletter of blog content, offer promo codes, or anything else you can think of. The point is, don’t just cross your fingers and hope people come back to your site; invite them back!
Price: Free for 2,000 subscribers & 12,000 emails/month; $10/month for 0-500 subscribers & approximately $5 for each additional 500 subscribers after that; Alternatively, you can also pay-per-email at $0.030 or $0.020/email depending on the volume sent
If This Then That
If This Then That (IFTTT) does whatever you want it to do. How’s that for a vague description? Seriously though, the whole app is designed to perform certain actions that you specify. It does this by acting as a mediator between two otherwise separate apps. So if your website is for running advice, send out an email whenever it will be sunny out and encourage subscribers to go for a run. Or, send out a tweet whenever you post a new blog article. The options are pretty much endless but whatever you choose will definitely help make managing your website that much easier.
We’re all used to getting automated emails and talking to phone trees, so it can be a surprise when we get to speak to an actual person. LiveChat enables your site’s visitors to quickly speak with a representative from sales, support, or whoever else you would like to put them in touch with.
Having been on both sides of LiveChat (providing support and getting help), I can personally attest to how much of a difference this makes. Being able to get an answer right away rather than sending an email and waiting for a response that may or may not come is extremely helpful. Plus, it shows how the service providing the chat puts their customers first. If customer acquisition or retention is the goal of your website, then adding LiveChat is a no-brainer.
Price: $36/month for Solo; $39/month/seat for Team; $59/month/seat for Enterprise
Know of any other great apps that should have been on this list? Please share them in the comments below!
*Computer image designed by Wilson Joseph from the Noun Project
*Watering Can image designed by Eva Verbeek from the Noun Project