There are a number of moving parts involved in running any website. From the writers to the software and servers, it can literally pull you in a million different directions. Speaking from experience, you can start out your day planning to write about a topic, but quickly find yourself knee deep in troubleshooting problems which seemingly crop up at the most inconvenient times. It’s the nature of the business. Things change and you need to be on top of your game. Managing websites is my full-time job, emphasis on full-time. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with phenomenal perks that easily offset the hours. Working from home has enabled me to spend valuable time with my daughter, who turns 2 next month. Whether you are creating a site for personal or commercial use, your smartphone can play a big role in the management of your site. These are a collection of the best apps for iPhone and iPad that I use to manage the Smartphone Resource family of websites.
The most important part of any website is content. Never has there been a truer statement than the old saying, “Content is king.” It’s the primary reason why visitors come to your website. Our site uses a mix of articles by staff and user generated content created in our forums. When it comes to writing articles, my tool of choice is Byword, a light text/markdown editor available for Mac, iPad and iPhone. Here’s why it’s great.
Byword syncs with iCloud and it does it quickly. If I’m writing a story on my Mac Pro, I can easily continue that story on my iPad or iPhone. The iOS app is universal, so that’ll work with both your iPhone and iPad. It does require purchase of the Mac app. The syncing between devices tells only half the story. This is a fabulous app that will make you forget Word, Pages or any other bloated word processing app. It launches immediately, without a cluttered tool bar or sluggish performance. The focus is on the content your creating, with zero visual distractions. I use it daily on all my devices. It’s easily the best $15 I’ve spent, outside of my last six Starbucks grande coffees.
It’s easy to get sidetracked when juggling responsibilities, a requirement of any individual tasked with managing a website. You have multiple projects, each with their own timelines and to-do lists. Late last year, I looked at the deep playing field of GTD apps. There are some great options here, but as a Mac user I wanted the same syncing between devices I had come to know and love with Byword. Some apps in this category can be daunting to use, let alone use effectively. Thankfully, a good number of these companies offer trials of their desktop apps. This is a great way to test the waters and see which is a good fit for your needs. I’ve seen a number of folks that swear by OmniFocus. I won’t argue with the capabilities of that app. The best app for one person, might not be best for you. After a lengthy trial period, I wholeheartedly recommend Things. Again, give both a go to see which works with your workflow.
You won’t get bogged down in learning how to use your task manager, nor will you be overwhelmed by a confusing interface. This app manages to that delicate balance between power and simplicity. The focus section categories your tasks neatly by due dates and projects:
I have multiple projects setup to organize my tasks. When I get an idea for an article, there is a project category that matches the navigation of everythingiCafe. For example, I have an iPhone How-To project. Within that project, I have all upcoming ideas for stories. Our how-to guides are broken up by category (Photos, Reminders, etc.). Things supports tagging, so similar to the website, I create relative tags. Here’s an example:
iPhone How-to > How to shoot HDR photos on iPhone (photo, camera)
Admittedly, I could be better at managing my tasks, but that’s not in any way a reflection on this software. We’ve heard some iOS developers who are less than enthused with iCloud, claiming it is a bear from a development perspective. Cultured Code decided to build their own, titled Things Cloud. It works as expected, which is pure joy. I often create content at home on my Mac Pro or MacBook Air, but tasks and ideas come at all times of the day. I always have some device at my side and Things is always there for me.
Good things cost money. There is no universal iOS love, so you’re looking at the purchase of three individual apps to create the best in to-do list syncing. Not only are they individual purchases, but they are on the more expensive side. If you run a business, the boost in productivity will easily offset the cost.
Measuring Site Analytics
You build a site in the hopes that people will visit your site, read your content and hopefully stick around, if not return. If you aren’t already, you’ll want to sign up for Google Analytics. It’ll require you install a snippet of code on your website, which instantly starts tracking activity. Google Analytics can track all aspects of activity. Browser type, bounce rate, new vs returning. The options are limitless. For most webmasters, unique visitors and page views rule the roost. I use two apps for analyzing my website traffic.
This app ties into your Google Analytics and provides with a plethora of data points. If you run multiple sites, it’s easy to move between them using a slider or tapping into a grid-view of your properties. At the bottom, you can create different views based on Today, Yesterday, Month or Custom. The last view is particularly helpful if you are checking to see if your website has seen either a traffic boost or decline due to Google’s Panda or Penguin algorithms. Moz offers a comprehensive list of algorithm changes to help you pinpoint reasons for your success or decline.
In this chart of everythingtreo, you’ll see a slight surge, which might indicate an old-time Palm Treo user is surfing around. I might have more analytics apps than I do Twitter apps and that says plenty about their utility. The ‘Today’ graph is where Quicklytics shines. It charts traffic for today, with a secondary data point showing the previous week. Each day, about 6-8 times per day, I check to see my unique visitors and pageviews, hoping to see a bump over the previous week. The blue line represents today’s stats as compared to last week, shown in green.
Tap and hold will reveal a full-screen landscape mode. This view is invaluable to me and should be helpful to you. A single tap provides access to specific stats based on Demographics, Behavior, Technology and Mobile.
If you are looking to do deep dives into your data set, Analytics Pro should be your go-to app. It offers a native iOS experience that is much like what you get when visiting Google Analytics on the web. Visit the today tab and you’ll see similar graphs to Quicklytics, with statistical breakdowns for visitors, traffic sources, referral sources, top content, countries, operating system and search keywords. The app is fast and features a beautiful design throughout.
Both are fantastic and will help you track the all important statistical aspects of your website. At some point, Google might enter the fray. As of today, they don’t offer an official app for Analytics for iPhone. There is an app available for Android in the Google Play Store. It offers real time current, but I’d still pick these two over that app.
Is your content engaging? Are people sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+? That’s a key indicator as to whether you are developing compelling content. It’s also vitally important to growth of your website. It’s not enough to have those share buttons pasted throughout your website. Ultimately, the people who follow your site on these networks do so because they spend time interacting on those networks. Like your personal account, you’ll want to use apps to keep track of your social outreach. Discussions are no longer siloed on your website.
Have you setup a Facebook page for your website? This app will keep tabs on new likes, chat and comments on your articles. Communication between an author and his/her readers is important. Pages allows you to instantly see what’s happening on your page and act on it.
Facebook Pages also provides data on your page. This includes total page likes, new page likes, total reach, post reach and people engaged. Tap on the green/red arrow will reveal a chart for that Page Insight.
It’s not my go-to app for my personal account, often switching between Tweetbot or Twitterific. While those are amazing apps, the ‘Connect‘ tab in the official Twitter app will show you all the latest interactions. Did someone favorite a tweet? Did someone just follow you on Twitter or retweet a post? The official Twitter app does just that, helping you monitor your social presence on Twitter.
Some recent reports suggest that Google+ could be more influential to your rankings than either Facebook or Twitter. Regardless, it’s an important part of any website marketing campaign. If you have a site, you need to be on Google+. Despite owning Android, Google has been great about developing excellent apps on iOS. There have been some clunkers, but the Google+ isn’t one of them.
You can post, reply and check your notifications to see how your posts are performing and if people are adding you to their circles.
Ads are often a necessary evil. Writers, servers and software can add up quickly. Most sites rely on Google Adsense as part of their advertising mix. Earnings can fluctuate based a number of factors, including on-site changes that can cause a dip in earnings. To help track the good, bad and sometimes ugly, I rely on two apps: Quick Adsense and Google Adsense (official).
The same developer behind Quicklytics has authored Quick Adsense. As the name suggests, that’s exactly what it delivers. Fast, accurate numbers based on your Adsense account. If you rotate your iPhone horizontally, it will present you with a graph of your earnings for the last 30 days. Upon launch, you have all of the critical information you need from Adsense.
- Page CTR
- Page RPM
- Daily Average
If you want to dig into the more granular data, the menu icon at the top left reveals critical information regarding your account. Once you make your selection, the app provides the same clean, simple interface with the data set.
Quick Adsense Free
I’ve never had a reason to stray from Quick Adsense, that is until Google released the official Google Adsense app for iPhone and iPad. Google’s app design is devoid of heavy gradients and graphics, instead focusing on your earnings. I suspect this is an example of what apps will start to look once iOS 7 is released.
Information is broken down as follows:
- Today So Far
- Yesterday (vs the same day last week)
- This Month So Far (vs the same day day last month)
- Last Month (vs the month before last)
Tapping into any of the above reveals specifics that include page views, clicks, Page CTR, cost per click, Page RPM. It’s all here. Similar to QA, a menu at the top left provides for looking at Top Channels, Top URL Channels, Top Sites and Top Ad Units.
Managing one or multiple websites is no easy task. It’s an incredibly rewarding job and one that I enjoy doing day in and day out. From creating content, task management and tracking growth, I’ve found these to be the best apps for managing websites.
What are your favorites and how do you use them to manage your web presence?