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Use Search Feeds and Netvibes to Organize Current News on your Company or Brand

If you're like me and subscribe via RSS to Google News and Blogsearch search results to track recent blog posts and news items regarding topics, companies or brands, more than likely you have lots of feeds to aggregate in a reader. And even more likely, you'll never have time to read them all. And even more likely, you're not the only one who wants to read them.

Enter Netvibes. Netvibes has been around for a while. It's a kick-ass start page service that lets you fully customize all things web oriented on one page for your browser home page pleasure. If you don't use it as a start page, you should. You can add content like RSS feeds super fast, and via drag and drop placement, arrange boxes and tabs however you'd like them to be displayed. But Netvibe's start page service is not what this post is about.

Netvibes has a public facing page that is fully customizable, just like their regular start page. This site is a perfect alternative to a paid company start page. For instance, it can be used to aggregate Google News and Blogsearch feeds and organize them by brand, or topic. In addition you can have constant YouTube searches, embed some HTML, or countless other things.

I find organizations tend to hate most feed aggregators out there, so giving them a start page that contains all of this information can be priceless, especially since there's little to no maintenance involved- one time set up and you're good to go.

Check out the video tutorial.

The great thing about this is that it's a one time set-up process and you're done, as it's all just search feeds. In addition, to get branding or customization out of this, use the HTML or Image widgets to pop in your company's logo. Just remember though, that this is all public information that gets indexed by Google, so keep the information you put on it to content that anyone can access.

Here's the one I created for Appify.

How else would you use Netvibes' public pages for your company?

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Ten Free Web Apps to Increase Productivity at the Office

Anyone who has worked in an office environment (especially larger ones) knows that it's a miracle anything gets done on time or even at all. Here's 10 free web apps you can start using immediately to increase productivity, improve collaboration, get things done, and slay the Rancor- all in a day's work.

1. Drop.io - Simple file hosting

Have email file size restrictions? Create "drops" with semi-custom domain names and send them out. Bonus features include password protection, date when the drop will be deleted, unique drop email address, phone numbers for voice mails that get stored on the drop, conference calls, the list goes on. Check out my review of drop.io here.

2. Zenbe Lists - Take Your To-do List to the Web

Create multiple to-do lists with the speed of a mongoose. Add tasks, set dates, get it done. Plus there's a free iPhone app that syncs with your account, direct link to download here.

3. 24im - Enterprise-wide Group Chat

Decent alternative to Campfire. Separates chat rooms out by department, allows for guest chat and includes 1GB of file storage as well.

4. Twiddla - An Online Meeting Playground

If your business does international work, or you have many offices across the country, or even if you can never get anyone in the same meeting room at the same time, Twiddla solves those problems by providing a place to chat, draw, and show web pages to show others. No sign up required. Video walkthrough and review here.

5. Posti.ca - Digitize Your Sticky Notes

If your desk (or desktop) looks like it's been peppered with a Post-it note shotgun, give Posti.ca a try. Review and walkthrough here.

6. Google Presentations - Quit Screwing Around with Decks

Highly under utilized is the presentation capability that Google Docs has. If you're in an organization that has many people who all have to have their say on what to put into a deck or Powerpoint, don't email it around and create a version tracking nightmare- just share it with everyone on Google Docs. When you have the content nailed down, export it as a Powerpoint file and then make it look pretty.

7. Backboard - Get Quick Feedback and Approval

Another thing that can blow a deadline is just simply getting approval from the right people. Backboard allows you to collect and track feedback and get approval on images, web sites and text. Review and walkthrough here.

8. Gliffy - Create and Share Charts

When a bunch of people all need to be able to see the latest version of a flow or org chart, don't bother sending it around to everyone, only having to change it and send it around again. Make your chart in Gliffy. It's not as robust as some offline programs like OmniGraffle, but it's hard to beat free.

9. HitMeLater - A Snooze Button for your Email

There's no way you're going to remember every damn email that gets sent to you during the day, especially if you don't even have time to check your emails. Just forward an email to "10min@hitmelater.com" or even "wednesday@hitmelater.com" and you'll get that same email resent to you at your designated time. Review and walkthrough here.

10. Privnote - When You Don't Want A Papertrail

Let's face it, sometimes things need to get communicated, but you can't have them being read more than once, or by the wrong person. Privnote allows you to send private notes that self-destruct after reading. Review and walkthrough here.

Got any others apps that are useful at the office?

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Metrics Throwdown Part 3: Quark Base

This is part three of a three post series on free metrics data. In case you missed earlier parts, here's Part 1 and Part 2.

Previously on Appify, I covered Compete.com, and stated that it was top-notch when it comes to providing traffic data. In today's post, I'll cover a relatively new contender to the mix: Quark Base (results for Viddler here). Quark Base covers a lot of ground at first glance, and provides information that you really don't get at Compete or Quantcast.

When you search for a URL, it dynamically pulls the most recent data regarding your entry. I tried a few domains and Quark Base had to pull almost all of the data for that site because no one had searched them before.

A typical search returns a tremendous amount of data about the actual site. You get a screen shot of the landing page, an introduction area, social popularity, traffic, names and positions of the top people at the company, blog posts, and technical information on the site. The introduction section contains a description of the site, domain information, related sites, and a few extras. Social popularity displays how many delicious bookmarks, diggs, articles on reddit, popular pages within the site (for yesterday and all time), as well as top feeds.

The traffic data section, in my opinion, is where Quark Base hiccups a bit. They pull in Alexa graphs onto their site, and we all know how I feel about Alexa. I wonder why they don't pull from Compete.com? Or anything with hard numbers for that fact.

But, Quark Base redeems itself with its Spotlight section. If a blog post references the URL you searched for, Quark Base lists that post in this section. Part One of this series on Quantcast shows up in the Spotlight section when you search for Compete.com, so it's pretty sensitive to any new blog posts, which is killer for getting an up-to-date feel on what's going on in the blogosphere around a specific site.

The Company section is a great bonus feature that lists key people at the company, external profiles (ie. Wikipedia) and any job openings the company may have. However, the job listings are pulled from Indeed based on the company name, so for instance, if you're searching for Compete, any listing with "compete" in the title or description will be listed...which can be kind of deceiving, so I wouldn't rely on this data too much if you're job hunting.

And finally, the Technical section provides a detailed breakdown of technologies used on the site, such as the language and framework, what sort of server it's on, number of iFrames, and if there's flash elements within the site. Also in this section is hosting information like IP address, geographic location and nameservers.

So, how does Quark Base score:

Traffic Data 4
Demographics Data 1
Social and Blog Data 10
Bonus Features 10

Honestly, I wish this score was higher. It should be an 8 or a 9 because this site kicks so much metrics-ass. But, truth is that the site doesn't offer any sort of demographics data, and the traffic data is really sub-par.

Suggestions for the site to make this a 10 would be: 1). pull traffic data from Compete and 2). pull demographics data from Quantcast. These two things would make Quark Base your one-stop-shop for competitive metrics.

What do you think about Quark Base?

Stay tuned via the Appify RSS for the thrilling wrap-up on this series.

Lifetick: New Features

Lifetick, the app that tracks your personal life goals like a ninja, recently upgraded their app to include free access from your iPhone as well as iCalendar/Google Calendar integration. Screenshots of Lifetick on the iPhone below:

Login here: http://www.lifetick.com/iPhone

Metrics Throwdown Part 2: Compete.com

This is part two of a three post series on free metrics data sites. If you missed it, here's part one.

So last time we learned that Quantcast was damn good at delivering demographic profiles, but could use some tweaking. In this post, we'll learn about Compete.com, a free traffic search that puts Alexa to shame. Alexa, while giving stats on some of the largest sites on the Internet, totally forgets the little guys, and by little guys, I mean only a few thousand uniques per month. To some, this number is measly, to others, it's a bad day at the office. Plus, to make matters even more inconvenient, Alexa displays all of its data as a percentage of total Internet traffic. So you may get a traffic swing of .001% per month, but it may mean thousands and thousands of visitors.

This being said, enter Compete. Compete delivers very solid traffic results, and allows for easy comparison between up to three sites without registering as a user. You can then export this data as a CSV, copy a permalink, or embed the graphic as a linked image of varying sizes like the one below:

Compete.com is really about checking out your competitors traffic stats. It breaks down traffic into monthly uniques, monthly rank, daily reach ("Pro" only, pricing here), or totally monthly visits. Also, they measure engagement via daily and monthly attention, average monthly stay, monthly page views (Pro), pages per visit, and visits per person (Pro).

No demographic or social reach information is provided, however they do have two extra features that makes Compete.com a place to visit often: a Firefox toolbar that displays all Compete data of your current website, and a search analytics tool. With the Search Analytics tool you can track site referrals, keyword destinations, and compare sites.

Let's score this thing:

Traffic Data 10
Demographics Data 1
Social & Blog Data 1
Bonus Features 10

It is a little bit unfair to have those other two criteria in the score when judging, but for categorical sake, I'm leaving them in there.

Compete is all about raw numbers in traffic, and with that in mind, I give the crew at Compete a huge amount of respect, as Compete takes the cake when it comes to traffic numbers. However, it does lack on a few of the other points that a site like Quantcast can offer. If you really want to learn about your competitors, you're not going to get everything you want to know just by looking at how many uniques they have on a monthly basis.

What do you think about Compete.com?

Subscribe to the Appify RSS to snag the final part of this series on free web metrics.

Find part three here.

Metrics Throwdown Part 1: Quantcast

This is part one of three part series comparing free metrics data sites.

Reliable data is hard to come by for free when it comes to traffic data. Companies like Nielsen sell detailed metrics data to corporations for tens of thousands of dollars a year. The data, however is incredibly detailed and in-depth, but to be honest, there's only so granular you need to get to be able to still grasp the traffic of a certain site. For instance, I do not need to know that 0.03 percent of the people who come to my site donated to Save the Pandas last year. But I do need to know how many people came to my site (or almost equally as important, a competitor's site) last month.

The three kings of free data are (in no specific order): Quantcast, Compete and Quark Base. For all thee three sites I have chosen Viddler as the control data source. I have purposefully omitted Alexa from this because the third, and newest contender, Quark Base, uses Alexa traffic data.

First in the line up is Quantcast (Viddler.com data here). Upon doing your first search, you'll first notice they have very detailed demographic data... almost surprisingly detailed demographic data. Quantcast boasts detailed, percentage based, gender, age, race, children, income and education level breakdown. It compares them with the Internet average and gives you an index number that shows which people visit the site more than others.

Right next to demographic information is traffic frequency profiles, as well as monthly uniques. One column over more is a really nice automated summary of the site. For Viddler, it generated the following summary:

This site reaches approximately 60,293 U.S. monthly people. The site is popular among a slightly more female than male, 50+ audience.The typical visitor visits consolecheatcodes.com and reads Engadget.

While traffic data is really just limited to monthly uniques with time frame comparisons, demographic data is incredibly detailed. To make the data even more digestible, Quantcast provides an easy visualization of the noteworthy top-lines in each demographic category. But take note, these top-lines aren't whatever the greatest number in the category is, it's simply the highest index (relationship to the rest of the internet) number in that category. So for Viddler, it displays in the education breakdown that the top-line is "Graduates and Post-Graduates" with an index of 141, when the highest crowd in the category is "No College" with 40% of all traffic and an index of 100.

Personally, I wish Quantcast just show the greatest number in the category as the top-line, instead of the highest index. For example, let's say 1% of my site visitors are pink bunnies, and the rest aren't. However, the total number of pink bunnies that visit my site on a monthly basis is way above the Internet average with an index of 190. This would be the graphical top-line that Quantcast displays, even though it's a nearly useless statistic.

Onto the scoring:

Traffic Data 7
Demographics Data 9
Social & Blog Data 1
Bonus Features 8

What's your opinnion on Quantcast?

Subscribe to the Appify RSS to catch parts two and three of this series.

Find part two here.