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Mark Myerson

Avid photographer of no note whatsoever, and professional Facebook loather.

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Design, of course, is a hugely important part of a website. As a population, online visitors are extremely fickle, and the smallest mistake in usability will have them clicking elsewhere.

What about after the design phase, though? Yes, design is obviously important, but just as important is the admin area of your site. Choose the wrong system, and you’re stuck with a frustrating, time-consuming mess to deal with every time you want to make even the most minor of alterations to your site.

Barley is a new, hosted CMS which is trying to cut out that kind of pain from post-design website management. At $18 per month, Barley sounds pricey in comparison with other simple-to-use hosted website editors like Weebly and Moonfruit. The suggestion made by Plain, Barley‘s developer, however, is that its creation (still in private beta) is a whole new level of simple, featuring a purely inline, click-and-edit methodology, when it comes to content manipulation.

But is less hassle worth a greater investment? Time to edit a website or two…

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It would be fair to say that, in the last year or so, email has entered something of a renaissance period. At one stage, not so very long ago, developers were concentrating their minds on how they could replace the decade-old electronic mail system. Now, though, most have realized that email isn’t going away any time soon, and their response has been to innovate with email clients.

The most prominent example of this has been Mailbox. Now owned by Dropbox, this iOS email app has shown one new way in which we can organize our huge flow of incoming messages. For those yet to encounter Mailbox’s basic concept, the sorting process in Mailbox is based upon priority, providing one-finger sorting into categories like Later and Important. Given that Mailbox had a one-million user waiting list during its private beta phase, this idea clearly appeals to many people – including those who don’t have an iPhone.

It is no doubt with some of these people in mind that Handle was created. Handle is more than just another way to access your inbox, though. Billed as a “Priority Engine,” this private beta provides task management, itinerary tracking and an email client all rolled into one.

But is this integrated approach helpful, or a recipe for confusion? Time for a test… (more…)

When Google announced that they planned to close Reader on July 1, the online community’s reaction varied from surprised approval, to shocked horror. Google’s decision was based on the flagging number of users who still use feeds in preference to social media.

But as any self-respecting RSS aficionado will know, flicking through your tweets, or browsing your Facebook timeline, isn’t the best way of finding interesting content. Until now, though, there have been very few services providing a halfway house between feeds and social media.

Rockmelt, which was once a socially-orientated web browser, has been reinvented as a social media-based, feed-reading network. But is Rockmelt‘s new course bound for being accepted as a great new way to read the news, or is it heading more in the direction of the doomed FriendFeed? Let’s see.

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Great web design requires every bit as much imagination and creativity as graphic design. But while graphic designers get a (relatively) easy ride with the drag-and-drop tools of Photoshop, web designers, essentially, still have to do it the hard way with from-scratch coding. Hard to believe, I know, given that it’s now 2013, but this archaic method of design still reigns supreme.

Code, for the time being, at least, is still a necessity when designing a website. Wouldn’t it make things easier, though, if code-based styling were a little more intuitive.

That is the aim of bluePen, a live CSS editor, which has simple styling controls for each element on your site. But does this site add-on really save time, or is it yet another failed attempt to streamline web design?

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The social media revolution has undoubtedly broadened our social horizons, but, in my case certainly, it has also broadened the spectrum of online chores to be completed on a daily basis. Keeping up with social media appearances, and the content-hunting which that entails, can easily turn into a full-time vocation.

There are already some apps at hand to ease this burden. Schedulers, like Hootsuite and Buffer, allow you to designate a time at which your posts and tweets should be sent out. Both of these services, and some of their competitors, also offer analytics, meaning you can track how popular each of your missives has been. Services like Feedly make the process of content-gathering easier, although trawling through a catalogue of feeds isn’t a quick process.

A new invite beta-stage startup, called Swayy, aims to streamline these processes into one, simple workflow. Swayy offers a stream of shareable content tailored to your choice of subjects, along with scheduling and analytics options. But can Swayy really be the master of all trades?

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Think of getting yourself a website – how would you go about it? Some might suggest employing a web designer, but a growing range of folks would be confident about creating their own website, thanks to the proliferation of WYSIWYG, do-it-yourself services like Weebly, Moonfruit, or Basekit.

The DIY route doesn’t always provide the best results, though – professional designers, whatever their preferred medium, still tend to produce the best-looking and most creative end products. It is strange, then, that there is a distinct lack of WYSIWYG services aimed specifically at the professionals.

Perhaps Webydo can start to change that. Webydo features Photoshop-style layout creation, drag-and-drop controls, and an enticing freemium pricing model. But can Webydo really be the breakthrough product for designers wishing to unleash their creativity on the web?

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It would be fair to say that eCommerce is in a boom right now. The likes of Ebay and Amazon turn over more revenue than any high street chain you’d care to mention, and the number of independent online shops is growing hourly – the market-leading system Shopify, alone, is powering 50,000 online stores, and counting.

Despite this ever-expanding market, the range and variety of the eCommerce management software available is still relatively limited, and many services are fairly expensive from the viewpoint of a small retailer. Other than going down the Shopify route, most shopkeepers have to resort to WordPress plug-ins like WooCommerce, but neither option allows the non-coder to style their site easily.

It is, perhaps, because of this problem that Hiidef Inc. – maker of the fine, homepage creator Flavors – has produced Goodsie, a design-oriented hosted eCommerce platform. With Goodsie’s Standard package costing $14/month, this service is one of the more affordable eCommerce options available, but is Goodsie more luxury aisle or bargain bin? Time to find out.

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It seems so quaint to remember the days before YouTube. How on earth did we fill our time? The Google-owned video clip phenomenon has all but monopolized the business of online entertainment, and one billion of us now use the service every month. But I, for one, wish that YouTube was a bit less about flicking through clips of cats doing random things, and a bit more like watching a TV channel filled with quality programming.

This avenue of thinking was clearly the catalyst behind the making of Moziy. This brand new service, still in invite beta, turns YouTube and Vimeo channels into streams, and mixes them up to create a personalized, full-screen, video-watching experience. Additionally, Moziy provides its own video watchers’ network, creating something far more social than YouTube has ever been.

But is Moziy‘s video stream-based system really worth ditching the browsability of YouTube for? And is it a real improvement on Vimeo’s Couch Mode? Let’s find out…

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When you think of the classics of videogaming – those games which have survived every format and console that time has thrown at them – what springs to mind? Tetris. Metroid. Mario. And then there’s Bomberman. This brilliantly addictive strategic bomb-’em-up has been around since the days of coin-op arcades, and has been released in dozens of iterations. Sadly, however, Konami (owner of the franchise) has somewhat let Bomberman slide into obscurity.

In response, some Bomberman fans have developed their own free, online version, and they have called it Bombermine. But rather than make a simple clone, the folks behind Bombermine have gone the extra mile, and created a MMO built in HTML5. There are already thousands of happy fans getting stuck in to this relatively new browser-based game, but does it capture the fun of Bomberman’s arcade glory days?

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Project management is a seriously challenging job of its own. Keeping track of what needs to be done, by whom and by when, can be tricky, even when working with the smallest of teams. Little wonder, then, that there is now a very considerable selection of online project managers available, including the likes of Basecamp, Huddle and 5pm.

Subtask is the new kid on this particular block – so new, in fact, it’s still in invite beta – and it shares many features with its more established competitors. Rather than being list-based, however, Subtask provides a more innovative approach; new projects are displayed in a mindmap-like hierarchy, allowing for multiple levels of tasks and sub-tasks.

In theory, this layout should make things clearer – but does it? (more…)

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