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Like this article? We recommend Choosing the Right Web-Based Applications for Your Needs

Choosing the Right Web-Based Applications for Your Needs

Is a web-based application right for you? How can you avoid wasting time and effort with a web-based application that doesn't work the way you want? Use these guidelines:

  • Interoperability. Will the web app work smoothly with your existing files? Does it fit with your workflow? If you need to spend a lot of time and effort adapting to a web app, it might not be the right fit for you.
  • Time saving is money saving. While some web apps are free, many of the most full-featured web apps charge a monthly subscription fee. While the fee might be more than what you'd pay for "canned" software in a year's time, consider the advantages in time saved before deciding which way to go. For example, collaborative apps save time and money by reducing or eliminating the need for frequent meetings and costly overnight document shipments.
  • Security pays, so be ready to pay more to get it. One common feature of more costly versions of web-based applications is better security. Make sure the web-based app you choose has the level of security you need.
  • Simplicity equals usability. Web-based applications might not feature all the "bells and whistles" of a desktop application. However, many web-based applications can be deployed without a lot of user training. This helps keep the technical complexity of a project in the hands of experts while enabling non-computer experts to provide their expertise in other areas.
  • Try before you buy. Most commercial web-based applications are available in time-limited trial versions or limited-feature free versions. You don't need to buy a "pig in a poke."

As you evaluate web-based software, consider finding time to read 37signal's book Getting Real. It details the philosophy the company has used to develop popular web apps including Basecamp, Backpack, and others.

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