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5 To Try: Your Weekly App Discovery Guide

This week, since my iPhone is not cooperating (the home button fell off!), I’m concentrating on Web tools.  Let’s get started!

The Canva design interface
The Canva design interface. Image via Canva.com

Canva (Desktop + Chrome App Store)

Canva is one of my absolute favorite tools! Truly a design app for the non-designer, Canva has captured the attention (and investment dollars) of many influential people since its launch last year.

Former Apple Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, now serves as Canva’s Chief Evangelist, so that tells you something about the design chops here. No need to be a coder or a designer, Canva allows you to create beautiful, web-ready images in a variety of sizes and layouts. While professional graphic design tools like InDesign will cost you hundreds of dollars, Canva is, for the most part, free. There are literally millions of free images to choose from. If you choose an image that is not free, the cost is $1. That’s right, $1!

Think of the awesome Facebook banner you can make with this tool! For detailed information on Canva and how it works, check out my earlier post.

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Example of Hemingway app at work.
Example of Hemingway at work. Image via fastcompany.net.

Hemingway (Mac + Windows, $6.99)

Not the greatest writer? Hemingway is here to help! You can write your text directly into the app, or copy and paste. Hemingway not only alerts you to problem areas in your writing, but also suggests edits.

My favorite part of this tool is its ‘Readbility’ feature. You should always aim for a reading level below 10th grade to make your writing most readable. As you can see from the text above, two out of the three sentences are considered ‘hard to read.’ Simplicity is always best, but sometimes we forget in our quest to sound intelligent.

Hemingway does not require an internet connection once installed, so you can use it anywhere you have your computer.

If you’re writing for the web, you may be interested to know that with Hemingway Editor for Mac and PC, you can see your Markdown and HTML, side-by-side. Then, you can export the full HTML when you’re ready to publish to the web. That is pretty handy.

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RallyPoint (Web and iOS only, Android coming soon!)

RallyPoint has been referred to as ‘LinkedIn for the Military’ and it delivers on that promise. Open to all members of the US Military currently serving, RallyPoint is a network that helps service members:

  • Claim your online military identity
  • Grow your professional network inside and outside the military
  • Gain insight into your career options and being to influence your own trajectory inside and outside the military
  • Discover the best PCS (Permanent Change of Station) opportunities
  • Track career updates of military peers and units in real time
  • Connect with employers that value your military experience

Created in 2012 by two military Veterans at Harvard Business School, RallyPoint has been Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 2.16.26 PMfeatured in Time magazine, Wired, and Stars and Stripes. The network has attracted quite a variety of military personnel, as shown in the screenshot at right.

Military veterans are welcome on RallyPoint, but with limited access. Veterans can only connect with other veterans, by default. However, current military members are allowed to connect with veterans in order to build their network.

Check out the introduction video above, and then help spread the word.

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Image of a floral bouquet annotated with Skitch
Annotate images easily with Evernote’s Skitch.

Skitch (Mac, Windows Desktop & Windows 8 + iOS and Android mobile devices)

One of the Evernote family of products, Skitch is used for ‘visual storytelling.’ While that may not tell you much about what it actually does, the photo above is a good example.

Skitch is designed to get your point across with fewer words, emails and meetings. Annotate photos, maps, text documents, webpages and anything else you can think of. I’ve used it to show, rather than tell, about features I’d like to have on a new website, point out important parts of a document, create quick blog graphics and just do some really fun stuff! Skitch is completely integrated with Evernote, so you can easily save it into one of your notebooks. Sharing is super simple as well, and you’re provided with lots of options. Skitch is available on almost every platform and the mobile apps make it super handy when you’re on the go.

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Checkthis.
Checkthis.

Checkthis (Web and iPhone)

Checkthis started out as being a platform for creating ‘social posters.’ Like Canva, Checkthis makes it easy to be your own designer, only instead of simple graphics, Checkthis lets you create all kinds of posters and share them via social outlets.

I’ve found this to be a really helpful tool for creating good-looking event flyers that I can share on social. Inspiration comes from the community, and Checkthis showcases designs from other members that will give you ideas on how to get the most out of the tool. You can find out more about Checkthis for the web in a post I wrote a while back.

Checkthis has launched an iPhone app with a slew of new features; however, it is not currently available in the US.

That’s it for this week! I’ll be off on vacation next week, so look for another #5ToTry the week of September 8!

If you have an app you’d like me to cover on #5ToTry, tweet me or leave a comment below. If I use your suggestion, I’ll give you a shoutout in my post.  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Kelly Lux

Kelly is the former Executive Editor of Information Space. Kelly currently teaches courses on Social Media, Online Community Management, and Content Strategy and Application, and she is currently the Assistant Director of the Communications@Syracuse program.

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