My favourite useful tools for creating this website

It has been over nine months since setting up this website. I came at it with limited knowledge of blogging, website setup or content creation in general. As something I do in my spare time I thought it might be helpful to list out the tools I have found most useful so far.

This has been a fairly organic process and therefore there may be changes in the apps, software or services I use over time. It’s also worth mentioning that I don’t currently worry about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or keeping up with ‘trend’ articles to maximise hits on the website.

The Website

Obviously built on WordPress. The setup relies on very few plugins and one of the basic default themes which I really liked. So there isn’t too much to say here than other than WordPress being the king of website management systems and an industry standard. It is however very poor at managing the pipeline for future content.

Generating and creating content

Screenshot of OneNote Windows 10 App

OneNote Windows 10 app

There are a few different tools in this area, but for me OneNote from Microsoft has been brilliant. I was already a keen note taker and using OneNote. It’s a powerful tool for making notes and sketching out ideas. Like all of the choices here, cloud based and available across different devices. Which is a must.

Evernote is something I love and have used since 2010. Therefore this is another viable choice but I migrated away from Evernote a few years ago, simply because it’s a bad value proposition for a single purpose app if you already have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription. Although Evernote has more capable media clipping, nicer online web app and often better integration with other services. OneNote is second to none in freeform writing as Evernote text input is more like using a tradition word processor and quite limited in comparison. Both are great choices though.

Screenshot of Evernote

Evernote web app

If I was collaborating more or needed more powerful text editing I would probably consider Google Docs or Office 365 as well.

Managing the content pipeline

OneNote (or Evernote) are great for turning ideas into content but lack workflow management. In general I’ve hated most To Do tools because the list format used doesn’t give a great holistic view. And therefore for any task management I am currently trialling Trello.

Sceenshot of Trello

Trello web app

Trello is really meant for collaborating with others and managing tasks within larger projects. However it also works well for personal To Do lists and managing due dates etc. Mainly because of its visually appealing Kanban task view. Whether I upgrade to the Gold version will depend on a few factors but the ‘power-up’ features (addons) such as linking to OneDrive, Calendars, Automation amongst others are really appealing.

Again there is a fully featured mobile app, and a native Windows 10 app. However it doesn’t do anything the browser version won’t, and doesn’t allow extensions. Such as…

Spelling & Grammar Checks

Obviously most apps have basic spelling and grammar checking built in but I did try Grammarly. This is a powerful grammar and spell checker service that runs across a few different apps.

It didn’t play nice with WordPress when I used the Chrome Extension. It might be my configuration or technique but Grammarly only seems to work after editing text blocks and therefore missed mistakes. I’m also not enamoured on the idea of the Terms of Service and storage/ownership of everything I write. So I am still searching for something I am entirely happy with.

Other future tools I need to look into

Notion – It aims to offer note taking, to do list and task management which makes it extremely intriguing and a possible all-in-one replacement for OneNote and Trello in the future. Like most of the services it operates on a free and premium model so I will check out at some point. Also a very new app on the scene.

Canva – currently my main logo is something I created over 20 years ago (and it shows!). Therefore I need to look rebranding at some point and this will be something I check out.

And that’s it for now

You often see these ‘best tools’ articles that can exist to maximise search results or stealth sell something. However this is a genuine look at the tools I have used so far to help build and maintain my website. These are a relatively effective combination in my view and hopefully my experience or thoughts may help others starting out too.

Tracking the backlog after 3 months

I thought it would be worth a few thoughts on how I have found setting up a backlog tracker for my games and whether it has made any impact to my gaming after a few months.

Lots of time required

Firstly the time investment on listing every game you own, or have access to, is not to be underestimated. It probably took me 10 hours, or thereabouts, to go through and log every game on my Grouvee profile. And even that is with the automated import of my Steam library which took some of the work away.

Adding every game on my backlog tracker was made easier because fortunately many years ago I had already setup a spreadsheet with all my physical games listed. This undoubtedly made the job easier.

However it isn’t just listing the games once, but getting into the discipline of maintaining my Grouvee profile to show what I am playing, moving stuff from Playing to Shelved or Completed, adding new games and updating any notes or comments. This itself probably takes at least an hour or two a month.

So is it worth the time investment?

Obviously this depends on the person but I have found the exercise quite cathartic. It has made it obvious that I have been buying too many games and probably need to be even more choosy, or at least wait for a sale. For example Forza Horizon 4 might be a game I will really enjoy, but do I need day one? Probably not. At £80 for the most complete version it makes sense to wait for a sale.

Unfortunately it is too early to answer whether it helps more easily identify what game to play next. When I have started playing a new game, i.e. Rage, this wasn’t really due to the backlog tracker. However it certainly helps to see my entire backlog across all platforms but it is almost too long a list to know where to start first.

One thing I have noticed is that it has been fun setting up and blogging about my games. Setting up a backlog tracker has led me to set up hosting and putting together a WordPress site. This is something I likely wouldn’t have done otherwise.

And finally one other positive has been the Grouvee website, community and support. I found one bug which I raised on their forums and have continued to have been impressed with the really passionate and positive engagement of Grouvee’s members. I think they really have created the Goodreads equivalent, but for videogames. I really have enjoyed using Grouvee to the point where it was very easy to decide to become a subscriber to their site and support them. A really useful website and service.

I might return to do an update after a much longer timeframe and revisit this post to see how I feel about my experience with tracking a backlog.