ShortStack – The Review

If you are looking for an easy-to-use app for all your Facebook page needs, it would be difficult to find better than ShortStack.

And it’s not just the ease of use that makes ShortStack stand out from the rest of the hundreds of companies now offering apps for your Facebook page, but their whole business philosophy.

They are a young company, and this shows in the best way possible. From their helpful videos, friendly service, and solid product offerings, they are not only my Facebook app creator of choice, but one of my favourite online businesses.

Which is why I switched to them from Wildfire.

But enough about the company itself, what about their apps?

Page-Apps

ShortStack’s page-apps are some of the best I have seen. You can choose from one of 70+ templates, create your own using a very easy drag-and-drop system, or choose an existing template and alter it as you please using the same drag-and-drop system. If you have a minute I recommend having a look at some examples as well.

All of this is brought together and can be created via what they call The Designer.

The Designer

ShortStack Designer
The designer is set up in the form of widgets that you simply drag from the left to the live preview section. Each time you do this a new window will pop up, allowing you to set up the widget as you please.

Once finished, it will update instantly, allowing you to see the result. You can even test the widgets to make sure they are working – all in preview mode.

Live Preview Features

  • You can toggle between 3 different views: admin view, fan view and non-fan view. This will allow you see what various visitors will see depending on whether they are a fan or not
  • You can also instantly see what the page will look like on a mobile phone
  • The live view also allows you to see a page depending on a particular date and from a particular country
  • And finally, it has its own theme selector, so you can individualize your page and have it look a little more like your brand or website. For advanced users, you can also change the design using CSS

Templates

ShortStack TemplatesTo make creating apps easier, ShortStack have created a large range of templates you can use immediately and have up and running in minutes.

There are 70 templates and counting, so if you don’t want to design your own, you are sure to find one already created to suit your needs.

And if you need to tweak any of them, this is simple in the Designer.

There are templates for a load of different needs: social media templates, so you can add your Pinterest page into your Facebook page, for example; there are coupon giveaways, fan-gated reveals, games and contest templates, seasonal templates for Halloween and Christmas, even video voting; as well as product showcase templates.

There are even templates for specific businesses, like car dealerships, DJs and bars.

Using them is a breeze. You simply click on the template you are interested in, it generates a working live preview for you, and then, if you like it, you simply click the Make Tab button, which takes you to the designer so you can alter it and add in your logo and information.

One HUGE omission in their catalogue of templates however, is an Etsy store. In my mind, this is a serious omission and a big missed opportunity. And this extends to other stores as well, like eBay.

They do have a couple of product display templates, but being able to re-create your Etsy store in Facebook with a few clicks would be a boon to many people.

Widgets

ShortStack WidgetsWidgets are the individual tools that make up a template or a page-app of your own creation. In the designer, they are simple boxes that you drag and drop where you want them to appear.

There are very few things you cannot do with the design widgets.

There are promotional tools, basic editing & text tools, tools for you to embed Facebook features such as liking, sharing and commenting.

You can create you own forms or embed an email sign-up form from MailChimp, if you use that service (which I recommend you do as they are another fantastic company).

Additionally, you can add in videos, images, galleries, maps, music, check-ins and even Twitter and RSS feeds.

There are also a few fun widgets as well, such a virtual gift widget, countdown and poll widget.

And for the more advanced user, you can also add in plain text, code, iFrames and Flash.

Analytics

ShortStack provides you with basic analytics so you can see how many people have interacted with your app.

When running a competition, for example, you can see Tab Views, Like Growth and Interaction Summary. You can also drill down into interactions by widget.

ShortStack Analytics

The analytics are easy to navigate and use, and are perfect for beginners. It provides a Dashboard view where you can see at a glance what is happening, plus you can drill down into full reports as well. Finally, there is an option to download each report(as a csv file).

You can see up to the last 6 months worth of data.

The one thing I don’t like about the analytics is that it is not available until you start paying $75 per month. For the basic level of analytics you get, I am surprised they don’t offer it in one of the cheaper plans.

Support

As with the rest of the company, ShortStack’s support is amazing! From their YouTube channel, which features some excellent tutorials, to their Facebook page, which keeps you up to date on any issues, to their free eBooks and other help products, they are there to help and support you.

They also have a great email support ticket system. I have had to contact them a couple of times and each time they responded within 24 hours, even with complex coding queries.

Have a look at their support page for more information and resources.

Pricing

This is important to any prospective business looking to use apps to increase their Facebook page’s capabilities.

ShortStack offers a large range of options, from a free plan to their “All You Can Eat” option. At first glance it looks like they offer up 9 different plans, but in reality there are only 5, with the option to pay monthly or annually – the latter saving you money.

ShortStack Pricing

As with most pricing plans like this, the more you pay, the more features you gain access to.

One of my issues with ShortStack is they jump from a Free plan to the first tier plan, which is $30 per month.

This seems like a steep jump, especially for a lot of “kitchen table” businesses. Something around $15 per month might entice more people into their paying plans.

The good thing about the plans is there are no lock in contracts, so you can cancel anytime. This is great if you want to run a promotion for a month – you can switch back to the free plan once the promotion has finished.

Having said all that, ShortStack is a fantastic intro app creator as it allows you to pay nothing if you have less than 2,000 fans.

They do place a small ShortStack icon on each of the pages you create (which is unlimited), but this seems like a fair trade when you are getting started.

The two most important things you miss out on with the free plan, over any of the paid options, are:

  • No database storage, which you need to run a promotion, and
  • The ability to custom publish you tab

This last feature, while not absolutely necessary, is a more advanced and feature-rich way to publish your page-apps.

Stuff I Don’t Like

Other than what I have mentioned so far, there are a few things I don’t like about ShortStack, but these are only minor annoyances:

  • The fact that their templates are not in any real logical order. They need to be grouped into categories. You can browse by tags, but this is not the best
  • I find their Forms & Promos page a little clunky to use. I am not sure the navigation buttons are big enough, which can lead to you clicking on the wrong one by mistake (this has happened to me more than once)

Conclusion

While not perfect, ShortStack is one of the best Facebook app creators out there. And while they have a few omissions, like the lack of an Etsy shop template, they make up for it in their support, number of features, and ease of use.

I recommend these guys to anyone who asks, and I am recommending them to you now.

Is there anything else you want to know about ShortStack?

I would just like to mention that I was approached by ShortStack to write a review for them but I would not of done this had I not been a user, and a fan, already.

  • Bob

    Very detailed post thanks Russell this has provided me with plenty of insight. Cheers!