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A Good Journal App is One That Understands You, Feels With You, Keeps Your Secrets AND ...

Updated: 01/04/2019

What Makes a Good Journal App

I've written about the importance of keeping a journal and also made a detailed comparison regarding online journal apps on the market. When it comes down to using an app for the long-term, because journal writing is such an activity, you have to look for points which enable a long and healthy relationship. Some of the features are visible from your first interaction with the webpage and others are hidden.

In most cases, you will need to sign up with online journal providers which pass your initial eye test. I will try to make your decision process easier in this regard, although I could just tell you to sign up with Mynlo :) Before we start, I have to raise a word of caution. I will assume you are the casual journal writer. You aim to write 2- 3 times a week, then you expect your privacy to be respected and you are seriously interested in keeping your secrets, secret. The driving motivation for you to start a journal is the outlook to improve as a person.

You may not be in this group or have a few different points of view. Base your decisions on the points which apply and make actual sense to you.

Privacy Policy

Whenever you sign up for new services you should read the privacy policy. How many times you actually do? The truth is, often you don't. You check the box and skip the step, fast speeding the process with the real threat of encountering a negative surprise in the future. Most of the time everything works fine with this method, but then is always that one time, you wished you had read properly the privacy policy of the company. This applies the more so for online journal apps because you depend on them to keep your data away from unauthorized access.

This happened to me recently. I had signed up for a free online platform which enables you to keep a blog and monetize your content. Maybe you have heard of it. It was Steemit, a blockchain social platform. I wrote a few posts, participated in discussions and then after a while, one of my Steemian fellows told me, that I had an error in one of my posts.

I thought, nothing easier than to fix this with some edit in less than a few seconds. I couldn't. After 14 days you can't edit again, anything on your posts. That was written in their privacy policy which I didn't read. Then a question hit me. How do you update a post or delete a post if you want?

I found out, that on a blockchain every data set will remain forever unchanged. This means, your data will forever remain visible with all its mistakes. Use your real name, be young and write some really crazy shit and your granddaughter/son would be able to read it after 60 years. You can't even hope for Steemit going out of business, its the Blockchain, it's forever.

So, the lesson here, read the privacy policy even if it has some crypto language jargon, it is in your benefit. And if you don't understand their points, better seek advice or look for another company.

Security of Content

Your journal app should give you ways to protect your content and data. Connecting an email account with a secure password combination should be the minimum prerequisite for safe communication. Of course, it is in your own responsibility to pick up a password that is hard to guess. Some online journal apps offer you the ability to use a PIN for accessing your account or have a layered security setup, enabling you to decide which data should be safe. I believe that whatever you prefer when it comes to deciding upon a reliable journal app, your entries and data should be encrypted.

Hackers have improved and are able to get into most companies they target. Every company says it is safe, but an undesirable event can't be ruled out. After letting go of Steemit, I moved to Quora for writing my posts and answering some answers about diaries and journals. Everything was fine until they informed me, their website got hacked and my account data was affected. My trust in them got shackled and this was the point where I fought against my procrastination to build this blog on my own website. I still answer to answers at Quora but keep it short and concise.

This also made me aware of the fact that no website can provide 100% security. The most they can do is making it for hackers so hard to get readable data, that they move to easier targets. For example, Mynlo uses an AES 128-bit encryption for every entry you write in it. Even in the event, hackers overcome the security and access the servers plus the database they cannot read your entries. With current computer power, it would take them 100 years to decrypt the entries. This has no value to them.

Backup Friendliness

You never know what life has prepared for you the next day. One day everything is working like a clock and the next day chaos can break in. For these days it's prudent to have a backup ready. A good backup is the best safety policy to ensure your writings are safe from getting lost. Nobody wants to lose his/her data and you can do something about it. I think it is crucial to have a reliable way to make a fast backup of your data because it does more than helping you sleep better at night.

A good journal app should have, an easy to find option for doing a full backup of your entries. It should also do the backups in a form that are readable outside of your journal app. Your data has to have a commonly acceptable file format like docx, txt, pdf. Additionally, the backup will need to be saved on your computer hard drive or on the cloud and not on the online journal app itself, because their servers could fail for some reason.

Price levels

Writing a journal is a long term hobby. Over time giving a big chunk of money to a journal app can become costly. You don't have to despair, as there are many options when it comes to pricing. You can sign up with a free one or choose to go with a freemium journal app. This is mostly a basic free version with the possibility to upgrade in features when you pay for it.

The duration of the pricing is also very depended on the app provider. You can find monthly subscription plans or yearly one time bills. Some apps are served by ads, others provide you with the ability to get donated or allow you to buy from them something related to a journal writing experience.

Online journal apps are businesses and your spending ensures they will stay around for a long time. Imagine keeping a journal on your own. Your blog would accrue yearly expenses regarding your domain name, hosting and maintenance costs. An independent app provider offers you a specialized writing space and manages all the costs on behalf of you. Through the network effect, they achieve to offer you an attractive price point in comparison to what you would pay, if you would run a personal blog yourself.

Ease of Use

The design shouldn't distract the user from writing entries. It can be discussed if many features are necessary, but initially, the basic edition of any online journal app should suffice. Remember the act of writing stays in focus here. A decluttered writing environment enhances the writing quality and the user-friendliness of the app.

The main role of a good writing app is to encourage you to write. You really don't need ten's of options for selecting a font, a background size or your font size. Your writing has to be as frictionless as possible. Some apps offer a district-free mode, where the editor becomes full screen. A good app makes writing pleasant with it.

From a design point of view, a clear background in a solid color without shape patterns behind the editor, help to read your writings. Buttons that explain what they are for help achieving tasks quickly. Loading time of pages plays also a significant role in how user-friendly the website is, especially when considering an app for mobile phone use.


Have fun writing and I hope things became clearer to you, how to pick up an online journal writing app.


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Other blog posts:

What are Diary Entries?

How to Write a Diary - Your Guide to Mastering a Long Diary Writing Career

Jot Down a Life Plan with Your New Years Eve Resolutions as Battering Ram

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