Google Apps standard account alternative - Zoho Apps Lite suite

Note - Zoho's offerings for the various apps mentioned in this article may have changed. Please visit Zoho's website for the latest details.

Also see - Google Apps standard account alternative - Microsoft

Google Apps Standard vs Zoho Lite

Recently, Google discontinued its free version of Google Apps for businesses. The free version of Google Apps, also known as Google Apps Standard, offered 10 user accounts per organization and access to free versions of all Google Apps - Google Mail, Google Drive/Docs, GTalk, Google Sites, Calendar and much more. This free account was perfect for small businesses and startups. 

With the standard Google Apps account being discontinued, Zoho offers a very good alternative/replacement with a free business account for its apps called Zoho Lite. Zoho Lite hosts 1 domain only and offers maximum 3 user accounts per organization with the free/personal versions of the following Zoho products available for each account -
  • Zoho Mail - The lite/free version of Zoho mail offers -
    •  3  5 user accounts (Zoho's Lite plan offerings have changed including a new referral program which awards 5 bonus users per referral)
    • 3 mailing groups
    • 5GB storage per user account
    • Contact management
    • All standard features available in most email apps (labels, filters, forwarding, themes, archiving etc.)
    • IMAP and POP access (this means that Zoho Mail can also be configured with email clients like Outlook and Thunderbird)
    • Overall, Zoho Mail competes very well with GMail.
  • Zoho Docs
    • 1 workspace with 1GB storage per account. 
    • Document version history
    • File sharing
    • Support for editing documents (Zoho Writer), spreadsheets (Zoho Sheet) and presentations (Zoho Show) online
    • Real-time collaboration with chat (similar to Google Docs) 
    • and more
  • Zoho Calendar - All standard calendar features like event sharing, invitations, reminders etc.
  • Zoho Chat - Chat is integrated with the Zoho mail interface (similar to Google Talk) and can be used separately as well. Zoho Chat also supports other instant messaging platforms (IM) like Google Talk, Facebook, Yahoo!, MSN, AIM and more.
  • Zoho Wiki - As the name suggests, this is an online collaboration and knowledge sharing platform. The following wiki features are included under the Zoho Lite package - 
    • 1 wiki per organization
    • 3 wiki workspaces per organization
    • 3 wiki users per organization (same as in Zoho Lite)
    • Total 50 MB attachment storage space
    • Unlimited pages and revisions
    • Does not support custom domain
    • and more
  • Zoho Discussions - The free version of Zoho Discussion is offered under the  Zoho Lite plan.
  • Zoho Notebook - Allows creating online note-books with revision history.
  • Zoho Bookmarks/Links - Integrated into the zoho apps dashboard. 

Zoho is mobile ready

Zoho Docs has apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Documents can also be accessed in read-only mode via Zoho's mobile website.

Zoho Mail and Calendar are available via Zoho's mobile website.

Signing up for Zoho Lite

You'll need a registered domain name for your business/organization before signing up for Zoho Lite. Once the domain name is registered, initiate the Zoho Lite sign up process through this link and follow the instructions.

Zoho Lite admin account

During the sign up process, you'll be asked to create a zoho personal account. This account will be the administrator account for your Zoho Lite business/organization account. This admin account will be used to create user accounts ( and add/remove, enable/disable and configure Zoho apps for these user accounts.

The admin account can also be updated to have an organization email address ( later.

Enabling and Configuring Zoho Apps

After your Zoho Lite sign up is complete including the domain verification, follow these steps to enable the various Zoho Apps available under the Zoho Lite plan -
  • Login to Zoho Mail using your organization's admin account.
  • Click on the 'Control Panel' link on the top right hand side.
  • Inside the control panel, click on the 'Applications' menu entry.
  • Click on the 'Add Apps' link next to the 'Office Suite' title/heading.
  • Select the Zoho apps that you'd like to enable for each user account for your organization and save your selection.
Configuring Zoho Apps from the Control Panel.

This is how the Zoho dashboard looks with all free Zoho Apps enabled. All apps can be easily accessed from the left navigation menu.

Zoho Apps dashboard.

Alternatives for Twitter Bootstrap's affix navigation menu component

Bootstrap provides an affix navigation menu component which can make a nav-bar sticky while scrolling within a certain section of a page.

At the time of writing this article, this component is known to have cross-browser compatibility issues which are not yet fully fixed in Bootstrap's version 2.1.1 - e.g. flickering and violent movement of the affix menu when it reaches the bottom of its defined scrolling area/limit.

There are two jQuery based alternatives which can be used to provide a similar functionality -

The only drawback in these alternatives is that when used with menus, they do not provide automatic highlighting of the current menu entry (which is in view) on scrolling as seen in Bootstrap's affix plugin.

Fixing the jQuery scrollTo bug in Chrome and Safari

The jQuery scrollTo plugin provides a smooth scroll effect for navigating within a page. The target to scroll to can be provided in many ways - DOM element (id, class, jQuery element selectors), absolute position, relative position and much more.

A common use of this plugin is to add 'scroll to top' buttons/links on a page. Clicking on these buttons/links would smooth-scoll to the top of the page. The animation effect and its duration can be controlled by setting the appropriate plugin options.

If the target specified for scrolling is a CSS class/id applied to the HTML body tag, then the smooth-scroll does not work in webkit based browsers like Chrome, Safari and Dolphin (mobile browser).

Instead of using a CSS class/id associated with the HTML body tag, create a separate HTML element (<div> or <a>) and use its class/id for the scrollTo plugin. This element should be styled appropriately to ensure that it is positioned at the top of the page and its positioning is not affected by other elements and vice versa.

jsFiddle -

Code -

  <!-- CSS style to position the placeholder element at the top of the page and making it unobtrusive -->
  <style type='text/css'>
   #top {
    padding: 0px;
    margin: 0px;
    width: 0px;
    height: 0px;
    position: absolute;
    top: 0px;
  <!-- include jQuery and scrollTo plugin's javascript files -->
  <script type='text/javascript' src=''></script>
  <script type='text/javascript' src=''></script>
  <!-- initialize the scrollTo plugin on document load -->
  <script type='text/javascript'>
   $(document).ready(function() {    
    $('#scroll-to-top').bind('click', function(e) {
     try {
      target = this.hash;
      $('html, body').scrollTo(target, 1000); 
     } catch(error) {
      alert('error - '+error);
  <!-- the placeholder element for top of page -->
  <div id="top"></div>
  <!--  add some filler content -->
  <div style='background-color: #FAA; width: 100px; height: 500px; border: #000 solid 1px;'></div>
  <div style='background-color: #AFA; width: 100px; height: 500px; border: #000 solid 1px;'></div>
  <div style='background-color: #AAF; width: 100px; height: 500px; border: #000 solid 1px;'></div>
  <!-- 'scroll-to-top' link -->
  <a id='scroll-to-top' href='#top'>Go to top</a>