Good web designers and marketing specialists spend much of their staff time searching for, testing, and implementing the best third-party tools.
We have checked out hundreds of programs, databases, and specialized services. This page spotlights the most cost effective alternatives which we use and which you can use yourself!
Web pages are written in Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) to allow different types of computers using different software get the same information. Mac or PCs using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer all see similar web pages because HTML lets each computer show the data its own way.
Like any computer language, HTML has its own rules and syntax. Mere mortals (like you and me) do not want to use only HTML to put together web pages.
So, we use page authoring software which mostly hides the HTML code from our eyes.
Dreamweaver is the page authoring tools Ozdachs uses for our new clients. It is the industry standard tool, used far more often than competing Microsoft products.
Dreamweaver is not terribly user friendly. It is a complex, professional tool. Fortunately, Dreamweaver allows a designer to set up template pages and have the user update content using Contribute.
- Dreamweaver also integrates with Macromedia/Adobe's web graphics creation program, Fireworks and its photo editing program Photoshop.
We recommend Dreamweaver to people who want professional-quality web site building software. We recommend Contribute to our clients who want to do ongoing maintenance of their sites.
Photoshop is the industry-standard software for photo editing. But, it's complex and overkill for what most people need!
Three-quarters of the battle in getting pictures on your website is finding the image you've taken and downloaded and put somewhere on your hard drive.
Once you've located the perfect shot that illustrates the text on your web page, you may need to make some routine changes in its size, crop a part of it, or make light and color adjustments. But, you ususally won't be doing a great deal of artistic work that is Photoshop's real strength.
We recommend Lightroom for photography work flow. The program is inexpesive at $149 as opposed to $699 for Photoshop. Plus it does all of the work flow tasks in one program: it locates and catalogues photographs, edits them, resizes them, and outputs the changed version where you want it. Adobe offers a 30-day trial, too!
You want to know who visits your site, which pages they visited, and how they found you. Did they see you in Google? Click on a link from a satisfied customer? How??
Some hosting services provide free monthly reports on who visited you. But, you need real-time information, not monthly statistics!
The solution is to put small bits of tracking code into each of your source HTML pages. This code sets a cookie for your visitor and reports back to a server in real time.
You can tell right away whether your latest search engine optimization is working, whether your pay-per-click ad campaign is effective, or whether your listing in an on-line directory is paying off!
You'll also see where clients go from your site, what files they download, and which pages wind up your visitors exit from.
The 2008 update to the product adds features include a dashboard snapshot of key metrics, enhanced account logon options, and new performance measures.
Ozdachs has used tracking software from HitsLink for several years. Their statistics have been accurate, and the monthly charge for a low-volume site is reasonable, approximately $10.
Sign-up for their free 30-trial. We think you'll be hooked on the information you see!.
Pictures grab people's attention and make your site or electronic newsletter more attractive. They're essential for communicating with visually-oriented customers, and they help everyone glide through your web pages.
If you're not a photographer or graphic artist, you probably don't have a ready inventory of pictures to share online. Even if you are a visual artist, you may not have pictures to share that help you illustrate a particular point.
That's where stock images come in. Stock images are generic pictures of scenery or people you can use to tell your story. Most of the non-famous people and scenes you see in print ads and on web pages are from stock photos.
Finding affordable, realistic-looking stock pictures can be challenge, however. In the past couple years, a major stock photography company has bought up smaller companies and dramatically raised their prices (from $100 a year to $600 a year for access to the one mid-sized photo database I had been using).
Moreover, many of the stock photographs from most companies look phony. The people look like the well-dressed models they are. However, that isn't always the type of person you want illustrating your Internet story.
When my high-priced stock photo provider didn't have a good-looking photo that matched my needs, I searched the Internet for an alternative source. I found Dreamstime.com. For about $1 a web image, they provide a great alternative to the plastic, too perfect images found elsewhere.
Dreamstime seems to work as sort of an exchange, simultaneously buying images from photographers and graphic designers and selling them to webmasters and advertisers.
I found the dollar bill on a fishhook image pictured above at Dreamstime.com to use with an article on phishing. On the corporate stock image site, there was nothing that clever, modern, or on-target.
In addition, Dreamstime's pricing policies are way, way better for getting an occasional photograph.
I've adding this low-priced, high-quality source of stock photographs to my recommended list.
Latest stock photos on Dreamstime
You want to touch your clients and potential customers regularly. Let them know of new services, products, and specials. Give them free information that will help them in their business, and get them to consider you a valuable partner.
Electronic announcements of sales, new products, and specials is also a cost-effective way of getting your existing clients to buy from you more often. Attractive and timely correspondence helps you both serve your clients and sell more!
A low-risk tool for you to use to communicate to your clients is the Constant Contact e-mail service. Constant Contact is inexpensive and offers a free 60- day trial of the service so you can take your e- marketing campaign out on a test drive. They even provide preformatted coupons and suggested wording for your messages.
They provide responsive and competent telephone technical support -- where else do you get that kind of help anymore?
Their service is inexpensive (and they offer a FREE 60-day trial), and you need no special software to put together your electronic magazine.
Constant Contact lets you try them out for free! Check out the details and then tell your customers what you are up to!