7 Useful Tools for Web Developers

Have you ever found yourself wasting time on testing before launching a new website? The worst possible scenario you could have is putting all your time and effort into a new web design, testing it, and once it’s live you find out there are bugs that needed to be fixed. I found a few useful tools that will test your website for you. The tools listed will test everything from CSS to website speed. Feel free to leave your comments and input.

“The worst nightmare of any programmer, designer, or business is to launch a broken website that drives away users and hurts reputations. It will only create more work, more headaches, and lost profits.”

The full article can be found here.

trackback: http://mashable.com/2009/03/21/tools-web-testing/

30 Helpful Tutorials for Web Developers

Thinking of becoming a web master? Or maybe you need to brush up on your web design and develop skills. If so, this article is a must read for you. Check out the videos here. The article was written by Glenn Stansberry.

“You can find a good tutorial on just about any subject of web development, but great video tutorials are much less common. Here are a few great tutorials that any developer can use to brush up on various topics like iPhone development, frameworks, jQuery, CSS and more.”

trackback: http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/web-roundups/30-more-helpful-video-tutorials-for-web-developers/

Stripped To The Bone: Minimalist Web Design

I pulled this article off Sitepoint. As web standards change, we as developers must change as well. The days of scrolling marquees and standard web colors are far over. Take a look for yourself and enjoy.

“In web design, minimalism refers to the use of the smallest amount of images, colors, shapes, values and lines. The site is stripped down to the fundamentals required to convey the message.”

trackback: http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/08/03/stripped-to-the-bone-minimalist-web-design/

When is a website past its prime?

You remember it well: that day back in the late 1990s, when your company’s website first went live. It looked hi-tech at the time, and you were so proud to have graduated to the Internet. Here’s a fair question: How many times since then have you refreshed the graphics or content on your website? Some businesses, it turns out, are still hosting first-generation sites that went live at the turn of the millennium.

Internet-savvy businesses will refresh the content on their websites regularly. Why? For one reason, customer experience.

Likewise, the majority of these sites are passé by today’s standards – sometimes embarrassingly so. Internet-savvy businesses will refresh the content on their websites regularly. Why? For one reason, customer experience. It takes only a byte or two of dated information for visitors to conclude they’ve hit a dead end or landed on an orphaned site and, with the competition only a click away, you might as well advertise that value-added service is not a strong part of your company’s culture. Plus, when a potential customer clicks on your “News & Events” section, only to find that the latest event was back in 2005… your potential customer is most likely gone.

So consider this a wakeup call. Business sites vary widely but, for the purposes of site facelifts, differences boil down to how frequently you must make changes. Small businesses may only need to make minor updates quarterly and major updates annually. Medium and large corporations may require monthly updates and e-commerce driven sites may require weekly or even daily updates, especially if they have entered into the social networking revolution.

Here are six ideas for the small business website that can help modernize your site swiftly without costing you a bundle.

  1. Update your high traffic pages frequently: Your site’s homepage is generally the first thing a visitor will see. You don’t want it to quickly be the last thing they see, so set aside a small budget for making minor changes to your homepage and other high trafficked pages every three months. Make sure the site architecture is current with today’s best practices. Site usability is very important and can make the difference between a good user experience and a bad one. Navigation is by far the most important usability factor. Develop navigation that is simple and logical. Create content on the homepage that can be updated or changed monthly, such as latest press releases or product offerings. This will give repeat visitors the sense that your site is up-to-date and well maintained.
  2. Insure visibility with the search engines: There’s no point in pursuing an eBusiness venture unless you’re prepared to take the necessary steps to drive relevant traffic to your website. By increasing awareness and pertinent traffic to your web pages through the search engines, you enhance your potential return on investment—the more relevant the traffic, the greater the chance for client conversions. Deploying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices offers the greatest potential return on investment. With a strong SEO service, your site is tuned for relevant content, listed organically, and maintained on a regular basis for maximum exposure over the long term. The traffic driven to your site is made up of ‘true customers’ seeking your products and services.
  3. Invest in a web content management solution: Content Management Systems (CMS) empower non-technical content authors to contribute, edit, manage, and publish their mission-critical text and images, without the help of professional web developers. This ensures timely updates by putting the power to publish dynamic Web content into the hands of the people that create it, such as your marketing, human resources or sales staff. Web content management solutions save your organization time and money while adding value to your existing Web investments.
  4. Make the site a marketing tool: If you’re not capturing data basics, such as which sites and search engines visitors are clicking from, or which pages are most trafficked, get cracking. Use prepackaged software or a web services provider to help capture detailed information about site visitors. The first question to ask is: When visitors come to your site, what do you want them to do? Once you have answers, you can define the tracking metrics and develop the content, navigation and structure that will quickly meet the needs of your targeted visitors.
  5. Set up an e-mail list program: Create an incentive for visitors to register for information or give you their e-mail addresses. Provide something that the target audience would perceive as value for their exchange of personal information, like a white paper. Once you have opt-in addresses, send out useful newsletters, special deal notifications, and new product bulletins or direct them to your company blog.
  6. Start a Company Blog and Web 2.0 Strategy: By far, the most cost-effective way to interact with your customers online is to create a web 2.0 strategy. This could be as simple as implementing a company blog. You can get a blog started in less time than it takes you to read this paragraph using e-tools such as WordPress or Blogger and best of all its free. Also, I recommend signing on to some of the more popular social networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and start building your company brand. Again, it’s all free; you just need to dedicate a certain amount of time each day (30-40 minutes) towards maintaining your company brand.

Any of these ideas will help update your online presence. However, the real advice is simply not to forget your website in your sales and marketing budget planning. Pay attention to your website whenever you shift direction, add a new product, offer a new service or significantly grow the business. Times, indeed, have changed. All marketing and messaging must be seamless, consistent, uniform and multi-channel.

Trackback url: http://blog.falcon-software.com/2009/04/15/is-it-time-for-a-facelift-for-your-small-business-website/

The Google Chrome OS Challenge

I personally am a fan on Linux. It seems that most are not so keen on switching from their comfy Windows notebooks and welcoming Linux into their world. Will these same users who dismissed Linux as their primary operating system welcome Google into thier notebooks instead? This article was taken from wired.com, and explores the hurdles the Google Chrome operating system is up against.

In competing with Windows, Google Chrome OS will have to deal with many of the same challenges Linux has: compatibility, usability, and unfamiliarity. The record isn’t good: In the past year, Linux-based netbooks have rapidly lost market share to Microsoft.

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Custom Web Service vs. Template Sites: A Fight to the Death (Part 1)

So you are trying to get yourself a website and you have a couple of options. First you look at signing up for one of those template “do-it-yourself’ sites because it’s a little cheaper, but you’re half way into it and you realize that you have no idea what you’re doing and you could really use a professional opinion. You do a quick Google search and find a nice looking web design company, talk a bit about your needs, then get a bit of sticker shock when they tell you how much it is going to cost. This leaves you feeling confused and wondering what to do. You know the template site isn’t the best option for your business, but you also don’t know if having a custom site is truly worth the risk.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits to having a custom built website:

1. Unique Design

A custom web design offers your company a unique presence on the web that is tailored to suit your needs. Designing a quality site builds credibility and trust with your clients.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Working with the experts allows you to build your site with the search engines in mind. Look at who ranks #1 in your field – are they using a template site?

3. Usability Analysis

Your users are as unique as your company. They have needs when navigating your site and using your services. A custom design ensures clear layout and functionality with your users in mind.

4. Hassle-Free Maintenance

Who has the time to keep your site up to date? Your web design team does! Having a professional maintain your site ensures the look and feel are intact and your information is current.

5. Security

With a custom site, what’s yours is yours. Make sure what’s yours is safe with a professionally built and maintained online presence.

There are many benefits to having your site designed and built with you in mind. The evidence that your consumers are trending toward doing more business online is apparent. Is it costly? Yes. But I guarantee that your $1000 per month phone book ad will soon no longer be worth its weight in recycling and will wish you had invested wisely online. In part two we will talk more about how having a template site can actually hurt your business.

5 Ways to Build Your Brand in a Down Economy (by Jennifer Bourn)

Jennifer Bourn contributes to examiner.com on a regular basis and her advice is usually spot on. This article provides 5 easy (well, easy to grasp not easy to do!) tools for anyone trying to build their brand in this current economy. Whether you’re a small business owner or a freelance computer geek, this tips are definitely useful!

5 Ways to Build Your Brand in a Down Economy (by Jennifer Bourn on examiner.com)

1. Networking. This is not the time to pinch pennies and stay home to save money…”

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Security Tips from GWT

This article focuses on securing Google Web Toolkit applications, but it’s a great general JSON security article. Definitely worth checking out…

Security for GWT Applications

It is a sad truth that JavaScript applications are easily left vulnerable to several types of security exploits, if developers are unwary.  Because the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) produces JavaScript code, we GWT developers are no less vulnerable to JavaScript attacks than anyone else.  However, because the goal of GWT is to allow developers to focus on their users’ needs instead of JavaScript and browser quirks, it’s easy to let our guards down.  To make sure that GWT developers have a strong appreciation of the risks, we’ve put together this article.”

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Good Design, Now What? (from Design Shack)

Check out this article posted on Design Shack. It’s a great resource for designers in their client communication and in their own self-revelation when faced with some of the more difficult issues around design manipulation and client education. Really great!

Good Design, Now What?(written by Paravel Design in March 2009)

“Here at Design Shack, we’ve built up a solid archive of the best designs the web has to offer. When browsing through the 3,000+ sites featured, it’s hard to fully grasp the amount of time and effort put into the design and development of each one.
That’s why it breaks my heart when I see a brilliant site screenshot taken the day it was launched, but when clicking to visit the live version, I find a shell of what it used to be…”

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