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HOW TO

7 Essential Online Tools for Non-Webmasters
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-10-10

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    7 Essential Online Tools for Non-Webmasters
    by Jinger Jarrett

    I've built and edited all of the web sites I use to run mybusiness. I wish I could take credit for the look, but Ican't.

    I purchased a nice business template I liked, to use as thebasis for all of my sites. You don't have to do that though.

    Even though I continue to maintain my sites myself, Icouldn't do it if I didn't have some great tools that makeit easy to do.

    There are some really terrific tools you can get, for free,that can help you build and maintain an eye catching website. You can even communicate with your customers orcreate interactive sections on your site that will continueto drive traffic to your site over and over.

    All of the tools offered here are absolutely free to use.Bookmark them and save yourself a ton of money and time.

    1. Templates
    If you're really ambitious, you can design your own web sitefrom scratch.

    Unfortunately, creating and designing a web site fromscratch can be time consuming and expensive. I have yet tofind a free graphics editor that will help you create thekind of stunning graphics you will often see on the web.

    There are plenty of free web site templates available, evenfor business, and you can often use them by simply leavinga link to the site designer at the bottom of the page.

    Free Site Templates - http://www.freesitetemplates.com - This is my favorite. I once used their templates before Ibought my own. You'll find hundreds of designs here, and noannoying pop up windows while you are browsing.

    This site has recently undergone a redesign of its own andis very easy to navigate.

    Free Web Templates - http://www.freewebtemplates.com - Thissite offers hundreds of free designs you can use. There arealso links to other resources, including graphics,newsletters, and affiliate programs.

    2. Sales Page Template
    Pertinent - http://www.pertinent.com/tools/letter-builder/sales/index.asp -This nifty little tool is one I stumbled across by accident while surfingthe Web looking for something else. I haven't seen a template like thisanywhere else.

    It allows you to type in your information for your salesletter. You can preview what you've created first.

    You definitely want to bookmark this site. The webmaster isconstantly adding new templates like this you can use foryour business, and they're all free to use. If you have anewsletter, don't forget to add it to the directory whileyou are here.

    3. Banner Creators
    You'll find plenty of debate on the Web about whether or not youshould use banners on your web site. However, a banner creatorcan serve another purpose for you: you can use it to create anoriginal and unique header for your own design.

    Free Online Banner Creation
    http://www.total-harmony.com/promotion/banner_creation.html- Rather than give you one or two links to some bannercreators, you can go to this site. It offers severaldifferent places where you can find banner creation tools.Also includes a description of each site.

    Cool Text - http://www.cooltext.com/ - If you are lookingto create a text banner, this is a great place to start.You can also make logos for your business.

    4. Graphics Editors
    Graphics are definitely not my strong suit. I find graphicsprograms to have a steep learning curve, and since I don't use that many graphics on my web site, I don't have a graphics program on my computer anymore.

    Even if you don't use that many graphics on your web site,occasionally you may need to change the size, or add textto a graphic you are using.

    There ar some very easy tools online. You canquickly crop your graphics or add text to them and havethem done in a few minutes.

    Gif World - http://www.gifworld.com/ - This site has acomplete graphics program online you can use to editgraphics or put text on them. It's very easy to use. Theonly format is gif though.

    You'll also find plenty of links to graphics sites whereyou can find plenty of nice, and free graphics to use.

    Image Majik -http://studio.imagemagick.net/MagickStudio/scripts/MagickStudio.cgi- You can use this template to edit both jpeg and gif formats.It's also very easy to use.

    JPEG Wizard Online Optimizer! - http://www.jpegwizard.com/- Since some graphics files can be quite large, causingthem to load slowly, you can use this tool to optimize allof your jpeg files so they load quickly.

    Spin Wave - http://www.spinwave.com/ - Offers both jpeg andgif optimization and compression.

    There's also another type of graphic editor you can useonline if you need ebook covers for your web site. Below are two places I recommend.

    Oritz - http://www.oritsfree.com/Free_Ebook_Covers.htmlFree Ebook Covers -http://freeebookcovers.homestead.com/covers1.html

    5. Interactivity (Javascript and CGI)
    Ever wonder how webmasters create those cool special effectson their web sites, or are able to offer message boards, chat,classifieds etc.?

    They use scripts.

    There are two types of scripts I would recommend you becomefamiliar with: javascript and cgi.

    Javascript is very easy because it usually only requiresthat you cut and paste the script into your site.Javascript can be used to create mail forms, tickers, popups, etc.

    Cgi scripts perform more complex operations. They can beused for anything from members areas to classifieds,message boards and more advanced chat.

    If you can read and follow instructions, you can easily setup your own killer applications on your web site.

    How do I know this? Because I learned how to use javascriptand cgi by reading and following the instructions.

    Certainly, not all scripts will be that easy. Start withthe simpler ones and learn how to use them. Once you feelcomfortable with the easier scripts, try using more complexones.

    The most important thing to remember when using scripts,particularly cgi, is that, you need to make sure you uploadthe files in ascii mode. Otherwise you can get some reallynasty 500 internal server errors that can be difficult tosolve.

    JAVASCRIPT
    Java - http://www.jars.com/ - This site billsitself as the #1 java resource online. You'll find plentyof scripts for your site.

    Java Boutique - http://javaboutique.internet.com/ - Offers plenty ofapplets and scripts including games. Very easy to use andset up.

    CGI CGI Extremes - http://www.cgiextremes.com/ - searchablelist of hundreds of cgi scripts.

    Free Scripts - http://www.free-scripts.net/ - hundreds of CGI scriptseasily organized by category.

    6. Customer Support
    Providing support for your customers and affiliates is one of themost important things you can do on your web site.

    At one time I used Human Click - http://www.humanclick.com- on my web site. All of the top marketers recommended it.

    Human Click changed to a pay model, and the only place toget it free was Bravenet - http://www.bravenet.com.

    A few weeks ago, when I was updating the messenger serviceson my computer, I stumbled across ICQ Panels.

    ICQ Panels - http://www.icq.com/panels/ - allows you tohave a complete messaging system on your web site for yourcustomers. This includes a place where customers can sendyou email, as well as chat with you in real time over theICQ network. Customers can also easily page you, no matterwhere you are.

    I found it much easier to use, and ICQ has so many featuresthat you can have a complete messaging system for yourbusiness without shelling out any money.

    You can see a live example on my site:http://www.smallbusinesshowto.com/pcc.html

    7. Web Site Promotion
    Sooner or later, once you have your web site set up, you'll wantto attract new visitors. Unlike the baseball field in "Field of Dreams",you have to do more than just build it to get customers to it.

    Once again, I am recommending ICQ. It offers you anopportunity to promote yourself in many different ways.Here is a list:

    Promote Yourself and Your Homepage on ICQ
    Join or Start an ICQ Ring
    Join the ICQ Banner Exchange
    Post Your Special ICQ Site
    Post Yourself on Popular Search Engines

    ICQ - http://web.icq.com/webtools/pageme-distribute/

    Building a web site can be a time consuming and expensiveprocess. Without the right tools, you can end up with a website that looks like a Picasso painting, instead of aprofessionally designed virtual business presence.

    Use these tools, and you'll have an established webpresence that will keep your visitors coming back for more.

    Jinger Jarrett will show you "How to Really Start Your Business in 30 Days". Get her free ecourse now. http://www.smallbusinesshowto.com

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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