10 Helpful SitesJune 3rd, 2015

10-helpful-sitesHere are 10 sites I find particularly helpful in managing websites. I hope you find them valuable as well.

  1. Convert Case – If you manage website for a living as I do, you know people send you text in all sorts of weird ways.  You have the all-caps fanatic, or those who never use caps.  This site is a big help and time-saver.
    Website: http://convertcase.net/
  2. Down for Everyone – Clients sometimes call and tell you their sites are down when you can bring it up clear as day. This site will tell you if if the site is down for everyone or just you.
    Website: http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/
  3. 301 Redirect Code Generator – Changing URLs is a necessary evil, but if you don’t redirect users, Google will penalize. This site easily create redirects for every type of server.
    Website: http://www.rapidtables.com/web/tools/redirect-generator.htm
  4. LastPass Password Generator – The days of having simple passwords are over, you need sophisticated random passwords. This site generates random passwords with different criteria. For instance, you can create a 20 character password with mixed case, characters and numbers.
    Website: https://lastpass.com/generatepassword.php
  5. WhatTheFont – Ever look at a graphic and wonder what font they use?  This site will help you to identify which fonts. The good thing is they give you close options which helps in case one is ultra-expensive.
    Website: http://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/
  6. Lorem Ipsum – If you design website, placeholder text is always needed.  This site generates placeholder text, by paragraphs, number of words or bytes.
    Website: http://www.lipsum.com/
  7. Character Counter – If you post to sites like Twitter, you need to know how may characters, this site offers an easy way to do that and counts characters, words, sentences, paragraphs and white-space.
    Website: http://www.charactercountonline.com/
  8. Alphabetizer – Ever need to alphabetize a list, this site is for you.  It also removes dupes and has other features for CSV files including adding line breaks.
    Website: http://www.textfixer.com/tools/alphabetize-text-words.php
  9. Google Translate – if you manage sites in languages not your own, Google Translate is a good site. Not perfect, but it does the trick most of the time. It is a good idea to run the translated text by a native speaker as sometime a word Google may come up may not always be the best choice.
    Website: https://translate.google.com/
  10. Sucuri Malware Scanner – If you manage a site at some point you will need to scan it for malware.  This site does a good cursory scan, though even they say: “Although we do our best to provide the best results, 100% accuracy is not realistic, and not guaranteed.
    Website: https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/

 
I’d love to hear what tools/sites you use every day, please comment below with sites and tools that make your life easier.
 

Web Design: Learning From ItalyMay 4th, 2015

I spent a week in Italy visiting the most beautiful artworks and buildings on the planet as well as eating the world’s best cuisine. As a web designer/developer, I relate everything to web stuff. I took away a few thoughts I want to share:

Build ’em to last
I live in Boston, an old city by US standards.  By Italian standards we are a baby.  Take the Coliseum, completed in 80 AD and still standing.  WOW. I repeat, WOW.

My Takeaway: 
You have to think about the future.  Perhaps building a unique static website sounds wicked cool.  But after a few years that look will be dated.  You are stuck with a mess and have to start from scratch. How can you avoid this?  First off, building a static site isn’t a great idea.  Go with a content management system (such as WordPress) so you can separate out the presentation layer.  By using a theme (either bought or custom designed and developed, you won’t need to start 100% from scratch to update.  You can either buy a new theme or develop your own.  Now of course it will require work, but not nearly as much.  If you are using a premium theme you can re-do a small site in days!

colliseum

Have a focal point:
Visiting The Pantheon, you are immediately drawn to the central opening (oculus) to the sky. I dare anyone to say they have been inside the Pantheon and not looked up immediately.

My Takeaway:
Seems like a no-brainer, but having something that grabs people’s attention when they come to your site is important.  How do we do this?  The web is a visual medium, so there needs to be something that immediately draws a person in, so they can get your message. How do we do this? A common approach is the image sliders we see everywhere.  Overused? Perhaps, but most clients want them.  So here’s my take: 4-5 slides maximum.  And make them count. Use great images, not stock photos. Invest in some custom designed graphics which will hold people’s attention.  Don’t want a slider? Fine, a great image will grabs people’s attention just as well.

pantheon

Keep it Fresh!!!
Typically I am not a big pasta eater. BUT when I go to Italy, I eat it every day. It is so different than anything you will have in the US. I believe it is the freshness that is the difference.  Sure, good ingredients, but oh so fresh.

My Takeaway:
What makes a good website?  Good design, yes, good programming, sure. But that all goes away after your site is launched. What makes a good website for the long haul is freshness. If people come to your website and it is the same old thing, they ain’t staying.  You should constantly be changing/adding content. New imagery is equally important.  If you are an e-commerce site, adding new offerings, having sales, specials, are all things which keep a site fresh and keep your customers coming back.
pasta

Bottom Line:
There is beauty and examples of greatness all around us. Keep your eyes open and take inspiration from the wonders you see (and eat).  Incorporate these things into whatever you do.  For me of course it is building and managing websites.

Thank you Italy for the inspiration!

 

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