My 8 Favorite Web Tools

8 web toolsAnyone doing anything on the web needs a good website.  I’m still a novice at this and, by no means, is my site the best.  In fact, it can use some work but I’m doing all of this myself right now and learning as I go. This a list of my top 8 tools i use on my website to make it look and operate the way it does.

1. Godaddy.com

Ok you got me already. No this isn’t technically a tool.  Godaddy.com is the service I use to register all my domain names.  A domain name is your address on the web. You want a domain that’s unique and easy to tell people. Try to stay away from putting hyphens in the name.  They make it difficult to give the address to someone.

2. Hostgator.com

This is the service I use to host my website. Hostgator.com [Affiliate link] basically rents you server space.  This is where your website resides.  If the domain is the your sites address this is its actual house. There are several different ways to host your site.

Shared Server- A shared server is a where you share the server with other websites.  This is a good option if you are starting out when your traffic is low. It’s also very cheep compared to other options. Once your website gets more traffic you can start running into bandwidth problems and slow page loading issues but if you’re starting out its a great place to start.

Virtual Private Server- A virtual private server is the next step up.  It is on a server with other websites but your site is on a separate hard drive partition and running its own operating system. Your site is only sharing hardware resources but the software is all yours.

Dedicated Server- This is where your site is on a server all by itself. You are not sharing anything with anyone.

3. WordPress

WordPress.org is a website platform.  Before you create your website you need to have a platform. This platform is completely free.  Once you open your hosting account with HostGator you can install WordPress. With HostGator you can install WordPress with the click of one button. After installing WordPress you can customize the look and feel of the site by installing a theme.  There are many free themes you can install right from WordPress.  There are also plugins that you can add to your website. Plugins can also change the look and feel of your website but most of the time they add functionality to your site.  The below are plugins I use on my site.

4. Pretty Link Lite Plugin

Pretty Link is a plugin that allows you to assign any domain address you want to other addresses.  For example: the following is a link to one of my blog posts:

rogerbenge.com/2013/06/19/understanding-the-constitution-bill-of-rights-2nd-amendment/

As you can see this link is very long and would be very hard to tell someone. I can use pretty link to shorten it up.

rogerbenge.com/2ndamendment

This link would be much easier to give to someone. You can also use it to send people to other web sites. For example: the below link is my affiliate link to Dan Miller’s 48Days.com web site.

www.48days.com/store/?ap_id=Rbenge

I used pretty link and made it much easier:

rogerbenge.com/danmiller

Makes giving long web addresses much easier.

5. Broken Link Checker plugin

Sometimes when you put links to other sites on your site the site you are linking to will change there site and remove the page or item that you are linking to.  This will cause your viewers to get errors when they click the links on your site.  This can be frustrating for your readers so you want to minimize this as much as possible.  Broken Link Checker will help eliminate this problem.  This plug in will constantly scan your site and check all the links you have in it and tell you if they go to error pages.  If you have any broken links you can easily figure out where and determine how to fix them and update your site. If you would like, you can configure Broken Link Checker to send you an e-mail when ever a broken link is detected.

6. SumoMe

This is a service and plugin that adds some wonderful functionality and tools to your website. Here is a list of the features it adds that your readers can see:

  • Email list signup bar at top of page
  • social media share buttons on side of page
  • social media share buttons on pictures
  • Email list signup pop up

Here is a list of features that your viewers dont see:

  • create “heat maps” on pages. Heat maps show you where on your site your visitors are clicking.
  • reports of how many visitors you have had and how many are currently on your site.

These are all free features and there are others.  There are also paid versions of SumoMe that give you additional tools.

7. Disqus Comment System

This replaces the native Blog comment system on your blog.  Disqus allows your users with a Discus account to log in to there account when making their comment.  They can log into their account on the Disqus web site and view all of their comments and reply to their comments in one place. Disqus plugin also helps eliminate spam on your website.  Truthfully it doesn’t completely eliminate it but it does help. It also has other features. One I use on my site is the feature that shows some of your top blog posts.  Disqus will place a link to a couple of your top posts below the discussion thread.

8. MailChimp and Easy MailChimp Forms Plugin

You get a bonus tool in this one. MailChimp and MailChimp Forms Plugin are two different services from two different companies but they work together. I use MailChimp for my e-mail list.  This is the service that stores all the e-mails for people who have signed up for my mailing list. It is also the service that send out the e-mails to that list. To get these e-mails the reader must enter their e-mail addresses into a form on your web site.  As mentioned above I use SumoMe for this but I also use MailChimp Forms Plugin. The form you see on the top right of my page is built with this plug in.

I hope you try out these 8 (or 9) tools.  They work very will on my site and I’m sure they will on yours. They all are free, with exception of HostGator.com and Godaddy.com, and many have paid options that will give you additional features and tools. I personally currently only use the free versions.  I haven’t seen a need for the other features yet. That may change in the future.

 

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