7 Free and Powerful Tools For Building Better WebSites (IT2Max/CodeRewind) – From 12HoursOfTech

12hoursoftech-150x54.pngOn June 11, 2010, Smallbiztechnology.com produced 12HoursOfTech as part of Internet Week. The full day event, followed by a reception, brought together speakers from Ez Texting, Kutenda, Infusionsoft, Orange Soda, [email protected], Constant Contact, Vertical Response, IT2Max, Tap11, Affect Strategies, Pattie Stone, Odesk, Hill Data Management , Yelp, Rate Point and Antonio Neves.

12HoursOfTech was hosted by Microsoft NYC and sponsored by Technology Services company [email protected]

Binoj Daniel of IT2Max and CodeRewind Speaks About Tools for Building Better Websites.
The video and transcript of his presentation is below.

IT2Max is an IT company based in PA. They develop user friendly websites; scalable web applications and open source to iPhone/iPad apps.

WebSiteSpark – Free Web Development Platform

The first tool Mr. Daniel spoke about was an application, developed from Microsoft and specified for small businesses. It’s called WebsiteSpark. It is developed for small businesses that do not have the resources to invest in web site developing software and hosting facilities.
With this program you get Windows Web Server and SQL Server Web Edition at no cost. This gives you the opportunity to keep everything you need in house and not spend too much money.
For design, development, testing and demonstration of new websites WebsiteSpark gives you: visual Studio Professional, Expression Studio3, Expression Web3, Windows Web Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 Web Edition.
This service is for a total of up to three users per Web design and Development Company, free of charge, for a period of 3 years. If you want to continue the program after the 3rd year, there is a license fee for the software. If you don’t want to continue, you can just quit the program.

Google Analytics

The next product that Mr. Daniel spoke about was Google Analytics. Everyone has websites and FaceBook pages these days. But how do we know when the users visit certain pages and how much time they spend on them?

Google Analytics helps you understand what your users are doing on your website. With this package you are more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create more converting websites. You can compare your site usage metrics with industry averages and track Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.
You can use Google Analytics to actually optimize your website and also market it and receive good traffic, Mr. Daniel says.
Why do we need Google Analytics? You don’t have to use web counters anymore. Now you have the insight on what exactly is going on, on your web site. It helps you track visits, the average time the users spend on your website, what is the bounce rate.
You will know if your site’s development is good or not by following the increasing or decreasing number of visitors per day, week or month. You can set goals as well.
For example if you want to, you can receive an e-mail when you reach the thousandth user. Once you are done optimizing your content and links with the online search optimization you can see for which words and phrases you are ranking well for. You can understand visitor intent, find out what your customers are really looking for and speed up time of conversion.
Google Analytics creates a Site Map. It is like the index for the book, it keeps all the information of your web site pages in one place. It gives a better user experience. The visitor can go directly to the page of interest for him instead of spend time guessing which link to follow.

Google Webmaster Tools

With Google Webmaster Tools you can enhance and increase traffic to your website and connect with your visitors. It requires a free registration. Afterwards Google will provide you with a small snippet of code that you can put on all the pages you want to track on your website. Then you will know if a customer spends a lot of time on certain product on one of your pages and you can add more photos or more info about it. It basically helps you understand what the users are doing on your website.

The Need for Speed.

The rule of thumb for a website’s load time used to be 9s. For those 9 seconds you have to captivate the user into buying. If you are selling any products on-line, you have 9 seconds. You have to be really quick in delivering what you want the user to see on your web page. Nowadays the pages are loading faster, you have more graphical and rich internet experience. We tend to use a lot of images to make our sites more interesting and informative, but we should be careful – this often slows down the sites. You should carefully choose your visual and textual content. It matters a lot if you have thousands of users.
Emily Thompson of Kutenda, added that Google is using a web site’s speed as a ranking factor now, as well. This is something to consider. There are a lot of things that Google looks at in terms of how they index the web but one of the things they are focusing directly on is the site’s speed. It matters for your users and it matters for the search engine as well.
One of the tools we are using in IT2Max, is called YSlow, Mr. Daniel said. It is a free Firefox plug-in developed by Yahoo. It analyzes the web pages and suggests ways of improving the performance based on the content of images. YSlow grades web pages based on one of three predefined rule sets or a user-defined rule set. It offers suggestions for improving the page’s performance, summarizes the page’s components, displays statistics about the page, and provides tools for performance analysis.

Cross-Browser Testing / Browser Compatibility

A very important aspect of web-site creation is cross-browser testing. Browser compatibility is one of the biggest issues we face from our customers, Mr. Daniel says. They come for fixes to us. When you build a web-site it’s not like fix it and forget it. The technology is constantly changing. You have to follow the changes all the time. Beyond Microsoft’s IE, there are other key players on the market – Firefox, Opera, Netscape, etc.
Compatibility is very important now, especially with the variety of mobile devices on the market. Your website should be up and running on all of these different browsers and platforms the same way. You can use browsershots.org where you can do a browser compatibility test for your website.
If you have already created a design for your website, IT2Max can help you code it and optimize it for cross platform and cross browser compatibility.

Update the Look Of Your Web Site

Because the web is changing really fast you have to be up to date not only with the technical optimization but with the visual trends as well. You have to consider re-designing your website from time to time. A survey says you have to revisit and refresh your website design at least once in two years. You’ll know that your website is up to date when your visitors appreciate the changes.

Great Content

Another important thing is focusing on the content of your pages and especially on having a mix of keywords, which is driving your business in that content.
This means you have to present a well-tagged content, which is key-words rich. This will drag traffic to you. Each page should focus on two or three key words, having more will basically ruin your reputation, because it becomes like spamming for the search engine.
When creating the content there are few things to remember. Be creative with the key words. You have to use less competitive key words, avoid the likes of “office software” for when using it you immediately start competing with Microsoft Office. You must create authentic content. Focus on quality and quantity in terms of key words and the amount of information.
If you need good content for your website, IT2Max can help you with that.
In summary: subscribe to WebsiteSpark, use Google Analitics. You must try Google Webmaster, take a speed test, test your site for cross-browser compatibility and keep your design fresh. Aways remember – content is key, Mr. Daniel says.