Category Archives: Startup Websites

New businesses need websites too. These posts will give you some tools to get yours started.

When it comes to something that you don’t want to waste your time and effort on something that might turn out generic looking, hire a professional Virtual IT Assistant.

Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites

Here is a fabulous collection of sites where you can search for amazing free and of good quality vector images and stock photos. Have a look at these sites, and share any great free stock photo sites with us all in the comments.

Some of the sites listed offer free stock photos only for personal use, all photos are the property of their respective authors check their policy before using their collection.

Free digital photos

freedigitalphotos.net – This one requires an attribution to post free images, but not a required login. –

I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due anyway and these guys have tons of great stockphotos for bloggers.

istockphoto

Setup an account at istockphoto and every week istockphoto.com offers a free image of the week that you can download. These might be useful for your blogposts. ( I do this quite often.)

istockphoto

They have beautiful photographs there and if you are like me and prefer to buy in bulk, see if one of the RetailMeNot coupon codes works for the plan you want: IStock – RetailMeNot.

Bing Images

Search for clip art
Click or tap the License drop down menu, and pick the licensing option you want.

(Tip from Microsoft) If you’re looking for clip art pictures, type “clip art” as part of your search (e.g. dog clip art or border clip art).

bing-images-free

Please NOTE: I have not tried all of these. I copied this information from another blog that has been down for a while now. I had it bookmarked in my browser because I would often search for free or cheap photo stock for blog posts. For reasons unknown, the Softalize site suddenly became unavailable since early 2010. So I decided to go re-post it here to share it with you because I have found it so helpful.

Again: PLEASE READ the disclaimers and copyright info before downloading and using anyone’s images on anything for your personal use or business!

Everystockphoto

Everystockphoto

Photobucket

Onexposure.1X

Onexposure.1X

EyeFetch

EyeFetch

Stock.Xchng

Stock.Xchng

Stockvault

Stockvault

Photo.net

Photo.net

Life

Life

PopPhotos

PopPhotos

PBase

PBase

Openphoto

Openphoto

Freerange

Freerange

This was originally posted by extinct blog called Softalize, originally posted April 14, 2009 titled: “16 Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites” and has now been improved and reposted by me. <3

Shopping Cart Solutions for Online Business

Free and Low Cost Online Shopping Cart Services

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Brand new online businesses or very small businesses (solo-entrepreneurs) that make fewer but larger transactions.

Free Online Shopping Cart Services

I have worked with those “free” or should I say the services that initially charge no monthly fees like the beloved (<-I'm sort of rolling my eyes as I'm typing that) PayPal or Google Checkout. The catch is that their processing fees are really quite outrageous!

  • Pros
  • Low Initial Investment
  • A Bit Lower Transaction Rates for Larger Transactions
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Outrageously High Per-Transaction Fees

Once your company gets established you should begin looking up your own checkout solutions.

More Costly, Yet Quite Commonly Used Shopping Cart Services

Lots of small and startup businesses use shopping cart services like 1ShoppingCart.com or eCommerce solutions like the ones available from Yahoo! Small Business for there online order needs.

  • Pros
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Very Limited Customization
  • Requirements
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service.

Money Saver?
If you already have a self-hosted website, it might be a waste to spend $30+ dollars a month on highly proprietary solutions with such limited customizations like the ones these companies offer.

Free Self-hosted Shopping Cart Solutions

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Small to Large Corporate Size Businesses

Two that I have worked with are Zen Cart and OpenCart <- this new one that I have found very robust as well.

  • Pros
  • Nearly Endless Customization Abilities <3 <- Developers love this pro.
  • Possibly Low Initial Investment – if you are developing your own website that is…
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Cons
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service. (Shop around for this, I think even places like Sam’s Club and Costco have very very low cost merchant services for cc processing.)
  • These services require advanced experience with HTML, PHP, and managing MySQL databases. (Pretty much anyone who works professionally developing WordPress can use these right out of the box so to speak.)
  • Requirements
  • Like all opensource systems, you must be ready and able to keep your systems up to date
  • More Self-hosted Security like SSL certificates for transactions made directly on your website.
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service and possibly purchase additional extensions to connect with your cc processor. This is a one time probably around $25 to $50 fee verses monthly fees for 1shoppingcart

If I have forgotten anything, or mixed up any points here do let me know and I’ll give you a shout out. <3

Web Content Planning

If Content is King and Quality is Queen then making sure that everything is linked to everything else is that Ace strategy you’ve been waiting for.

The quantity of your content is your credibility and it’s best to keep 80% of your content in one place and 100% of your content (whether it’s from twitter or Facebook or tumblr or whatever) connected to your other content. You need a focal point. For most businesses that’s a custom domain.

Get a Domain Name

Great websites are both:

  • content rich where people are able to spend hours learning about you and your business, and
  • have friendly navigation so anyone can spend two minutes purchasing their product of choice and continue on their way.

You may want to consider a little mind mapping to get an overview of structure for a brand new website.

Consider Starting a Blog

Blogs are a great way to generate constant content and also archive older content. This would be a good place to consolidate all of your old newsletters and e-zine articles. If you want, you can date the posts with the date you sent the newsletter.

You might have newsletter content at Aweber, Vertical Response, ning, Media Temple, ezinearticles.com, mailchimp all of which can be consolidated on your news feed. If you can edit any of the articles to create backlinks to your website do so.

The fact to consider before you do commit to a blog is that it can be difficult to keep your blog alive after the novelty of it all has worn off.

Social Media Marketing is the Place to Create Genuine Connections and Listen

After a clear plan for your websites are established, you have an audience waiting for you to start a Facebook or Twitter or Google Talk campaign.

This isn’t something you want to begin until you are ready to update and check on every single day (at least every other day) . . .

Facebook is even better than twitter because you can share more information like

  • pictures
  • full recipes
  • and videos

Random but Handy Website Tools

Code Validation

I like to check my work. (Especially when code does not display the result I tell it to display. :) You’ve been there. )

  1. HTML Validator
  2. CSS Validator – If you find that your code ends up with a bunch of issues, don’t worry, even MSN’s website stylesheet came back with 2 errors and 916 warnings. However, that doesn’t excuse us from fixing ours.

Creating Web Ready Images

Tools I’ve used to add a little color to my website.

  1. HTML RGB color code converter – Know the RGB of a color but don’t exactly know the HTML version of the code? This will help.
  2. Gradient Image Maker – Just need to make a gradient image for a background or something? There are two things you must remember when using this. 1. you can make the height pretty much any length, but the width should stay at 100 or less might be better. Number 2. If you want to save the gradient image from the preview section, this does work. However, when you save it make sure you save it with the right extension. It defaults to try to save as gradient.php… that probably won’t help you. So save it as gradient.png or gradient.jpg.
  3. Also see three other posts about getting/editing graphics for websites and social network sites: WebSite Graphics, Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites, Fun with Photos

Miscellaneous Website Tools

  1. Convert Your Spreadsheets into HTML Tables. I don’t really love using tables, but I have found them to be handy in some cases.
  2. Convert Your Web Page into a PDF

SEO

What’s the point in having a great site with great content if you can’t get found? I’ve shared 70+ very good SEO tools and tips in this blog. Here are the links to those articles about the tools I’ve been using.

  1. Tag Clutter – 2-14-2011 Don’t overload your posts or pages with keywords and phrases.
  2. Optimize Webpage Response Time – 12-13-2010
  3. 4 SEO Rules that Are Here to Stay – 11-29-2010
  4. 15 Easy Free DoFollow Backlinks to Your Website – 10-18-2010
  5. Website Backlink Popularity Tools – 3-1-2010
  6. Google PageRank – 2-23-2010
  7. How is Your Business Measuring Up? – 2-22-2010 <- I should have titled this how is your website and social media network measuring up.
  8. Use Social Bookmarks to Your Business Site’s Advantage – 2-8-2010
  9. Domain Life Expectancy – 8-9-2009
  10. FREE Inbound Link Checkers – 2-4-2009
  11. SEO Power Tools – 7-14-2009, updated August 6, 2010

Hmm, I think I should go ahead and change my SEO tag into a subcategory of website tips. It’s definitely something I’ve written extensively about.

User-Friendliness: 5 Basic Website Rules

A couple of weeks ago I started talking about good navigation and promised to write about making sure that your websites and blog sites are user friendly.

This study is of Human Computer Interactions (HCI).

So, here is a break down of the 5 most basic (and too often ignored) rules to building a user-friendly website.

1. Find the Perfect Color Scheme

Readability is key for all content on your website. If you chose to use dark fonts with dark backgrounds or light fonts with light backgrounds, then you are breaking a cardinal rule.

Of course, you know what your article says, but you don’t want your visitors to have to highlight your text just to be able to read it do you?

You always want it to be as easy as possible for your visitors to find and read more.

It is best to choose monochromatic (different shades of the same) color schemes. Just ask Apple or Microsoft.

If you already have more than one color, make sure that they go well together. Use a color wheel, or try this web tool if you have the html color code for a color to find it’s complementary colors.

2. Show Em What You’ve Got

The first thing anyone should be able to find when they get to your homepage is a “list” of what else they’re going to find on your site. Make sure that you have a navigation bar at the top or page list on your sidebar pointing to your main web pages or categories.

Gray Area: I’ve heard mixed reviews about placing the navigation bar above the logo vs. below the logo. I read somewhere once that most people don’t read any of the content above the logo. And yet many many websites (including Google) place their menu bars at the very top.

3. Have Attention Grabbing Subscribe / Submit Buttons

Orange buttons are definitely “in” right now. If you see a request for information form on a well-designed website, many of them are changing their “Submit”, “Check it Out!”, and “Download” buttons to orange.

I’ve always considered the color orange a very cheerful color. According to many sources, the color orange increases your metabolism (which gives you an energetic feeling) and activates some kind of social center part of the brain.

4. Don’t Make Everything an Emergency

YOU’VE SEEN IT. WEBSITES WILL HAVE PAGES FULL OF CONTENT IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION! DID YOU KNOW THAT IT IS MORE DIFFICULT FOR A PERSON TO READ A MESSAGE THAT HAS BEEN TYPED OUT IN ALL UPPERCASE?

Just follow the most basic rules for using capital letters. They are to be used for acronyms, the first letter of a proper noun, and the first letter of the first word in a sentence.

Just because you can hard-code this css code: “text-transform: uppercase; ” into your stylesheet doesn’t mean that you should.

Gray Area: Some higher profile websites do use all capital letters for navigation menus (e.g. – msn) and section headers (e.g. Yahoo!). Use this sparingly. You probably don’t want to have all nav menu items in caps and all section headers in caps. Maybe just use one or the other.

5. Don’t Have Broken Links

This one can be very difficult especially for those of us who have gobs of content or people who comment with links attached to their name etc. This one is important for your human visitors and your search engine spiders that crawl your site to index content. I wrote a lot of good information about finding and fixing broken links in my article called: 4 SEO Rules That Are Here to Stay.

Moving WordPress Content

WordPress couldn’t really make moving content much easier. These are the instructions for importing and exporting WordPress blogs (or sections of blogs) from one location to another. Click on any image to see enlarged.

1. Export your old blog. Login to the Dashboard. Go to “Tools” (on the left), and then “Export”.

2. Decide which content you wish to export. (You can see in this photo I chose all of the posts that were written by me for now.) Then press the “Download Export File” button. Pay attention to where you save the file.

3. Import content to your new blog. Login to the Dashboard. Go to “Tools” (on the left), and then “Import”. Choose “WordPress”.

4. Click browse and find the exported file from your old blog. It should be a .xml. Then press the “Update file and import” button.

5. Then you have to choose a user to be the “author” of this content. I chose myself. Remember to check the “Download and import all attachments” if you have a lot of pictures and stuff.

(For some reason, I had to import this twice in order for it to download my pics and stuff.)