As a web surfer, you’ve probably seen some cool features on a website and thought, “How can I do that?” There are many tools that have been developed over the years that can help you improve your website and create a better visitor experience. And to top it off, many of these add-ons and tools are free of cost and really easy to install.
Protection & Speed Up – CloudFlare
I met with a website owner who was faced with over 800 spam comments per month on their forum. Right away, I knew the solution. Rather than forcing users to fill out CAPTCHA codes (those annoying morphed letters that you have to type in to verify you’re a human), we installed CloudFlare, which immediately brought the spam level down to 1 comment a month. CloudFlare is a free service (with paid tiers) that speeds up your website, prevents hackers and spammers from accessing the pages, and gives you neat insights into the number of visitors you receive every day. It was able to bring one of my sites from ten seconds to load all the way down to just a half a second.
If you’ve ever visited a website and wanted to find out what systems it uses, check out BuiltWith.com. For example, you’ll see that this website is running on WordPress and depends on Google Analytics for anonymous visitor information. This also comes in handy when you’re trying to figure out what plugins you should use for your own site. McAuley Freelance Writing uses a MailChimp sign-up widget, which is great for keeping in touch with visitors. Knowing this, you can also integrate this on your own site.
Do you own your domain? – Whois
Oftentimes, business owners will find out that they don’t actually own their domains! If someone else has your domain, they can take away control of the site and make it their own. To make sure your domain is registered in your name, check out WhoIs. Type in your web address (e.g.mcauleyfreelancewriting.com), then click “whois” next to the link that pops up. Make sure your name is listed as the contact. If not, you can change this through your domain registrar or you’ll want to contact your webmaster.
Browser size check – Google Labs
If your website requires visitors to scroll to the left or right to view content, you’re doing something wrong. In addition, you want to make sure action buttons are above “the fold”. In other words, important information and sign up buttons should be visible without the visitor having to scroll. To see how much visitors can see without having to scroll, check out Google’s Browser Size from Google Labs. The percentages are the percentage of browsers that can see the content without having to scroll. 950×500 is just about the safe size currently. As many computer users upgrade their monitors, that size will continue to increase.
Scott Buscemi is the CEO of Luminary Web Strategies, a local website development, hosting, and domain registration company serving companies of all sizes.