Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

Posts Tagged ‘tools’

November 21st, 2008

The Dashboard – Still Growing

4+ months after launching our Web Design Dashboard and people are still visiting and suggesting new resources!  Thanks…and well done.

This week we had submissions that inspired a whole new category!  We’ve added a ‘Performance’ section under Site Maintenance with SmushIt, a picture optimization tool and Cuzillion, a tool for quickly constructing pages to see how components interact.  We’ve also added YSlow for Firebug an extension that analyzes pages and tells you why they are slow!

Last up, we’ve added Google’s new/official SEO guide in the ‘SEO Best Practices’ section under Online Marketing.  Its basically a starter guide for SEO-ers, straight from the source.

October 17th, 2008

Upgrades & Updates

First a little news: the long-awaited “Upgrade Feature” on AgencyTool is now up and running!  Not happy with your listings’ current placement?  We’ve made it really easy to upgrade to a featured option and get top placement and more traffic.  Check it out!

And now to the Dashboard updates…First up is the MagicToolBox, they’ve created several Javascript and Flash tools to make viewing/using images amazing.

There’s also a new Firefox extension called the Site Rank Reporter.  It allows you to view ranking by keyword in graph format, or export ranking data from a range of dates into a single CSV or HTML file.  Pretty cool.  We’re excited about Catapulley.com as well, its a community for mobile designers focused on developing and launching new mobile apps.

That’s just a sampling, we add new resources pretty much every day so keep an eye on us to stay up to date!

September 30th, 2008

Review my site…please? Best Places for a Free Website Review

There are companies out there who will gladly bring a critical eye and professionally review your website…for a fee. A few design agencies price this service upwards of $1500 but some as low as $250, and you generally get what you pay for. Many give you a written report, an SEO suggestion and some sort of follow up meeting with them. Great if you’ve got the means, but not exactly within the budget of an amateur web designer or someone looking to get started. Let’s assume you’re looking for some honest feedback or advice. Where do you go?

Option #1 Forums

The first answer shouted out by the google search “review my website” is a forum. Proceed with caution my friends. Unless you are already an established member of said forum, your innocent request for guidance may be interpreted by other members as “spammy”. Don’t get me wrong, forums can be a great (did I mention 100% free) place to get a wide range of opinions and tips for your site. But only as long as you play by the rules, and even then some forums are more welcoming than others. Follow some general rules and you should be OK:

  1. Take a second and read the forum rules/guidelines. They may have a minimum number of posts needed before you get access to certain areas or would be able to post a link to your site for review purposes.
  2. If there is a minimum post requirement don’t DON’T cruise around the forum for 10 minutes and leave 15 random posts in your wake. If you establish yourself as a legitimate member first people will be more likely to take an honest look at your site when you do post it. This may take a few days or even a few weeks, look for threads where you can contribute something valuable, or bring a different perspective to the discussion.
  3. Post your site for review once and only once, and make sure its in the appropriate category.

Some forums are more likely to constructively review your site than others. The ones listed here are good to try, but beware the ’spam’ label…it will get you booted at them all.

Young Entrepreneur Forum Webmasterworld.com Forum
Site Owner’s Forum SEO Refugee Forum
Digital Point Forum

Option #2 Gallery Sites

Another completely free option is submitting to a few of the countless gallery sites out there. There are literally hundreds that take submissions. You may not get a plethora of constructive feedback from this method, but people leave comments here and there and getting selected is a good indicator that your site is on the right track.

DesignShack CSS Vault Style Gala
CSScilp The Daily Slurp Web Design File
CSS Import CSS Reboot

Option #3 Cozy Up to a Blogger

Reach out to a blogger for a review. It can be mutually beneficial, you get a trained eye to critique your site, and the blogger gets a great post out of it. When you are looking for a blogger to send your review request to make sure you actually read through a few of their more recent posts to make sure the relationship will be a good fit. You’ll get a feel for what kind of topics pique their interest and their opinions on issues, you don’t want to send a website about great leather and fur products to an animal rights blogger, for example.

Do your research first, then send out an email to the individual blogger you’d like to review your site – an email sent out to thousands of bloggers is too general to be taken seriously by any of them. Your email should do a few basic things: Introduce yourself and explain your website, show some respect by detailing why exactly a review of your site might turn into a good post for their specific audience, and give them all the information they could possible want or need about your website. If you don’t hear back its fine to send a follow up email – but only one! If you do hear back make sure to keep in contact with the blogger throughout the review and afterwards. A blogger may gear his review to appeal to the audience, so ask him for private feedback as well…you may learn more. Last but not least, don’t get mad if the review isn’t great. When you get a blog review its public and there’s an inherent risk that you could get some bad publicity out of the deal. You’ll make it worse by getting angry or lashing out in retaliation, so take the hit and ask the blogger how you could have done better.

Several bloggers have really embraced this method. Jackie Baker has started Site Clinic, a weekly column-style blog that takes submissions and chooses one each week to write an in-depth review on.

Option #4 Do it Yourself

So what if you’re not an expert, there are plenty of tools out there to test the quality of your website for you. Here are a few good ones:

  • The Trifecta Tool Set – measures the overall strength of your site number of links, number of times your brand is mentioned on the web, and the amount of traffic your site receives
  • W3C Markup Validation – checks the validity of the code on your site
  • Website Grader – measures the marketing effectiveness of your site
  • SEO Scores – analysis of SEO tools/keywords

September 19th, 2008

Some Exciting News

We’ve got a big announcement this week: AgencyTool is going international!  Because of the number of inquiries we have gotten and the amount of traffic we have been seeing, AT has decided to launch an ‘International’ category in our directory!  Check it out…

As for the Dashboard we’ve got some great updates there as well.  We’ve added a link to the great SEO blog Search Engine Land as well as an article: 13 ways to Determine Link Quality.  There are also 2 new options for e-commerce processors listed; CommerceGate and 2checkout.com.

A great resource on creating your own custom 404 pages has been added from skidzopedia and we’ve got a great new tool for organizing and editing screenshots called FireShot.

That’s just a bit of what’s been added -  make sure to check the Dashboard so you don’t miss anything.

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ABOUT AGENCYTOOL At its core, AgencyTool exists to serve as a resource for creative agencies, whether they be into web design, print, advertising or anything else. Here on the AgencyTool Blog you'll find a mish-mosh of resources and thoughts that we think are worth sharing.

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