Blog Food-Guest Blogger Series # 6

10 Top Ten Reasons to Manage Your Own Websites and Blogs

Reason 6 – Jazz Up Your Website or Blog with Ideas from Other Sites

By Toolie

Have you ever seen a cool image, graphic, or feature on another site
and wondered how it’s done? With a little knowledge and some
curiosity, you can find out how it’s done, and maybe produce something
similar on your website.

On most websites, it is possible to view the source code of a site in
your browser, and even examine it in your favorite HTML editor. (I do
this all the time when I’m trying to diagnose a problem for a client.)
I also collect URLS to code for neat things like countdown timers,
background snow effects, and other features that I’ve spotted on other
websites. I don’t use the code, though, without first finding out what
the terms of use are, whether it’s free or licensed code.

Most of the time, the code that makes those nifty features appear is
code someone paid for, and with some investigation, I can go find the
site and buy it myself. I am in no way advocating theft of other
people’s intellectual property. (Did you hear what I said?) I’m
talking about doing research in the code so you can go do the right
thing (by buying the code), and enjoy the benefits.

There are sites on the Internet where you can go shopping for features
by the type of code you want to use. Let’s say you want to add a
background “snow” effect for your website during the holidays. My
favorite source for such things is www.HotScripts.com, a centralized
search engine for both free and paid scripts (Javascript, PHP, and
other languages). You don’t have to be a programmer to install the
scripts, you just need to know enough HTML to place the code in the
right spot (very much like you do to install a Facebook badge or
Twitter feed).

Some scripts on www.HotScripts.com are just features you add to your
websites; some are entire programs you can buy. Most of the free
scripts simply require that you keep their website URL in the code to
give them credit, which is absolutly the right thing to do. Some
scripts will allow you to remove that credit if you pay a registration
fee, which is also fair. Here are an example:

http://www.dseffects.com — will let you use the script for free if
you keep the author credit within the code. It costs $24 for a license
for one domain so you can remove the author credit, and $80 for up to
10 websites. (What a bargain!)

Some sites let you take their images as long as you make a copy,
rather than linking to their image. Here’s where I found a page of
animated snow GIF files:

http://www.scri8e.com/h/xmas/CICED/SnoAni/

The site owner allows you to make a copy for personal use, and
explains on this page why you cannot simply link to the images.

http://www.scri8e.com/5/1TermsOfUseNoLinking.html

If I decided to use one of his images, I would create a shortcut to
his website in the folder where I store the images so I remember where
I found them.

Now, to do the research initially, you need to know a little HTML. But
once you do, it opens up a whole world of possibilities. This isn’t
just about having the neatest effect to impress your friends; this is
about finding and utilizing features that will benefit your customers.

For example, I found a fabulous live chat program on someone else’s
site, and decided to switch. That allowed me to stop paying a monthly
fee for a chat program that was overkill for my little business. I
found that new chat software developer by inspecting the code,
tracking down the company website, and buying a license for all my
websites. I even recommend and install that chat program now for my
clients.

So what are you waiting for? It won’t take long for you to learn HTML
and CSS and be able to track down the features you’ve liked on other
sites. You don’t have to imitate, you can customize. Most of all, you
can assist and please your customers with the website and blog
features that help them buy from you. My website training program will
get you started learning HTML and CSS right away.

Next:  Reason 5 – HTML/CSS Skills for More Than Just Web Pages and
Blog Posts

Toolie®

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