How to add a Forum to your Website

Adding discussion forums to your website requires more than just simple webpages. You need programs on the web server to accept forum postings, fetch
existing forum postings from a database, and so on. Fortunately there is
an excellent Free Forum

software available written in PHP. phpBB is a powerful forum system that provides
individual user accounts, forum postings with support for more than just plain
text, message threads and a great deal more. And it’s free and completely open
source. So we recommend it highly.

There’s one important catch with phpBB: you need to keep an eye on the program’s
website and install any upgrades that are released to fix security problems.
Please take this seriously — do not allow your website to be wiped out by a
malicious web “worm” that takes advantage of security holes in older versions of
popular forum software.

Online Business Ideas

A huge number of people interested in taking control over their careers have discovered the opportunities presented by plenty of online business ideas. While the most common cases of Internet businesses include affiliate promotions, website creation, freelance writing, selling or promoting a product or a service, there are some more individual ones that can be carried on independently and based on personal knowledge, education and work experience. Thus, some people make money from writing e-guides and e-books they afterwards sell online, others develop a personal product or provide consultancy for a variety of problems and last but not least there are people for whom discussion forums moderation is one of the most profitable online business ideas.

The interest in online business ideas has got higher with the international financial crisis and the national economies in recession. With the perspective of thousands of jobs being reduced, it is only natural that people will focus on home-based opportunities that can save the entire family from the risk of working for corporations. Getting serious about the possible online business ideas you’ve felt tempted to try is the best advice that you can get. Some changes are obvious on the Internet too with Google discarding more and more sites considered spammy.

According to this new policy put into practice by search engines, older sites are preferred to newer ones. Statistics actually indicate that nine out of ten sites displayed on the first search engines are sites with older activities online. One can check the site history according to the record domain, and don’t be surprised if some of the sites are actually a few years old. Nevertheless, getting discouraged is not the point here, what specialists stress out is the fact that age could affect the evolution of the online business ideas into profit making machines.

While disadvantages come from some directions, the good news is that the cost for some services required for online business ideas are getting lower. If you plan to create a website that needs a domain registration and hosting; well, competition makes host service providers to drop fees drastically. Moreover, it has become obvious that blog owners are the ones who profit more from search engines due to the highly specialized rich content. Even if time is ticking and you feel you have to choose from the online business ideas, it is important to think everything through so as to make a wise and financially advantageous choice.

Internet Marketing Tools

For aspirants to developing an online business, the variety and extent of Internet marketing tools is baffling and almost impossible to understand. The thing about an Internet business is that people often lack the knowledge necessary to cover the technical details of web support, and therefore they have to pay for tools, strategies and consultancy in order to have good traffic, well-targeted visitors and a high return on investment rate. In order to understand the way Internet marketing tools operate, an outline of the online marketing promotion strategies is necessary. The purpose of the campaigns is more than obvious but the procedure that attracts more customers takes a lot of time and work to implement.

Here are a few examples of Internet marketing tools available either for free or fee-based download. The Google Website optimizer is a software that enables the user to increase the site performance in search engines, allowing for a better ranking. Such a tool goes hand in hand with programs that provide analytical data about the visitors that access the websites, allowing for the creation of statistical results to reveal how many of the visits have resulted in transactions. This kind of Internet marketing tools come in a variety of more or less cost-effective formats, but they all require a fee.

Other Internet marketing tools allow better management and higher optimization possibilities for the promotion campaigns launched on the search engines. Without such analytic items, the covering of all the data concerning the market response to one action or another could not be possible given the huge amount of information. Priorities can be more easily identified not to mention that the creation of new plans of actions is seriously enhanced by the use of the appropriate Internet marketing tools. From the most complex searches to the finding of the right keywords to use in a campaign, web site maintenance and promotion are not easy at all.

When choosing Internet marketing tools it is often advisable to have professional assistance, as you may often get to pay for a software or tool that is available for free with other service providers. Therefore, contracting a web site consultancy agency to cover all the marketing issues related to the business promotion online is a wise investment. Unfortunately, people who think that they can discover the Internet marketing tools along the way are more prone to losing their investment and ruining the business opportunities than those who accept their limits and start from the premise that they need professional help to keep the business profitable.

Make Money At Home

For some people blogs are just a way to express personal thoughts and opinions, while for others they serve as the right platform to make money at home. From the many independent ways to generate income, blogs have become a very well-spoken means to get some extra cash without too much fuss. Here are some strategies to use in case you want to develop a blog into a make money at home alternative.

Selling advertising is one first way to make money at home. The space on the blog can either be sold or rented to users who want to place ads similar in content to your domain. The rules for such a business are those of Google Adsense most of the time when the site owner gets paid for every click a visitor makes on an ad or link. It is important to learn a few things about how the system operates before you try it out.

Affiliate programs are another great means to make money at home. Following the same click-through system as advertising with Adsense, affiliates imply the promotion of one or more products belonging to another company. Thus, a good idea for instance is to use names of books reviewed and sold on Any user who clicks on such a name included in the content of the site will be redirected to Amazon web pages for further information.

Although not always morally justified, there are people who make money at home by running worthy cause blogs and asking visitors for small contributions. This form of relying on the kindness of strangers has often attracted good-hearted people, yet the practice is utterly selfish and despicable to pretend money for something you will never do. From this point of view such bloggers are another form of scammers, and should be avoided as such.

A blog can function as a very serious marketing tool that can help one with the promotion of a product or service. For instance if you run a flower business and provide all sorts of arrangements for a variety of occasions, part of the blog content can be devoted to interesting facts about unique flower species or it can include how-to tips for plenty of occasions that require flower decorations. Such ways to make money at home may turn out more complex and profitable than you’d have expected!

For people who already have solid experience in the electronic market transactions, a blog could become not so much a way to make money at home but rather the instrument to deepen the relationship with customers. A blog helps you communicate with the users showing them a wider scope of the products and services you promote.

Online Jobs

Although many web sites have the interest to make you believe there are hundreds of online jobs waiting for you, things are not exactly the way they picture them. Nevertheless, the opportunities for online jobs are widely advertised by other online businesses that depend on their marketing campaigns to make money. How advantageous are such online jobs for the average Internet user?

The types of sites mentioned above promise you to reveal the secret of how to many money on the Internet for a small fee. Once you’ve paid it, they give you access to a list of companies that require all sorts of online services, surveys most of the time. Afterwards, it is up to you whether you get one job or another. Therefore, we could say that intermediaries are only doing half their share in the deal, hence it is important not to believe everything in the commercial blah blah they lure you with.

The online jobs that are really interesting and well paid are sales, scheduling, writing, telemarketing, customer and recruiting services and all sorts of other professions that allow one to conduct all the activity on the Internet with maximum flexibility. Very often, a virtual assistant can be more useful in terms of clerical and secretarial support than an employee you work with office-to-desk.

Other relevant examples of online jobs are transcribers that usually edit recorded files or online tutors who collaborate with schools and all sorts of companies that organize all sorts of distance learning programs. Tutoring is actually considered very rewarding as an online profession, not only because of the financial retribution but also because of the comfort of the teaching process as such.

Last but not least, freelancing is another opportunity to work from home particularly since it covers a wide range of domains: from writers, translators and editors to computer programmers, web page designers, marketing experts and software writers. The only thing with freelancing is that you would be in search of the next project or position all the time. Presently, there are several well-reputed sites that intermediate between freelancers and potential employers for a standard fee.

All in all, online jobs are international jobs most of the time that require a next to perfect command of the English language since most of the transactions and the terms are negotiated in English. Internet users who also have some solid education and real work experience should therefore be able to get some suitable positions sooner or later.

Internet Business

Recent market studies indicate that the growth rate of the Internet purchases has been incredibly high during the last years, and despite the conditions of the actual world financial crisis that made the online orders register a corresponding decrease, things still look very bright for the Internet. From this perspective, people who promote a service or product as part of an Internet business have lots of things to do before they can see the money roll in.

E-retailing remains a profitable Internet business, but heavy marketing support is generally necessary to face competition and generate profit. Behind the comprehensive online web catalogs that sell us all sorts of things, there lies a huge amount of work to support not only the web page as such but to run a constant market analysis and have a realistic picture of where the business stands on the e-market. A relevant example here would be that of the first-page search results on engines like Google.

The Internet business with the highest likelihood to complete a transaction is one that appears first when a visitor types a keyword in the search box of the search engine. Consequently, the big competition between the various companies activating online is to have a good page rank and a proper representation in the search engines. These can only be achieved by a professional support of the web pages and constant monitoring of the site performance, according to the number of visitors and the resulting transactions.

Just like for real life money making opportunities, an Internet business requires careful planning. Thus, one targets the market, gathers information on the competition, ensures good resources, attracts finances and funds if necessary and takes the measures that build customers’ loyalty. Moreover, depending on the type of product or service offered, the Internet business could require the strategic alliance with other partners.

Consequently, for every Internet business idea you have to learn whether there is a market to address. Then, if you lack the budget to invest, you need to find alternative financing options to support you entrepreneurial aspirations. And last but not least, you should never neglect the web site investments. The design and constant support that keeps the Internet business running could cost you a small monthly treasure. Nevertheless, the site is the interface, the place where the customer comes into contact with your product or service, and the impression has to be one of the best. Good luck!

Web Design techniques to avoid


    Not all sound is bad, but for the most part users prefer to opt-in to sound being played, especially if they are using their computers to listen to music they have chosen. If you do decide that the music should start up right away, give a quick and noticeable way to disable the sound for the user. It drives me crazy to go to a website that plays music, most of the time I will close out of it immediately and find another place for what I was looking for. There are times when I take the time to disable the music, but not often.Animation
    I’m not talking about flash, I’m talking about animated gifts, mouse trails and “glitter.” I don’t see as much of this as I used to on the web but I have had clients request such things. It is important to end that conversation right there with your client and explain to them how the web has advanced since 1996.

    Intrusive Advertising
    Just when we all thought popup windows were dead forever, they start making a come-back. It drives me crazy to do the first click on a web site (I’m a highlighter) and immediately a popup for Netflix or screen savers popups up to greet you. I have never, ever, clicked on a popup with the intention of buying or signing up for anything. Take note The other intrusive advertising are in-window popups and scrollers. The worst kind are flash advertising with sounds (the crazy evil bee buzzing flash, for example). Minus the ranting, don’t distract your user with advertising. Be subtle about the advertising and interested users will choose to check out a link or banner on their own.

    Bad Typography
    You want to avoid the bad cliché fonts such as Comic Sans of course. Beyond the well-known bad choices for typefaces you want to ensure that there is a healthy, but not too healthy, contrast between the background color and the font color. You also want to take into account how big your typeface is set at, you may be able to read it just fine but keep in mind what kind of audience will be visiting your site to ensure that they can read it just as easily. You also want to test increasing the font size on your site to see how it holds up to others browsing the web at an increased size.

    Screen Resolution
    You may have a 1920×1280 resolution on your computer but not everyone has that large of a resolution. It is important to check your site on other resolutions to see how it holds up and what it looks like. The most common size right now is a toss up between 1024×768 and 800×600. That doesn’t, however, take into account that not everyone browses the web full screen. I browse full screen but several of the people I work with, in the web design field, don’t maximize their browsers. So they may be browsing at 1280×1024 or 1024×768 but their actual screen real estate for your site may be much less.

    Bad Navigation
    This one is very important, this is how your users navigate your site. The usability of your site is paramount when it comes to design decisions. If users can’t figure out how or where to get their information on your site they will look elsewhere. Be sure that the navigation for your site is expansive and relevant. Jakob Nielsen has said that the more navigation available on the page the better chances the user is going to find a relevant link to the information they are interested in. Users don’t mind skimming, they are actually pretty good at it as long as you make the navigation as prominent on the page as possible.

    Load time
    You can have the best content on your subject on the internet, with a great design… But if you don’t properly optimize your site users will grow tired of waiting for pages to load. You want to take several steps to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible. The top ways you can do this are by optimizing your images properly for the web so that the files are as small as they can be without losing visible quality. You also want to try your best to minimize HTTP requests on your site, especially if the site is popular. Another thing you can do is to use various methods of caching your pages, especially for dynamic sites. You can also compress your pages so that the code make appear unreadable to people but browsers will render it the same, but with significantly less file size. Line breaks work well for people and mean nothing but bits and bytes to browsers. Try using Yslow for Firebug to analyze load time, file size, and ways to optimize your site’s performance.

    Website Accessibility
    This one is often looked over because there aren’t many in the web design field that are disabled. It is, however, important to ensure that you are accommodating as much as you can those that are. It can be very frustrating for people with sight disabilities to come across meaningless alt attributes, undeclared navigation and misleading content flow. Understanding how screen readers work is the first step to becoming a better web designer and making your sites accessible to people that are visually impaired.

    Contact Information
    Every website needs to have an easy method to allow users to contact them through. You need at least two ways for users to contact you that are easily found and well marked. Best-case scenario is three ways to be contacted but not all websites require that level of interaction. The more ways that you provide for contacting the better your site is viewed to the world.Setting up a contact form and providing an email address are the first two steps to becoming available to your visitors. For the websites it applies, putting your phone number and possibly your address in the footer or even on a sidebar is just as important. Make sure that all of your contact information is up-to-date also, for most websites this is how clients contact you and it is impossibly important you make it as easy as possible for them by whichever means they feel comfortable with.

Converting PSD to XHTML Code for Your Website

Are you having trouble setting up your website because you are not sure how to get your PSD files to display correctly online? This is a common scenario that online business owners face because they hired someone to design their posters, logos and other promotional materials in Photoshop. Photoshop is a professional class software that many designers use to deliver cutting edge graphic images.

The problem is, the source file of the graphic images is saved as PSD file formats. PSD file format is the format recognized by Photoshop software. It is not a web friendly file format, and hence, that poses problems for anyone who wants to publish PSD files on the Internet.

On the Internet, there are many different types of coding languages used. The most commonly seen languages used are the HTML language, and the XHTML language. HTML stands for hyper text markup language, and XHTML stands for Extensive hyper text markup language. XHTML is similar to HTML, except that it also works with XML syntax.

There are industry standards governing both HTML and XHTML. So which do you choose? Both languages will allow you to display your PSD files on the Internet the way you want. In general, converting PSD files to XHTML may cost you more. So if you don’t need to work with XML, you may want to convert PSD to static HTML files.

The conversion process is not difficult if you know what you are doing. However, the process can be time consuming. Usually, the conversion process starts off by flattening the graphic image.

On the image, you may then have to decide on how you want the image to appear. Are there specific areas you want to be clickable? Or do you just want a static image that is fast loading?

Once you are clear about what you want to achieve, be sure to communicate that to whoever is responsible for the conversion. Based on your instructions, the actual conversion then starts to take place.

The image may be spliced using special software, and exported in HTML format – the way you want it. The files are then uploaded to the server so that you can assess the work. Be sure to check out the web page with different web browsers to ensure that there are no compatibility issues. If there is anything that needs to be changed, you can always make special requests.

Professional coders will be able to hand code the HTML or XHTML for you. The code can then be checked for W3C validity – the industry accepted standard.

The main benefit of having a PSD file converted to static HTML or XHTML is that you can edit the web page any time you want. Once the slicing is done, and the conversion completed, you can easily update the web page using simple HTML tags.

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Choosing The Right Web Page Template

by Larisa Thomason,
Senior Web Analyst,
NetMechanic, Inc.

Imagine coding every new page in your Web site from scratch. It wouldn’t be much of a problem on a 10-page site, but a 100-page site would be a huge project – both in initial coding and debugging. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: a Web page template. Templates make creating new pages a snap.

But first you must decide whether to create your own template or use a ready-made one. Choose carefully. Your decision can affect both page download time and site promotion.

Templates Are Timesavers

The template concept is simple. Most pages in a Web site have the same basic components: navigation system, copyright, contact information, and company logo. Generally, the main difference between pages is the actual text content and images associated with each. A template allows you to leave these common elements in place and quickly enter the unique page content.

Think of the benefits:

Less work for you! It’s a lot easier to open a file named Template.html, enter the content for your new Web page, and then save the page under its new name. Your logo, navigation, etc. are already in place.

Fewer HTML errors. Every extra keystroke is an opportunity to make a mistake. A template reduces – but doesn’t eliminate – your chances to make a simple error that breaks the page.

Consistent look and feel. Your visitors rely on visual cues for reassurance that they’re still at your Web site. With a template, the colors and layout remain the same from page to page.

Keep visitors at the site longer. A template helps you keep your site navigation structure consistent and predictable. Visitors probe more deeply into your site without getting lost. The more comfortable visitors are, the longer they’re likely to stay.

Templates are such helpful tools that almost every site on the Web uses one in some form or another.

Finding A Web Template

Web page templates aren’t hard to find or create. Webmasters usually get a template in one of four ways:

Create their own template
Use a template provided with their HTML editor
Download a free Web template
Purchase a template or set of templates

Many webmasters create their own template after they’ve designed the home page. Because a great home page is so important, it’s usually the first page finished in a Web site. Once that’s done, it’s easy to use the home page layout as a guide for the rest of the site. Just replace the home page content with the “About Us” or “Products” pages’ content.

Other webmasters may not have the time or expertise to start a site from scratch or the money to hire a professional designer. They prefer to purchase a ready-made template to compensate for their lack of time or design skills.

Templates are easy to find. Some HTML editors have standard templates bundled with the software. Many others are available for free online: just enter “free Web templates” into a search engine and you’ll get thousands of results. Some companies offer sets of templates where you have access to between several hundred and several thousand templates for one price. Other services let you to purchase a single template for a small fee ranging from $5 to $25.

Shop around because prices and quality vary widely!

Ready-made Templates: Buyer Beware

There’s nothing wrong with using a ready-made template. You aren’t cheating and you aren’t stealing someone else’s work (as long as you’re using it with permission). However, there are some other issues with templates that affect the usability and profitability of your completed site.

Let’s look at some of the most important considerations.

Too many images: Because a template is a design tool, you’re likely to find it contains a lot of images: everything from navigation buttons to tiny curves and other embellishments.

These designs can be quite eye-catching but remember that every extra image has to be requested and downloaded from the server. Look at the images critically and make sure that really needed. You can often get the same effect by adding background colors on table cells or to DIVs.

After you’ve selected the important images, use GIFBot to optimize them.

Incorrect or confusing HTML code: Many template designers are graphic designers first and programmers second. Test the template in as many browsers and browser versions as you can. What looks great in Explorer may be broken in Netscape or Opera. Even simple errors may hide your content from search engine spiders.

Also, be prepared for the difficulty of reading someone else’s code – particularly if they didn’t take the time to add comments for readability.

Editing the code may be particularly difficult if the template designer used a WYSIWYG editor. Use HTML Toolbox to scan the template for coding errors and browser-specific code.

Layout tables or nested tables: Many ready-made templates use tables for layout – and use them badly. We’ve seen some that have tables nested five levels deep. That’s a table within a table within a table within a table all contained in a great big table! You have to be an experienced coder just to figure out where to place the content.

Many levels make it harder for a search engine spider to index your page because it buries the content inside a bunch of extra HTML code. They can also slow page download time if the designer didn’t build the tables for speed.

That’s another good use for HTML Toolbox. It gives you the approximate download time for the HTML file. If the template takes 30 seconds to load before you add content, you know there’s a problem.

No CSS Formatting: Template designers rarely incorporate CSS formatting into their designs so templates are often full of FONT tags and other deprecated HTML elements. The designer may not care about the underlying code or may just assume that a webmaster using a template won.t understand how to apply the styles.

Templates As Idea Tools

After that list, you’d probably want to run screaming into the night if anyone offered you a template. But stay put because ready-made templates really are good tools – even for experienced designers.

It’s hard to sit down in front of a blank computer screen and think: “I have to design a Web page.” That page seems big, white, and very, very empty. Templates help jump-start your imagination. The instant you look at any design – even a bad one – you’re already thinking about how you could make it better.

That’s the key: use ready-made templates as idea tools instead of design tools. Viewed that way, a set of 500 (or more) Web templates is a great investment. As you browse through the catalog, you’re collecting ideas and learning:

Which color combinations look best.
New ways to use icons and place navigation bars.
Which page layouts are easy to read.

Even if you’re a professional Web designer, a set of templates can greatly speed the design process with clients. Clients can look at templates and give you valuable feedback about their likes and dislikes before you ever write a line of code.

Once you’ve found a template that works for you or pasted together parts of several templates, consider writing your own code to duplicate the design. It’s likely to be more compact, have fewer errors, and be much easier for you to maintain later.

That approach gives you the best of both worlds: a great design that attracts human visitors and Web pages that download quickly and earn high search engine rankings!