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Four Features Every Website Should Have

Four Features Every Website Should Have

The websites of 2016 are nothing like what we had in 1996. Historically, our online properties were considered nothing more than a novelty. Generally, these sites were used as simple digital brochures and added very little value to users beyond what was already out there.

According to one web design agency, modern websites are now the hub of your business’s entire presence. Whether you’re trying to promote your business online or simply share your thoughts with the world, make sure your website has these four core features if you want to be able to engage people online.

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1. Social Commenting

If you’re trying to reach people, you want them to be able to reach back. Having a system in place where they can leave their comments is an excellent way for you to get a dialogue moving. While the comment features that are already built into many CMS systems like WordPress or Joomla are great, the one offered by Facebook is even better.

If people share a page from your website on Facebook, the comments are separate from the ones on your blog. However, it is possible to integrate their commenting system directly onto your website. This way, whenever somebody comments on your content through social media, the comments will be visible to your other readers.

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Let’s say, for example, you write a blog post outlining your new workout routine. Somebody may share this with their friends on Facebook. If one of his friends happens to be a fitness enthusiast, he may have his own little tweaks to add to your routine. Since you are not friends with this group of people on Facebook, you normally wouldn’t be able to take part in this conversation. But if you use Facebook’s comment plugin, you are now able to take part in this dialog. Your website or blog is no longer a one-way soapbox, it’s now a two-way platform for you to communicate with people from all over the world.

2. Method of Contact

Whether your website is a hobby or a business, people need to be able to trust you. It’s essential that your website clearly displays a way for your readers to get in touch with you. This doesn’t mean that you have to post your address and phone number. This can be something as simple as an email contact form.

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For businesses that are going to be handling transactions with clients, you might want a little more information. If possible, try to set up an online support system that lets people chat with your agents live. This can save you the money you’d spend operating a 1-800 number, and will still give clients the ability to get real time support.

3. SSL

People are more concerned about privacy than ever. If your website takes any kind of personal information from users, it’s your responsibility to help keep them protected. SSL is an encryption system that prevents information from being intercepted during transmission. Setting up SSL is usually as simple as a few clicks of your mouse, and many web hosts even provide this for free.

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4. Search Box

In this digital age, everyone is used to being able to find the information they need at the touch of a button. Even if you have perfectly laid out categories and an easy to use web design, occasionally users will want to make a query using their own words. For this reason, it’s essential to have an easy-to-use search box featured in a prominent location on your website.

Almost every modern CMS has this functionality built in. Even if you have an older website or one you developed yourself, adding in a search box is simple thanks to Google custom search. All you need to do is check out Google’s registration form, enter in some basic information, and copy a piece of code into your website. Then, you’ll be up and running!

Featured photo credit: Dulce, Diana and Jamie working by Steven Zwerink via flickr.com

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Josh MacDonald

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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