iconzworld.com – free web icons resource

icon bannerWhenever I’m building or designing a web site/web app, the most time-consuming part of the project will be the creation of graphical elements like buttons etc.

Well now I won’t be spending as much time doing that since I discovered iconzworld, a free icon resource web site. They put up new icon sets every couple of days and the quality is amazing.

Go to iconworld now to see the great range of free icons sets

Pay-As-You-Go Email Marketing from MailChimp

Email marketing, although a proven and required part of a marketing strategy, can be costly with most online suppliers charging a hefty monthly sum to use their systems.
Those that operate for free have limitations, usually something like ‘100 recipients only’ which is ok for low level activity but unsuitable for a growing business.

Setting up your own system e.g. using something like PHPList is often tedious and  takes some technical knowledge to set up properly and working just right.

MailChimp, SurveyMonkey’s little brother (or sister, who knows?!), offers a Pay As You Go plan so that you can budget how much you spend on your email marketing campaign. The price plan goes from $15 for 500 credits to $2,500 for 500,000 credits.
This kind of plan is especially suitable for businesses that don’t have a periodic mail-out as credits can be rolled over and the there are no standing fees e.g. monthly charges.

Cheat Sheets for PHP, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, CSS and SEO

I went on a bit of a Cheat Sheet binge this month. Working on a couple of projects using various technologies means I keep bouncing around looking for stuff so I thought I’d better get some cheat sheets up on my wall to save me time.

Most of these are from one site, the brilliantly named “ILoveJackDaniels” by UK web developer Dave Child:

  1. Ruby on Rails Cheat Sheet
  2. PHP Cheat Sheet
  3. MySQL Cheat Sheet
  4. CSS Cheat Sheet and more from the same site
  5. The Web Developers SEO Cheat Sheet by Danny Dover of SEOmoz.org 
  6. Conversion table for em, px, pt & % in CSS by Suresh Jain

Using Social Networks to Create your Business Market

Last month’s Inc. magazine featured clothing company Threadless on the front cover, a company founded by 2 college drop-outs (an interesting trend in itself – so many successful start-ups have college drop-outs at the helm) Jake Nickell and Jeffrey Kalmikoff.

Founded in 2000, Threadless is set to hit $5million is sales this year selling, wait for it, t-shirts! Yep, and they’ve never had a single design that hasn’t  sold out!

So how has Threadless managed to sell out every design? By asking their market what designs they’d buy! Simple!

Using a social network, Threadless runs design competitions and whichever designs are most popular make it onto a t-shirt. The t-shirts are then sold through the same social network to the very people who voted for the designs. This way Threadless supply the market with exactly what they demanded in the first place!

The power of social networking is only now becoming apparent and businesses are beginning to understand just how well ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing, the best and cheapest kind of marketing, works within the semi-porous walls of a social network.

Most think of social networks as the domain of bored teenagers but considering that Facebook, a social network that targets the 25 to 35 demographic, outpaced MySpace, a social network that does target teenagers, in May with the most number of unique visits many will need to re-assess their opinions of the importance of social networking to business.

Joomla – the difference between components and modules

When starting out in Joomla, either as a developer or site administrator, it’s likely one of the first questions to pop up will be what the difference between a Component and a Module is. Although it’s possible to ‘figure’ out what does what, it’s always a good idea to get the low-down from someone who’s experienced in Joomla development.

Joseph LeBlanc has a great article on his site making it very simple to understand the main differences

What information does Google collect about you, the browser?

Danny Dover has written an amazing article over at SEOmoz about the information Google tracks and collects about every user to  its many service web sites e.g. from GMail, Google Desktop, Google Docs, Postini, YouTube, FeedBurner etc.

Most Internet users are aware of the usual information collected but here Danny Dover has put together an exhaustive list from how Google collects information to what it does with it;
If you’re incolved in Search Engine Optimization or even responsible for your organisations information security this is a post well worth reading.

Check it out here

ICANN relaxes rules on Top Level Domains

TechRadar.com reports today that ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names, is relaxing its rules for Top Level Domains next year.

With billions of web sites populating the Internet it’s really no wonder ICANN are doing this – I can’t remember the last time I registered the exact domain that I or a client wanted. Practically every good top level domain has been snapped up, a lot of these by cyber-squatterswho register a domain early on and sell it to the highest bidder.

The new rules will allow the registration of ‘anything’ as a TLD e.g. .ny for New York or .ldn for London. I could register .chandeshparekh as long as I had a good enough ‘business’ reason for doing so.

As the TechRadar.com article notes, it’s hard to know whether this will improve the Internet or hinder it; consider the number of yet to come ‘dead’ websites that will litter the Internet landscape as a result of the new rules.

Read more about this on the ICANN site

Read the TechRadar.com article

Childnet International website teaches Parents about the Internet to help keep Children safe online

Childnet International is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to keep children safe when using the Internet.

The open-ness and accessibility of the Internet by anyone from anywhere unfortunately means the Internet has become the hunting ground for those who prey on children.

One way in which children can be protected when using the Internet is adult supervision, however this doesn’t always happen since there are may parents who have very little experience of using the Internet and are not aware of how to keep their children away from the ‘dark alleys’.

This is where Childnet International steps in; Their web site is full of useful information for kids as well as parents and I highly recommend that anyone who has kids using the Internet check it out.

The Childnet International web site here

BuildingWebApps.com – A great resource for Ruby on Rails Developers

I know this has nothing, well almost nothing, to do with Internet-related business but I’m so impressed with this site and its founders that I just had to write about it.

For those of you who may not know of it, Rails is a web development framework built using the programming language Ruby. The framework is popularly known as Ruby on Rails.

I’ve finally found some time, after almost a year of trying, to get into learning Rails. As a web developer and programmer it’s important for me to:

  1. Keep up with the latest technology in web development to build my own projects and projects for clients;
  2. And to keep up with the technology so I know what’s possible when I’m thinking of, or developing, a new Internet-based business.

Anyway, in my quest to learn Rails, I found the site www.buildingwebapps.com, created by Mike Slater and Christopher Haupt the founders of Collective Knowledge Works, Inc. a web development agency in the US.

If you’re learning Rails or are interested in learning Rails I highly recommend this site.

“My Site and Google” – What every web-site owner should know

It goes without saying that at the present time the most influential search engine on the web is Google and keeping that in mind there is some very important documentation the boffins at Google have created that every web-site owner should read and be aware of when having their web sites designed and built.

Written so a lay-person can easily understand it, with some help from their webmasters, the online documentation consists of the following main sections to help you optimize your site for Google:

  1. My site’s ranking in Google Search Results
  2. How Google crawls my site
  3. Creating a Google friendly site
  4. Preventing content from appearing in Google search results
  5. My mobile site in the Google  Index
  6. Information for Public Sector webmasters

and more can be found here

This is vital information if you want your site to be ranked as highly as possible in Google’s search engine results pages (serps).

Happy reading! 🙂

Addicted to Facebook? Make Some Money from it!

UrTurn.com logoAre you a serious facebooker? Spend hours at a time catching up with friends? Wouldn’t it be great it you got paid for doing it?

Well, now you can!

urTurn.com offers a reward scheme where you earn points for posting pictures to Facebook (and MySpace soon too) and writing on friends’ walls. The points can be redeemed for gifts or sold for cash!

Check out how it works here and the urTurn web site also has a FAQ section here

currentcodes.com Helps Save Money When Shopping Online

When shopping online, you’ll have noticed most if not all shopping carts have a “enter coupon code here” section before you checkout.

Many online retailers give out, for promotional reasons or otherwise, discount coupon codes to be used in just that spot.

currentcodes.com is a service that researches and maintains a database of discount coupon codes for 1,824 online stores!

To find a code for a particular store just search their database here and see what savings you can make when you’re shopping online!

Locate – the new travel service from the UK’s Foreign Office

Research has found that many Britons don’t know where their loved ones are traveling to and have no way to get in touch with them in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office has launched a new service called Locate where Britons traveling abroad can register details of their trip as well as emergency contact numbers and this information is passed on to the local British Embassy or High Commission.

On the flip side, those Britons who don’t know whereabouts their loved ones are can also register on the site and the Foreign Office will get in touch when they have located them.

From the Locate home page:

Use our new LOCATE service to tell us where you’re travelling to so our embassy and crisis staff can provide better assistance in an emergency such as a tsunami or terrorist attack.

It only takes a few minutes to register your contact details and travel plans online and the local British embassy will know you’re coming. There’s no need to contact them directly.

Going on another trip? Simply, login and update your Locate account and we’ll let the next British embassy know.

The Auctomatic story

I was recently directed to the BBC article ‘From Oxford to Silicon Valley’ by a friend who had by chance met with the CEO of Auctomatic, and as a budding Internet entrepreneur it’s a very inspiring story.

The story of Auctomatic, by founder Kulveer Taggar, has been serialized on the BBC web site since February 2007 and it makes for interesting reading. Kulveer lays out some sound advice for Internet entrepreneurs all of it based on his, and his company’s, experience.

From Auctomatic’s ‘about‘ page:

The Auctomatic mission is making selling online easy. We think it should be simple to take your stuff and list it on marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Overstock. But it shouldn’t end there. Auctomatic does more than just let you list your items and manage your sales – it teaches how you can maximize your profits and to increase the success of your business. With Auctomatic you can be running your own successful online business in no time.

Read the BBC series of articles starting here…

and the latest article is here… where Kulveer announces the sale of Auctomatic for ‘many millions of dollars’.

Web 2.0 Awards by SEOmoz offers inspiration for new and existing Internet businesses

SEOmoz, a Search Engine Optimization specialist offers SEO tips and guidance through their web site at www.seomoz.org. They’ve also just released the results of their Web 2.0 Awards competition, the results of which can be found here.

What’s interesting and very useful for web entrepreneurs is that there are a lot of categories covered, each with 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, and a grading system for Usability, Usefulness, Social Aspects, User Interface & Design, and Content Quality.

The breakdown of 174 sites in 41 categories helps to drill down to sites that are similar to yours making it easy to compare and pinpoint what you should improve for your web site.

Check out the awards site at http://www.seomoz.org/web2.0

Joomla 1.5 or Joomla 1.015 – which version is better to use?

What version to use for a Joomla project is a question that requires some thought, primarily regarding the functionality you want your Joomla site to have.

Joomla 1.0x has been around since about April 2004, with the latest version 1.015 released on 22nd February 2008, and because of this it has a large number of extensions available to quickly add functionality to your Joomla site. The time has allowed the extensions to mature so that most versions will work as expected and can be tweaked to your particular needs without much to worry about.
The other advantage is that more likely than not what you may want to do with a particular extension will probably have been done by someone else with their trials and tribulations of the process recorded on one of the numerous Joomla forums.
This saves a lot of time and effort when implementing your processes, the very reason you’re probably using a framework like Joomla in the first place!

Joomla 1.5 Stable (Khepri) was released on 22nd January 2008 after a number of months in beta testing, and so it is really only a few months ‘old’. Although many Joomla-extension developers have made their v1.0x version extensions available to use in v1.5, I’ve found them to be a hit or miss affair, never really knowing which extension will actually work as expected.

A current project I’m working on requires a lot of functionality, most of it already available using existing extensions, and some of it will require custom extensions. The decision was made to downgrade to Joomla 1.015 so we could utilise existing extensions and find enough guidance and help, primarily through the use of forums, when it came to developing the custom extensions. The idea is to wait for Joomla 1.5 to mature a little before we make the move to the new codebase.

Run an online survey quick and fast with SurveyMonkey

A great tool that I’m getting more and more use out of is the online survey-manager web site SurveyMonkey.com

As any business person will tell you, “you need to know your market!” Common sense, no doubt, but how exactly does one go about gathering market information without paying oodles of cash to a research company?

Enter SurveyMonkey!

It says on the home page:

Intelligent survey software for primates of all species. SurveyMonkey has a single purpose: to enable anyone to create professional online surveys quickly and easily.

And this totally true – their easy-to-use system makes it possible to get your survey together in just a few minutes! The hard part is who to target and what to ask them! 🙂

Their pricing plan is 3 tiered starting at ‘free’ to $19.95 per month and lastly $200 for a year. Although the ‘free’ plan only allows up to 100 responses, it’s suitable for small surveys and a good way to get acquainted with the online software.

Try it out now at www.surveymonkey.com

2 Day Bootcamp for Business Startups

There are many challenges to face and overcome when starting up a business, from the administration to sales, marketing and PR.

O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures is sponsoring a Startup Camp to be held on the 10th and 11th of July this year for 6 to 8 startups that will be selected by June 20th from applicants.

Click here to read more about this great opportunity and how to apply…

The Photoshop Anthology book – Get it completely FREE from Sitepoint

The Photoshop AnthologyIt’s not often a great book like The Photoshop Anthology is given away free but Sitepoint have teamed up with 99Designs to do just that!

The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques is being given away free as a downloadable PDF from the Sitepoint web site, but only until Thursday 12th June so get clicking here to download it now!

Taken from the offer page on the Sitepoint site:

It’s brimming with tried and tested real-world Photoshop solutions that will add impact to your next web design project. If you’ve ever been stuck for inspiration, have puzzled over just how to create a shiny aqua-style button, or wanted to create that seamlessly tiling background image you saw on a site recently, you need download this book.

99Designs is sponsoring this giveaway to promote their service which “…connects passionate designers from around the globe with savvy clients who need design projects completed in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.

Also on the 99Designs site is the opportunity to win a MacBook and a money prize of $55,147. Go there now to check out how to win…