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Cool Web page Freebies

© Alan Duncan 2002

Disclaimer

Please note we do not endorse any companies listed on this site and people using them do so at their own risk and we take no responsibility for any problems that may occur in doing so. (See also legal notices) We strongly advise you look at several different companies

Once you've got your site up and running there are tons of things you can add on to it. Although there's a wide range of items you can add yourself such as JavaScript, Flash or streamed media, there are things that are beyond the scope of many starter webmasters

Even if you did know the ins and outs of CGI,PERL, PHP and other scripting languages, your site's host may not allow you to use such skills to set up something as simple as a web counter or site search box.

However fear not many 3rd party sites offer to provide these services for free (although you'll have to put up with varying degrees of advertising in return).

You simply add some HTML code to your site and away you go. You'll usually have some form of link to their server (e.g. in the case of a hit counter logging each time someone accesses the page and updating the count)

Here's my current to 5 favourites

(1) Add a site search engine

Want a site search engine that is specific to your site?

Yup

Want to learn all those scripting languages to DIY?

Not right now!!

Well there are a few companies who provide free site indexing and search facilities for your site. When you sign up to them they index your site (make sure those <meta> tags are up to speed)

They then give you a bit of HTML to cut and paste into your pages.

This essentially sets up the search box form on your pages.

When someone uses this, the data is sent to the site search companies server. Using the gathered info it will display a response page of your searches much like a search engine but for your site

A range of companies do this.

Basic Web Resource site uses atomz (http://www.atomz.com) to provide the site search facility. We're happy with the service which is free and ad free. This company normally offers a fee service but will provide a simpler search tool for sites of less than 500 pages for free with no adverts (A)!! (its tucked away on the site- look under search then free trial).

Other companies like Freefind (www.freefind.com/) offer a free service with a larger 32MB initial limit ~ about 3,000 pages (B)) but you'll need to put up with advertising for this privilege

Bravenet (http://www.bravenet.com/) is a good source of free resources ranging from site specific search engines to guestbooks to password protected areas. You can sign up with them for free (C).

Most provide some form of customisation so that the page has the look and feel of your site to top of page

(2) Add a hit counter    

Before you start to look for another company to do this check with your site's hosting company. Most (including many ISP's free space) will offer a hit counter for free as part of the package.

Counters have some pros and cons.


As a plus point they let you know roughly how many visitors your site has been attracting (some may give you a limited for of stats on the people visiting your site). If your site gets lots of visitors a high counter figure ensures confidence in people coming to visit.

However a low counter reading can have the reverse effect. Also you'll probably have to put up with some free advertising too!! Watch out though many companies only offer a free 30 day trial

The counterguide (http://www.counterguide.com/) is a handy site list of sites that'll host counters (plus provides a source of CGI, Java etc. counters so you can create your own ones if your site host's server allows you)

Arguably the most famous name on the web providing this service is thecounter.com (http://www.thecounter.com/). However you can only have 1000 visitors a day to your site (averaged over 30 day periods) before you'll have to start paying for the service (D)

A less limited option can be found thru' Beseen (http://www.beseen.com/). Their hit counter is above.

Bravenet (http://www.bravenet.com/) is another useful source of counters.

(3) Add a Map

UK webmasters have the the ability to use the ordnance survey's Get-A-Map scheme to copy up to 10 free map images (http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap/).

Crown Copyright 2002
www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap
Image produced from Ordnance Survey's Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

You must agree to agree to the conditions imposed You search their database (basically all of the UK is covered with maps down to 1:50,000 detail) and simply copy the images onto your site with their copyright info.

You can also down load historical maps by the same service

Yahoo provides a service where they create a link button for an address to bring up a map (athttp://docs.yahoo.com/docs/yahootogo/), but I personally found it glitchy (seems to work with US locations only)

In the UK steetmap.co.uk (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/) offer a similar service which seems to work better. This link takes you to a streetmap of Stirling Castle to top of page

(4) Add a Newsfeed or Stockquote

You can set up a news feed or stock quote on your site with ease. We've used the service provide by Bravenet (http://www.bravenet.com/) (we take no responsibility for the accuracy and opinion described) as an example

It's highly customisable to fit in with your page design but does include advertising as you can see

Alternate choices include the British company moreover.com (http://www.moreover.com/) who specialise in this service for big business. They provide a free newsfeed service for non profit sites (look for the non-commercial webmasters link)

(5) Search The Web

Adding a search engine box is really simple.

Most search engines and web directories will be more than happy for you to do this (and most will provide the cut and paste code)

Here's one from yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com/)

[ Yahoo! ] options

 

You can find it at http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/yahootogo/

UK webmasters might want to use Lycos (check out http://www.lycos.co.uk/service/ for details)

(A) Information described on the http://www.atomz.com/ website Feb 2002
(B) Information described on the http://www.freefind.com/ website Feb 2002
(C) Information described on the http://www.bravenet.com/ website Feb 2002
(D) Information described on the http://www.thecounter.com/ website Feb 2002


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