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Issue 082 - Jul 17, 2008



1. Email Newsletter Software (coming soon)
Email Newsletter Software (coming soon) One of the best ways to stay in touch with your site visitors is to provide them with a weekly or monthly newsletter. This can be useful content related to the industry you're in, updates about new services you're offering, or promotions you're currently running.

Over the years several of you have asked if we had a product that does this. Well, up until today, I would have had to tell you "No, that's something we don't have." :)

Here's some good news for any of you who have ever needed newsletter software; we're in the process of building a product called Mail Clarity and hope to launch in the next few weeks.

Mail Clarity will be your one stop solution for email marketing. With Mail Clarity you'll be able to easily manage your subscriber list, send out newsletters, and at the same time have that newsletter published live to your website.

The plan is for Mail Clarity to be competitively priced and built on the same solid foundation as CMS Builder. This means it'll be easy for you to set up and the admin interface will already seem familiar.

While I would like to tell you everything I can about it, I can't share more than that for now. As we get closer to release we'll be sure to keep you up to date. Stay tuned for more.
2. Top 3 Redesign Tips - interactivetools.com Re-Designed
Top 3 Redesign Tips - interactivetools.com Re-Designed If you recently visited the interactivetools.com website you'll have noticed that we unveiled a new site design.

I kind of wanted to go through a few points that made the site redesign a success. Maybe you'll find this information useful if you're making a new site design yourself.

1. Know Your Target Audience

One of the first things to do when designing a new site is to determine who your target audience is. If you've been running your business for a few years you may already know who you're targeting. For us it's primarily been web developers, but we've realized that over the years our audience has expanded to include site owners and web designers.

If you check out our front page, we've simplified the home page to target each of these groups.

  • Website owners who have an already existing site but need a content management set up for them.
  • Web designers who can develop amazing looking websites for their clients but would like us to integrate the CMS.
  • And developers, who are perfectly comfortable with purchasing our products and integrating it into their client's sites themselves.
Our goal was to make it easy for site visitors to know about the different products and services we offer. With this new homepage, depending on what group a visitor falls into, they should instantly be able to identify where to go to next.

As for yourself, you may want to step back and see if you have any new audiences you can target (or could target better). You may have from time to time offered services to clients that you haven't promoted on your website. For example, if your site promotes web design but you've occasionally taken on search engine optimization work, you may want to see if your site can be improved to include an SEO service as well.



2. Put the Focus on Your Customer First

When we wrote new copy for the homepage we wanted to make sure the focus was on the person visiting the site.

As proud as you are about your product, company, or service, most customers are only interested in how you can help them meet their wants and needs. If you want more of them to choose you, your focus has to be on your customer first.

Whenever you write site copy try to avoid writing about yourself and what makes you great. Instead focus on your customer and talk to them about why your product and service will make them great. One of the best ways to do this is to remove unnecessary mentions of yourself (e.g. I, me, our, or your company name) from your copy and replace it with words that focus on your customer (e.g you and your). You can learn more about this by reading this article here.

You can also use the "We-we" calculator at Future Now to find out what you customer focus ratio is.

Most websites can be improved in this area (there's even copy on interactivetools.com I would like to improve for better customer focus). In fact, one of the best books I've read about writing site copy is by the same people who created the We-we calculator. It's called Persuasive Online Copywriting. While the book is no longer in print, you can still find it available as a PDF.



3. Make Sure You Use 301 Redirects

When launching a new site design, the location of some pages are likely to change. For example, the location of your about us page may change from http://www.yoursite.com/aboutus.html to http://www.yoursite.com/about/.

Your previous site visitors may have bookmarked some of your pages, or even more likely search engines such as Google have indexed them. To avoid having your visitors receive 404 errors and safely redirect web site traffic from your old pages to the new pages without losing your search engine rankings, you can use a 301 redirect. Meta refreshes or JavaScript redirects are not search engine friendly, so you'll want to stay away from using those.

Setting up a 301 redirect is simple. Here's how:

  1. Create an .htaccess file. Open notepad, name and save the file as .htaccess (there is no extension).

  2. If you already have an .htaccess file on your server, download it for editing (be sure to make a back up first).

  3. Place this code in your .htaccess file:

    redirect 301 /aboutus.html http://www.yoursite.com/about/index.html

  4. If the .htaccess file already has lines of code in it, skip a line, then add the above code.

  5. Save the .htaccess file

  6. Upload this file to the root folder of your server.

  7. Test it by typing in the old address to the page you've changed. You should be immediately taken to the new location.
You can redirect as many pages as you like, just make sure you use a new line in the file for each page:

redirect 301 /old/old1.html http://www.yoursite.com/new1.html
redirect 301 /old/old2.html http://www.yoursite.com/new2.html
redirect 301 /old/old3.html http://www.yoursite.com/new3.html


Anyhow, I hope you found the above tips useful. If you have any tips that you've found handy when building a new site please feel free to let me know and I might be able to share your tip in a future newsletter.
3. CMS Builder 1.20 Released (now with multi-lingual support)
CMS Builder 1.20 Released (now with multi-lingual support) Since the last newsletter we've released a few updates for CMS Builder. In fact, we released 1.18, 1.19, and, 1.20 and they all include various fixes, improvements, and ton of excellent new features. So if you haven't updated your copy of CMS Builder in a while, now would be a good time.

CMS Builder now has language packs for English, French, or Spanish. You can also easily customize the language file to support any additional languages. If you want to translate CMS Builder into Dutch, German, Portuguese or any other language you now have that option. All you need to do is edit one simple file.

If you translate CMS Builder to support a new language please send over the language file. We'll add it to the next version of CMS Builder so others in the CMS Builder community can benefit from your changes.

The latest release of CMS Builder also includes many additional features such as:
  • List Preview - Added Preview button to editor list page
  • Speed: Optimized code to improve speed by up to 50% or more
  • Editors: Added column sorting, click a column header to sort by it
  • Editors: Added multi-value fields: multi-select and checkboxes
  • Field Editor: Added option to change size and "recreate thumbnails" for uploads
  • Password Reminder: Added email password reminder to login menu
  • Multi Language - Added language packs for: French and Spanish
  • Multi Language - Added support for creating your own language files
For a full list of changes, visit the CMS Builder changelog.

You can also upgrade to the latest CMS Builder by donation.

Keep your feature requests and bug reports coming in! Every single release is packed full of user requested changes. Post to the forum or send an email to our senior developer, Dave Edis, at dave@interactivetools.com.
4. Developer Resources
Developer Resources Here are a couple of useful resources for web developers and designers. Email me YOUR favourite resource and I might feature it in a future newsletter.
Web Form Design Patterns: Sign-Up Forms, Part 1 and Part 2
If you want to maximize the revenue of your service you need to maximize completion rates of your web forms. This excellent two part tutorial provides you with tips on how to design effect sign-up forms, which in turn will help increase the number of visitors completing your forms. Highly recommended.

Cheat Sheets for Front-end Web Developers
Cheat sheets are helpful to have around because they allow you to quickly remember code syntax and see related concepts visually. In this article, you’ll find 23 excellent, print-ready cheat sheets for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (including MooTools and jQuery).

Top 10 Photoshop Tutorial Websites
There is certainly no shortage of Photoshop tutorial websites floating around in cyber space. Instead of wasting your time scouring the web looking for good Photoshop tutorials, stick with this list of the 10 best. If you're looking to learn photoshop or brush up on your skills, this is a good place to start.

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