Welcome to Web Currents, a digest of web trends and tips for BlogMasters, podcasters, and webmasters. We'll review tools and techniques, learn about color in web design, and examine a new AJAX tools site. We'll wrap things up with a way to keep people at your websites.
Podcast Marketing, WordPress and AJAX
Do you think using podcasts for marketing is important? We took a poll on the subject (see below), and it appears that a number of savvy web developers are using podcasts as part of their marketing mix. Mr. Nicosia points out in an article at WebHelperNow that Apple has sold 40 million iPods since 2004 (when they were introduced), and features podcasts prominently at iTunes. That's a huge market, not to mention all of the other ways to listen to podcasts, including through your good old PC. Write to me (see bottom of this column) if you have a podcast on web development that we should review.
Hey BlogMasters… Don't you love WordPress? Danny Wirken wrote a good overview article with a list of valuable plug-ins to extend WordPress (perhaps the leading open source blog software). We use WordPress at WebHelperNow, and love its ease of use, and well-programmed interface. Extensions only make it better, and Wirken gives you both a list of recent plug-ins (did you know there's one to enable your blog to be read on Wap-enabled cell phones?), and a list of extensions in development including a "Palm Usage Manager." The evolution continues. Two more extensions I like a lot, are the PodPress plug-in — a great publishing tool for podcasters, and the Translator extension that automatically translates your blog into eight different languages.
What principles can you steal from YouTube to help your site development work? Answering that question is the goal of an excellent article we published by Tammy Ames. Ms. Ames, in her article, focuses in on the concepts of viral marketing, visitor interaction, connection, and community. And she's right — if you can implement a site that caters to and builds on those concepts you should have a very successful web community on your hands.
Have you visited YouTube.com yet? Among other things, you can use it to host a video or two for display on your site (saves you the bandwidth), and if your visitors like the video, they can e-mail it to other folks around the world. Now that's a "virus" that's good for your marketing efforts.
RESULTS: Web Chew Survey Poll
How important is podcasting for marketing? Is it very important, or just a passing fad? This poll originated a couple of weeks ago (it's still open for voting and discussion), and here are the results so far:
- 66.6% – Very Important
- 33% – Just a Passing Fad
Related podcasting survey: This one is much longer (a grad student is working on a thesis – in Germany, but there is an English version), but asks many important questions for PodCasters. Plus, you should get acquainted with SurveyMonkey, where this poll is hosted — a great service that helps you learn more about what customers and users think of your web efforts.
Past Web Chew Polls (still open for discussion and voting):
Firefox Trick: All About Color
Whether you're redesigning a site, or starting on one from scratch — it's very important to understand the principles of color theory and apply them to your work.
We'll use the Web Developer extension for Firefox (a great extension) to determine the current color palette for a website, then take a look at our "Color Wheel Harmony" chart (click on it to open large version and print if you wish), and the WebHelperNow Color Laboratory to explore some color palette options on the free web sample template you can download over at FastStartTemplates.
Here's your Firefox Trick – (click it to enlarge it):
Site Provides AJAX Tools
The verdict: This is a great tool set for Web 2.0 designers – 9 diamonds (out of 10).
Traffic Bite: Adding Sticky Content to Your Sites
It's one thing to get traffic to your website, and quite another to get folks who visit it one time to return again and again. One way to build this key repeat traffic is to add content to your website that brings people back. That's why I like FreeSticky. Want to add a game to your website? You'll find several here. What about financial calculators? Yup. Plus there are over 25 other content categories for your review. And some of them are "revenue bearing", which means you can enjoy income from their usage on your websites. Getting people to come back (and "stick" to your website), plus the opportunity to gain some extra income — how can you lose? Well, you have to be careful that some of the items don't detract from your site mission, or pull people away via a clever link or two in the content. Just implement these sticky content items smartly, and you should do well.
Note that while most of the content options at FreeSticky is true to its name – free, that is – there are some content items that will cost you a fee. But what are repeat visitors worth to you?