Launching and maintaining a website can be a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider, and yet so little time to analyse and monitor them all. In order to give you a helping hand, we have compiled a list of 15 different tools that we believe every web designer & search engine optimizer should have within their arsenal.
We've broken the list up into three separate classes, Traffic Analysis, Web Design Tools & Search Engine Optimization. As a Webmaster, keeping tabs on your websites progress just got a whole lot easier.
The most popular choice, and for good reason. Google Analytics is a free service, offering all types of traffic information, from content analysis, traffic sources and even 'In-Page Analytics'. Additionally, you can link Google Analytics with Google Adsense. The Beta version also shows visitor activity in real time.
A smart alternative to Google's all rounder. Piwik allows you to customise the way you see your data, giving you access to pretty much exactly the same information as Google Analytics. Admittedly, the user-face isn't quite as fancy, but it certainly possesses it's own charm. Also, it's a breeze to add as many websites as you like to just one Piwik installation. The cherry on top? It's free!
Many Webmasters swear by Clicky. This is mainly down to the unique way that Clicky analyses your website's 'Bounce Rate'. Clicky considers every visitor who spends more than 30 seconds looking at a page as an “engaged” visitor and doesn’t count them as a bounce, even if they don’t view a second page on your site. To some, this features makes a lot of sense. However, Clicky is only free up until you surpass 3,000 views pageviews/day.
Renowned to be a more 'performance-driven' solution, because it’s all about measuring user-engagement and conversion rates and then taking steps to improve such actions. MixPanel is for the experienced Webmaster, who is looking to monitor certain visitor actions such as sign up conversions, form filling, and so forth. The full version of MixPanel is pricey to say the least, however there is a free version available.
Open Web Analytics:
Like Piwik, OWA is another free, open source web stats solution. It’s also self-hosted and it also comes in the form of a WordPress plugin. You can of course install OWA outside of WordPress, and use it to monitor multiple websites. Great added extras include 'heat maps' and 'mouse tracking', giving you a deeper insight into your visitor's behaviour.
A revelation to web designers everywhere. Firebug is a Firefox add-on which helps you pinpoint an HTML or CSS element in a webpage, simply by clicking on it. It allows you to select, and even 'test edit' parts of your website right there in your browser window.
An add-on to FireBug, YSlow runs a quick test on your website, which then highlights why your website is slow, and gives suggestions on how it could be made to load faster. With a grading system and it's consideration of multiple factors, YSlow is an absolute must.
The importance of browser compatibility has been discussed before on Webdesign.org. Now here is a tool to help you achieve optimum browser compatibility. BrowserShots.org gives you a screen-shot of your website across a huge variety of web browsers. Now you can see for yourself if your Website is performing as it should across all web browsers.
FiveSecondTest helps you fine tune your landing pages and calls to action by analyzing the most prominent elements of your design. You simply upload a screen-shot of your desired page, specify the questions you want to ask other users, and wait for their answers. Users have 5 seconds to view your page, after which they will answer your pre-written questions. An innovative and effective tool.
We have already covered the importance of colours in web design. But we now introduce a areat tool to test your websites usability for someone with visual impairment or colour deficit. You simply type your URL in and let it do all the hard work. You can then hone your colours accordingly.
Website Grader is a free SEO tool that measures the marketing credentials of a website. It provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
A popular tool amongst Webmasters, Alexa offers a great insight into your website's 'Global Rank', a list of sites linking back to you, your high impact search terms, and so on. The free version is extremely light in features, however it's a reliable tool for tracking backlinks.
Google strikes again with another free online tool. Since your website is being honed to meet Google's requirements, it's a good idea to see what Google themselves have to say about your website. Webmaster tools displays backlinks, high impact keywords, crawl errors, site-maps, and more.
Relatively straightforward. Simply type your URL in to get your official Google PageRank. The higher the better.
An amazing array of SEO tools rolled into one website. Link Vendor offers tools such as keyword density checker, link popularity, META tag analyser, and so forth. It's an SEO monster, and its free!
And there you have it, 15 amazing tools to aid you on your web design & maintenance projects. Enjoy!
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