We believe there are 3 key elements to an awesome website – beautiful design, useful functionality, and a reasonable amount of interactivity. If you are looking for a way to add some punch to your site, these 6 elements can help!
1. Facebook Comments
By now, you are probably pretty familiar with Facebook commenting. But did you know that you can add Facebook comments on your site? It is a great way to spark a discussion about your products and services. If you are relatively web savvy, you can learn how on the Facebook Developers page, or you ask your web developer/designer to do it for you.
2. Add your own URL Shortener
Have you ever wanted to send a link to a friend or send it via twitter and realized that link was just too long? There is no shortage of URL shorteners out there (like bit.ly or tinyurl.com), but if you find yourself wanting a bit more brand recognition when circulating your own content, check out yourls.org. It is a simple PHP/MySQL script library to make your own URL shortening service a reality!
3. Allow Site Visitors to Upload Large Files
This is a great tool for designers, printers, and other business that require their customers to send large files. Sometime large files tend to wreak havoc on email servers. The solution is Box.net! We’ve sung their praises before, but this neat little website widget is so helpful that we had to mention it again. If you have a box.net account, just log in and right-click on the folder you want your users to upload to. Then click “Share” -> “Embed folder in your site”. Just copy that code and put it in the code of your web page and users will see an area where they can upload files. Once they are up, Box.net will send you notification to your email. Learn more here.
4. Using Non-Standard Fonts
For years the only fonts you could use on your website were the “web-safe” fonts. These were basically the ones that come with your computer – Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Lucida, Georgia, Trebuchet, Times New Roman (our least favorite font ever!), and Tahoma. The only way to incorporate other fonts into your design was to put them in images which affected load time. It wasn’t until late 2009/early 2010 that web fonts began to get more accessible. There are several ways to implement them, but our favorite is Cufon. Cufon allows you to specify specific elements that should be displayed in a different font without using images or Flash.
5. Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are especially helpful for web applications, but there are some novel uses for them on brochure-style sites as well. You may be familiar with using these on your desktop (like CTRL + C to copy text), but they can be used on your website too! One of our favorites is creating the Shift+s shortcut to automatically put focus on a Search field. Or CTRL+F to popup a Facebook comment modal. We use shortcut.js to accomplish this task.
6. Live Chat to IM
You’ve probably seen websites with a Live Chat feature. Many people think that it takes a dedicated customer service center to have this functionality, but that isn’t necessarily true. If you or someone in your company is charged with being the person to answer the phone during business hours, you can also be the live chat operator! The Wimzi AIM widget makes it easy. All you need is an AIM account, the Wimzi widget, and a website.