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Web Dev

Given that you’re reading an article on AppStorm, I think it’s safe to assume that you’re a savvy, astute kind of reader. So, I won’t need to tell you that the first rule of the internet is that you must have a website. Nor will I need to explain that code, in the case of most basic websites, is nowadays completely unnecessary. And I definitely don’t need to inform you that the selection of services now available to help with building an online presence is enormous.

You might be interested to hear about Webflow, though. Whereas most of the site builders already on the market are aimed purely at non-coders, this new kid on the web design block seems to be letting the technical folks get some respite from keyboard-based design.

Is this kind of hybrid the way forward? Or will it just annoy web designers wedded to the manual way of doing things?

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Stripe is an awesome way to take payments for virtual and physical goods. For anyone tired of having to run all payments through PayPal, it’s a breath of fresh air that makes payment processing easy and cheap. However, the service doesn’t offer an easy way to sell your products to customers. And while you can always code your own web store that works with Stripe, this takes time and money that could be used towards developing the product that you’re planning to sell.

If you find yourself in a situation like I’ve written above, you’re probably a perfect candidate for Spacebox: a product manager and payment acceptor that works with Stripe. It’s one of the simplest ways to sell your products — digital and physical alike — online. (more…)

Pages on Facebook can be incredibly useful tools for small business, bloggers and entrepreneurs alike. Although they take a bit of skill to manage properly, if you get the magic formula right you can see that magic “total reach” figure for each post shoot through the roof.

Managing both a website and a Facebook page can be a bit of a chore, though, so Sitefly, which is currently in open beta, allows you to create a simple website using your Facebook page, no matter what it is you do. This sounded really interesting to me, especially as I use the iPad.AppStorm Facebook page quite extensively to publish our posts so I signed up to see what the service could offer. Here’s what I found out.

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There’s dozens — hundreds, even — of places to make a free blog or basic site online. You could likely name 3 quicker than you could finish reading this website. But where could you host a plain HTML and CSS based site for free? Think, real quick. You want to hand-code a site in HTML and CSS, perhaps throw up a few images as well, and get it online for free. Any ideas where to put it?

Likely, you drew a blank, as I would. If you don’t want to use a CMS, and you just want to experiment with raw web code, you’d better get a hosting account or have your own local server.

But now, there’s another option: NeoCities. Designed as a 21st century reincarnation of GeoCities, NeoCities lets you make your own site for free from HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images, providing it’s not larger altogether than 10Mb. And it just might spark a renaissance of creativity online, aside from CMSes that make your site look like everyone else’s.

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Anyone that’s created or maintained a website will know that it’s crucial to know as much about your users as possible to ensure a website’s success. Tools like Google Analytics are perfect for this sort of task but there always comes a time where perhaps you need a little bit more control.

I came across this little gem a few years ago when I wasn’t even looking for an alternative and found it to be quite useful. I recently revisited it and was pleasantly surprised at how far the project has progressed.

Enter Piwik. With a rich feature set similar to the top website analytics apps that gracefully line the web, Piwik is also free and open source, which means you can install the latest stable version on any server. Read on to find out more!

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Great web design requires every bit as much imagination and creativity as graphic design. But while graphic designers get a (relatively) easy ride with the drag-and-drop tools of Photoshop, web designers, essentially, still have to do it the hard way with from-scratch coding. Hard to believe, I know, given that it’s now 2013, but this archaic method of design still reigns supreme.

Code, for the time being, at least, is still a necessity when designing a website. Wouldn’t it make things easier, though, if code-based styling were a little more intuitive.

That is the aim of bluePen, a live CSS editor, which has simple styling controls for each element on your site. But does this site add-on really save time, or is it yet another failed attempt to streamline web design?

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If you run a site of any size — from a successful eCommerce business to a small blog that your friends read — you likely want to know how many people visit your site. Call it an ego boost or business intelligence, but it’s fun and potentially rewarding to check out your site’s stats. You can see what’s popular, how people find your site, and know if what you’re doing is working to bring people in.

And for most of us, there’s only one analytics service we’d even think of using Google Analytics. It’s powerful, free, and simple to use. It’s not so simple to get info out of, though, since its web interface is rather complex and slow.

Handsome Stats is a new simple web app from folks at Batch Goods that simplifies Google Analytics while making it more stylish. It’ll help you get your ego boost — err, business intelligence — in a nicer yet more data-filled interface.

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Posterous is getting shut down in just a couple weeks, so if your blog is still on Posterous, it’s time to find it a new home. The good thing is, there’s lots of options today. WordPress is one obvious solution, since you can import Posterous sites directly into both WordPress.com blogs or WordPress on your own server. Many other blogging tools have import tools, too, including Tumblr, Squarespace, and my personal favorite, Kirby.

The most Posterous-like option, though, might be Posthaven, a brand new blogging service started by Posterous co-founder Garry Tan. We interviewed Garry about Posthaven last month, and now that the service is open to the public, let’s take it for a spin and see if it’s the perfect new home for your old Posterous blog — or perhaps for a brand-new blog.

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It would be fair to say that eCommerce is in a boom right now. The likes of Ebay and Amazon turn over more revenue than any high street chain you’d care to mention, and the number of independent online shops is growing hourly – the market-leading system Shopify, alone, is powering 50,000 online stores, and counting.

Despite this ever-expanding market, the range and variety of the eCommerce management software available is still relatively limited, and many services are fairly expensive from the viewpoint of a small retailer. Other than going down the Shopify route, most shopkeepers have to resort to WordPress plug-ins like WooCommerce, but neither option allows the non-coder to style their site easily.

It is, perhaps, because of this problem that Hiidef Inc. – maker of the fine, homepage creator Flavors – has produced Goodsie, a design-oriented hosted eCommerce platform. With Goodsie’s Standard package costing $14/month, this service is one of the more affordable eCommerce options available, but is Goodsie more luxury aisle or bargain bin? Time to find out.

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By now, most web users will have seen a promotional message on a bar at the top of some sites that you frequent — they’re a great way to draw your attention to new content, special offers, events and announcements. It doesn’t hurt that they’re easy to implement and update whenever necessary, and that’s what has made this bar a tool of choice for modern webmasters.

We’ve already looked at a very popular option for this called Hello Bar, and today we’re going to check out what the competition has to offer. ThreeBar is another app that lets you create promotion bars, analyze the impact of your messages and engage your site visitors — but is it the best option for you? Let’s create a bar of our own to find out. (more…)

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