Sure, you could come up with ideas for websites all day long. But when it comes to actually launching one, all of the work involved might dissuade you a bit. Never fear! These aren’t the days of editing line after line of HTML in a .txt file. No, these days there are plenty of free tools out there that make launching your site easier than ever before. From tools to help you test and debug the finished product to ones that help you design it, these five websites, services, and plugins will save you time and a whole lot of hassle.
Testing is one of the most time consuming—and frustrating—parts of the web design process. Of particular importance is cross-browser testing, or testing your website on a variety of browsers, browser versions, and operating systems. With the plethora of browsers out there, doing it manually would take ages. Thankfully, free tools like Browser Shots can test your site on dozens of browsers, platforms, and operating systems all at once.
Simple type your site’s URL into the search bar and wait roughly twenty to thirty minutes for Browser Shots to compile a report, complete with a gallery of screenshots.
One of the little annoyances you face when designing a website is all the passwords you have to remember. For security’s sake, you really do need a strong password with an almost random string of letters, numbers, and characters. But come on—who can remember all that? Last Pass can.
Billed as “the last password you’ll ever have to remember”, Last Pass is a software program and browser extension aimed at simplifying your life while giving your passwords airtight security. The program remembers your complex passwords for you and encrypts them locally on your machine. You’ll be amazed at how much faster you navigate your online workspace without having to stop and input a complex password every five minutes.
WordPress veterans know there’s no better SEO solution for a WP-built site than SEO by Yoast. The incredibly simple, yet intuitive design makes it easy for anyone to fully optimize their site’s pages. When launching a new website, visibility is incredibly important. In fact, it helps determine your future success. Make sure your site is optimized to show up in Google, Bing, and other search services from the word “go”. Yoast’s SEO plugin makes it easy for you. It even itemizes elements of your page that could be improved!
How many times has this happened to you? You’re browsing a website, just minding your own business; attempting to navigate to a particular page. You follow a hyperlink, wait for the page to load, and BAM! “Page not found”. Broken links are a frustrating experience, and they’ll turn visitors away in droves if the problem is severe. But who has the time to manually trawl through their website and check each and every link? That’s a test of patience most Buddhist monks would fail.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to come to that. Sites like Broken Link Check do that trawling for you, bringing any broken links to your attention. Just type your site’s URL into a text box, sit back, and watch as all your website’s content is scanned for errors.
So far, we’ve covered a lot of tools for proofing, optimizing, and preparing your site for launch. But what about the actual design process? Thankfully, there are plenty of tools to make that part a lot easier, too. Zedity is one of them, and we picked it for our list because it’s the simplest, yet most powerful and intuitive design app we’ve yet to come across. This is another tool specifically for WordPress users, and if you aren’t using WordPress—you may want to after seeing how powerful the simple drag-and-drop interface really is. You really should consider adopting WP anyway, as it’s become a standard of sorts in the design industry, and it can do so much more than just build a blog.
First off, Zedity is not a total web design solution like Wix or Simbla. You can’t use it for hosting, and you can’t build something from the ground up with it. Instead, Zedity is intended to make custom HTML and HTML5 a lot easier to implement into a WordPress-based website. Using a visual drag and drop interface, simply move elements around a virtual sandbox. Elements can touch and overlap, something very difficult to do manually. The plugin features support for video, audio, images, gifs, and of course—text boxes.
When you’re all done, the plugin generates an HTML5 code which can be pasted into your WP page editor. The best thing about Zedity? It’s 100% free! If you really love it, you can pay for a premium version.